Saturday, March 30, 2013
and many people started writing in to comment. One person said she loved Walmart, and could not afford to buy milk at the local grocery store. This person's family has made their considerable living by manufacturing things in Asia for American "big-box" stores for decades. After she posted, I wrote this:
It is good to hear people writing... As a person living in a micro-small town for most of my life, I understand that there are some things that are simply not available except at Walmart. And those are the kind of things I buy there, when I have to. But there is extensive documentation of Walmart's many shocking, and simply wrong, ways of doing business.
1) Walmart has a complete lack of concern towards "slave-labor" conditions of the places in which many of Walmart's items are manufactured. Before you think I am whining, consider this:
2) Walmart's tactic of securing a product at a certain price, then forcing the supplier of that product to continue to lower the price the following season by threatening not to sell the item any longer, (which then forces the supplier to meet the new demands, or lose business, is NOT a good business practice because it causes companies to cut corners in SO many ways with quality.) I know someone who inspected factories for clothing manufactured in India who saw children working every day, except the days the Americans came to inspect.
3) Walmart is quite well known for poor treatment and severe under-payment of workers.
4) Although Walmart initially appears to be "doing good" it is quite quickly revealed that communities do not prosper from having Walmart.
If you read the entire article, you will see yet more proof of that. This is not simply a matter of "a big box store comes in and secures lower prices by buying mass quantities of something and drives small businesses out of business". It is not that simple.
Having been in both small business, and in manufacturing for 18 years, as well as having so many friends that have been involved with clothing, food, and product manufacturing and even purchasing for Walmart (and you all know who you are whether you are reading this or not - I won't tag you for obvious reasons), I can say that there is very little good brought to a town by Walmart. When items are contracted for Walmart directly, they are often using the lowest quality materials possible of something, thinnest fabric, flimsiest metal, whatever. So why are we surprised when the item we buy wears out, or breaks so fast, causing us to need to replace it?
I know many wonderful companies who were contacted by Walmart (and Target) and asked to downgrade their product to fit a price schematic. That is fine if that is what we, as consumers, know that we are buying. But representing a product as the same, when it is not the same, is not right, and this still happens with certain items.
What we cannot afford is relative and deeply personal. My choice is to buy the least possible amount of items from Walmart, usually only what I cannot find anywhere else - and I make sure that I FIRST check the local stores. That way by the time I get to Walmart, I am bound to spend less money there. It does make a difference.
We might "need" Walmart, but not for everything, like their marketers want us to think. We DO need a real, diverse community that supports itself as much as possible, and some of the time we seem to have that in Fairfield, but every purchase we make is a vote for something. If we want to have the variety and flavors of a unique community, we have to support them. I love going to all of the locally owned stores and restaurants in my community, and in others I visit because I love having them here, I appreciate their individuality, and because of what I know, I don't love Walmart.