I fell in love with Walmart in Texas.
Living in Walmart-protected Portland while the Walmart phenomena had moved to Oregon, I had never visited the store more than once or twice before moving to the Lone Star State. Needless to say, I was unprepared for the level of adoration people held for their beloved super-cheap buy-everything department store.
But after trying every other department store in Texas (and every grocery store, to boot), I too was an easily converted fan. Living in a town of 4,000 more than an hour from Austin, I quickly joined the local populace in celebrating Walmart as a legitimate place to recreate. Heck, Melissa and I almost always ended up at Walmart on our weekly date nights. (absolutely no comments allowed insinuating that we have become an old married couple... *smirk*)
Now, a few years later after my conversion to Walmart-fandom, I find it difficult to understand the massive hatred people hold for the most successful department store chain in capitalist history. I suppose it's a little like the universal hatred (and fear?) of Microsoft. Both are the 800-lb gorillas in their respective fields, and it is nearly impossible to compete directly with them and expect to survive another fiscal year.
And thus the venomous campaigns aimed at fighting Walmart with the only force that is larger, more bloated, and more beaureacratic than Walmart itself: the United States government. Yes, just like Microsoft, the losers in the capitalist game resort to haranguing the ref, attempting to incite Uncle Sam to throw a few swings in the underdog's favor.
No doubt there are legitimate complaints about the business practices of Walmart. But I do find it hard to believe they are doing anything too terribly different than any other business in America; they just happen to be doing it a lot better, and are thus attracting the mud-slingers.
God knows I'm no raving fan of stark, unregulated capitalism, but neither have I ever been a fan of parasitic labor unions trying to bankrupt their source of income by raising minimum (as in, "not living") wage and forcing Walmart to offer part-time employees comprehensive health coverage.
Besides, if the beaureacrats won, my toothpaste would jump from $0.37 to $0.72. And I'm not sure I could live with that.