WalMart is Bad for Business

UPDATED December 1, 2011

NOTE: This page is subject to more than the usual number of broken links because of WalMart's aggressive legal strategies. For example,
the Walmart versus Women site mentioned below appears to have been snuffed!

ALSO NOTE: Stay up to date with WalMart-related posts on my Environmental Geography blog.

I am not a big advocate of boycotts, but staying out of Wal-Mart is a good idea. It is not an ordinary boycott. Cutting ties to Wal-Mart is a way of refusing to participate in a very damaging economic practice. Wal-Mart -- the largest company in the world -- operates in a way that increases government welfare spending, contributes to suburban sprawl, drives local companies out of business, decreases employment in both retail and manufacturing while lowering the wages in both sectors, and increases our tendency to consume natural resources that we do not need.

Many people continue to support Wal-Mart because they do not think they can afford to shop anywhere else. There is an element of truth to this, and of course, it is part of Wal-Mart's plan -- kill off every low-cost competitor. In short, Wal-Mart creates poverty and then it becomes the store of last resort for victims of poverty. I began my "loathe affair" with the company while I was still a struggling graduate student, so I sympathize with this argument, but I have managed to stay away for more than a decade.

Walmart Toothpaste
Blogger and fellow coffee fanatic Jeff Hess has a great idea for those who cannot afford to avoid WalMart altogther but who want to send a message: just stop buying toothpaste there!

See WalMart ... The Movie. This film is both a cinematic event and a social event. Small-group screenings and discussions are being held throughout the country!
WalMart the Movie

If all of this sounds far-fetched, browse the web sites below for more information. See the WalMart list at DMOZ for more than two dozen anti-WalMart sites.  Very few companies have generated more antagonism than WalMart.

WalMart is about to open a second super store in the small town of Raynham, Massachusetts. Some objections were raised when the idea was first proposed, but Raynham is now on its way to becoming the most WalMartized town in New England, and perhaps the most WalMartized town of its size in the world.

India appears to be WalMart's next frontier. The blog Indian Inheritance's article "Wal-Mart and its entry to India " offers a number of reasons for Indians oppose this, and I'm proud to say that this page is cited as a resource.

LOVE MOM, NOT WAL-MART is a campaign focused on the low pay of WalMart employees. (This NYT article might require free registration.)

The PBS show Frontline asks the question, " Is WalMart good for America? " The discussion board includes some of the most cogent critiques and defenses of the company that I have found online (where many critiques and defenses are passionate, but far from cogent).

WalMart has finally decided to take on its critics, corrupting NPR in the process. Read about it at Clamor Magazine .

WalMart is one of the financial backers of the Pioneer Institute , a "think tank" that is bent on dismantling public education. Unfortunately, PI is very powerful is "liberal" Massachusetts, where it has great influence on the boards of education and higher education .

Not all big box stores are created equal. Since 1997, I have shopped at Costco as a way to stretch my miserly faculty pay check (see Pioneer Institute note above). I felt a little guilty, but decided, "At least it is not WalMart." Recently, I learned that there is a reason I enjoy Costco more -- it is run much more fairly. Read Moira Herbst's article The Costco Challenge to learn how Costco keeps prices low while treating its workers well. She describes how angry some financial analysts are at Costco CEO Jim Senegal. He pays workers more and himself less (this is a CEO who can live on just a half million bucks a year!), allows some workers to be unionized, and still runs a profitable business. This makes Wall Street analysts very angry, even though stockholders seem quite satisfied.

Miss America
                    says ...
Carolyn Sapp (Miss America 1992) supports the Wal-Mart versus Women web site, which explains how Wal-Mart's policies are particularly damaging to female employees.

Sprawl-Busters is the information clearinghouse for campaigns against big box stores of all kinds, of which WalMart is the most prolific and damaging. Read "The Case Against Sprawl" on its home page for an overview of the problems created by big box stores.

WalMart Sucks used to be an online forum for discussions about WalMart. Opponents and defenders of the company made their cases here. I have learned - from - that my earlier suspicions were correct: WalMart has been shutting down protest domains by outlawyering and outspending these non-profit sites. They might be from the "land of the free and the home of the brave," but freedom is not something they value!

The WalMart You Don't Know is a carefully researched and balanced article from the December 2003 issue of the business magazine Fast Company. It is the best explanation I have seen of the ruthless approach that WalMart takes to its suppliers, which in turn harms the employees of those companies. It provides several detailed examples of behavior I had heard about when I worked in manufacturing. The pickle jar that nearly killed Vlasic is the most amazing of these stories.

So many of its employees need government support that some larger Wal-Mart stores have welfare offices in the store -- for the people who work there. One Congressional study entitled "Everyday Low Wages" estimates that a single Wal-Mart "employing" 200 people would cost taxpayers over $400,000 in added social spending.

Just to show that I have a sense of humor, I am providing this free link to Sora Packir's non-political Wal-Mart Appreciation Page . Some of her "Fun Things" ideas sound like a lot of fun; if I'm ever inside a WalMart again, I would like to try some of them.

Dunkin' Donuts is not in the same league as Wal-Mart, but it is bad for the environment, coffee farmers, and America. See my Coffee Hell page to find out why I think so.

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