Friday, September 26, 2008


What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you hear the word(s?) Wal-Mart? A place for good deals? A store that sells all the best that China has to offer? A shopping center frequented mostly by the poor? Though their prices are good, I prefer purchasing my food items at Hy-Vee (a relatively big-time grocer in the Midwest). Why? Simple, they bag my groceries (technically, Wal-Mart does bag groceries, they just don't put 'em in your cart).

No, that's not the real reason. But here are a few genuine ones: for one thing, being in a Wal-Mart is a tad depressing to me. I mean, we all have this technology and brainpower, but this is the best we could do? This is the world’s number one company? I’m sure many of you are familiar with the millions of Wal-Mart employees who’ve had to rely on the government to give them affordable health insurance because their premiums are so high. Then there are hundreds (thousands?) of cases of employees who have been “strongly encouraged” to work through their breaks as well as the many incidences where women weren’t allowed to move up in the organization.

There are many other issues I have with them, but consider the above three a good start.

I’ve found that I really wouldn’t save that much by getting my food at Wal-Mart. Even if I saved, say, $8 a trip by going there instead of Hy-Vee, I would still opt for the latter. Hy-Vee’s employees consist mostly of teenagers who are required to wear ties, but who seem quite happy, nonetheless, to hold the positions they do.

One afternoon, after this schlubby kid finished bagging my groceries, I slipped him a dollar bill and then put my index finger to my mouth as if to say, “I know I’m not supposed to tip you, but I just couldn’t resist”.

And you can’t beat their slogan: “Where there’s a helpful smile in every aisle” (that trumps a smiley face saying “How May I Help You?” in my book). One thing I don’t like about Hy-Vee is how they have live lobster and fish displayed in their meat section. It reminds me too much of medieval times when people were placed in “the rack” in the town square as a warning to others. But I guess no organization’s perfect…except maybe Friday’s.


Rocketstar said...

I always think of that email that went around with that sexy women in the Walmart uniform that strips.

Oh and also evil.

disestablishingpuritanism said...

Wal-Mart= Made in China and uber-authoritarian, wealthy and bratty kids who inherited Sam's fortune. The documentary, not the favorable one, of Wal-Mart was depressing. Two recent events really fired me up: First, Olbermann broke the story of the woman who was an employee there. She just lost her son in Iraq a week ago and was told the company could no longer support her retirement expenses. Due to a P.R. nightmare, they reniged and continued compensating the woman. Second, it was recently that Wal-Mart managers encouraged their employees to vote against unions. Naturally, these managers denied such actions, but they did say they wanted to provide enough information so employees can make an educated, informed decision. Right.

Coconut said...

I hate wal-mart. I have a post that mentions this with a link to a story that is an example of why. You can look through my archives if you really want to.

Thomas said...

Rocket, I'm not familiar with those pics. I'll have to use the Google to find them this weekend.

PJ, I remember when Olbermann was reporting that story. I love it when he speaks truth to power. Wanting to keep as much power as possible is why they're so against unions. And, of course, they’re another company where the difference between what the CEO and the typical entry-level worker makes is astronomical. I just can’t get behind that.

Coco, I will do so. Enjoy your B-day weekend!

Sarah said...

with the exception of my father, my whole family has worked for hy-vee. mom still does.

there are a few exceptional circumstances that will drive me to the wal-mart & i feel like a dirty sell-out every time i go.

Brian said...

When I think of Wal-Mart, the first thing that comes to mind for me is Generic Target. I hate how the old mom and pop stores are going out of business because of Wal-Mart. Very sad.


Timothy Smith said...

It would be better for Wal-Mart to close and the millions of American families that depend on it should just go without food and feed their kids on idealism.


Read Fast Food Nation, Don't Eat this Book and Fat Land.

Eating fast food or even the larger chain restaurants is far more of a crime then shopping at Wal-Mart but all of us agree we will keep doing it. We dont have any nobel reason for doing so like the millions of families struggling to get by shopping at Wal-Mart.

Our reasons are...we like it and we dont care about American farmers, working conditions in the meat packing plants, mom and pop restaurants or our health.

Maybe we should reserve judgment until we have made a real sacrifice for the common good?

Many of us don't shop at Wal-Mart because we can afford not to. We like the better service and cleaner isles of local stores.

Thats not sacrifice to make the world better, that's personal preference.

You could make more of a difference by shopping at Wal-Mart and take the savings and give it to charity. But that would mean altering your shopping convenience to help others.

The Wal family is no different then any other American. Giving only 1% of their income to charity is shameful but ask yourself, how much have you given? Even Obama is under the 1% threshold.

Let those without sin cast the first stone.


Thomas said...

Sarah, I had no idea. Very nice! I've also begrudgingly gone there from time to time, something I'll elaborate on in a moment.

Brian, Generic Target. That's a good one. I agree: Target has much more personality than Wal-Mart. Like Best Buy, Target is also based in Minnesota (my stomping grounds).

Tim, I'll check into those books. You're right, though. Even after reading them, I'll probably continue to go to Friday's and no question, Wal-Mart is certainly a good thing for those who can't afford to shop at grocery stores.

Referring to your next to last sentence, I'm definitely not without sin. You see, I went to Wal-Mart a few days ago to get a special dandruff control shampoo they have. While there, I also picked up a new frisbee for Zoe which was appropriately called "Flippy-Flopper" Get it?

I probably won't return there for several weeks, but admit they do have some good points, in particular, their new more environmentally friendly packaging as well as a long-overdue logo change.

Timothy Smith said...

I was just teasing, I shop at Wal-Mart myself for regular items like shampoo, toothpaste and food staples.

I prefer Frys (like Hy-Vee) for meat and produce.

Don't read Fast Food Nation, you might not eat beef for a long time!

The thing I hate about Wal-Mart is the lack of help. When I am shopping I tend to get lazy and like asking people where everything is.

At my local store I just find a manager walking around and ask them, they will walk with you and show you where your whole list is! Thats worth a few extra bucks. Its also nice the butcher can not only get you a custom cut piece of meat but also recommend the best way to cook it.

I was upset to find out Fridays discontinued the two burgers I use to eat there. They said they are still busy reconfiguring the menu.

Anonymous said...

We have a SuperWalmart here-something I didn't have back home. I never really liked Walmart but now I don't mind it too much, at least its convenient.

Stephanie said...

Thomas, one of my two, Real Men of Genius, I finally made it! :)

I couldn't agree with you more about how depressing Wal-Mart is. Disturbingly so. Every time I walk into that store, I start feeling bad about myself. That, and people really like to piss me off when I shop there. The lighting is dark, people are rude and the lines are long no matter what time of day you go. However, the prices are cheaper and in the economic crisis we are finding ourselves in today, I might be taking a trip back there sooner than I had hoped.

Customer service scores big points in my book and that is why Nordstroms is my FAVORITE STORE EVER! I'm sure I'll post sometime about their awesomeness and this is a case where I'm willing to spend more to get more. They aren't a grocer but I felt the need to post something positive to negate my negativity in speaking about Wal-Mart.

I can't wait to travel through your blog as I'm seeing we have quite a bit in common so I'll be commenting as I go. Right now I must go get something to fill my belly!

Take care!