Thursday, October 26, 2006

Lose a nickel, stay consistent

I read an article today in a free weekly here in Indianapolis. The gist is the writer decried Wal-Mart for its many predatory practices but still embraced it for its rock bottom prices. He specifically referred to Wal-Mart's discounted pharmaceutical program that has received a lot of attention recently.

I have heard several complaints from friends and co-workers over the years about Wal-Mart. Some have complained about Wal-Mart's effect on small businesses. Others about the further expansion of "Generica" that has spread across the country. Some have complained about how Wal-Mart treats many of their employees with many having to receive federal welfare benefits to make ends meat.

During these conversations I always ask the simple question "Do you shop at Wal-Mart". The overwhelming majority of the time I get the same general response as the writer gave today. They have objections against Wal-Mart for a myriad of reasons but their social conscience is usually trumped by low cost electronics and can goods for a quarter a piece.

I am not a Wal-Mart hater. In fact I have great respect for humble origins of the company. I read one biography a year about a great American and last year I read about Sam Walton, the founder of Wal-Mart. His idea of cutting out a distribution network in retail and having companies sell directly to the retail outlet seems logical today but in the past era of five and dimes, that thought process was revolutionary. It is hard to argue against Sam Walton as one of the most important figures in American capitalism in the past 60 years.

But I don't shop at Wal-Mart. Henry Ford wanted each of his workers to be able to buy an automobile that they made, and paid them accordingly. I find it troubling that a worker at Wal-Mart would need taxpayer assistance to survive.

I shop at Target because I like the products they have better and no one matches the company's generosity. I shop at Meijer because no one in retail pays their employees better. It costs me more money a year and although I am not in the position where I do not have to watch my pennies, I don't want to feel like a hypocrite.

If you find Wal-Mart objectionable, then walk the walk and don't just talk the talk.


Blogger Doug said...

The problem is that you can't live a Wal-mart lifestyle on a Wal-mart wage.

October 26, 2006  
Anonymous Bil Browning said...

Good post, Kid. I agree.

One word of caution though, Meier has one of the lowest possible ratings with the Human Rights Campaign. They do not protect LGBT employees from discrimination in the workplace, have no domestic partner benefits and won't give to LGBT causes at all.

October 26, 2006  
Blogger torporindy said...

First of all, you and Brick are doing a great job with this place while I am gone.

I don't boycott Meijer like I do Wal-Mart. I respect them for paying higher wages to their employees, but they only pay those wages because they are unionized in Michigan and Ohio. Basically, the Indiana employees freeride of union dues paying Meijer's workers in our adjacent states. Trust me, if they were non-union too, the workers here would be making six dollars an hour just like they do at walmart.

Also, Bil, I didn't know about their terrible track record with LGBT employees.

October 26, 2006  
Blogger Timmy said...

I dont shop at Meijer or Wal-mart. I am with The Kid. Target is the place for me.

Also, I didnt know about Meijer's position on LGBT issues. I will have to look into this!

October 27, 2006  
Anonymous Manfred said...

I haven't shopped at Wal-Mart in over 10 years. What is your position on K-Mart?

October 29, 2006  
Blogger The_Kid_ said...

Manfred: I have to admit I don't really have a position. I don't shop there because I don't really like the store. Is there something about the company I should know.

I was impressed with what K-Mart did at the end of "Bowling for Columbine".

October 30, 2006  

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