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Wal-Mart - enemy of planners - but do you go?

otterpop

Cyburbian
Messages
6,655
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28
I am a planner. I know I am supposed to hate Wal-Mart because it is an ugly, big box store with acres of parking that is running local businesses to bankruptcy. I know Wal-Mart is a bad neighbor, a business bully, and often reneges on their development agreements.

BUT I have a wife and a two-year old boy, and I am the single support of my family trying to survive on modest county pay. The prices are lower and, as a transplanted Southerner, I can find a lot of the brands I grew up with (Pioneer Flour and Crystal Hot Sauce) Plus I don't have to spend my Saturday going from store to store to get what we need for the week. Everything I need is there.

So I go to Wal-Mart. I go every week.

Am I alone? Do other Cyburbianites shop at Wal-Mart?
 

jordanb

Cyburbian
Messages
3,232
Points
25
The only time I've ever been to a Wal-Mart has been when I am in a very small town that's already been obliterated by Wal-Mart and there are no other choices. It's a matter of principle for me and the way I was brought up. Going to Wal-Mart is like breaking a picket line, it's just someting you don't do.
 

SlaveToTheGrind

Cyburbian
Messages
1,447
Points
27
Diapers are cheaper as well as baby food. We are on one imcome as well. I hate WM, but unfortunately, my wife and I find ourselves there more than we like.
 

giff57

Corn Burning Fool
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5,443
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34
Tranplanner said:
Wow - I heard Giff's head explode all the way from here...
Where is that dead horse pic I posted...LAST WEEK.
 

Dan

Dear Leader
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18,710
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69
Reluctantly, on occasion.

There's a Wal-Mart a few blocks from my house ... a horrible, battleship grey building, a remnant from a time before the the city where I live adopted decent architectural regulations. It's an awful store. At the risk of sounding elitist, most customers are from Kansas City, Kansas, across the county line; mainly poor Mexican migrant workers and the culturally Southern mullet/groder/heasher crowd. The store is dirty, loud, and a depressing shopping experience; even Kmarts that haven't been remodeled since the 1960s are nicer by comparison. The layout is unlike any Wal-Mart I've ever seen before; supposedly, the building was a Pace Warehouse before that chain went bust in the 1980s.

Target is about two km away. Most of my neighbors go there, even though they could walk to Wal-Mart. It's clean, quiet, products are priced just as low as Wal-Mart, and the place is filled with attractive single women. :-D
 

Repo Man

Cyburbian
Messages
2,549
Points
25
Ok, this is a different take on the Wal Mart thing. My friend works for the National Labor Relations Board and gets some cases involving workers suing Wal Mart. He posed this question:

Even if you don't like WalMart, would you shop at a Wal Mart in a distressed area of town where many people avoid shopping because of perceptions of crime? This is an area that has seen very little retail activity and by shopping at Wal Mart, you are indicating that you support retail in that neighborhood and you support the workers there that probably have no other options in the job market in their neighborhood? Afterall, if a Wal Mart closes (and they rarely do) the complany isn't hurt that much, but you are putting hundreds of workers with a limited set of job skills out of a job in a crappy economy.
 

Dan

Dear Leader
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18,710
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giff57 said:
Where is that dead horse pic I posted...LAST WEEK.
Here's a different one.



Let's cut otterpop a little bit of slack.
 

Plannerbabs

Cyburbian
Messages
1,037
Points
23
We go, sometimes, late at night. Mr. Plannerbabs collects toys, and we go for the exclusive-to-Wally ones. And sometimes we'll pick up some other stuff too. It's the only place in the city that still carries Dr. Brown's Cel-Ray soda.
 

jordanb

Cyburbian
Messages
3,232
Points
25
Repo Man said:
Ok, this is a different take on the Wal Mart thing. My friend works for the National Labor Relations Board and gets some cases involving workers suing Wal Mart. He posed this question:

Even if you don't like WalMart, would you shop at a Wal Mart in a distressed area of town where many people avoid shopping because of perceptions of crime? This is an area that has seen very little retail activity and by shopping at Wal Mart, you are indicating that you support retail in that neighborhood and you support the workers there that probably have no other options in the job market in their neighborhood? Afterall, if a Wal Mart closes (and they rarely do) the complany isn't hurt that much, but you are putting hundreds of workers with a limited set of job skills out of a job in a crappy economy.
What do you mean "perceptions of crime," there's tons of crime in those neighborhoods! The only reason why the rapists aren't on every corner is because they're hiding from all of the stray bullets zinging right and left! Dead bodies litter the streets! Those neighborhoods are like Omaha beach on June 6, 1944. I know because I saw a story about it on Channel 10 News. ;)

At any rate, I still wouldn't shop at it. I wouldn't see shopping at Wal-Mart as contributing anything to the community. They give practically nothing back, basically just a few hundred shitty, minimum wage jobs that are impossible to live off of.

Wal-Mart is trying to get a store in Chicago by picking on a distressed neighborhood. The alderman has said that she dosen't like Wal-Mart and dosen't want them in the neighborhood, but she feels that her back is against the wall because her neighborhood is in such bad shape. It's kinda like a predator, killing the weakest first...
 

Cardinal

Cyburbian
Messages
10,080
Points
34
Hell yes, I shop at Wal-Mart. They are ugly buildings, but theyalso sell me what I want. Why should I pay $7.50 for a box of pseudophed at the local drug store when I can get it for $3.97 at Wal-Mart? Don't give me that nonsense about supporting local businesses. If they want my support then they have to at least be in the ballpark on pricing. Alternatively, carry something that Wal-Mart doesn't. Our local hardware store is selling brands of tools that Wal-Mart does not.

As for low paying jobs, most of the people who work there are part-time. Full-time employees are better-paid and have benefits. You can't compare a skilled machinist and a high-schooler working part-time and say they should earn the same money.

Another thing. If Wal-Mart were not buying products from overseas, do you think many of the people employed in third-world countries would have jobs? Would they be better off?
 

Dan

Dear Leader
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Cardinal said:
As for low paying jobs, most of the people who work there are part-time. Full-time employees are better-paid and have benefits. You can't compare a skilled machinist and a high-schooler working part-time and say they should earn the same money.
At the trashy Wal-Mart that I described above, most of the workers are middle-aged black and Hispanic women; they're definitely not college students. I wouldn't be surprised if Wal-Mart was their main job, or one of two part-time jobs.

At the Target that's a bit further away, the majority of the non-managerial staff look like they are young college students.

At the few remaining Kmart stores, I've noticed that the majority of workers are elderly women.

Part-time big box workers shouldn't be making the same as a skilled machinist. They should be earning a living wage, though, and they should be getting benefits. Wal-Mart is notorious for worker schedules that are just a few hours shy of the minimum required to offer benefits.
 

Chet

Cyburbian Emeritus
Messages
10,623
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34
In Cardinal's defense -- and not to over simplify the picture - but he works for a college town with a non-sturdent population about equal to the school's enrollment. The only minorities in that town are migrant hispanics farmers and a smattering of college students.
 

SkeLeton

Cyburbian
Messages
4,853
Points
26
jordanb said:
What do you mean "perceptions of crime," there's tons of crime in those neighborhoods! The only reason why the rapists aren't on every corner is because they're hiding from all of the stray bullets zinging right and left! Dead bodies litter the streets! Those neighborhoods are like Omaha beach on June 6, 1944. I know because I saw a story about it on Channel 10 News. ;)
LMAO with that ;) :-D

Do I shop in Wal-Mart? No, because there aren't any here, but I do shop in what would be a "big box supermarket", and it's not that bad, mainly because there aren't many small retailers left... still, we buy fish and vegetables in the fair down by the river ;)

EDIT: typo fix. :)
 
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Cardinal

Cyburbian
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10,080
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34
Chet said:
In Cardinal's defense -- and not to over simplify the picture - but he works for a college town with a non-sturdent population about equal to the school's enrollment. The only minorities in that town are migrant hispanics farmers and a smattering of college students.
Thanks for the defense, Chet, but I grew up in the Chicago 'burbs and worked part-time in retail for many, many years from high school past college. Somebody working in those suburbs today would start at about $7.00 an hour part-time, and about $9.00 full-time. Here in the country, it would be about $6.00 and $8.00. That is comparable to many of the unskilled manufacturing jobs around here.

Part-time workers make up the majority of the retail workforce. Most choose to work part-time for supplemental income, or because they are students, retired, or otherwise not interested in making retail a career. Our most recent survey showed that only 17% of all part-time workers in the county would prefer full-time work.

It is a simple fact that most of the "living wage" proponents fail to recognize, that the majority of retail jobs are not filled by people who live off of that wage. For those who do seek a career in retail, the pay is higher than for part-timers. As an example, Madison is currently deliberating a minimum wage of $7.50 per hour. Part-timers are now starting between $6.50 and $7.00 in the department stores. Full-timers are already between $8.50 and $11.00 (including commission in some departments). The result of passing this legislation would be for the stores to either reduce hours and staff for part-time jobs, putting a strain on others, or to raise prices. Another possibility, of course, is that we may soon see a flurry of new (sprawl) retail constuction just outside of Madison in places like Sun Prairie and Middleton.
 

otterpop

Cyburbian
Messages
6,655
Points
28
Wal-Mart - enemy of planners - but do you go?

Thanks for your input. I feel like I am not alone. None of my fellow county planners frequent Wal-Mart, though I see my fellow County employees every Saturday.

Sorry about bringing up an old, dead-horse topic. I am relatively new here. Didn't know it was a sore spot for some.
 

Cardinal

Cyburbian
Messages
10,080
Points
34
Re: Wal-Mart - enemy of planners - but do you go?

otterpop said:
Thanks for your input. I feel like I am not alone. None of my fellow county planners frequent Wal-Mart, though I see my fellow County employees every Saturday.

Sorry about bringing up an old, dead-horse topic. I am relatively new here. Didn't know it was a sore spot for some.
Yeah, the discussions get heated, but there are always people willing to discuss Wal-Mart. Don't worry about bringing up the old topics. There is always more to be said.
 

giff57

Corn Burning Fool
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34
Re: Re: Wal-Mart - enemy of planners - but do you go?

Cardinal said:
Yeah, the discussions get heated, but there are always people willing to discuss Wal-Mart. Don't worry about bringing up the old topics. There is always more to be said.
And I'll still bitch about it.... :)
 

mike gurnee

Cyburbian
Messages
3,066
Points
31
In the 1910s or early 20s there was a circuit riding preacher in rural NC called "Cyclone Mack". He would rant about the evils of chain stores at his revivals.

...the more things change, the more they stay the same.
 

El Feo

Cyburbian
Messages
674
Points
19
Dan said:
They should be earning a living wage, though, and they should be getting benefits.
Dan, seriously -

Why?

And just what is a living wage? I don't mean generally, I mean specifically, what is a living wage? $10 an hour? If that's good, wouldn't $20 an hour be twice as good? Wouldn't $100 be ten times as good? Nobody's forcing folks to work anywhere if they feel they can make more elsewhere. The fact is that generally, over time, you, me, the man or woman working at Wal-Mart or anywhere else for that matter are being paid exactly what we're worth to the employer. Not a penny more. Not a penny less. Period.

In those instances where we are paid more (or less for that matter) than we are worth, the market figures it out pretty quickly, and corrects itself.

The point is, I don't think I was ever given a living wage or benefits guarantee. Nor should I have been - because I am my OWN living wage and benefits guarantee, thank you very much. I try to make myself worth more every day, and when I KNOW I am worth more than I am getting paid, I ask for a raise, and if I don't get it, I find another job where I am paid what I'm worth. Every other rational person in the workforce is doing the same thing, from the lowliest table busser at the Big Boy to Bill Gates.

Wal-Mart is notorious for worker schedules that are just a few hours shy of the minimum required to offer benefits.
In the mid-90s in grad school, I worked at a Wal-Mart in Seneca, SC. At first, I was full-time. I received benefits. I was not a manager, and I was not the exception then, save for those employees that wanted part-time work. That changed for me and many others after about 9 months on the job.

But you know what? I kept working there, even though they only scheduled me for 30 hours a week, without benefits. So did each and every single one of my coworkers. My coworkers and I generally liked the job (for what it was) and we needed the money. And in moments when I did think about it, I thought what chumps Wal-Mart management were for giving me more hours and perqs than they needed to to keep me early on.

So Wal-Mart figured it out. As soon as I knew I was worth more than they were willing to put on the table, I moved on. I never begrudged them for cutting my hours and bennies, and they didn't begrudge me when I gave them my notice.

I cannot fathom why anyone else would have any other expectation from the job market or any individual employer.
 
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Jeff

Cyburbian
Messages
4,161
Points
27
I love Wal-Mart.

They have everything and everything is cheap. Period.

I shop there, and I don't feel obligated to have to patronize a "local" business which will charge me double the price Wal Mart does. This is economics at its simplest.

I laugh at all of you in your lilly white who claim to "avoid Wal Mart at all costs." Get off your high horse.

I will not criticize you and call you an idiot for throwing away more of your money than need be at local businesses, maybe you could spare some of the insults you place upon us paupers who don't see the need to donate to the charity known as "local business."
 

martini

Cyburbian
Messages
678
Points
19
Nope.

And you can laugh all you want mikeD, I won't be getting offa my high falutin' horse. I'm not saying I don't go to other big box stores (I do), I just don't wanna give my money to Walmart. I dont' give a rats ass how much cheaper Walmart is than saaaay, Home Depot or Target.
 

El Feo

Cyburbian
Messages
674
Points
19
Good news!

Shortly, we will all be able to shop at Wal-Mart guilt-free! I am forwarding Wal-Mart to the Central Committee of Approved Stores for their blessing - once the people's tribunal has granted their esteemed permission, it will be considered in keeping with the spirit of the revolution to purchase goods at Wal-Mart.

Unfortunately, I am still awaiting a ruling from the Central Committee of Approved SUV Uses as to who may own SUVs under what circumstances and where.

I'll keep you posted on the progress on both fronts!





;)
 

Repo Man

Cyburbian
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2,549
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25
It would really take a lot to get me to "boycott" a store or product based on political or ethical views. Yeah sweatshop labor is bad, but do you know what the cost of a pair of jeans or shoes would be if they were made in the US with all of the regulations we have in place?

I am with Mike D on the cheapness factor at Wal Mart (or other big box stores) too. Why should I go into some local home appliance store and buy a toaster oven for 50 bucks when I can get a better one at wal mart for 1/2 that price? I support local businesses when they deserve it or when they offer a superior product. Most of the beer I drink is from local breweries (Miller and the local microbreweries), the restaurants I go to are locally owned, same with the bars. I shop at the locally owned record shops too.

I choose to shop for household items at cheaper places because I want to keep more of what I earn.

There are some places that I won't patronize because of their views. I won't eat at Cracker Barrel because they have fired employees for being gay. I avoided a local I-Hop because the managers were racist. They told a group of black college students that they were closed. Problem was they were a 24 hour restaurant and the place was packed with people eating. Within 6 months they were out of business.
 

Gedunker

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Maiden

In the thorough-bred industry, which I love, when a horse wins its first race it is said to have "broken its maiden". As to Walmart, I have yet to "break my maiden" -- e.g., I've never stepped foot in one.

Just as I hate the Dallas Cowboys for claiming to be "America's Team" I am turned off by the behemoth that is Walmart.

Our 192,000 sf supercenter opened about a year ago. The planning process began 3/4 mile up the road with a site directly effected by an at-grade rail crossing. We commanded Walmart to prepare a traffic study and they supplied a real piece of crap --even the novice members of the PC saw right through it. It was deservedly denied.

They came back about two years later with a new site -- an old mineral manufacturing facility brownfield that they got approved. And to their credit Walmart remediated the site with a verified approval by our state's Department of Envrionmental Management. There have been lingering development issues that they have been difficult about but all in all, no worse than many other big boxes we have dealt with (home depot, target, kohl's and meijers all within the last four years).

By all accounts, the store has been an economic success and a "high performer" for Walmart. I just won't shop there, but I wouldn't prevent anyone from doing so, either.

As to the argument about living wages, I agree with El Feo : when my wife was fired this past December, about 3/5ths of our income went out the door. Suddenly, we had to change our living wage, or we were gonna be on the street.

It seems to me an indictment of public education when government has to mandate minimum wages.
 

iamme

Cyburbian
Messages
485
Points
14
Yeah sweatshop labor is bad, but do you know what the cost of a pair of jeans or shoes would be if they were made in the US with all of the regulations we have in place?
Damn child labor laws!
 
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