Saturday, July 9, 2005

Walmart: über-successful department store chain or the devil incarnate?

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.


Birdie said...

Here here, I too love Walmart, and those people better leave it alone, cheap commodoties at an affordable price, while gas is going sky high, maybe walmart needs to start selling gas there not only at Sam's club hint hint
Exxon and BP y'all better look out

rebecca marie said...

i enjoy walmart prices, i just don't enjoy feeling as if i need to bathe when i finish shopping, which is how i feel after being at walmart.

ted said...

I hate Walmart.

It has absolutely nothing to do with their business practices. It has everything to do with the fact that this is the only store I have been in where I have seen an employee walk around a puddle of what appeared to be vomit and do nothing. I can't stand shopping for new things in a dirty store. If I feel like I have to clean it when I get home, guess what? It doesn't count as new.

Furthermore, the things I buy at a grocery store aren't on the shelves at most Walmarts since I try to buy mostly organic and locally grown foods. On the flip side of that coin, though, I try to avoid Roth's since I don't like the feeling that I'm under-dressed for grocery shopping.

If I want sporting goods, I go to Sportsmans Warehouse, Bi-Mart, G.I. Joe's, Ole's or a gun show. Walmart doesn't even sell handguns and their long gun supply is sorely lacking. Try to pick up a box of any Cor-Bon ammo at Walmart.

If I want automotive supplies, I go to Davis Auto Supply. Their prices are better and if I need to ask a question, I don't have to try to find an employee who speaks English. Walmart doesn't sell an O2 sniffer or a head gasket.

If I want to buy home entertainment stuff I'll go to Best Buy, it's closer to my house.

If I want clothes, I'll go to a clothing store. I choose not to wear Levis just because I don't like them and even though I'm now over thirty, I still refuse to wear anything that says "Big Dog" on it. And I don't want to dress my daughter in the Jr. Miss Slut gear that seems to dominate Walmart's clothing racks for children.

If I want to get a prescription filled I'll go to Walgreens. It's closer to my house and I don't have to stand in line as long.

If I want books, hell, I'll go anywhere else.

Office supplies at Walmart are a joke. Try getting anything in legal size there.

If I want home improvement stuff I'll head for Keith Brown. Just try getting a load of tight knot cedar 2x6s at Walmart.

Walmart sells itself as a place where I can get everything. The reality is it has nothing I really want, such as a store where I don't want to wipe my feet when I leave.

Walmart is also the only store where I have seen a person open up a bag of cookies and take out a handfull to eat while they shopped. And, no, they didn't buy the bag, it went back on the shelf.

Big Mike Lewis said...

1) Wal*Mart NEVER has what I am looking for...Fred Meyer usually does.

2)I'd rather pay $2 more at Fred Meyer and actually find what I am seeking than shop at Wal*Mart.

Unfortunately, we don't have Freddy in town, so I have to drive at least 45 minutes...give me Portland, dear God!

Big Mike Lewis said...

Oh, and for books, I go to Barnes and Noble, His Place (local Christian book store) or the internet.

Tim Lewis said...

They have books at Walmart? The only ones I see there are the top 10 pieces of crap that the NY Times is selling us. How many copies of Clinton's book and the Da Vinci Code can people buy?

Kori and I were looking for stuff to buy for kids camp there. They didn't have half the things on the list. The way I see it, they're good for cheap DVDs and browsing stuff that I probably won't buy. Walmart is ok, but I'd rather go to Target or Fred Meyer.