Why WalMart Wins
In a time when so many stores are closing their doors, WalMart is thriving. It is doing so despite some bad publicity. It is doing so despite the fact that many people will not shop there for a number of ethical reasons.
WalMart has some employee practices that contribute to the proliferation of America’s working poor. One of them is to have employees work 39.5 hours a week – just shy of the full 40 hours that would entitle them to benefits as a full-time employee.
A good reason to boycott WalMart in some neighborhoods is to save the mom and pop businesses that this massive store chain is swallowing up all over America. The diary, the hardware store, the fabric shop, the corner grocery, the toy and hobby shop…all of these are endangered species in the presence of the Big W.
WalMart also has a habit of building on significant archeological sites. That has caused many Native American people and their supporters to stop shopping there altogether. Environmentally sensitive sites aren’t out of danger either. When you’ve got the kind of financial clout WalMart does, you can make things happen that a smaller entity might not be able to.
So why do people shop there? I upheld the boycott for years. Then I caved. Here are some examples why.
Ladies’ knit sleeveless tops on sale for $3.00 each. They don’t look like they came from WalMart.
Plastic hangers, pack of ten; Rite Aid price $4.96; WalMart’s price $1.25.
Dustpan and small broom, Vons asks $10.99; the same item at WalMart is $3.96.
Insulated drapes in a fairly good variety of patterns and colors are $12.88 a panel at WalMart. I am not even going to bother looking anywhere else. Since I didn’t find the color I want at the WalMart in Simi Valley, I’m going to the WalMart in Valencia tomorrow, and if they don’t have the right color, I can always order them on line.
When I need an odd variety of items, I know where I can find almost all of them. I can get cleaning supplies, clothing, fabric, picture hangers, garden plants, floor rugs, bedding, nails and paint, even kayak paddles and ski pants in one stop. If I catch a whiff of McDonaalds French Fries, in a moment of weakness I can have them too. I can get my oil changed while I am at it.
Okay, so it isn’t glamorous. In fact, I’m sure some people wouldn’t be caught dead shopping at WalMart. But some of us can’t afford not to.
WalMart might not have met with such astounding success if it weren’t for one fact; the average American does not have an unlimited amount of disposable income. I don’t believe it’s the convenience of one-stop shopping that has put them at the top of the food chain, and I don’t believe it’s a reputation for high quality merchandise (they also have dustpans for 97 cents but I don’t think that particular product would last a week in the real world). I buy my plastic hangers at WalMart because I would be a fool to buy them anywhere else…plain and simple.
There are over six and a half billion people on Earth. The only thing besides insects and the national debt that eclipses this figure is the number of shopping experiences that WalMart will have this year; over seven billion. I will account for somewhere between eight and ten of those.