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Thread: Big stores in a small town: I hate it

  1. #26
    Cyburbian Cardinal's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by danthonyjr View post
    Wal-Mart's history with regard to how it treats its workers, its vendors, and its third-world underage laborers probably has something to do with it. Wal-Mart's bullying of City Councils and Planning Commissions may as well. For me, it's the fact that Wal-Mart and other big boxes are directly responsible for running my family's longtime business out of business.
    The issue is much to complex to sum it up as you have. At worst, Walmart has engaged in practices with regard to its workers that most of its competitors similarly embrace. This includes the independent small town merchants. At best, Walmart has provided leadership in areas of health insurance and green practices, and in meeting community needs that other retailers can not or do not meet. Has Walmart contributed to the loss of small chains and independents? Yes. And it has also benefitted many by increasing the overall trade area draw and capture rates in many of its markets. But the first blows to independent retail came in the 1870's with the introduction of catalog retailing, followed by the formation of retail chains that began in earnest in the early 1900's, and then the advent of malls in the 1950's. Walmart, Kmart and Target were all started in 1962, when they joined the ranks of dozens of similar discount retailers who had cropped up after WWII. Independent retailers were already a dying breed by the time Walmart began to make its growth push in the 1980's.

    I love a particular article in my collection, lamenting the closing of a downtown department store that had been around for over a hundred years. The reporter's analysis - competition from a new Walmart at the edge of town. Right. Forget about the outlet center, Kohl's, Home Depot, and other retail at the interstate two miles south of town. It was the new Walmart. Built to replace one that had been in town since 1984. Forget that it might have had something to do with the practices of independent retailers, such as limited hours, higher prices, and poor return policies, that make people favor some chains. It was Walmart.

    I could go on. This is merely the start of an anlysis that could explain why Walmart and other chains have replaced independent merchants. It barely touches on the comparative labor, political, and other practices of Walmart, chains, and independents. It is far easier to look for a simple solution: Walmart is evil and all independents are good. But that really does nothing to help us to understand the fundemental problems. Without any real understanding, our approaches to solving the problems we see are most likely going to fail. Oh well, we can always blame that on Walmart.
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  2. #27
         
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    I think many--if not most--of the people who are not enamored with Wal-Mart's goodness look at Wal-Mart as representational of something much bigger, much worse. Twenty-five years ago, the anti Wal-Mart crowd would have probably chosen K-Mart as the representational figure. Before that, Sears or Wards. I think most of the people who are not fond of Wal-Mart and the corporate culture it both embodies and represents are smarter and have a deeper understanding of the issues than your post suggests. Give people a little credit for thinking issues through. Just because I chose to focus on a couple of points rather than writing a dissertation doesn't mean I lack a deeper understanding of the issues.

  3. #28
    Cyburbian stroskey's avatar
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    I shop at Walmart but not often. In my town of 30,000 people we don't have many other options so I find myself traveling out of town to do a lot of shopping. Any problem I have is with selection of products and aesthetics. What exactly can you buy at Walmart that requires 10 trips/week? Other than some light bulbs, kleenex, or Aspirin what is the appeal? There are always people yelling at their kids and junk in the aisles. Maybe it's just our Walmart but I'd prefer to spend a bit more and have a more relaxing shopping experience.

  4. #29
    Cyburbian Cardinal's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by danthonyjr View post
    I think many--if not most--of the people who are not enamored with Wal-Mart's goodness look at Wal-Mart as representational of something much bigger, much worse. Twenty-five years ago, the anti Wal-Mart crowd would have probably chosen K-Mart as the representational figure. Before that, Sears or Wards. I think most of the people who are not fond of Wal-Mart and the corporate culture it both embodies and represents are smarter and have a deeper understanding of the issues than your post suggests. Give people a little credit for thinking issues through. Just because I chose to focus on a couple of points rather than writing a dissertation doesn't mean I lack a deeper understanding of the issues.
    I'm glad to know that you understand the complexity of the issue. The problem is that far too often, the people making the comments do not have a deeper understanding. I make my living in part as a retail analyst, and end up fighting this battle over and over.
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