Wal-smart

Kevin at a blog about Wal-Mart reports that Wal-Mart now has a blog to pull together stories about helping Katrina’s victims. We could make fun of anything Wal-Mart does — everyone does — but in this crisis, I’ve heard rare and constant praise for the company (as in: if Walmart could get in there, why couldn’t the Army?). I have to say that this story seems just a bit too coincidental. And I was ready to look at the Katrina gift registry and — reflexively — wonder whether Walmart had just found another way to sell stuff. But read the end of that post and see what the company has given. So no snark. Wal-Mart is giving and blogging and making things happen, so good on them.

  • http://www.danuloff.com/craig/blog/ Craig Danuloff

    Read the story in yesterday’s Wall Street Journal (I assume it’s behind their subscription wall online) about how these guys prepared for and reacted to Katrina and you’ll wish they were appointed Director of FEMA. It’s an amazing story demonstrating the superiority of private enterprise.

  • http://marginalizingmorons.blogspot.com/ CaptiousNut

    Walmart has always been donating, employing, and delivering cheap products to people of all incomes. So in that sense this is not news.

    “Everyone” makes fun of (more accurately criticizes) Walmart?

    Oh you mean the socialist MSM.

  • http://DerkaDerkastan Chigga What?

    Hey Hey dont be haten

  • http://flamingflivvers.blogspot.com/ Carson Fire

    No haten, but it’s hard not to notice the sudden silence from the anti-Wal-mart folks. It wasn’t that long ago that my local PBS station was running a documentary enumerating the evils of Wal-mart. (They *gasp* negotiate with vendors *horrors!* for better deals!!!)

    But Wal-mart is a better representative of “red state” America and conservative philosophy than any federal bureaucracy, so I don’t think the silence will last long.

  • Angelos

    One can admire Wal*Mart’s operational efficiency, and be critical of some (many) of its business practices, and not be a socialist. Criticism can lead to improvement, if listened to.

    Funny, during the first three days of the crisis, I was looking for, and asking others, “Where is WalMart, where is Coca-Cola”, why aren’t they bringing truckloads of water and non-perishables down there?

    We’ve subsequently found out more about WalMart (and their troubles getting trucks into the city), but considering Coke is also southern company, why did it take A-B to start putting water in beer cans, and how did they beat Coke to the scene, when Coke ALREADY bottles water?

    A lot of companies missed the boat on humanity and goodwill. I hope there are other stories out there that just haven’t come to light yet.

    Oh, and never trust a corporate blog.

  • Angelos

    And Carson, the issues with WalMart have nothing to do with them squeezing a few extra pennies out of P&G so WalMart can sell toothpaste cheaper than the competition. That’s business.

    I spend my money elsewhere. That’s business too. Capitalism at work.

    The issues have to do with poverty-level wages, health insurance, discrimination, etc., drains on local economies.

    If people only knew how much those “cheap” products were actually costing them…

  • John T

    Angelos

    Why don’t you take the time to work your way backward through what you are advocating, strip away the crap, and admit that the Leftist agenda is primarily based upon a Socialist worldview.

    Please don’t try to bullshit me, I have spent many valuable years wearing the Socialist beer goggles, and spewing the same crap that you do now.

    Do yourself a favor and take a look outside of your doctrinal pressure suit and begin breathing the cool clean air of Liberty.

    Question: How do we get the Leftists on board in the war on global Islamist terrorism?

    Answer: Convince the Leftists that the Islamists are working to institute a worldwide ban on abortion.

  • Angelos

    John,

    Come back when one of your assumptions about me is correct.

    Thank you, drive through.

  • John T

    That’s so lame!

    Let me guess, you are a cut & paste advocate who is really not concerned with the details? Are you paid by the line?

    Let me inform you, the crap you are spewing is classic Socialist multi-culti boilerplate.

    If you do have any original thoughts, please be forthcoming.

  • John T

    Correction:

    Sorry, I meant to say “classic Socialist counter-culti/multi-culti boilerplate”

  • Angelos

    What the fuck crack are you smoking?

    Really, what are you talking about?

  • Chump
  • Angelos

    Thanks Chump.

  • http://www.geniusnow.com Greg Burton

    I have no doubt that Wal*Mart an be efficient, and I also have no doubt that they were sincerely trying to help with Katrina relief. None whatsoever – and that’s not snark.

    I do wonder at the timing of the blog, since they were also just sued in California with claims of sweatshop labor in 6 countries yesterday, on top of the racial discrimination suit filed last month.

    Organizations are like peope – they’re complex, and you can’t just run a single scale and say “good person” or “bad company”.

  • http://flamingflivvers.blogspot.com/ Carson Fire

    Angelos: Come back when one of your assumptions about me is correct.

    Said after assuming that I think all Wal-mart detractors are socialists, of course.

    And Carson, the issues with WalMart have nothing to do with them squeezing a few extra pennies out of P&G so WalMart can sell toothpaste cheaper than the competition. That’s business.

    You didn’t see the documentary that I was referring to, then. Just because this is not an issue for you does not mean that it’s not a criticism voiced by others. The world doesn’t revolve around your mind.

  • http://flamingflivvers.blogspot.com/ Carson Fire

    If there’s anybody around here new to the universe, here’s what the left normally thinks of Wal-mart:
    http://factchecker.purpleocean.org/

    Sites like this educate you with irrelevant comparisons and “facts” like all store closings are caused by Wal-mart (stores and companies historically never failed before!) In response to the claim that Wal-mart does better than most in promoting employees to management (which I know to be a fact from my own ten years plus in retail — traditional retail giants think their employees are idiots and only hire management from outside), this site counters with an unsettled sexual discrimination lawsuit (my old company was subject to constant lawsuits from sexual discrimination and harrassment to sales practices — if you’re big, you’ve got a target on you).

    About the best they can really do is compare Wal-mart to up and coming competition like Costco, which is fair enough, I suppose. But the market wouldn’t be presenting us with Costcos now if it wasn’t for Wal-mart having lead the way, since Costco is clearly an outgrowth of Wal-mart and not Sears/K-Mart/etc.

    Wal-mart has changed retail for the better. Political activism didn’t do it.

  • http://chicagozoner.blogspot.com The Zoner

    Here is the doc CF was talking about: http://www.pbs.org/itvs/storewars/

    Frontline also did a show on WM: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/walmart/

    I have not yet seen the Frontline, but “Store Wars: When Walmart Comes to Town” is worth your time.

    But in the end is this: people decide to work there, shop there and let them into their towns. This is from the director of the film:

    Q- Did your beliefs about the issues change during the production of STORE WARS?

    A- Yes, as I delved into the issues my views became more nuanced. I realized that you can’t tell low-income people that they should reject the store that offers them low prices and jobs, no matter how entry-level those jobs may be. If you’re barely making ends meet, worrying about the long-terms effects on your community is a luxury you can’t afford. The problem is much broader and deeper. It has to do with a system that allows millions of people in the richest country in the world to live below the poverty line, where they are continuously dependent on these discount chain stores and jobs that are fit only for teenagers and retirees.

    I also came to realize the heavy price we pay for not having economic regional planning. Because every town and county are autonomous, chains like Wal-Mart can play them against each other. The retail chains threaten town councils that if they reject the store, they will build it in the next town. The economic devastation will be just as hard, but the tax revenues will go elsewhere. I came to appreciate the bind of local municipalities that are left by the government to fend for themselves to find the revenues to pay for basic services.

  • Angelos

    Great post Zoner.

    That sums it right up.

    The Cosco/WalMart comparison is only half valid.

    In terms of how employees can be treated, Cosco is the shining example of how paying good people decent wages actually saves money, and is good for the company and the customer.

    But for the people who “need” Wal*Mart’s prices, you can’t compare.

    I don’t have a Cosco, but I have a BJ’s. Sure, the prices are great on a per-unit basis, but the bulk packaging makes shopping there difficult. I can’t leave there without spending $200, it seems. Sure the 6-pack of toothpaste, the 2-gallon laundry detergent, and the 25-pack of Sensor razors will last me 6 months, 3 months, and 1 year respectively, but that’s $65 right there, and I haven’t even started shopping! Plus, I have a big house, with pantry and basement, for storage the 36-pack of TP, the 12-pack of PT, etc.

    The apartment-dweller who might have $25 a week to spend on sundries needs to go to Wal*Mart, and buy the smallest quantity of each thing, to spread the money around. Thus getting hosed on per-unit prices, but still, cheaper than the local Price Chopper or Grand Union, and DEFINITELY cheaper than drug stores or “convenience” stores, the biggest rip-offs there are.

    I can’t begrudge the lower income person who shops there. I can’t begrudge the capitalist game, that WalMart has clearly won until the next big thing comes along.

    All I can do is shop comewhere else, which I do.

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  • John

    Wal-Mart’s initial response post-Katrina was to suspend all wage and benefits for the employees in the affected areas if their stores were closed. It was their right, but, for example, Harrah’s immediately told its employees that they would cover them for 90 days with pay and benefits. I believe Wal-Mart reversed themselves when they got some initial bad publicity and since then have done a terrific job.

    Personally, I choose not to shop there and Costco actually created the “Club” concept, Sam’s Club, and everyone else copied them. Also, the average wage at Costco is $17.00 per hour and their share of healthcare expenses (as a payroll deduction) is capped at 8%, most major retailers its 25%. Their Chairman/Founder also pulls down about $250,000 p/yr (he does have about $150 million in stock, he doesn’t need a paycheck). Wal-Mart deserves the good press for Katrina, which they are trying to capitalize on, but it’s what corporate citizen’s do every day that matters most to me.

  • http://flamingflivvers.blogspot.com/ Carson Fire

    Here is the doc CF was talking about: http://www.pbs.org/itvs/storewars/

    Heh, don’t speak so definitively for other people, will ya? My local PBS station’s database doesn’t show that airing any time recently. It was probably Bigger Boxes: The Battle Over America’s Superstores, which they aired six times throughout May-June, which is when I vaguely recall watching it.

    Still, the Storewars webpage linked perfectly encapsulates the activist’s argument against Wal-mart: The ensuing debate, which pits neighbor against neighbor, illustrates the struggle between conflicting versions of the American dream.…this is rank hyperbole.

    As I said, it’s valid to compare Costco and Wal-mart and say “one is better than the other”. But if we really believed that this alone was a criteria for politically attacking and blocking one company or another, we would immediately abolish all companies that are *worse* than Wal-mart, and believe me, there are tons of them. Start with Sears, which is an historic mess.

    Sears has violated child labor laws as recently as 1999. The case here was endimic at the place throughout the 90s, at least, as were other outrages and abuses (I know about this… managers who couldn’t care less let underage stockers tool around in forklifts that they have no training, and one I know of even tipped the forklift over going around a corner too fast). When this story broke, it was on page 17A or something, I think. Nobody cared. By contrast, Wal-mart is held up as a pariah because they suffer in comparison here and there on arguable things like rate of pay.

    Perhaps it’s the mob mentality. It became trendy and “in” to sneer at Wal-mart in a way it was never “in” to sneer at the hoary old Big Store.

  • Big Casino

    Angelos speaks wisdom. I praise the quick response. But I think it was more spin and hype than an indicator of true attitude.

    The private sector is a big place, mom-and pop stores to super giants, big oil to porn.

  • Angelos

    Angelos speaks wisdom.

    Casino, you’re going to give Carson a heart atack!

    You’re right though, about the the “big place.” We have our options, we make our choices.

    What do people think about Target? You don’t hear much about their labor practices, good or bad, and it’s probably because of what someone said earlier, the bigger target (WalMart) gets the most atacks.

    The difference in quality and atmosphere is amazing though. A much more pleasant experience. And they give back locally, as a percentage of sales.

    What the poor and uneducated don’t realize about WalMart is that they’re not saving money on a lot of things. A can of Campbell’s soup is a can of Campbell’s soup, so if it costs 1.59 at Price Chopper and 1.29 at Walmart, that’s measurable savings. Great. The 4.99 T-Shirt, though, will withstand many fewer wearings and washings than the 11.99 one from the Gap. When it’s for a growing kid, fine. But I have Land’s End polo shirts (19.99) that I bought 6-7 years ago, and have been washed at least 150 times (I work from home and play golf, so polo shirts are my “uniform”). Try that at WalMart. All too frequently, inexpensive means cheap.

    How many Wal*Mart shoppers are familiar with beef ratings? The stuff at Wal*Mart is cheap because it’s grey, rubbery “Select”. The pork is injected with “up to 20% solution” of water, salt, and pink dye. Garbage. Any amount spent in that crap is too much, so it isn’t inexpensive by any means.

    I go to WalMart a couple times a year, to renew my hunting licences and my wife’s fishing license, and for a couple shaving products that my Price Chopper doesn’t carry. I buy 5 or 6 of them and stock up for a while. It’s a fun little place to observe how corporate America thrives on the stupidity of the general public.

  • http://flamingflivvers.blogspot.com/ Carson Fire

    BTW, another related thought… as much as I like PBS, it still obviously leans left. And look at this constant drumming: Bigger Boxes: The Battle Over America’s SuperstoresStore Wars: When Walmart Comes to TownFRONTLINE Is Wal-Mart Good for America?

    Problem is, you really don’t have right wing journalists digging into stuff so much. You can act innocent about it here, but I’ve been on enough left-leaning boards to know that what really makes Costco a shining jewel is its 99 percent rating for Democratic contributions. BuyBlue.org lists no marks against it for human rights.

    Funny, but even just a short foray with Google turns up some. It’s really not that hard to get marks against you running a company of any size. Their benefits may be superior to many competitors, but that’s only helpful to those people who are lucky enough to get jobs, there. Costcos simply aren’t as numerous as Wal-marts, and you’re not going to create more Costcos simply by eliminating Wal-marts.

    Costco may indeed be a better company than Wal-mart; but for sure, Costco does not come under a fraction of the scrutiny that Wal-mart comes in for. *Both* companies deserve scrutiny (as do other organizations that are ignored), but it’s sad to see that most of this is driven by politics and mobism.

  • http://flamingflivvers.blogspot.com/ Carson Fire

    No heart attacks, here. I don’t think you’re wrong about everything, Angelos. But here’s one:

    What the poor and uneducated don’t realize

    For being so defensive about assumptions, you make a lot. Most of the Wal-mart shoppers I know are just as picky as any. They get store ads and coupons… they *are* smart people. You assume that these poor people are dumb yokels and once they’ve been to Wal-mart they don’t go anywhere else.

    Many Wal-mart shoppers carry in ads from other stores, since Wal-mart matches prices. But they don’t always shop at Wal-mart. What exactly is it that leads you and others to believe that people shopping at Wal-mart are all ignorant inbreds?

    The attack on the shoppers, in fact, is probably more ridiculous than the attack on the shop itself, but it’s always a part of the mix.

  • http://www.bloodandtreasure.com Noel Guinane

    Angelos, you are caught here for looking down on poor people. You call them stupid and uneducated. You pepper your conversation with references to your polo shirts and your hunting licences, how you can’t leave Wal*Mart without spending $200, and how you have a “big house with pantry and basement.”

    Smells like yuppie spirit to me.

  • http://www.bloodandtreasure.com Noel Guinane

    That should be: how you can’t leave BJ’s without spending $200.

  • Angelos

    I just look down on stupid people, Noel.

    My references to myself serve to put my opinions in perspective. And really, are $20 Land’s End polo shirts that classist? Jeez, it just a wardrobe choice. Business casual. Khakis and a golf shirt. If I was talking about $150 Walter Hagen brand polo shirts, maybe. But I don’t spend money that stupidly.

    And no, I can’t leave BJ’s for under $200. Hell, sometimes that’s only 9 items. It’s the negative side of bulk shopping. But it pays off in the long run. Again dude, I was talking about staples like TP/PT, detergent, and razor blades. Relax.

    And hey, I’m educated, I work hard. I can count my blessings about the luck I’ve had (nature and nurture), and be happy about what I’ve done with my own elbow grease to take advantage. Sorry if that offends you.

    I didn’t mean to generalize that all WalMart shoppers were uneducated and poor, I was talking about the ones that actually are.

    I have many friends who shop there for sundries and kid stuff. One couple has 4 kids, and they’re growing like weeds. WalMart works for them, and their one-income budget.

    But they are also the “picky” people that Carson referenced. They know not to touch the meats. They don’t buy fat- and salt-laden “snacks”, and “juice” boxes (corn-syrup and food dye) that you see filling up the carts of the two-ton couple with the 10-year old kids that weigh as much as me. They know (because I told them, actually), that “Healthy Choice” soups have MSG, even though it’s not on the label. Same with 90% of the pre-packaged crap you’ll find lining the aisles of WalMart and any other grocery store. Mass-marketed poison.

    Oh, and Noel. Hunting license: $30 or so. 30-06 shell: 80 cents. The meat off one decent buck: replacing $200 or so in beef, by weight. And it’s better for you. I’m such a fucking snob.

  • http://www.bloodandtreasure.com Noel Guinane

    Hey Angelos, if you were that smart, you wouldn’t have let your high opinion of yourself show through in your comment. ; )

    However, point taken. Please forgive my harsh reaction. I absolutely despise yuppies. Having built a life for myself, I know the value of hard work and think that people born to advantage should have the grace to know how lucky they are.

  • Eileen

    “I just look down on stupid people, Noel.”

    I’m sure that’s *true*, being as how you’re so superior and all.

  • Angelos

    To stupid people, yes. Yes I am.

    Any questions, Eileen?

  • http://www.bloodandtreasure.com Noel Guinane

    Angelos, I have some questions. How do you base your decision to look down on people? Their I.Q.? Their academic achievements? How quickly they can solve the rubix cube? How many bucks they can shoot in a minute? What?

  • http://chicagozoner.blogspot.com The Zoner

    not an indictment on any poster here, but this quote is perched on my wall at work.

    “You can tell the true character of a man by the way he treats someone who can do absolutely nothing for him.”

    I’m guessing if you found the demos of Wal Mart vs. Target, you would find the Target shopper to be better educated.

    Angelos’ story reminded me of one of the saddest things I have ever seen. It was at a local grocery store about a month ago. A very large woman was shopping with her rather large son who I imagine was entering his teen years or close to it. He was driving around the store on one of the motorized carts for handicapped people. His mother let him. I don’t see how a teenage boy would find a 3 MPH cart ride exciting, so I assumed he was very lazy. And he and his mother were packing all the goods in the cart that Angelos was talking about. It was sad. The cashiers were whispering that he was not supposed to take the motor cart outside. He was actually driving it–sans grocery bags–to their car. They seemed a little diffident so I said “I’ll tell him!”. I felt bad for him as I was a chubby kid. I wanted to speak to his mom. Or tell him what was in store for him. How much better life is if you push away from the table a bit.

    I guess I’ve gone OT so sorry. I guess that was cathartic.

  • http://www.zmag.org Frank Church

    Wal-Mart is using the storm to promote their stores and get biggggggggggg tax cuts for their bogus charity giving.

  • Ravo

    Re: Frank Church’s term…”bogus charity giving?”

    why don’t you explain that term to the recipients of their “bogus charity”giving.

    Maybe it would have been best to just settle for what Frank Church could give, if indeed you gave anything. Hopefully, you will not try to itemize your donation on your tax return, and turn it into “bogus charity” giving.

    Honestly, this blog has gotten nastier and more depressing this week than any newspaper.

  • tonynoboloney

    Ravo says “Honestly, this blog has gotten nastier and more depressing this week than any newspaper”

    I agree.