We Get Greener Kit Cassingham & her Bigger Half

I Shop At WalMart

Now hold on! Hear me out. Please. Living is a balancing act of decisions, decisions that make your life what you want it to be. Being green is also a balancing act of decisions, decisions that help you be greener, or not ("not" stories to come).

WalMart is the target for lots of energetic discussion about some of its business practices, most particularly around employee relations. I have heard that if Sam Walton were alive things wouldn't be so bad in the employee-relations department. But he's not, and WalMart needs to pay attention to that part of its business, IMHO.

Several years ago I decided to quit shopping at WalMart as an act of support for employees, and for local businesses that claim WalMart's presence is hurting their business. The first purchase I made after making that boycott decision was for my thyroid meds. Ouch! My local pharmacy charged three times the price WalMart did. My WalMart boycott was short-lived.

My WalMart boycott turned into shopping with thoughtful action. I try to buy things at locally-owned stores/outlets first, but if I can't find it, or find it at a price I'm willing to pay, I go to WalMart. We live in a small enough area that our choices are often limited. WalMart does expand our options -- so we shop there.

Now, add to my realities WalMart's corporate efforts at going green, at being a sustainable corporation. I applaud it for what it's doing. WalMart has a reputation of throwing its weight around and forcing manufacturers to bend to its rules and pricing demands, if they want to business with WalMart. That can work to our advantage in our environmental growth.

Have you taken note of all that Walmart is doing to help the environment? Let me point out some of its green initiatives. From its website, its broad goals are to:

  • be supplied by 100 percent renewable energy
  • create zero waste
  • sell products that sustain people and the environment

WalMart recognizes that many of its customers want to shop at stores that are environmentally sensitive. That's become a goal for WalMart. That can more easily happen when customers' choices are connected to the life cycle of the products they buy, or through customer education. Suppliers need to get into the act to help that goal be reached. WalMart's focus to suppliers is four-fold:
  1. energy and climate
  2. material efficiency
  3. natural resources
  4. people and community
This is part of the transparency WalMart is demanding of its supply chain for its customers. This, plus creating a lifecycle analysis database (a huge project that helps inform people of the total cost of a product), and creating a labeling tool that will let customers make better-educated choices is one way WalMart is greening its business and the planet.

Those are grand-sounding notions, but what can you see today at WalMart stores, supercenters, and club distribution centers, as well as on the road?

  • selling CFLs (compact fluorescent lights) -- in that volume that helps bring the cost down across the board, for everyone
  • natural and organic fiber clothing, and that made of recycled materials
  • converting its trucks and vehicles to run on alternative fuels
  • generators put on cabs so that the truck doesn't have to idle while making delivery drops
  • solar panels at some stores in California
  • LED lighting in signs
  • skylights in stores
  • energy efficient hand driers in store bathrooms
  • low VOC paints are being used, improving air quality in the stores
  • free recycling of Samsung and WalMart private label electronics, and low-price recycling of other brands of electronic equipment
  • energy efficient TVs (we love our new Vizio)
  • reduced packaging (yeah, it has a way to go on that one
  • locally grown produce, wild-caught fish, Fair Trade
    foods

And behind the scenes it is:
  • donating food to needy people in the US and Mexico
  • making financial donations to CARE to help educate women in India, Peru and Bangladesh
  • conserving one acre of wildlife habitat for every developed acre for a WalMart store
  • testing different biodiesel fuels for eventual availability at its stores
  • incorporating energy efficiency design and operation at stores and club distribution centers
  • investing in renewable energy
  • utilizing energy management systems in stores and club distribution centers, and at the home office
  • reducing waste through various programs
  • and improving its use (and sale) of paper and wood products made from sustainably harvested trees
The list goes on and on, and I may have gone on too long, but I think it's important to share some of what it's doing to green its business practices. After all, I am trying to substantiate my unpopular position of shopping at Walmart.

As WalMart works to green its business, making it more sustainable -- tending to people, planet, and profit -- it is forcing other businesses to do the same thing so they can stay in business. Businesses today have to be sustainable to ultimately be viable. If WalMart's commitment to sustainability, and running green operations world-wide, encourages other businesses to do the same, directly or indirectly, then I'm all for it.

I expect this article to be controversial. Good. That's part of what I'm doing with this site, introducing controversy and a venue for discussion. We can all grow through healthy discussion.

My reasons for shopping at WalMart include being time and energy efficient in buying items there that I can't find anywhere else in town at a price I like, and incorporating shopping at WalMart as one place I go for environmentally friendly products. That's part of how we are getting greener.

Comments

I really appreciate all of the things that you have said about WalMart. I will say 2 things that will probably be VERY unpopular...WalMart is employing people. Now maybe they don't pay as much as some people think they should, or they don't offer all the benefits that people feel they deserve. But they are employing people, and today that is a plus. The second thing is that smaller personal stores can give more specialized service, maybe that is what they need to do to help them stay in business. Is it always going to work? Probably not, but if there wasn't a need for a WalMart somewhere, they wouldn't be there.

Regardless of my feelings for WalMart, I like all of the things that you wrote about how they are being responsible and I think that it is important for people to acknowledge that.

Debbie at April 25, 2010 7:05 PM

I greatly appreciate this one. I've felt horrible for supporting WalMart so much of the time lately, but the truth is: being disabled and raising five children on my husband's meager income, it's almost impossible to survive without taking advantage of the lower prices we can find there. I also shop at other, more local stores for the products I can get at a good price, but all too often, I have to swallow my pride and go to WalMart.

Thanks for pointing out these practices/goals; it makes me feel a little better about my "shopping with thoughtful action", as you put it! :)

Heather at April 26, 2010 9:43 AM

Debbie, you raise several excellent points. Yes, when a company is stable enough to keep people employed they get a gold star on their chart.

I also agree with your comment about good customer service. I've rarely received good customer service at WalMart, and at times none to bad. I personally prefer giving my business to those companies that excel in customer service, and think that those companies will thrive in spite of WalMart. I think the sad part is that customer service is missing in too many businesses these days. But that's another soap box for another day. 0:~)

Thanks for your thoughts and pointing out other good things about WalMart.

-Kit

Kit Cassingham at April 26, 2010 11:24 AM

Heather, I hope you never feel bad about taking care of your family in the best way you can. As long as people come from integrity their decisions aren't bad, IMHO. Do the best with what you have and be green along the way -- WalMart will help you do that.

-Kit

Kit Cassingham at April 26, 2010 11:26 AM

The biggest problem I have with WalMart is that most of their merchandise is imported from countries where people are paid so little it's virtually slave labour.

Jen Dawes at April 26, 2010 1:14 PM

I had to think on this for a day or two, but really, Kit, it is circular logic. The reason your local pharmacies prices are so much higher is BECAUSE of Walmart. They are the leaders, in retail at least, of this race to the bottom economy we now live in. The strongarm and blackmail tactics they have used on suppliers and other competitors has forced so many people out of business. Your local pharmacy doesn't have the power to get the prices that Walmart has blackmailed out of their suppliers. So in effect, by shopping @ Walmart you are helping them continue to do so.

I agree that life is full of decisions and we must balance the pros and cons of a particular decision. But, while it is commendable that they have instituted some green changes (and frankly, many of the things on your list, other companies are doing) I find it impossible to see that those actions can balance the long list of cons. Employee treatment is one (new lawsuit just this week against Walmart and how they treat their female employees), the damage they have done to our economy, other small businesses, and people and businesses in other countries; the fact that much of their merchandise is poorly made, substandard and falls apart, causing people to have to rebuy the same item, far outweighs the few pros we may have.

And I will even argue the price thing. I can barely stand to drive through their parking lot, much less go into a store, so I readily admit I am not a unbiased source, but from what I read from some other reliable sources is that their "lowest price" is largely an urban myth, enhanced by their PR dept. In fact, in places where they have no competition, their prices are usually MUCH higher than similar stores elsewhere.

I'm not out to change anyone's mind, although I would be delighted if my thoughts cause people to rethink their position, but just wanted to offer a counterpoint.

Vicki at April 27, 2010 10:46 AM

When I contrast the difference I can make toward a sustainable environment as one individual vs. the what a corporation the size of Wal-Mart can do, I know that their actions are important and mine are not. Here in the States they are subject to oversight by the American people. What they and their vendors do overseas is another story. Creating a new global economy by leaving our good manners at home just leaves more mess for the future.

Fortunately I need very little, what little I do need I can usually get used through Freecycling or at a resale shop, and I am grateful to have a multitude of choices before I resort to visiting the Wal-Mart.

Lynne, Gresham, OR at April 27, 2010 1:34 PM

My problem - and it may just be my local WalMart - is the way they claim to recycle and don't. People bring back plastic bags to recycle and they simply empty the recycling container in the dumpster out back. I tried to complain to their corporate office but had to give them everything short of my social security number to do so. I gave up. And I just can't get over the manager who was caught replacing the toys from the Toys For Tots donation container back on his shelves. When he was caught he said he had no proof the toys were actually paid for.

Bobbi at April 27, 2010 5:34 PM

I also stopped shopping at WalMart a few years ago because I disagreed with their corporate practices. I also remember they had commercials touting that many of their products that were American made - then they went off to other countries where labor was cheaper, putting many Americans out of work when the businesses went under. They also had commercials convincing us that they were promoting environmentally friendly products and practices. I have yet to see it.

What I see is them filling up a large area of their parking lot with fertilizers, pesticides and chemicals that leak toxins into our water supply when it rains. I live in Florida so that is a huge concern. I see large stores with high, uninsulated ceilings. So, WalMart can spout their American made, environmental concerns all they want but until I see it, I won't believe it.

I also live in a rural area but I have to go into a much larger town down the road for doctor appointments, family events, etc. I schedule my shopping for those monthly trips and go by Target and KMart. If I can't get what I want there or elsewhere, I can do without it.

I wish WalMart was an option but until they practice what they preach, I have no use for them.

Marie at April 27, 2010 10:39 PM

Vicki, your argument is an emotional one, and not completely based in fact. My thinking isn't circular, as you claim, it's based on understanding economics, supply and demand. WalMart gets lower pricing because it buys huge quantities of product, and that gives them lower pricing. If pharmacies wanted lower pricing they *could* band together to form a buying cooperative and compete with WalMart, or other large buyers, and have lower pricing. They don't seem to want to, so they have higher pricing.

I addressed the poor reputation for employee treatment as a reason to shy away. WalMart is a magnet for criticism, sometimes getting more than it deserves. And I agree they really need to clean up their act in that area. But that poor treatment in some stores isn't going to keep me from buying the occasional item there.

How do you know their lower prices claim is a myth? I think if you actually shopped at WalMart, or would even go in, you would find their pricing is generally lower. All stores have loss-leaders, Mountain Market and Safeway use that technique, and so does WalMart. That doesn't make them evil, and it's irresponsible discussion to imply that, IMHO.

You're right that lots of businesses are greening their practices and products. This article is about WalMart though, and since lots of people have negative feelings about the company, as you do, I'm pointing out some of the good points WalMart does have.

I'm not condoning all of WarMart's business practices, but I do appreciate buying my thyroid for less there, and for being able to buy some things there that I can't get locally. And they are driving the green movement with some of their practices.

Sustainability isn't WalMart's forte, as I wish it was, but they are getting two of the three pillars (the planet and profit, not the people). That's a start. WalMart isn't as evil as you seem to think they are.

We can talk about this more over dinner, if you want. Maybe we can sip on some of that homemade lemoncello you have while we let this debate rage on. ;~)


-Kit

Kit Cassingham at April 28, 2010 9:23 AM

Bobbi, I have long suspected that lots of stores that claim to recycle things like plastic bags may just throw them away when they think nobody is watching. A friend of mine watched a recycling truck in Aspen turn into the land fill with a load of recyclables. Maybe they were just picking up recyclables from the landfill, but even my Pollyanna approach won't believe that.

Just to play devils-advocate, though, let me plant the idea that maybe what has been seen as a dumpster is really the bailer of recyclable items WalMarts are using to transfer recyclable items to one central sorting recycling center. Maybe not, but maybe. And even if that's what is happening, is there a watchdog supervising those centers to make sure recyclables are recycled from there, not trashed?

You've raised a good point. Thanks. Now let's see what others add.

-Kit

Kit Cassingham at April 28, 2010 9:28 AM

Marie, I totally respect your choice. You may be a better environmentalist than I am, not letting them off the hook with their environmental-action-slowness just cuz they're a big firm. Vicki gets credit for being a better socially-conscious person than I am because of her stance on employee treatment.

I recognize they are driven by their customers' needs/demands, and most people think they need/want fertilizer and pesticides. WalMart probably feels they need to supply that stuff until the public quits demanding it. Do they sell "environmentally friendly" options of those things, along with the "environmentally unfriendly" options? I don't go into that department so can't answer, but I think it's a good question to ask, and get answered.

I believe in giving credit where credit is due. WalMart gets credit for the green actions they do take. Now I'll be pressuring them to do even more.

-Kit

Kit Cassingham at April 28, 2010 10:27 AM

Kit, I don't mind that they sell gardening supplies. Living in a rural area, many people have their own little gardens so there is a market for it. However, they put hundreds of items out in the parking lot and I know that not all of it (if any) is environmentally friendly. Why can't they leave the toxic stuff inside the garden center so it doesn't leak toxins into our ground water every time it rains? I've asked. All I get are shoulder shrugs.

One small town in this area actually used that practice as a reason to deny WalMart the right to build one of their stores there. WalMart tried legal action to get their decision overturned. It didn't work.

I don't know how they do it in other states but that's what WalMarts all over Florida do. Since we can raise certain vegetables in the winter, the gardening stuff is out there year 'round. Even during the rainy season.

So, I still don't like WalMart but I appreciate your well thought out reply. I have nothing against people that shop at WalMart. I understand that some people can't go farther out to shop. I understand that WalMart is the less expensive alternative for them. I'm just grateful that I can shop elsewhere.

Marie at April 29, 2010 10:04 PM

Marie,

I see your point. I guess our WalMart also puts the poisons outside during the height of garden-planning season, probably to save the effort of moving so much product in and then out of the store. You could make an argument that it's good to have that stuff outside to preserve air quality inside. But, your point of how the poisons wash into the ground and storm system during rain storms (something you get more than we do) is an excellent point. So, why not put a tent around the poisons so they don't get washed away? That could solve several important issues.

Thanks for your conversation and points. I to am glad to shop at other stores as much as possible. I'm also grateful for the option of buying my thyroid for less there. :~)

-Kit

Kit Cassingham at April 30, 2010 10:19 AM

I try to shop at a variety of stores in my town; I have a bad back, and it's painful for me to make the long trek around Wal-Mart, though I do appreciate having everything in one location, as I try to group all my errands for once every week to ten days.

My reasons for supporting Wal-Mart are quite a bit different, though. Simply put, they supported us after Hurricane Katrina. I live in southeast Louisiana, and Wal-Mart was the first store in my town that managed to open and get gasoline deliveries. They didn't price gouge (illegal in Louisiana, but that didn't stop a lot of the other stores). They actually sold gasoline at pre-hurricane prices (I paid up to a dollar more per gallon in Maryland, where we evacuated to stay with family for three weeks). They donated their old store site for the National Guard to use as a staging area for ice and MRE distribution. They got the essentials in a lot faster than anyone else did. When there was no electricty, gasoline pumps ran off generators....but they ran, and they did have gasoline. Since then, they've made many generous donations to local charities; our animal shelter receives a large amount of its pet food from them. We see the help in our own community.

As far as service...I wonder if that's a function of location? My daughter and I had a favorite greeter for closet to ten years, Miss Rosa, who greeted us with a hug and kiss on the cheek every time we came in, and if I came alone, she asked about my daughter. She treated everyone like that, and the other greeters are almost as friendly. Miss Rosa retired a few years ago, and we miss her. She's not the only one, though. After a flood 15 years ago, I spent a lot of time in the paint and house repair departments, and the manager in that department came to recognize all his regular customers and ask us how our repairs were coming along. The produce guys have offered me all kinds of tips about unfamiliar or exotic fruits on display, and they've clearly not only known their products, but enjoyed working with them. In fact, I've never had "bad" service at Wal-Mart here. I have seen tired employees run off their feet, but they've mustered a smile and helped me anyway. Maybe all their mamas just raised 'em right. And regarding Wal-Mart pharmacies--while I don't use the pharmacy here often, as I've used a mom-and-pop place for close to 30 years and know all the people there, when I had to refill my medications while evacuated in Maryland, the store there refilled my prescriptions, and then refused payment. I was embarrassed about accepting charity, but the pharmacist told me to keep my copays for other expenses. That store also let me write out-of-state checks with no trouble at all...even though my sister-in-law's bank (mine was only regional and had no branches in MD) wanted to hold my travel insurance check for 10 days before cashing it....even though it was a major insurance carrier.

I don't agree with all of Wal-Mart's business practices. But they've been one of the most community-minded national companies I've ever seen. I'm grateful that they're here.

Kitty
Slidell, LA

Kitty at April 30, 2010 10:01 PM

I don't shop at Wal-Mart unless I have no other options. I almost never buy groceries there. I probably don't go in one more than 3-4 times a year. (and we have two within a 15 min drive)

However my reasons are less 'enlightened, political or intellectual.'

Simply put...I have severe arthritis in my hip and foot. When it hurts to walk very far, those parking lots feel three miles long, and the stores are also three miles long and deep!

On the other hand, my husband picks up many of the day to day items we need....and he goes there all the time! LOL!

Oh...and their meat is terrible!

Kathi, Florida at May 1, 2010 5:44 AM

Having worked in an industry that supplies packaging materials to large companies that supply Walmart, I can tell you that their treatment of their suppliers goes beyond "evil." Their constant demand for lower prices continue even when the market demands price increases. That forces suppliers to look outside the US for their materials.

So it's not just that they force one level in the supply chain off-shore. Their whole business model demands that the entire chain cuts to the bone and then, when that is no longer enough, to move off-shore.

Add that to the way they treat employees and the impact on local communities and it doesn't matter what other good they do. Walmart could become the paragon of green in the local community, but their impact on other industries completely and totally wipes out any good they can do.

I'm sorry, Kit, but I've seen it from the inside. Shopping at Walmart can do no good. I've recently been downsized by a company that made in excess of $30 billion dollars last year so that they could save a few more dollars. But my wife and I have sworn that we'll starve before we set foot in a Walmart.

Charles Perez at May 1, 2010 8:12 AM

I've been reading and hearing the nasty comments about Wal-Mart's personnel policies for years. And for most of that time I've wondered why Wal-Mart catches all the flack. They aren't the only employers that treat their employees abominably. I know from personal experience that they are far from unique.

A few years ago I worked for a year in a Southern California supermarket. Almost everything I heard about Wall-Mart could apply to that chain. I have no reason to believe that the other chains differed in meaningful ways. And supermarket employees have an additional indignity to bear: they have to pay union dues for the privilege of working at crappy jobs that pay little or no more than minimum wage.

Lou Jones at May 1, 2010 12:55 PM

Kathi, seems to me you have your bburdens to bear with your "other half" in the family decision tree of yes-or-no on WalMart. Good luck!

An interesting aspect of this article is the diverse opinions about the quality of WalMart products. We can get really good meat at our store.

Interesting.

-Kit

Kit Cassingham at May 2, 2010 6:35 PM

Charles, I'm sorry you suffered from your former-company's business style. Your story isn't new to me, with WalMart or other companies. It's a shame when the hard-working employees suffer the brunt of what I think of as capitalism gone awry.

-Kit

Kit Cassingham at May 2, 2010 6:39 PM

Lou, I've been waiting for someone to bring that up. It seems to me that people love "bashing" some successful people and businesses. I see that with Bill Gates and Microsoft, as well as WalMart.

I agree that WalMart may not be as socially concious as we'd all like, but many businesses aren't. The difference? WalMart is high profile while other businesses keep a low profile.

Thanks for speaking up on that, Lou.

-Kit

Kit Cassingham at May 2, 2010 7:28 PM

I shop at WalMart because the only other grocery store in town is dirty, expensive, and though close to where I work, not worth the convenience. If I had other choices, I would shop elsewhere. WalMart shopping is exasperating. They are constantly moving their products, so when you go looking for a product, it's in a completely different place. They've put up those horrible little screens that start talking at you when you come anywhere near them, extolling the virtues of cold medicine, bug spray, or laundry detergent. At least at home I can mute the commercials; at WalMart, you're stuck having them yammering at you until you walk away.

As far as the way they treat employees, they are no worse than other retail places. Managers seem to think that employees have no family life, expect them to work 12 hour shifts one week, and then cut way back on their hours the next, or working mornings one day, and then nights the next. No consistent scheduling. My son-in-law was an assistant manager at WalMart, quit because he was scheduled 13 hour days, never saw his daughter on those day, way too much stress, not enough rest. That's no way to treat employees. BTW, my son-in-law took a good-sized pay cut, but now works 8 hours a day, 5 days a week, sees his daughter every night, and has all weekends off. That never happened at WalMart.

D at May 3, 2010 8:21 PM

I stopped shopping at WalMart three years ago. I was amazed to find out how easy it was. In fact I have forgotten about WalMart and drive past it on my way to shop at other stores. There are several reasons I stopped shopping there. One was the labor situation. Possably in some areas there is not a problem but when I lived in the south they were hiring illegals and working them long hours and some even slept in the store. That plus all the other reasons people object to WalMart I noticed I could not go in the store and come out without getting irritated. I was angry when I left almost every time. One reason was the length of time it took me to get through the line. Once I counted 15 people ahead of me. I took out my cell phone and called the store while I was waiting. When someone answered I asked for a manager. When the manager answered I complained about the line and told her she needed to open more registers. She said she didn't have anyone to send. I told her she could come and open one and she did. With all the money they make they can hire enough checkers. After all the average perchase would probably cover one checker's pay for a day. I also loathe their paractice of the limited item post Thanksgiving sale. We all know what has happened at those events.

Ann Parker at May 8, 2010 7:47 AM

Good article on a controversial subject. I live in a city that has no Walmart. Shocking I know. Not owning a vehicle, it's not easy to get to the burbs, so I don't even know where to find the nearest store, but you mentioned Walmart focuses on clothing made of organic and recycled fibers. One of the things I get asked all the time, because my fabric of choice is organic cotton, is where are the plus-size organic cotton choices? I wonder if Walmart carries plus sizes, and if so, whether their commitment to organic and recycled clothing carries to that department?

I noticed you also used the word "natural" in your description of their clothing. A lot of companies painting themselves green use the word natural, but it rarely has anything to do with sustainable, fair trade, or other socially and environmentally responsible actions. If Walmart is utilizing this word, is it green-washing or is it backed by sound environmental practices?

graceonline at May 17, 2010 12:09 PM

GraceOnLine, technically I live in a town that doesn't have a WalMart either. And I'm glad. My county has only one fast-food restaurant too, as an aside. I like seeing some communities hold out from the fast-food chains and big-box stores.

Yes, WalMart has plus-sizes. I haven't checked to see what the fabric content is though. I suppose you could check online, if you really wanted to know.

Your point about the use of "natural" is a good one. I think I introduced the term natural into the discussion. When I say it I mean healthy, organic, minimally processed. It does seem to me that when a company uses the term I take it as a green washing indicator. Interesting bias of mine, and maybe other people.

Did you see my Musings post about the plastics video you Twittered? Here's the link: http://www.wegetgreener.com/musings-2010-may.html


-Kit

Kit Cassingham at May 17, 2010 12:50 PM

Another plus for WalMart....
From Dr. Reese Halter: Wal-Mart suppliers cut CO2 emissions by 20 million metric tons... http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/35590136/ns/business-going_green/

Kit Cassingham at July 6, 2010 11:47 AM

I have no vested interest in Walmart, but working closely with a number of people who do work inside Walmart provides me with information that's less available to the average Joe.

Walmart does not pay their employees at minimum wage. With federal minimum wage at $7.25, Walmart starts most employees at $8.50 or higher. Kroger, which is union (in fact, the union which makes the most noise about Walmart) pays starting employees at 50ยข above minimum wage AND charges dues for the privilege. Whenever a new Walmart opens, Kroger employees abandon ship to get jobs at Walmart. Where I've heard employee grumbling about Walmart, it's nearly always from the few with exceptionally poor work ethic. With shrinkage of around nearly $1 million per store, the majority of it is due to employee pilferage or theft. Employees caught in such theft are terminated and naturally will not speak well of the store.

Managers have engaged in bad practices, but most often due to faulty viewpoint or refusal to adhere to company policy. As agents of the company, Walmart is still responsible for the actions of the individual, but such mismanagement is dealt with since heavy fines affect the Bottom Line. Of course, nothing is stagnant, and management changes jobs, retires, relocates, quits, or is terminated, and new managers provide a fresh crop of the few who refuse to comply with proper policy. This is true for all companies, not just Walmart. There are Walmarts that are horrible examples, but there are others that are flagships of the corporate philosphy. It's an ongoing process to root out the poor performers and turn them around.

The lament that Walmart forces smaller companies, the mom & pops, out of business is nothing more than crying about progress, that the peaceful, idyllic 1950's has been replaced by the violent, selfish 1980's. Oops, now it's the 2000's. The same situation existed when [super]markets began replacing the little corner grocery markets. Most people today don't even remember them, let alone cry about their loss. And Walmart does not drive out all competition. Wherever a Walmart appears, not far away will also pop up a Super Target, a Best Buy or similar big box store for electronics, as well as others. Whether or not it's the exact choice one wants, it remains that there IS still choice.

Wherever Walmart pops up, the complaint that the community is forever disrupted by the crowds is invalid. Walmart pays directly for road expansion and traffic regulation to assure smooth operation. Customers who have to fight to get in or out are not as inclined to come back.

Walmart products are the same products available at other stores. Walmart does not contract with Chinese companies to manufacture products for Walmart. Walmart has had a philosophy for decades that if an American company can come close to the same price for a product (not necessarily cheaper), then preference is given to the American company. For everyone's edification, there are no American made DVD players. There are American brand names, but that's just a license paid by the American company to put their names on foreign-made products.

Kit is entirely correct in her assessment of Walmart's direction toward Green existence. All your plastic shopping bags? Don't throw them away; take them to Walmart, regardless of brand name on the bag. Recyclers PAY Walmart for those bags. If the recyclers are taking them to the local landfill, that's not Walmart's issue, but why would recyclers pay to do what the garbage collector already does? All those tons of cardboard shipping boxes that come into Walmart stores each day? Recyclers pay Walmart for those, too.

Walmart is not mammothly successful because of Mafia tactics. Nobody is forcing customers into the store at gunpoint. Bottom line is that Walmart is giving customers what they want. That's a crime??? Okay, they're not perfect at it; many issues do exist, same as all other stores.

But I'm not going to spend more money just to spite myself. Or just because it's fashionable to bash Walmart. And I'm not even that fond of Walmart, in spite of what I've said here. But it IS convenient for me. If Walmart died and went away, I'd adapt and shop at the next best option for me. And that may not be as green-friendly as Walmart is.

Mike from Dallas at July 14, 2010 10:54 PM

Mike, Thanks for your calm, logical response here. It does seem that people love to bash the big successful business or business person. We love to see people and businesses succeed, but there seems to be a magic, invisible line that when crossed turns that success into evil.

While I try to give as much business as possible to local businesses, WalMart has lots to offer, so I quite often shop there -- and without apologies.


-Kit

Kit Cassingham at July 31, 2010 7:29 AM

Why don't I shop at WalMart? Cause I hate it! The WalMart good / WalMart bad angle has been stated in plenty of variety here so I won't belabour the point.

I don't like WalMart for a few reasons.
1) I get instant shopping ADD when I go in there. The sheer amount of visual stimuli and advertising fries my brain before I get 50 feet.
2) There is too many gosh darn people in there!
3) I can never find what I need and it's almost guaranteed to be on the OTHER side of the store.
4) To much of what they carry is of VERY poor quality. I don't want to have to come back and pay more to get a second item to replace one that broke!
5) I hate waiting in line. Why build 30 check stands if you are never going to open more than 3?
6) The grocery department sucks.

Every time I shop at WalMart I come out feeling annoyed, fried and pissy. I don't need that. Not when I can park down town, walk to 3 different stores, be waited on by the employees personally since I'm one of few customers in there, check out and STILL complete my shopping in less time then it takes me to wonder around the hideously large (not to mention ugly!) WalMart.

Ruth Stewart at July 31, 2010 9:46 PM

Ruth,

It's interesting to see your perspective. While I don't agree with all of it (I actually like some of their groceries) I honor your reaction. Thank goodness we have lots of options!

I prefer shopping at the smaller, more local shops myself, but sometimes WalMart is my best option. Darn it anyway.


-Kit

Kit Cassingham at August 2, 2010 10:30 AM
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