11.15.2007

More on Walmart

I started to respond to the comments on the previous post- lots of good thoughts- and my response got long, so (because I'm the blog author!) I can pull it out here. Hooray!

Matt M said:
... Walmart definitely does more damage than good to an easily tempted frugal person, in offering the convenience of everything in the world you could want, in addition to the one or two things you actually need. I've had to train myself to not "shop" while I'm there. I tell myself to just buy things on the list and leave. And to be kind to the elderly greeter on the way in & out.

The "StuffMart" aspect of Walmart reminds me of this. This was one of the primary observations I had on my visit earlier this week. STUFF. Everywhere.

Heather said:
Politics aside, it's hard not to shop there when they have a monopoly on small town America. They no they have no competition and that over half their clientele can't afford to leave town to search out other options (due to gas prices, etc.). I would love to see a Target, but Matt says they will never come because we are not the market they are looking for.

I know, Heather, that in smaller towns, there isn't another option to get certain things- Walmart, with their low wages and low-cost supply chain, can undercut local businesses and run other stores out of town. This is one of the issues people have with the company. What blows me away is that, Walmart is such a huge employer, and their own employees probably can barely afford to shop there. I'm all for a living wage. But that's for another post.

Ashley said:
I've found that I tend to buy more at Walmart BECAUSE it is cheap. "Oh look it's only $3!" ...

Brett said:
... Anyway, I'm torn on Walmart and the other big-box stores. I'd love to frequent smaller, local shops but it's hard to justify paying the higher prices (and we have comparison shopped). A few years ago the local-ish Marsh grocery stores were hurting financially and were looking for someone to purchase the chain. I remember one of the Marsh higher-ups saying something like "If people want Marsh to stay in town, people need to start shopping here." That's all well and good and I appreciate that Marsh is part of the community but if they want me to shop there, they need to lower their prices. We've actually researched it and, if we regularly shop at Marsh, our grocery bill will jump $20 a week...easily. And I can't justify that. I can find a lot of other things to do with $20 a week.

As for shopping there just because they're less expensive, this is something Josh and I have consciously decided against. For groceries, we can go to other places that can have low prices for other reasons than unfair labor practices here & abroad- we try to stick to Costco (which has lower prices because of economies of scale & bulk buying, and is widely known to treat & pay their employees very well) or Aldi (which has low price because of small stores, no-frills service or displays, and no name brands). If there are groceries we need beyond those places, we watch sales & coupons and usually end up at Kroger or Marsh.

For things other than groceries, we shop around. Between Target & Lowes & Big Lots, we can typically find what we're looking for. This does mean we're going out of our way to avoid Walmart, but I'm OK with that. I've heard it said we vote with our pocketbooks. I don't want to vote for the Waltons.

An eye-opening book about not only Walmart, but other low-wage employers, that brings up issues of minimum wage, living wage, and the day-to-day life of trying to make it for a person working at one of these jobs, is Nickel and Dimed: On Not Getting By in America. Similarly, a show that also opened my eyes to practical struggles of the "working poor" is the first episode of "30 Days", where Morgan Spurlock, the creator of SuperSize Me & his girlfriend worked minimum-wage jobs for a month & saw the difficulty of "getting by".

I don't want to become blind to a whole segment of society, one that God says over and over again that he cares about in a special way. I don't want to support outlets that are exploiting this group. I can't always know what companies do, but I can act on what I know.

2 comments:

Jes said...

You know how they say slashing prices everywhere? or something like that...
We used to shop there regularly and I started to notice that they'd raise the prices of things too, probably to make up for the 20 cents they took off of another item. I also noticed the amounts of things would change but the price would be the same.
It would be really easy for Walmart to take over the world. They have pretty much everything you need under on roof- a place to fix your car, food, clothes, toys, electronics, nail places, eye doctors, photo studios, need I go on?
We do still go there on occasion, but I have a list and we stick to it when we enter in the doors. There's no point in going there to save a few dollars if you add to your list things you don't need right?!

Brett said...

Oh, don't misunderstand, I too go out of our way to avoid Walmart. In my previous Batmobile example, I hit Walmart specifically because I couldn't find it elsewhere. And, yes, I know it's sad to think just how badly I wanted the Batmobile. As I said, Walmart had it even when no one else did. Walmart is a last resort but they do typically have what I'm looking for. Like you, I'll hit Target and Lowes long before Walmart.

Thanks for reminding me to check out Aldi. In our previous home, there really wasn't one close. With our move, that's changed.

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