Wal-Mart has a problem: they’ve saved so much money on labor costs that their shelves are going bare.
Margaret Hancock has long considered the local Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (WMT) superstore her one- stop shopping destination. No longer.
During recent visits, the retired accountant from Newark, Delaware, says she failed to find more than a dozen basic items, including certain types of face cream, cold medicine, bandages, mouthwash, hangers, lamps and fabrics.
The cosmetics section “looked like someone raided it,” said Hancock, 63.
The difference between Wal-Mart and its competition is that Wal-Mart optimizes their operation for one goal, having the lowest price on their products. Their competition, like Target, is not such a one-note song. For example, I knew a guy who worked at Target corporate, and he said that their customer surveys told them that shoppers like a clean store, so Target’s cleaning budget was quite a bit higher than Wal-Mart’s.
The reason that suburban middle class types generally shop at Target isn’t their politics or their ethics–it’s that spending an hour shopping in Wal-Mart is just plain unpleasant. The place is dirty, and the shelves are a mess. Better to pay a couple cents more for your laundry soap than to feel like you’ve just visited a third world country. The logical end to the Wal-Mart experiment in lowest-cost retailing is probably some kid being attacked by rats in the toy aisle because someone in corporate decided that extermination was an unnecessary expense.
Most people prefer shopping to dump picking, then?
c u n d gulag
Between Papa Johns, Red Lobster, Olive Garden, and now Wal-Mart, maybe these @$$hole corporations will finally start getting the message, that price is NOT the end-all and be-all for all consumers/customers.
That d*ck at Papa Johns found out that people wouldn’t mind paying $1 more for a sh*tty pizza, if the person who made that sh*tty pizza had health care coverage, and wasn’t some sort of Typhoid Mary/Mark, because they not only couldn’t take time off from work, but didn’t have any health care even if they could.
Keep the pressure on.
I haven’t been to a Wal-Mart in years – and I ask others not to go, either.
I always hated Papa Johns sh*tty pies, and after trying it once at work in NC, never ate the crappy slices, even when they were ordered in at work, and served for free.
And I’ve told family members and friends not to frequent either Red Lobster or Olive Garden.
People shop at Target because of the Walmartians, also too. If Diane Arbus wasn’t already dead, the snack aisles there would have killed her.
you can also generally rely on being able to find what you’re looking for in a Target, be it on the East Coast, down South, out West, or near the mother ship in MSP — the aisles and departments are both consistently organized and easily scannable.
Walmart is like going on a scavenger hunt — in every sense of phrase.
The reason that suburban middle class types generally shop at Target isn’t their politics or their ethics–it’s that spending an hour shopping in Wal-Mart is just plain unpleasant. The place is dirty, and the shelves are a mess.
And, with a few exceptions (like the elderly greeters at the front door), the staff acts like they’re pissed off at the world. Probably because they’re treated like shit. That’s not just assumption, I know people who’ve worked there.
It’s a huge contrast to the way it was when WM first opened here.
I thought one of WalMart’s great innovations was this high-tech inventory system that fed information from cash registers directly to their supply chain so shelves were never empty. I guess if you don’t have the people to actually put the merchandise on the shelf, all the fancy inventory software in the world can’t help you.
Maybe it’s just me, but understocked shelves, missing items, etc. seems to be a problem at virtually every Target I’ve gone to as well — though their stores are indeed generally cleaner and more “cheery”.
Since I haven’t been to a Walmart in years, I can’t comment on the condition. I like Target, but they don’t actually have what I’m looking for most of the time and I leave emptyhanded.
I shop at Target mainly because anything can go on clearance. Laundry detergent, dishwashing liquid, sponges, cat food, underwear, socks, cookies, chocolate, ice cream – I see that orange clearance sticker and I’m a happy shopper.
The even bigger surprise will happen when the people working for Wally make so little that they can’t afford to shop there.
Who is going to buy all their cheap Chinese mad junk when they don’t have enough money to make the rent? That kid making running shoes in Quigong for 15 cents an hour is not going to pay $200 for them.
Whoa. That linked article was pretty good. It had extensive research, explained things clearly, and even though it didn’t explicitly state a point of view, it didn’t engage in “on the one hand on the other hand both sides have valid points” reporting either. How did that happen?
I’ve read this same article a hundred times over the last decade. Lost in the noise is that Walmart made half a TRILLION dollars in revenues last year, and it’s bigger than the next dozen retailers combined.
Everybody on the internet claims to never shop there, yet somehow Walmart still manages to be the largest company in the history of the world.
Ain’t nuthin’ gonna change at Walmart – not the crap products, the dirty stores, the abusive workplace practices, none of it – unless the people who talk about shopping at Target actually start shopping at Target.
(Not that Target’s any better when it comes to worker treatment or corporate ethics. Worse, arguably.)
The problem with the on demand resupply Walmart uses is that it is great for about 15 minutes after an inventory, but once reshops, returns, and spoilage starts to show up the system falls down. The on Demand staffing suffers the same problem, you wind up having optimized staffing for historic patterns, so you staff for the past not the present. Storms, zeitgeist, and holidays play havoc with the system leaving stores frequently understaffed at busy times with no way to correct it. You can’t just call in an employee, so they developed flex schedules which is basically on call scheduling, where if they don’t call you don’t get paid. It is a shaft all around. Walmart is a crappy crappy innovation of coddled capitalism.
Remember the Simpsons episode where Homer falls for a get rich huckster that focuses on reducing spending? He decides the 99 cent store is too elite for them, then the 66 cent store isn’t good enough so they land at the 33 cent store.
“But dad, these cans of krill are past their expiration date!”
Homer turning green as he spoons the contents into his mouth
c u n d gulag
In another cost-saving move, many Wal-Marts have eliminated the “Greeter” position – so, us older folks, even if we wanted to, or had to, won’t be able to take that job in the future.
“Penny-wise, Pound foolish.”
Keep poundin’ ’em!!!
I haven’t set foot in the local Wal-Mart in years, so I can’t compare. But I’ve only rarely had problems finding what I need at the local Target. And yes, from what I recall, the Wal-Mart was pretty grimy. If they were the only store in town, that would be one thing, but surrounded as they are with so many other (and better) big-box stores, I don’t see how the local Wal-Mart stays open.
I have to disagree with a lot of the blanket assumptions here. All of the WM in my area are clean and well stocked. People shop there for price and convenience. I can do my grocery shopping and pick up my wash fluid at the same place. And the food prices are significantly lower than all the area grocery stores with a much larger selection. The only place better to shop at for food is the military commissary, but that’s not available to all. The clothing and general products are of much better quality than AAFES/ NEX.
I avoid Target for a couple of reasons. For one, the food is priced to high. Why am I going to spend premium money on an in house brand of trail mix when I can either make it myself or get it cheaper at BJ’s or WM? Secondly, it has nothing I need. The clothing selection for men is thin, and Kohl’s is better, and I don’t need decorating knick knacks. Overall, I’ve felt that the majority of Target shoppers shop there just to say they don’t shop at WM. For a family on a tight budget, though, you’re not going to do better than WM.
@Obliterati: How is Target as bad as/worse than Wal-Mart?
I’ve worked there. Employees are treated like shit. Walmart was the only job where I have just walked out. I spent 6 years in the Marines and I was never treated worse than when I worked at Walmart.
Because they have a store in every little wide spot in the road that tries to be a town. Then everyone in the surrounding area then starts shopping at Walmart.
The high-tech inventory systems are designed to reduce expenses through spoilage and by minimizing the amount of merchandise that is kept at the store occupying valuable space on the shelves or necessitating large on-site warehousing capacity. It’s supposed to do this while keeping items in stock and on the shelves, but that’s more of a secondary concern as this type of system is vulnerable to shocks, at least in the short term.
Their union busting is legendary…their workers are paid even less than Walmart’s, and get fewer benefits (as hard as that is to believe)…the employee surveillance and intimidation at Target is frankly disgusting.
These two companies have learned a lot from each other. Google ‘Target union intimidation’ and get ready for an early morning blood-pressure spike…
Though the shelves ARE well-stocked in Raleigh NC Wal-Marts, where their cheapness toward labor shows up glaringly as the sun is in the checkout lines, where e.g. at 9:30pm there are nominally as many as 20 cashier stations, but only two of them will be manned by actual cashiers and the line will be ten or twelve customers deep. If you need help finding the item you went to WallyMart looking for in the first place, finding a clerk is part of the scavenger hunt. You finally spot one a hundred feet away, and good luck catching her attention (the floor clerks seem to be disproportionatley women) before she scurries off. While the clerks are never really unpleasant, I never seem to run into any with anything remotely approaching a cheerful demeanor (this is the south, not New York, and so superficial cheer rather than gruffness is the norm here). They all give off the vibe of people who know they’ve stuck themselves in dead-end jobs that weren’t at all the sort of thing they hoped for growing up.
I only go to WallyMart on two occasions:
1) when I need a new cheap referee watch (they have the kind that are cheap enough to only have a time-of-day and stopwatch count-up mode, instead of a zillion lap timers which will confuse the hell out of you trying to keep game time in soccer);
2) late at night when nothing else is open, and I need something even the diversely stocked all-night Harris-Teeter grocery store doesn’t have.
And yes, I come out of Wal-Mart feeling a bit tawdry, like I just stepped out of an “Adult Video” store or something.
@cmorenc: I went to the WM on Maui and those were some really pissed off employees!
Only thing I don’t like about Target is their store brand, Archer Farms, is not very good quality. Other than that, they’re a cleaner, more cheerful, more helpful, more fashionable experience. They publish plenty of coupons in the paper and on their mobile app, and their RedCard that gets you a 5% discount on everything is available in DEBIT. That’s awesome, since most people make you open another damn credit card you have to remember to pay. Only times I go to Wal-Mart are if it’s after 10 p.m. and Target’s closed. The one here is depressing, and they always have forty checkout lines of which two will be staffed.
@Obliterati: This is true. In my area (upstate NY), there is no shittier place to work than Target. There may be reasons to shop Target over Walmart, but treating their employees better is not one of them. Costco on the other hand really does pay well and offer good benefits. You can make a career out of working at Costco. Working at Target or Walmart is simply serving time in purgatory.
I occasionally step foot in a Target. But the place I’d rather shop is Costco, which does pay its employees decent wages.
Walmart, I’ll never go to. My mother buys crap for her grandkids there. And guess what, it falls apart within weeks. Walmart is emblematic of our disposable society. That’s a whole ‘nother rant.
@cmorenc: That one on New Hope Church Rd., I don’t even like being in that parking lot.
Must be your Target. Ours is actually competitive with grocery stores in the area.
I worked for Target Corp when they owned Marshall Field’s. My sister works for them now. They were a great employer to both of us.
Also, their local stores are extremely clean. I always notice the polish on a store’s floors. It’s extremely costly and time consuming to maintain waxed VCT in good condition. Target’s tile always looks freshly polished, indicating scrupulous maintenance.
I’ve made a real effort not to go to Wal Mart but no ones carries Camilla blackeyed peas and red beans so, every now and then, I swing by.
Oh, if you do have a Target RedCard, you can link it to a school for donations, too. If you don’t have kids, just pick a school that looks like it could use the help. It doesn’t cost you anything.
Before they added the grocery section to our local WM and turned it into a super center, the place was a dirty, stinky, disorganized mess that I only visited once. They added the grocery and refurbished the rest of the place and now it’s almost on par with the local Target in terms of cleanliness and shopping experience. If it were up to me I’d still never go there but my wife has certain items she says she can only find there at the price she wants.
As for the ubiquity of Walmart stores – when we were in China to adopt our daughter a few years ago the city where we picked her up was Nanchang. I had never heard of the place before we were told we were traveling there. Not a small city – about 4M people and many large buildings. Unfortunately, the air smelled of burning wire the entire time we were there. Anyway, Nanchang had not just one but two huge Walmarts. By contrast, NYC has none – although this is by design.
I’ve made exactly one purchase from WalMart. I bought the jeans I’m wearing in Mexico when I went on a business trip and my luggage didn’t. WalMart Mexico was a horrorshow. An acid flashback in retail form. And the pants cost 400 pesos, Nearly $40 for store brand jeans.
I worked for Target.
That was one incredible operation.
Then I went to Apple.
Another incredible operation.
I like to laugh when I see people going in to Wal-Mart. Geeks and losers who don’t care if the people there are getting the shaft.
As noted above, the linked article is well-done– facts, expert opinions, even a pro-forma denial of reality from a Wal-Mart exec. Upthread comments suggesting that different Wal-Marts have significantly different levels of dirt and disorder suggests that we’re seeing a system-wide breakdown.
@Obliterati: Yup, Target just has a lot better marketing but they’re essentially the same.
@Comrade Carter: So which is it, Target is a big brother hell hole or it’s a good place to work. This fucking blog can give you whiplash!
You shop Target for housewares. They are higher quality than Bed Bath Beyond (which is Walmart quality). And they are better value for money than most of the chain department stores.
So you’re cool with worker exploitation as long as they are Chinese and you don’t have to see them?
Targets are not as well placed. In fact the only one in my town would be an hour out of the way. Walmart is cheaper and has things I need and is availible. I don’t shop for groceries because I don’t like most of their brands, the electronics are defective but for medicines (cold, alergy, prescriptions etc) they are usually the best choice.
They have gotten dirtier than they used to be. discount stores seem to have a life cycle. I remember when it was Kmart….about 30 years ago. I don’t think Target is going to replace them. Around here Dollar General is getting bigger and more common.
I am not impressed with WM’s corperate leadership. They keep trying to build new stores, bully zoning boards of our area for no real reason. they pick sites that are in flood management nature areas or such and spend years wrangling and getting denied when their are tons of other nearby sites that would get approved and look to me like better traffic locations anyway. I’ve gotten the impression they like picking fights and proving how important they are. Also old sites become empty problems.
They are cheaper and our area has a lot of poor people. Times aren’t great and even when they are, certain incomes need every penny so I don’t think they are getting boycotted in any meaningful way.
“I thought one of WalMart’s great innovations was this high-tech inventory system that fed information from cash registers directly to their supply chain so shelves were never empty. I guess if you don’t have the people to actually put the merchandise on the shelf, all the fancy inventory software in the world can’t help you. ”
With inventory, there’s a balance between costs of stocking and costs of being out-of-stock. I’ll bet that what’s happened is that Wal-Mart is shifting that balance much more towards being out-of-stock.
It sucks the life out of me. Not well organized, at all and even the name brands they stock seem substandard.
@Walker: Maybe it’s just my Target(s) as someone noted above because most of the housewares at mine are either overpriced vs. same quality at WM and Kohls or feel like cheap, dorm room plastic.
I don’t know. I own’t make any claim that WM is amazing, but it serves my needs when I need it to. The reality is that all these corps are in the business of making money and screwing employees and buying cheap goods is going to take place no matter where you shop.
WalMart recently got busted for regularly paying bribes to government officials in Mexico to get their stores built. It was pretty much corporate policy to do whatever it took to carry out the business plan.
@Ultraviolet Thunder: OH NO, SAY IT AIN’T SO!!!
Odie Hugh Manatee
My wife and daughter work at a Kroger affiliate and they are headed in the same direction. Laying off cashiers, training everyone in the store to be a cashier (without the pay differential), pulling people from understaffed departments to man cash the registers, departments without any coverage, pissed off underpaid, overworked employees with shitty benefits, shelves that are “faced” instead of stocked and more.
Of course, whenever corporate gives the store the heads up that an inspection is coming, the shelves are stocked and the floors are covered. Once the party is over it’s back to reality.
My wife calls it “Welcome to the Grand Illusion”.
Not only that but its clear that the way they practice “on demand staffing” is exceptionally abusive to the worker, needlessly so. I “know” a bunch of people who work at walmart through the internet and the impossibility of knowing your hours in advance, and the abusive scheduling, creates a horrible toll on the worker.
I thought the strangest thing about the article was the continued interview with the guy who somehow seemed to feel some kind of bottom feeder’s loyalty to walmart because of their rock bottom prices, like there wasn’t a “high cost to low cost” about getting him cheap shirts so he and his overly large family could stretch their budget when they were in college or whatever sentimental reasons he gave.
My sister in law actually had one of those weird signs hanging in her house that said something like “my favorite place to shop is walmart” or something and I used to look at her, aghast. She’d no more steal from a poor person than she would cut off her right foot but the fact tht walmart achieves low prices with high profits did not enter into her calculations about the morality of essentially buying stuff from people who commit massive wage theft and abusive employment practices in order to make this work.
I shop at Target–as infrequently as I can because I never leave there with less than 300 dollars worth of stuff. Target has corectly figured out that a liberal return policy, a clean well lighted, well stocked store, and the ability to buy everything from car stuff to kids clothes to cleaning supplies works well for them. I’d rather shop at costco but there isn’t one near me and I don’t need to buy in such bulk.
@Odie Hugh Manatee: They just doubled the size of our “Disco Kroger”. I have never seen a store stay open while that level of construction took place. The place was nuts for 6 months and, now that they are done, people are moaning and bitching that they can’t find anything!
South of I10
I quit shopping at Walmart a few years back and I don’t miss it. I occasionally go to Target. I am lucky enough to have a Rouse’s grocery and a small locally owned drug store within walking distance. The drug store has great prices on paper goods and most of the other things I used to buy at Target. Since Rouse’s is so close, I end up shopping much more, but spending less money over all. I can walk to both, so I get more exercise too.
Everyone that I have known to work at Target (sister-in-law, neighborhoods, friends, etc) has spoke well of working there.
Yes they do union bust and their corporate security can be downright draconian at times as with anything YMMV.
@Odie Hugh Manatee:
Speaking as an Ohioan – I’m somewhat surprised to hear that Kroger is only “heading” in that direction. Since the mid-90s it’s seemed like Kroger has been attempting to keep their profits high by reducing staff while building giant stores. It’s pretty much a recipe for disaster, and it made it easy for Giant Eagle to move in here from PA and, for a while, offer an alternative. (Though I understand that in PA Giant Eagle has the same business model as Kroger here in Ohio, and we’re starting to see that mentality come through now that they’re “established” in the area).
(Though you say a “Kroger affiliate” – so maybe you mean one of the other store chains that doesn’t quite have the corporate HQ meddling that the Kroger stores around here seem to have to put up with.)
I don’t know. Most stuff we buy we can do without. Wal-mart has a strategy making the shopping experience unfriendly and time consuming. More than once I’ve been able to save money by looking at the long checkout and just giving up and going home. Confronted with the chance to ask if I really needed something, I could answer “not as much as I thought I did going into the store.”
They’ve got the money. They’ve got people willing to work for them. But greedy managers have been trained not to spend it, and are motivated not to spend it. Everything that’s wrong with MBAmerica in a nutshell.
It’s not often I read an article like this and think, “Yes, that is the EXACT experience I’ve had.” Went into a WM a few months ago because their website said they had an item I couldn’t find in any other physical store. Skids filled with unshelved items blocking the aisle? Check. Empty shelves? Check. No floor help anywhere? Check. Took 45 minutes for someone to help me figure out the website lied, and no there wasn’t any more of it hidden on any of the shelves behind the skids — yeah, that’s right, it was so screwed up in that store that even if they had it on a shelf you still couldn’t buy it because you couldn’t get to the shelf.
Odie Hugh Manatee
I gave up on buying shit at ours because they got rid of all of the good auto and hardware stuff and they keep moving shit all over the place. Nothing frustrates me more than going to buy something I have bought recently and they’ve moved it once again.
Kroger should stick to groceries, they fuck everything else up.
Wal-Mart seems to be the only place in the world where the customers walk the aisles holding their carts next to them (“double-wides”) instead of in front of them.
For some reason, my brother goes to Wal-Mart for everything, including groceries and insisted I go to one on X-mas Eve to get a quart of milk so that we could also get Prometheus while we were at it. It took a full hour to get through the line.
Evolving Deep Southerner
@jibeaux: When I step into the one on New Bern, I am transported back to the EXACT SAME WAL-MART in Seneca, S.C. It’s disorienting. I’m glad I’m not the designated shopper in my house. She can go wherever the fuck she wants, I guess, as long as I don’t have to go.
Let’s be real here. Any major corporate chain store you shop at is doing something shady, somewhere to maximize profits and are more than happy to dick over their workers for a few cents more.
the appearance is exactly why i never started going to WalMart. their biz practices just reenforced the non-habit.
Target is better, but i have trouble finding things i want: the food selection is weak (unless i want white rice. they have lots of white rice); the mens’ clothes selection is weak (no Levis?); the hardware selection is weak. if i wanted kids clothes, i’d be all set. but we don’t have kids. their bathroom / cosmetics section is huge, i guess.
that’s why Amazon sends 4 or 5 boxes a week to our house.
Bitter and Deluded Lurker
I saw this on Facebook last night and I have to say it is interesting. Here in Toronto, all of the Wal-Marts I’ve been in have been grimy and under-staffed. This includes two in “bad” neighbourhoods (bad being relative), but the worst one is out in suburbia.
Oddly, the Wal-Marts I usually get stuck going to in Appalachia over Christmas aren’t that bad once you take the Christmas crowds into account.
Their competition, like Target, is not such a one-note song. For example, I knew a guy who worked at Target corporate, and he said that their customer surveys told them that shoppers like a clean store, so Target’s cleaning budget was quite a bit higher than Wal-Mart’s.
Not only do people like a clean store, they don’t want stores filled to the brim with people.
I hate Wal-Mart. The stores were filthy and I could never find a parking space. I’m willing to spend more to go to Target because the stores, while not empty, never had me tripping over people like Wal-Mart, and the stores were CLEAN.
I think Wal-Mart is the 7th rung of hell.
Apparently Cassidy has an internet hardon for Target :)
I have a Costco membership and like it. That’s a great store, and I do buy enough things in bulk to justify the membership cost.
Target is more versatile, and most of my clothing is from China or parts similar unless I buy Prana and look like an adventurer/yogi/rock climber every day. Don’t know if my Kuhl pants are actually German, but I doubt it. Wal-Mart has some US-made clothing brands, but I’d probably shop American Apparel for union-made. If I could wear it AND ignore the… issues that corporation has.
Wal-Mart has one huge drawback not mentioned yet. Last time I checked one out, I heard and saw four screaming children. Not just crying, but screaming. Wal-Mart has poverty-stricken masses shopping there. I don’t like to see it. Is that what makes me want to never go back? Yes, quite a bit. Quite a motherfucking bit.
I cannot even count the times, especially during the holiday seasons, that the lines are backed up all of the way into the shopping aisles because of the lack of cashiers. And all you have to do is mention getting something at Walmart and the groans from every family member are loud and long. People despise shopping at Walmart but since damn near every company in the United States has adopted their business model more times than not changing venues is just jumping from the frying pan into the fire. I recently read somewhere that if Walmart increased employee pay to $12.00 per hour it would add an average of 46 cents per each customers shopping trip to cover the cost. But just like Papa John and their fear of a .15 cents per pizza increase it is just a bridge too far. Damn. Does one dime and one nickel or two quarters really mean that much to people?
@Lee: No, I just don’t delude myself that I’m doing anyone any favors by shopping there. It’s not making a grand statement for worker’s rights. It amounts to going to the grocery store and buying the fair trade coffee because the package label tells me I’m helping farmers in Venezuela or Argentina or the middle of the jungle or something. I personally don’t have any issue with Target other than I find them overpriced and no different, quality wise, than other stores. I enjoy my experiences there and they usually have a Starbucks, but in the end, they do nothing for me.
I’ve got no love for WM. I wouldn’t shop their if I had the option, but if I had the kind of money to not need to shop at WM, then I wouldn’t be shopping at Target either. Being the sterward of my family’s money, I’m going to go where my dollar stretches and where I can get decent items that will do what I need it to.
@Odie Hugh Manatee: Weird. I worked my way through college (in part) as a 30-hour-a-week deli-restaurant staffer at Kroger, and we had our own register. I never got sent up front to clerk, but we did get sent up to bag groceries in midmorning or midafternoon, so baggers could collect carts &/or take their breaks.
Granted, this was 30 years ago, so clearly thangs have probably changed.
Where I live,(54140) there are 4 superstores within 20 min of my house.
My boyfriend works at one of them. We are currently filling up our freezer with hams that come out to fifty cents a pound, or whatever it is, from Walmart.
Walmart is matching the low prices that the other grocery stores advertize to get people in the door. Loss leaders. Somebody is losing money on that ham.
Back when my boyfriend worked the electronics department, part of his job was to go through the sunday paper, and undercut the prices of everybody else in town.
Low prices will be a thing of the past when all the other retail stores in the area go bankrupt. Then our city will subsidize 4 new stores on every other block in some city someplace else.
@Odie Hugh Manatee:
It’s the supermarket in Potemkin village.
I’m curious about the gender breakout–I see most of the shoppers at Target as being women buying household supplies. They seem to do a big business in teen/tween clothes and “back to school” college supplies but I doubt that the students are driving out there–I think their parents drive them out to furnish their dorms and then those displays dissapear.
I see very, very, few men shopping there, very few shopping alone. (Although I do see more and more young families or guys with the baby strapped to their chest). I doubt my spouse has ever been there. Is that as true for Walmart? We have tons of shopping choices here–my spouse goes to Home Depot for manly man things, Ace Hardware, Taggs (a local company). I do my food shopping at a very local store or whole foods.
I do Costco, Target,Trader Joes, Albertsons and Kroeger. Albertsons look cleaner than Kroegers. There’s also a local place I go to for produce because their produce is fresher. In a pinch I’ll go to CVS or Walgreens. I do think Target’s stuff is better quality. I don’t get food from Target. This story reminds me of KMart. I used to make a real effort to go to KMart when they were having huge problems because Wal Mart was kicking their ass. The stores were a mess. You couldn’t find stuff. If you could find stuff, you couldn’t figure out the prices. The lines are the cashiers were atrocious. Pretty soon after, the KMarts that were anyway close to me ended up closing down so it wasn’t an option.
When I lived in Maine, I used to shop regularly at Walmart. Since they were the only show in town apart from the mall. The store did not stock groceries but it was clean and had plenty of associates. Fast forward 10 years, I live in Mass and I only go to Walmart if I have to. The cosmetic aisle is mess. Some of the make-up has been opened shelved in the wrong places etc. I do shop there in the summer to get seedlings and soil etc and at the start of the school year when the school supplies are priced significantly lower than competition. Otherwise it is Target for me. The prices are the same for things like Laundry detergent, toothpaste etc. I definitely think that shopping at Walmart 10 years ago was better than it is now.
For us that is a combination of CostCo, Target & Kroger.
@Lee: I don’t doubt that. Like I said earlier, there is no traditional grocery store in my area cheaper than WM. CostCo is not a convenient place to go, but I would love to shop there. We use BJ’s because I can’t stand Sam’s Club.
A number of WalMarts in my area have undergone renovations. The aisles seem a bit wider, and I have not had an issue with not finding an item. My aunt & uncle have their prescriptions filled at the WalMart pharmacy, and the head pharmacist recognizes me. If there is ever some confusion about a prescription, he contacts the doctor’s office right away.
My main issue with WalMart is the feeling of commotion, and feeling crowded in an indoor space. Target seems to have more air to breathe, and CVS and Walgreens benefit from not needing a roadmap to find items.
Growing up we had K-Marts around me… and they weren’t exactly the cleanest or best organized places to shop. Wal-Marts showed up and they were at least better organized… but lately they’re paling in comparison to Targets and Kohls, and they’re certainly getting older and dirtier over time.
Of course, now that everybody knows how Costco treats their employees I’m hoping for a Costco to open here.
I’ve only bought TVs at WalMart. Even with Target’s 5% off of everything card, WalMart always has the better deal. Aside from that we shop at Target weekly, and never Walmart. It’s cleaner; better organized; quieter; the folks who work there are always pleasant, so I assume they are treated well; and with the money I save, I get a delicious iced green tea from the Starbucks on my way out. Our Target even has a decent organics selection that competes with Whole Foods and Krogers.
I abandoned Walmart because the things they sold were so incredibly low quality. Their despicable politics made it easy not to return.
Your experience between the two chains has absolutely no relationship to what I’ve seen. I hold no more a brief for Target than for Sears; but the sheer level of grime and the miserably way that the employees at Walmart look tells me that there is a real problem there. I get absolutely no such vibe from Target. And their owners haven’t injected themselves so obnoxiously into the political realm. I respect that others have a different calculus.
For groceries you save the most money by spreading your shopping around a bit – individual stores will typically discount some things and mark others up. Also by avoiding marked-up processed foods – you save more that way than by any price difference between Walmart and Kroger. But not everyone likes to cook, etc. – I know that.
I was at my local Walmart recently to get Borax for laundry. Since Target did not have it. There was only one register open. This was on a Saturday afternoon.
@Legalize: Have you checked Amazon.com? They had the best deals, better than both Walmart and Target.
Target definitely has a feminine vibe to the color scheme and so forth. I do wonder if that matters.
I had to go into a Walmart for only the second time in my life when my modem broke down and I was told that Walmart was the only place that I could find the right replacement. I felt like I was in enemy territory and was actually glad when I couldn’t find the replacement or anyone to help me find it.
I just hate the idea of giving Walmart ANYthing when 5 or 6 of the richest people in the world are Walmart owners. It’s just so cosmically unfair.
There are Target stores everywhere you look in MN so I end up buying general items and some home stuff from them. Maybe 30 trips a year at $35-$40 a trip. I know Target has some marks against it but the positives keep me shopping there.
Most of my groceries are purchased from a local chain with unionized employees.
Odie Hugh Manatee
I don’t know if they’ve changed since our exposure to them was when they bought out the store chain my wife and kid work at. What was once a good job with OK pay and good benefits is now a nonstop parade of fail. I used to like shopping there for hardware and auto parts but now what’s left in the store is a total waste of space. Hell, they’ve got computer parts on the shelf that are over ten years old! My wife and daughter are sick of the short staffing and they’re sick of a work schedule that changes day to day. The only thing they know for sure is that they have jobs, everything else is always changing.
Invariably for the worse.
Our local Target (as in a mile and a half away) expanded to add a grocery section; I can go online to see if they have a DVD or small piece of electronic paraphernalia or a game before I go in.
I get my daughter’s lunchbox staples there (fruit drops, Annie’s granola bars and pastas, Squeez2Go applesauces) because they stock the whole line and are about 50¢ cheaper per box than our cheapest local chain grocery, Hannaford. Otherwise, it’s staples (toilet paper, paper towels, Ziplocs) and underwear and socks for my daughter. Oh, and decorating for seasonal holidays; WarriorGirl expects decorations AT ALL TIMES. Fancy Nancy (well, if FN had a sword) is her role model.
The nearest WalMarts are 11 and 12 miles away, and they’re both pigsties. I don’t buy in bulk (yet, since our current house has no where to put stuff), so the Costco that’s about 5 miles away isn’t much help.
I mostly go to Smart & Final for paper goods and cleaning supplies. It’s a West coast chain that sells to individuals but is aimed at bulk buyers, like for restaurants and small businesses. It’s clean and well-stocked, and seems to be adequately staffed.
I go to Rite-Aid for pharmacy stuff. They are not great, but it’s a smaller store and far less annoying than the local CVS.
As for groceries, I spend too much, probably, but then I am not buying for a family, only myself, and I don’t buy a lot of prepared stuff (well, except for Trader Joe’s). And I don’t have meals in restaurant hardly ever. So I shop in some well-stocked local markets with excellent produce. I’m lucky to have them near-by. Not everyone has that luxury, I know.
Oh sure. I use Amazon all the time. But I needed that TV that day to catch the season premier of the Walking Dead ;)
hello 54140 from 55121 currently & 55422 at home!
@schrodinger’s cat: The problem with Amazon is that I kind of want to buy locally whenever possible to keep some local jobs. I do resort to drugstore.com for some stuff that I could probably find locally if I drove around from store to store. One thing that I won’t do – as convenient and tempting as it is – is troll for merchandise available in local stores, check it out, even try it on, then buy it online for cheap. I just can’t. It feels like cheating.
I don’t know where you live, but here Target is head and shoulders better than the local Walmart. Our local Walmart is filthy and rarely has stocked shelves. I go there for the pharmacy and will, rarely, pick up my moisturizer or deodorant or hair manipulator when I’m there for my pharmaceuticals. I haven’t been able to buy any of those at Walmart this entire winter (winter that has seen me with a series of sinus infections) because the shelves have not been re-stocked. And the food is seriously low quality. Nothing is sourced locally and, just seeing the produce in the bins tells me that it has traveled hundreds if not thousands of miles before it got to the shelves.
I don’t shop for food at Target (ours really doesn’t have a large food section), but I can get laundry detergent for only pennies more than the cost at Walmart and I don’t have to worry that they don’t have it. Same goes for the cosmetics and deodorant and hair products. They have never let me down.
As for food, I am willing to pay for quality. I’m very cheap with all the other stuff, but I insist on good, fresh and often locally sourced foods. As someone who has gotten e. coli from bad produce, I wouldn’t touch the junk you see in Walmart. I have no doubt that it is harvested and packaged in the worst of conditions because, well…because it’s Walmart and that’s their MO.
@Odie Hugh Manatee: Yuck.
I live a long way away from Kroger nowadays; the nearest ones to New England are in Virginia and West Virginia. It sounds like what I saw in KC 2.5 years ago; all of the old “high-end” groceries from my youth were replaced with really low-end (low price, low quality, near-complete lack of service, few selections) supermarkets. And when those fail, the space becomes a ghost town of Saturday flea markets.
I feel for your wife and daughter; I fear that their current “job” may not last because I don’t see how an operation like the one they work at can make a profit.
@Marc: I cook regularly.
Maybe it is a regional thing. I just think it’s funny that Dems and liberals talk about how much they like going to Target over WM when the reality is that they aren’t that different. One is loud and proud and the other was smart enough to keep its trap shut. They just haven’t been caught yet. It’s the same cheap crap just from different factories.
Now as far as the shopping around for food, I’m not going to get into a big thing over processed vs. fresh and all the food elitism that goes on in these comments. The reality is that asking a family on a fixed, poverty level income to waste gas by going from store to store is not realistic. Fortunately, I’m in a place wher I can pick and choose my ingredients and shop specifically for what I’m cooking, but that’s an exception. More often than not, the cost of lowering the grocery bill is offsett by spending more on gas money, and what for? So Dems and Libs can stick it to WM? That’s not a fair demand of anyone.
The problem with getting plants at a big store is they might not water them regularly. A garden center that is good, waters the plants. In the warm months, they feed the annuals. Plants get weakened by lack of care.
Also the growers for big box stores don’t have the quality. It is like mass production.
Mrs. Legalize notices, and it matters to her. I kind of dig it too; it’s calming in a way.
I worked at Walmart .com in South San Francisco a few years back. The thing that amused me the most was that their corporate ethics policy has an explicit waiver policy built in. If you need to break the rules, it’s ok, provided you get a note in writing from the CEO. Lolz
I have said for years that, while I don’t like Walmart’s business practices, the thing that has really kept me away is all the crap in the aisles and fact that I feel claustrophobic every time I set foot in that store. And I have always liked Target better and they don’t put as much crap in the aisles. That said, I really don’t shop there very often either. I buy a lot of staples at Aldi, some items at Costco and then try to shop at local groceries for the rest.
Empty shelves at a WalMart?
We won the Cold War so our biggest store brand can resemble the “GUM” in Moscow?
@Schlemizel: I’m a former 55422er myself. Have you checked out the Wikipedia page? If I hadn’t moved away when I was twelve, chances are good I’d be a professional wrestler today.
This explains a lot about my last experience at WalMart in College Dr in BR. When I went to buy my new computer, there was literally no baskets available, and none if the laptop or phones or computers were on display!!! The whole purpose o me going in the store to buy the laptop was to put my hands in it. I was disgusted and just went to Best Buy, which turned out better since I got a better deal!
My girlfriend visited a walmart just last night, and she can confirm that the horror stories in the media are true. She was actually just stopping in to use a credit union branch in the store, but she spent some time walking through the isles and saw the carnage. Piles of boxes stacked in the aisles while shelves were bare. The cosmetic and clothing areas look like the sight of a pitched battle. The staff seemed very unmotivated. It is all reminiscent of what k-mart was like just before their bankruptcy. Walmart is too big and profitable to come apart like that… but I wouldn’t be surprised if a round of store closings or some sort of major shake-up happens soon.
@Walker: This. Housewares, holiday ornaments, things like that.
The Target near my house is a good operation. There is a good grocery area which is worth checking for the sales. The staff is nice,too. Certainly better than the last time I went to Walmart, which was ye many years ago.
@Obliterati: Great plan. Except for those of us in the hinterlands who live 100 miles from the nearest Target. Target isn’t who scares them most these days-it is Dollar General. Dirty, disorganized, but cheap and small. And in every tiny hamlet. In and out in 5 minutes.
There remain, however, a wide swath of people for whom LOW, LOW PRICE$ remains the absolute, one-thousand percent for any goods transaction to be of value. My in-laws out in the sticks, during family get-togethers for the holidays, will spend hours upon end discussing price difference minutia between Wally World and Ingles locations.
That would explain the odd smell that’s been in every Walmart I’ve ever been forced to visit.
“Clean up in aisle 12…tomorrow.”
@Xantar: Yeah, I read the whole thing. Pretty good journamalism.
There’s something I think you are not getting–Walmart competes for buyers by driving all alternatives out of existence and by driving the labor costs down to near zero. What doesn’t go into paying labor for labor goes directly to profit–since you can see for yourself that that money isn’t going into keeping the physical space clean and well lighted or keeping the shelves stocked. So definitionally part of Targets profits, which they generate with higher prices (as you think) are being plowed back into the stores themselves at fairly high labor costs. It costs something in labor to keep the floors polished (as someone said upthread) and pay for the electricity and the staffing at the registers.
I hold no brief for Target as a large corporation–its as evil as any–but creating a more userfriendly experience for customers, for whatever rason, means that more money is being plowed into the store and into labor at the store than walmart is doing. “Liberals” arent’ imagining that and they aren’t some kind of sucker.
In addition I guess I’d like to point out that just because Walmart is both evil and conservative doesn’t mean that Target is necessarily evil and liberal. These stores aren’t defined by who shops there but by their actual practices.
@tinare: You know who else is really bad about putting lots of crap in the aisles, my local grocery chain, Giant. And they’re checkout lines are pretty bad much of the time, too. But a trip down the aisle is an obstacle course.
@Maude: I decided on putting in a container garden quite late. So the local garden centers were out of stuff. I got tomatoes and basil, and they did very well.
I don’t have a Costco nearby. I think our Target must treat the employees well, because a lot of the same people have been working there for a long time.
Stop & Shop is a regional union grocery store, and my local store (where I had my first job) has people who have worked there for decades.
My favorite store (Highland Park Market) is no longer on my way home since I moved last year, so I don’t go there as often, but the owner of that one used to live around the corner from me.
@WereBear: You have apparently never been to Hudson’s.
Compared to Hudson’s, Walmart is the high class joint.
Why do I know? I live in Mississippi.
@aimai: I don’t think WM is doing anything that any other chain store wouldn’t do, given the oppurtunity; WM just beat them to it. And paying a kid minimum wage to stock a shelf or run a floor machine is still paying minimum wage. Target is definitely putting money into a “user experience” but that doesn’t automatically mean higher quality. It just means they’ve found their niche vs. a low price juggernaut. I’m also going to add that this whole thing about nothing on the shelves and pallets of shit in the aisles is pretty consisten, but I have to ask, when did you all go? I’ve stopped at WM at night on the way home from class and seen the same thing and I expected it. They restock at night.
I don’t think liberals are being naive, but we’re a minority of engaged, informed people. I think it would be safe to say that your garden variety liberal is making shopping decisions based on some political activity. We know that CFA and Papa John’s is run by assholes. I think there is a bit of an urban myth that Target is liberal because it’s more liberal than WM. Again, I think they’re just better at keeping quiet and keeping the palms greased with small bills. It goes back to my earlier example of free trade coffee. I don’t know if it is or isn’t, but the labeling is enough to convince people they’re doing something for some jungle farmers and the environment. Shopping at Target is a form of slacktivism for many who lean left.
Again, I don’t hate Target or even dislike them. They don’t serve my needs most of the time, but when it comes time to Christmas shop they’re on my short list of stores to compare prices. For every day items I don’t go there as I already know WM, or other places, are cheaper with comparable quality. I don’t think they’re garbage, but I see no reason to pay a premium for a user experience. The lights are brighter, the floor is shinier, the staff tends to be younger and better looking, but those are cosmetic things.
There’s no Walmart near me. The Target is OK for jeans and underwear. The few times I’ve been in a Walmart is when I’ve been in some small town on a trip. They often seem to be dirty, cluttered, under-staffed and just generally sleazy. I felt a bit like I was buying some cheap crap* on some midway at a county fair somewhere. The elderly greeter in one seemed to be suffering from dementia and had no idea where the towels were (I’m not sure he remembered what towels actually were.) All-in-all it was a quick peek into one of the nice outer rings of hell.
* which I was.
One of my wife’s friends is conservative,not crazy birther-tea party, but definitely a Fox viewer “because they tell both sides.” She was surprised to hear Walmart had a bad rep and said she thought they had a rep for treating their employees very well.. sigh
Herbal Infusion Bagger
Somewhat, but Walmart’s strategy was to build their big-boxes in areas that could only support one big-box. They then drove their small-scale mom ‘n’ pop store out of business, but knew that another big-box wouldn’t move in because of the small size of the market.
That’s why you don’t see Walmart’s in, say, the Bay Area, but see them in California Central Valley.
So it’s not a surprise as they’ve expanded into areas where they face competition from Target and CostCo, they get their clock cleaned. Shitty quality is another issue. CostCo have seriously impressed me with the quality of their food items. I can’t imagine that ever happening at WalMart.
@Woodrowfan: We need facepalm buttons.
I shop at Walmart for certain things. It’s what I can afford. I shop at Target for other things with my coupons and Target coupons. I can get good deals at Target. Again it’s what I can afford. I shop at other stores for other things for other deals. Luckily, all the stores I go to are right next to each other. I also shop online for certain things. I’ve learned where the best price for certain products are.
When you don’t have much money you learn ways to stretch your money. I would love not to shop at certain stores to protest certain practices, but I can’t afford it.
Target actually treats its employees as bad or worse than Walmart does.
The reason “middle class suburbanites” prefer target is mainly status and wanting to differentiate themselves from the proles who shop at Walmart. Your post fairly drips with contempt as well.
@Herbal Infusion Bagger:
When we wanted to treat ourselves, we would pick-up a Costco Marghereta pizza, and bake it at home. The taste was terrific. But, due to changes in suppliers, they no longer offer it.
The rat might be the manager, check for a tie.
This is a recurring problem everywhere in US corporations. Retail is suffering from it badly (with retail splitting into high end full-service and discount with little in between). Home Depot and Lowes had their race to the bottom and are now working to recover from it. But other companies are as well – all of the PC companies are in this situation as are some other industries. We’ve seen it with home construction as well.
This obsession with price is killing our economy – both from consumers and from corporations. Much of the problem on the consumer side is that we’ve pushed wages down so low, that many consumers have no choice, so they’re a captive market. WalMart can’t help but exist, and WalMart knows that if minimum wage were to go up, they’d be in serious trouble, which is why they lobby so strongly against it. The arguments of ‘we can’t afford to pay our workers more’ is so much bullshit. The real issue is that if consumers had more money in their pocket, they’d dump that shithole in a heartbeat.
@Herbal Infusion Bagger:
Guess which one is run by the dirty hippie liberal?
WalMart is trying to break into the slightly-upscale suburban grocery market: the “WalMart Neighborhood Market”. one just opened up on my drive to work recently.
here’s a review :
(Harris Teeter is a upscale-ish supermarket chain in the SE. it’s not Whole Foods, but it’s a couple steps above Food Lion. it’s a bit overpriced, but they do have a great selection. and they’re always very clean.)
I know. Nice lady, but definitely a low-info voter…
Joel (Macho Man Randy Savage)
When I lived in Colorado, Walmart was the only game in town.
This was the foundation of its business model and will remain so.
FWIW, I prefer the Giant and Safeway in my area. They’re union. Funny how the union shops seem to be nicer and cleaner than the non-union. Gee, I wonder if there’s a relationship there…
I was in GUM a few weeks ago. It’s now a high-end shopping mall. Lancome had models walking around handing out flowers.
Two observations I haven’t seen in comments yet:
First: in my neck of the woods the Walmarts are extremely bifurcated in appearance. The brand new super-centers which have opened in middle class areas are clean and bright with wide aisles, are well-stocked, and they only clog the aisles with pallets at night. The older Walmarts and the ones that don’t sell groceries are dirty, etc. And there isn’t any middle ground, it is either one or the other with a wide gap between them. Makes me wonder if they are subsidizing the newer super-centers with revenue produced by the older, dirtier stores.
Second: right after the 2008 election, I noticed that Walmart retooled their TV ads to portray their customers as a more economically upscale and more racially and regionally diverse group, with fewer southern accents and less bargain-basement attitude. I have no idea if this was a coincidence or not, but at least in their advertising they were trying to get away from the grubby discounter image. IIRC this was about the time they started rolling out the super-centers, so I wonder if these changes were part of the same corporate strategy.
Never ever buy any electrical appliances at Walmart. They are lower quality even if the brand name is the same. A GE immersion blender that I got from Walmart actually melted in the hot soup. Do not want. They did give my money back because it was just a month old.
@Origuy: I had a dream that involved nice boots and the phrase “Too tall for GUM’s”
That was all I remembered.
@Herbal Infusion Bagger:
Yep. I have three Targets within 5 miles here in the Los Angeles metro area, but the nearest Wal-Mart is at least 20 miles away, and that’s assuming I’m willing to go to Panorama City (hint: not the safest area). It’s actually a giant pain in the ass for me to even try to go to Wal-Mart, and once I get there, they sell crap and the store is dirty, so I don’t bother.
Target was the biggest backer of Michelle Bachmann. I tried to boycott them and bought from Amazon for a while. Now I run in there occasionally but I limit what I buy. Walmart, never!
There are so many pitfalls shopping today.
Cris (without an H)
A conservative friend of mine once said he hated shopping at Wal-Mart because the store is so dingy and run down, it makes him feel like he’s “being taken advantage of by a poor person.”
Wal-Mart, when you want your shopping experience to resemble a futuristic corporate dystopian nightmare, we’re your store.
a handful of Target executives, not Target the corporation.
there are 365,000 Target employees.
Wal-Mart optimizes their operation for one goal,
having the lowest price on their productsstuffing the Waltons’ pockets.
They are getting ready to break ground on a brand new Wal-Mart near out subdivision. I just hope it stays open long enough for our subdivision to finish its build-out and houses to start selling again.
Grumpy and I both agree that we will most likely never set foot into it.
Oh, the prejudice:
Better to pay a couple cents more for your laundry soap than to feel like you’ve just visited a third world country
What’s wrong with saving a few pennies while getting a no cost sense of international travel at the same time!
Hell, many people fork over a small fortune to Carnival Lines for a few days of floating third world ambiance.
@Origuy: That is interesting! I was in the GUM in 1987. There weren’t any models.
@Cris (without an H):
WTF? I realise that conservatives always have to play the victim, but wowzah, that’s one I hadn’t heard before.
Next time tell him to run for it if the employees start singing “Look Down”.
Maybe they’ve run out of the money that can be sucked from the lowest ranks of society given the massive recession and they are just rying to figure out a way to unload the stores that are no longer profitable while opening new stores in new areas with a new target market which still has slightly more disposable income to dispose of.
We had a discussion a while ago of Trader Joes and Aldis and the strategy of appealing to different kinds of customers–aldis, as I recall, at least in Europe had a different marketing structure that relied on a kind of bare bones approach as much as for the aesthetics as the low prices.
I guess what I’m trying to say is that Walmart’s grunge appeal to real ammurkans who “know the value of a dollar” is just marketing. They became the only market in town for many rural areas–whether you wanted to shop there or not they destroyed your alternatives. At the same time your wages were stagnant and your businesses were closing so you had to shop there for the “value” but the value of your dollar rather than being stretched by the low prices was, in fact, being eroded by the crappy product you were buying and the fact that your local communities were being devastated by the low wages.
That they managed to drape this rape of the consumer and the countryside with the flag doesn’t make that paricularly real. Conservatives who had the money to buy elsewhere bought what their class position dictated and it wasn’t sold at Wal mart.
@Herbal Infusion Bagger:
I’m in San Jose. There are five WalMarts within ten miles from my house. Maybe none in San Francisco, though.
HA! I used to work out in the same place as the two Road Warriors. I don’t pay any attention so when someone expressed surprise I had to learn what that meant. The shorter of the two used to work at the same place I did & negatively impressed me every time I came in contact with him.
A common myth, assiduously created by Wal-Mart, but not true. Wal-Mart researched the items people use to make price comparisons, found they were a relatively small group, and set loss leader pricing on those items so they could make more money selling all the items people don’t make price comparisons on. From a recent article on pricing:
To be fair, Wal-Mart does have low prices, legitimately. It is a discounter. But it doesn’t have the *lowest* prices, it’s just the best at tricking shoppers about prices.
I have no idea who would say this or why. There are four Giant Eagles within a 20 mile radius of my home and every single one of them is clean, well-stocked, has plenty of personnel, and has pretty good prices, especially if you have their loyalty card. I go to the closest, which is the smallest one, for the quick pickups after work. I go to the larger one that is next closest for my major shopping trips, to the other smaller one that is third closest and in a high income area (Sewickley – home of Mario Lemieux and Lynn Swann among others) for specialty meats and produce and to the huge Market District closer to the airport for specialty items of all kinds and special events. I love that they have a section in produce for locally grown items and that they also make special purchases from local meat sources. I don’t buy groceries anywhere else. Ever. I also know many a GE employee and they are paid well and some are unionized. Many Giant Eagles are not owned by the corporation but are owned by franchisees. Perhaps your local franchisees are the ones to blame, but don’t blame corporate. They are pretty good corporate citizens around here.
Grumpy Code Monkey
I’ve noticed that the smaller the town, the cleaner and better-stocked the associated Wal-Mart seems to be. The store in Rockdale TX (which is not that big as Wal-Marts built in the last decade go) is pretty nice, and seems generally well-maintained.
By contrast, the stores in Austin all seem to be pretty wretched. There appears to be a level of traffic below which the Wal-Mart model works pretty well, but above which it falls down hard. Target ain’t perfect, but it’s a damn sight better shopping experience for me than Wal-Mart.
yeah, they are the 99 cent store & as they impoverish more Americans the see the 66 cent store as their main competition! Just wait until its the 33 cent store!
@aimai: Aldis is pretty bare bones in the US too. You even have to pay a dollar for the shopping cart. Much smaller than Walmart though and cleaner. They had good Australian Licorice and good candy. I went there once just out of curiosity.
ETA: Not such a great deal for food.
@Fair Economist: I disagree.
Also, I don’ tthink I said they have the lowest prices. What I have said is that you will pay less at WM getting what you need opposed to driving around for all the best deals. Many places have less expensive items, but it’s not often and it doesn’t outweigh the cost of gas to drive around or the higher prices on other items.. I comparison shop all the time.
According to a dkos comment, Wal-Mart sets its labor budget on a per-store basis, based on the sales at that particular Wal-Mart. My take is that a vicious circle is setting in at some, but not all, Wal-Marts, where inadequate staffing leads to extra-poor store conditions leads to lower sales leads to more inadequate staffing, etc. Not all, or probably even most, Wal-Marts have fallen into the cycle, but enough have to make a dent in their company-wide sales figures.
I see similar problems at a lot of big-box discount stores, where you have this huge store with 3 employees in the entire place. I think the problem is that the big boxes are staffing based on sales rates. The problem is that a large store needs a certain amount of maintenance, and they’re not staffing for that. Plus, staffing for average doesn’t handle variability. 3 employees might handle the average sales rates but people come randomly; sometimes there’s nobody and sometimes there’s a lot. The lower the average rate the higher the variability, making the staff levels effectively more inadequate.
@Cris (without an H): Does that mean that poor people are creating jobs?
The fact that clothes fall apart after a few washings does not matter for kids who are growing out of them anyway. It does matter to me.
The meat and milk are watered down; legally, in most cases, but I don’t think they are fussy. Once again, volume matters to large families; I’m only feeding two people. I also feed four cats, but I wouldn’t trust Wal-Mart brand pet food after the Old Roy fiasco, and other brands might be the “walmart” kind.
The last time I went to Wal-Mart, with a friend, many years ago, the only DVDs were all Full Screen; I hate that.
If I can’t get it locally, I get it online; maybe I’m feeding the Amazon monster instead of the Wal-Mart monster, but until you find me a saintly tech type who crafts Chromebooks in his shed in the mountains, I’m basically choosing my monster, aren’t I?
I’ll just leave this here as a reminder that the future is closer than we think.
@Herbal Infusion Bagger:
Wally went even further than that! In many small areas the overbuilt, putting 2 WM in towns near each other. When both towns were destroyed they closed one WM knowing the cost to entry would keep them safe.
The wifes grandfather ranted about them doing this in his area of Southern Iowa 25 years ago
This time a thousand. In Brunswick Georgia, my spouse and I both did temp work at a Wal Mart doing a massive reorganization of the store. All of us temps had to wear the damned blue smocks and participate in the morning worker ritual of chanting “Gimme a W! Gimme an A!” and then spend the rest of the day being abused by the corporate suits who were riding shotgun on the project. I would rather spend an entire summer in MOPP gear at FT Irwin in the Mojave desert then do another day working for anything related to Wal Mart. One young woman working next to me cleaning out the huge bunker coolers remarked “This job is the Anti-Christ!”.
@WereBear: Clothes in Walmart are huge, even their small sizes are not small. I would swim in the clothes available at Walmart. I am petite not freakishly tiny or anything.
They opened one near us a couple of months ago. The wife is a huge fan of the people of walmart web site so she insisted we go opening weekend in hopes of getting pictures to submit. We ended up going late on Sunday evening. The place was better lit than any wm I had been in but, even though it was just 3 days old it was dirty & in some disrepair.
Didn’t see any photo-worthy horror stories but it certainly didn’t make me think they were changing their third-world second-hand store image
Just be aware Wal-Mart has spent hundreds of millions of dollars (maybe billions) figuring out how to trick you. They know way more about comparison shoppers – what items they look at, how often they make mistakes, how much of a difference they’ll notice, how far they’ll drive for a deal, how often they’ll recheck the prices, how often they don’t have time to compare, etc., etc. – than any person can possibly know about themselves.
@WereBear: Eh. That’s never been my experience. The shoes don’t last long, but you ca’t expect much for kids shoes on a payground (daily) for less the $7. The store brand clothing isn’t amazing but does it’s job for kids. We tend to look at it first simply because it seems to be more comfortable. The clothing that I’ve gotten from Walmart has lasted just fine, much better than the Old Navy clothing.
I don’t know where the hell you people are shopping, but I’ve rarely had a quality issue. When I do, I expect it because I paid for something cheap and useful for the moment. I don’t need earbuds to last me many years. I’d love a Mekita drill, but the B&D for $30 will get the job done. So on and so forth.
Sister Rail Gun of Warm Humanitarianism
@Evolving Deep Southerner: New Bern Avenue in Raleigh? I literally shook the dust from my feet as I left that one, years ago, and made sure that the bitches who wouldn’t let me leave with a misprinted receipt saw me do it. (They wished me a “blessed day” after I told them they would have to call the cops to stop me from leaving. I know they understood what I meant.)
If I absolutely cannot avoid going to a WM, I go to the new one near Triangle Town Center. Since I will NOT shop at the nearby Best Buy, that WM does see me maybe once a year for some emergency purchase when other stores are out of stock or when everyone else is closed.
However. I have a friend in Florida who swears that WM is the closest thing to a supermarket she has within a reasonable distance. The rest, she says, have become Whole Foods wannbees.
I’ve a Super Walmart and a Kroger across from each other. The Kroger has been remodeled with the obvious goal of darkening the store (with stained concrete floors), lowering the shelves, and reducing product offerings. They’ve discontinued my preferred saltine cracker, the canned cat food, the bird seed, and now, distressingly, my favorite Yoplait Greek yogurt. They’ve also reduced their product offerings to make more room for their store brands, a number of which are the pits.
The Walmart is clean and busy and while I don’t love the grocery shopping experience, I will go there for bird feed and for canned cat food, and now for that favorite yogurt.
Both of them have cut back on the human help and it is not at all unusual to find the store shelves swept clean of basic, frequently purchased, items, like sugar. At the Walmart a few weeks back the shelves were cleared of my favorite bird suet and I made my way to Customer Service where I actually encountered a real live manager who said all the section managers were coming in that night after 10 p.m. to unload everything from the back storage area. A couple of days later that suet was back fully stocked on the shelves.
Kroger also admits that truck shipments from Cincinnati have been reduced. Complaining to local management about missing items has no effect whatsoever, although one of them told me about the reduced truck shipments when I complained about the decimated yogurt shelves (of all but their store brands).
The local Target is also reducing the human help and I complained to customer service recently about the overflowing garbage cans out front. The nice lady there, a long time employee who actually lives 30 miles from the store, apologized for the mess and said that she’d asked for some help in getting the front of the store clean, but everyone’s hours had been cut back.
Now, the absolute worst shopping experience is at the little nearby Dollar General where merchandise is always in the aisles, there’s only one person manning the checkout, and the front of the store is a mess. Yesterday, CNBC was raving about DG’s very profitable first quarter.
The only exception to all of this human downsizing resulting in worsening shopping experiences (brings to mind what shopping in communist Russia must have been like) is the local Publix. Immaculate stores, and lots of service, i.e. plenty of human employees. Nice. There’s just no Publix on my side of town. And we don’t have a Costco at all.
Ultimately we consumers have the answers to these issues. Stop shopping at those locations which are the worse offenders and afford the very worst shopping experiences.
@Fair Economist: Okay. /eyeroll
I’m just a dummy getting tricked. Please tell me some more about how much smarter you are, because that’s a winner’s tactic right there.
Every now and then, I’ll look around at our social ills and read polls on how people are supportive and gay marriage and gun control and I’ll ask “how are we not winning?”. Then it’s threads like this or the ones like yesterday about how regular TV and chain restaurants and anything not
marked uporganic, etc. is beneath some of the people here and that answers my question. Which in and of itself is annoying, but then you can’t be content to marinate in your own amazingness. No, you gotta make sure anyone and everyone knows it. Slactivism rules the day (not every day, but surely today) and some people here really don’t understand the poor and desperate.
What stuck in my mind was a volleyball net that disintegrated on the first use and a hand mixer that fritzed out within a week.
@Fair Economist: In my experience as a by-necessity bargain shopper, WM generally has the lowest prices for staples like laundry soap, cereal, Tylenol or allergy meds, canned goods. Sure, other grocery stores sales may be cheaper, but since WM will match those prices you save trips/gas/time. I don’t buy meat or most produce there; the quality is lower.
Now, the WM closest to me is recently renovated, clean, & as well-staffed as any WM (not very). And I don’t generally go there for clothing, furniture, etc – the lower quality negates the savings.
The commenter upthread who noted the bifurcation of WM stores was right – the “Super” stores with full-on groceries are newer, cleaner & nicer. Also in more upscale areas.
I will note that the pallet-filled aisles happen, in my experience, mainly at night & on the weekend, when trucks come in. And no, the convenience of the customer is not their main issue when they are getting that stuff out. I spoke to a worker once, just amazed at the amount of boxes & he told me that he had 2400 cases to open, stock shelves, break down the boxes & clear the aisles. In 8 hours. Just unreal & unfair.
You’re basically acting as a Walmart advocate here and trashing the alternatives as being for suckers. If anything, people are being pretty tame given how toxic WM is politically.
I suspect that we’re talking past each other on specifics because different stores are different. I can reach a bunch of grocery stores in 10 minutes; the Kroger and Giant Eagle stores are pretty good, and there are a couple of local independent groceries that do some things well (e.g. a very good butcher who is cheaper than the main groceries and has good quality.) I’d probably have a different attitude if I had fewer choices.
And I do remember what it was like to be dealing with things like this and not much money. We don’t all make the same choices – in our case we traded more time (in food prep) and fewer expensive things like steaks.
Walgreens has spent the last 3 years eviscerating their workforce as profits went though the roof. I wonder how long that will last, since they are the most expensive drug chain out there. You sure as hell don’t go to a Walgreens for the prices. You go for the customer service. Need beauty tips at the cosmetics counter and didn’t want to go to Belks? You used to have actual trained people who could do that at Walgreens, and they in turn had quarterly training sessions with new products, samples etc.
All pretty much gone now. The last Walgreens family member in the board of directors quit two years ago in disgust.
@vickijean: Except for those of us in the hinterlands who live 100 miles from the nearest Target.
Aren’t there “Two Walmarts”, like there are “Two Americas”?
I’d enjoy someone drilling down in what it takes to get someone to come back to a store in my county (I’m a lifelong New England suburbanite) versus in yours.
Population density, commuting patterns (and their changes in the last 20 years), all must play a part.
I disagree, based on 2 points:
1. There are soooo many Wal-Mart stores now that all you have to do is find the cleanest one and shop there. Once enough shoppers vote with their feet, Corporate should get the message.
2. Lately, I have had EVERY Wal-mart cashier specifically ask me this one question: “Did you find everything you were looking for?” Usually, I do, but sometimes I don’t and I’m not afraid to bitch about it. Upon answering “No”, they then proceed with a line of more questions, zeroing in on the department (where, no doubt, someone is going to catch hell).
So, Wal-Mart is well aware of these problems and is already doing something about them (in my area of Upstate NYS).
@Origuy: I shouldanode some BJer was there recently. (I’ve never been anywhere near.)
I’m old enough to remember when the “longlinesemptyshelves” of the Soviet consumer experience was proof the West was winning. And now we don’t see any more photos, which is telling in its own manner.
Wow, sulky much? This is not about you. And neither are big social changes like gay marriage or anything else. Things are happening or not happening regardless of whether some imaginary effete coastal liberals seemingly dissed your shopping strategies on a pseudonymous blog.
For christ’s sake the very term “loss leader” ought to clue you in that Walmart and every other store that uses this term attempts to shave every last ounce of money out of your pocket, not off their produce. Store design, pricing, customer loyalty cards–this is their BUSINESS. Their business is to part you from as much money as they can without driving you out of the store entirely. If it works to market to you the “idea” of low prices by dimming the lights and making you hunt for your bargains they will do it. And you will think it was all your idea in the first place.
That’s as true for your imaginary liberals shopping at Target as it is for yourself shopping at Walmart. Its just a different marketing strategy–Target went fake upscale and fake middle class people want a shopping experience they think is comfortable and clean and fast and fake stylish. Walmart cornered the market on thrifty rubes who think that the prices are low when what is really low is the quality of the goods and the shopping experience. WE are all, in that sense, victims of marketing manipulation. “jus plain folks” is a marketing manipulation, not a reality.
@Cassidy: Second yes for Publix. They aren’t WalMart and don’t try to be.
My mom used to be a greeter at WalMart, and remembers when employees could buy stock in the company for next to nothing. (I think that died with Sam Walton, though.)
@cckids: We have one shopping rule in our house: buy EVERYTHING @ Walmart EXCEPT meats and produce. And, yes, we learned this the hard way. The meat proved to be so inedible that our dog wouldn’t even eat it. The produce was mostly bruised and went bad in a matter of days. Otherwise, on everything else, Wal-Mart kicks ass to the tune of saving AT LEAST $35 a week on groceries.
@Marc: Of course. Everywhere is different. I’ve said it repeatedly that I don’t lie WM anymore than I liek or dislike any other big box store. I’ll say it again, if I had the money to not shop at Walmart, or Target, or Best Buy, or…so on and so forth, I’d do nothing but buy from local boutiques and small grocery stores and local meats and veggies. That’s not a realistic option. I’m very mercenary with my money. I will happily go to any store if I know I’m getting a better overall deal. Hell, sometimes I pay more to the Winn Dixie acorss the street simply out of convenience.
But, a good point was made upthread. The WM’s I shop in serve more middle class and working families than poor ones; I bounce etween three based on convenience. Of the three, there is one that serves a higher poor population and it is the less pleasant of the bunch. They do make an effort to make the ones in more affluent areas a more pleasant experience. I don’t exactly agree with how right that is, but I get it.
No bullshit, though, if Target, or any other store, met my needs the same way WM does, I’d never step foot in WM.
All that being said, I don’t think liberals are suckers. I am one. I do think that we as people are willing to make choices based on poltical and personal beliefs over pragamtic money choices. Unfortunately, there is a fair amount of slacktivism that is inherent in that. Secondly, because of Target’s niche, they have cultivated an image of shopping at Target vs. WM, and too many people fall for that.
[passing 99 cent store]
Lisa: How about there, mom?
Marge: [Mmmmmm] Maybe for your wedding.
@redoubt: Hells yeah. Best fried chicken in the South. I like Publix. Of my choices of grocery stores, they’ve always been my go to for fresher veggies than the others.
@aimai: You’re right. It’s not about me, but it is about my people and where I came from. Those rubes you speak of don’t give a shit about WM’s business practices. They want items that will last for how long they need them and decent tasting food that will stretch out and feed a fmaily over days and weeks.
What’s annoying is that WM is singled out as some sort of evil entity, and yeah they’re assholes, line them Walton sycophants up agains thte wall when the revolution happens, but pretending others are different because of the user experience and image of shopping there? It’s condescending.
Not anymore. Well, now I know why the Walgreens down the street has been feeling like a discount store lately (harried workers, long lines at checkout, etc.) At least the pharmacy still runs OK.
For the record, I started shopping WalMart for the jeans. I could always walk in and walk out with something in my size. Too often at other stores (particularly when there were so many designer jeans chain stores) I could find a style I liked, but my size was apparently quite common/popular so those selections were almost always entirely gone. Plus, I could get at least 5 pair for under a hundred bucks as opposed to 2 pair for sometimes over a hundred bucks.
I’ll go with Fred Meyer, Costco and Amazon. Because I can, they’re affordable, and they don’t have the legions of stricken Walmart victims – who may or many not be employees. The Wal-Mart in Lynnwood WA smells like tinkle, the clothes smell like BO.
What’s not to love about that?
The Moar You Know
I’ve seen rats in two of the local Wally Worlds, so they obviously do think extermination is not a necessary expense.
Kathy in St. Louis
Granted, there really aren’t a lot of places where retail clerk look as if they are going to burst into joyous song, but the very few times that I have ever visited a Walmart, the employees look sad, depressed, beaten down, and hostile. That, alone, makes shopping in a Walmart store an unpleasant experience. I needed an item that I couldn’t find anywhere else, so I ventured into a Walmart two Christmases ago. The store was a mess, the manager was driving the employees like sled dogs, and the clerks looked as if they were ready to kill the next customer.
Walmart is the devil.
I dunno. I think most folks like to dump on walmart because it’s the place to dump on, and you gotta dump one something.
There are three Targets closer than the closest Walmart to me here in L.A. And it seems like whenever I need to shop for something at a big box store, I end up going to Walmart because the Targets don’t have what I want. Simple stuff, too. My son needed black slacks and a white shirt one evening for a school function the next day. I know, I know, but that’s my son for ya. Anyhow, the Targets didn’t have that simple fare. Walmart did. And probably cheaper that Target would have, too.
I’ll go with LanceThruster, too. I have had good luck finding jeans at Walmart, too. Rustler and Wrangler, very inexpensive, and in my size. Even the Walmart house brand isn’t too bad.
You continually misunderstand my point which is to say that both “experiences” are fake, are constructs of the store’s marketing team. I am not pursing a liberal agenda when I shop at Target–I am pursuing a shopping experience that is congruent with my class position and conveinience. And you are too. We are neither of us more or less foolish or more or less under the glamor of an illusion.
I’d argue that you are falling into the trap of imagining that your choices are apolitical and without moral implications because all commerce is tainted and all corporations identical. And look how well it works? You identify as a liberal and are ashamed of shopping at a place whose policies and politics you know are antithetical to everything you believe but you comfort yourself with the idea that its “necessity” and that your frugality is some kind of virtue. When challenged on Walmart’s actual practices, which are abhorrent, you say “these are my people” and accuse others of attacking some portion of your social identity by arguing that people ought not to support with their money practices which actively harm the very communities in which “your people” are situated. In addition, you reflexively attack a single, specific, corporation (Target) on the basis of a comparison which is faulty. Walmart’s size and historical control over its suppliers have made it distinctly worse for suppliers/workers around the world in a way that Target has never hoped to match.
The issues of grime, filth, and labor abuse in this country and inside Walmart stores is only half the story–their brutal negotiations with suppliers and their insistence on driving down and destroying the quality of the brands they purchase is legendary. And all because it pleases their shoppers who imagine that low price comes at no cost to someone.
I want stuff cheap may be a fact of human existence but its not meritorious. Its not a moral stance on consumption and you can’t slough off the immorality of shopping with a family store that makes its profits grinding the faces of the poor by pretending to align yourself with “your people” against imaginary elite enemies.
Amazon has horrible business practices with respect to labor. I have stopped buying stuff through Amazon because of the conditions of their work force in the unairconditioned depots this summer.
“Target is liberal” isn’t exactly a myth, it’s just outdated. Target used to be part of Dayton-Hudson, as in Dayton the Democratic governor of Minnesota. Back then, it was a liberal-friendly company. But the Daytons have sold off a lot of their stock over time and Target has drifted to become more and more conservative. It’s still less so than Wal-Mart, so affinity shopping at Target instead isn’t nuts; but realistically affinity shopping can’t fix the current problems.
Ultimately the problem is that modern capitalism is all about “market power”, which is a nice way to say “using a quasi-monopoly position to ruthlessly exploit suppliers, workers, and customers”. To this is now added the use of huge databases to design marketing plans to trick customers into overpaying and buying things they don’t need (this is what store cards are all about). When the path to success is all about exploitation and trickery, we’re going to end up exploited and tricked.
The only solution is collective action through the government. The free market can’t fix this because all this is based on known market failures (oligopoly power and informational limits).
I love the 99 Cent Store. They used to do newspaper ads made up to look like 60s discount store ads, with a “wedding registry” plug, too. The company seems to have a sense of humor about itself, with vehicles that say, “Driver Only Carries 99 Cents”. Plus the one here is the closest one to Brentwood/Palisades/Malibu, so we get real interesting mix of shoppers. Locals, homeless, new rich immigrants, etc. The parking lot will have a beat up pickup, a new Range Rover, a Taurus, and a Mercedes.
I’ve taken to shopping sometimes at 99 Cent because they opened one which is nearer my house than any other real store and which is across the street from my normal freeway exit. I haven’t researched its corporate governance because I’m sure it’s going to be awful and I’m going to be depressed. Wal-Mart spokespeople aren’t the only denialists in this world.
Sister Rail Gun of Warm Humanitarianism
My Nexus 7 (bought at WM! Every other place in town had sold out) has been a godsend for comparison shopping. My tablet + SailForms + a little time on each shopping trip has turned into a usable price book for planning shopping trips.
That’s how I know that locally, shopping at WM wouldn’t save me much if anything, especially when weighed against the amount of time it takes to get in and out of there.
I do a lot of my grocery shopping at Harris Teeter. (Yes, the expensive place cleek mentioned upthread.) The secret to shopping there, as with everywhere, is to plan around the sales + coupons. I’d much rather spend an hour matching and clipping coupons at home than that same hour standing in line among the People of Wal-Mart.
I used to shop at Kroger a lot. That ended a couple of months ago, when they closed two stores for being
too blackunprofitable. (I’m sure it was just a coincidence that the two unprofitable stores primarily served black neighborhoods.) An IGA promptly moved into one of the buildings. For that neighborhood, IMO, it worked out to be an upgrade.
@aimai: I don’t comfort myself with anything. I’ve repeatedly said that I wouldn’t if circumstances allowed. But, there are times when personal beliefs are trumped by pragmatic choices. My shopping at WM is the least significant of those situations.
Again, I don’t hate Target. They’re the counter-example and market themselves as the anti-Walmart. But don’t think for a second they don’t hope they could outdo WM in the asshole business. They just know they lost that battle a long time ago.
I think there are a lot of assumptions being made here. Various commenters complain about the “grim and filth” as you put it, but my experience is the exact opposite. It’s not to say I haven’t been in dirty WM, but maybe it’s a matter of experience. I’ve had to shop in some pretty grimy grocery stores that weren’t 1/10 as clean as WM.
Everything has a human cost. The Iphones, the Ithis and I that and the Galaxy EleventybillionS and the needles for insulin and the electronics for our cars and TV’s and MP3 players and blah, blah, blah. None of these are exempt. Target clothes are made in the same sweatshops as WM clothes, just different owners.
lastly, it’s not a matter of aligning myself or identifying with a certain social strata. I’ve grown up and out of my roots. But I know my people and yes, the majority of them are un/ undereducated and clinging to the guns and bibles and suckers for some Americana symbology, but they’re smart enough to know who’s talking down to them. You can trash it all you want, but for a lot of people, especially where I’m from, WM is the best option economically and when you’re poor and desperate, that’s the only consideration.
I shopped briefly at the local Dollar Store but found out that the way they made their money was not just having weird, sporadic, cheap crap but extracting labor without pay from all the workers by forcing them to clock in and out and then work off the clock for the majority of their work week.
Walmart also uses its economies of size and scope to squeeze its suppliers dry. That’s the reason you get immersion blenders that melt in hot soup. The suppliers are making low quality merchandise especially for Walmart.
Target has just started opening stores in Canada; a friend and I went and did a “museum walk” through one here. Other than that they had way more 100% cotton sheets of good thread count at a reasonable price than any of their arguable competitors locally, I really wasn’t impressed. (Even at the local Sears, you don’t find a lot of 100% cotton sheets for less than about $100 per set, and that’s ridiculous. Sorry, but it just is.)
It had a much worse women’s clothing section than the store it replaced (a Zellers) — tiny women’s clothing section! — and sort of seemed like it was the kind of place you’d go if you weren’t particularly concerned about variety, as they seemed to have lots of each thing, but not a lot of things generally. Granted, they hadn’t quite finished stocking yet, but still…
I won’t shop at Wal-Mart anymore, although I did years ago before I knew anything about them. Practically everything I’ve ever bought from there (with the exception of a bucket and a pair of socks) has been crap and fallen apart within the first few uses. Even when I was at my brokest, I wouldn’t shop there because, as I said to people, “I don’t have the money to shop there.” If I pay $10 for something that breaks the second time I use it so I have to keep replacing it, I’m not saving money if I can go down the street and buy something that costs twice as much, but I’ll never have to replace.
Wal-Mart’s supplier strongarming tactics are also the reason why Rubbermaid products aren’t robust anymore, why Black and Decker tools won’t last 20-30 years anymore, and why Strub’s pickles now taste like heavily salted ass.
Needless to say no one is “talking down” to anyone. That’s just a bizarre way of looking at the world. I don’t think people who shop at walmart are fools or knaves and no one else on this thread does either. You only get there by totally misreading what people are arguing about the nature of marketing–which is that Walmart has sucessfully marketed itself using “affinity” notions just as Target (you think) has. One of its sucessful marketing techniques is causing you, Cassidy, to identify with Walmart and with its presumed shoppers–actually, as a fucking INTERNATIONAL COMPANY your imaginary salt of the earth compatriots are probably not even the median representative shopper for WalMart anymore.
Walmart doesn’t represent the hopes, dreams, aspirations or even the interests of heartland americans anymore than target represents some kind of Anti-Walmart. That’s marketing and it apparently is extremely effective because seemingly against your will you are identifying walmart with some of its shoppers, and seeing walmart and its shoppers as “victims” of elites.
Man: they are good. Its like they hot wired a flag decal to your backteeth and are using it to radio in and turn an ordinary discussion about labor and management practices into a rohrshack blot like test of our american values. My choosing not to shop at a store with hideous labor practices and shocking international and domestic policy positions is somehow disrespectful of people you used to know when you were a kid? Puh-fucking-leese.
The Moar You Know
I buy three things at WalMart: Paint, black Fruit of the Loom T-shirts, and ammo. They really are the best deal going for ammo unless you like gun shows. I don’t.
Target is just as bad. Shit selection and employees who appear to be working in a concentration camp.
Costco and our local folks who are what Costco used to be: Smart and Final.
I find the secret is to figure out why the merchandise is in close out. Is it just horribly cheap crap or was it not selling at the higher price before being sold off as overstock? It’s sometimes hit and miss on the quality, but I find when I like something and go back for more, it’s often cleaned out because everyone else who bought it too seemed to agree.
I always call it “Piggly Wiggly” or “the dollar store” because I hate saying “99 cents Only Store” (and I love saying “Piggly Wiggly”). Before people would say that there’s no Piggly Wiggly’s on the west coast, but now they all call it the Piggly Wiggly. Piggly Wiggly should take the hint and expand out here.
I’ve always been amazed at just how often Walmart doesn’t have basic food items when I go there. Even when they have it, the selection is terrible.
Woodmans may be a crowded nightmare, but at least they keep things stocked.
@aimai: That’s not what I said at all. You’re shadowboxing.
Holy cow I hate the term slacktavism. Apparently it is better to just throw up your hands and accept that the whole world is corrupt and there’s nothing I can do, than to embarrass yourself by doing too little.
I agree entirely. There are very few industries/corporations whose hands are entirely clean. I try to patronize the good ones and avoid as much as possible the ones who are objectional, This is when I’m even aware of it in the first place.
Look at all the BDS products involved in the IP conflict. I mention to co-workers to try to find something other than Sabra hummus but I still ate it.
Just out of curiosity. Did Walmart’s “made in usa” concept die with Sam Walton or is it the result of US trade policy?
On that Walmart documentary they showed how they put an American big screen TV mfr in TN out of business by getting the Chinese to dump below cost electronics on the US market until they were the only one left standing.
As soon as I read about the inhumane, inhuman way the warehouse workers were treated, I stopped buying anything from Amazon. I think it was sometime in the last year and a half or so. I have not bought a single thing from them since.
Enhanced Voting Techniques
Last time I was in the local Wallmart the floor supervisor told one of her staff to slow down and not work so hard in front of me. It’s very clear the moral there is shit.
I don’t have the slightest iota of hope that this will change MalWart’s labor practices, but at least we can point and laugh, and say fuck you.
I’m just disgusted beyond words that any corporation, much less one of the world’s largest, can pay their employees so little that they turn around and sign up for gov’t assistance. Yet another corporate subsidy.
Yeah, while I love the 99 Cent Only store, I don’t exactly buy everything there. They have good basics, like sandwich breads, some name brand canned goods, various house supplies. Some of their foodstuffs are kind of creepy though. Basically, if the cans have cyrillic/english labeling, I’ll probably pass on whatever bizarre contents they may have.
@Jebediah: So Walmart or Amazon, where do you shop.
I stopped shopping at Wal Mart for this very reason, spurred by a This American Life segment on a hardware manufacturer who was wooed by Wal Mart. The corporate execs gave him a price for his wares that was lower than his manufacturing cost. When he told them that, they offered to link him to factories in China that could make the hardware for much cheaper prices. Did I mention his tools were made in the U.S.?
He refused. I don’t remember if he suffered financially for it.
Trader Joe’s, Sprouts, Target, sometimes Best Buy. I used to get my prescriptions at CVS but my insurance insists I get my prescriptions by mail. (Which I don’t care for – the pharmacists at CVS knew me and I always felt like I got very good service from them.) My Costco membership has lapsed, but I will renew it soon just in case I find myself needing a new television.
I agree. They have 10lbs bags of potatoes at the moment instead of just 5lbs ones. I also get real lucky with artichokes. If the bags of carrots are off, I just feed them to the neighbor’s horses.
Oh, and btw. Many chains are really sticklers about their employees to the detriment of the customers. I was in Home Depot trying to get a key made. When I found a store employee, he mentioned that he was about to go off the clock, and he’d get in trouble if he did not clock out on time. He did not even have time to call someone else over to help me so I had to begin the search again, which because of the shift change took even more time.
I think many employers get tough about clocking out and breaks, etc to avoid consequences of not being sticklers about such things. Some employees feel aggrieved if they work a couple minutes over their allotment when the boss says to finish up their assignment before break/quitting time, and complain to the local authorities. Other employees figure, “I’ll just work through break since we’re getting swamped now”, and get reprimanded precisely because of the other employee who complained.
In Beckley, WV, we had the Wal-Mart super-centers by 1996. Your choices of groceries were limited to Acme Markets (dirty, disgusting with very little selection), Kroger (better) and the WM Super-Center which rapidly became the cultural center of Beckley.
Down in Los Lunas, New Mexico, you’re pretty limited to Smith’s (a crowded, dingy dirty subdivision of Kroger), the WM Super-Center, and Albertson’s.
Albertson’s is too damned pricy these days, though I loved them when we were in Fort Worth in the early-mid nineties. Shopping at Wal-Mart is evil, but for me the experience is marginally preferable to shopping at Smith’s. Smith’s, though, is the wife’s preferred local grocery outlet.
I’ve been displeased with the selection available to me and making do since I left Fort Worth in ’95.
The wife just recently got a membership at Costco up in Albuquerque. She’s gotten a few things, but it’s a bit of a drive (with gas around $3.25-3.50/gallon) and I haven’t accompanied her on any of those trips yet, so I have no basis for comparison.
There. Fixed that for ya.
Coming soon to Wal-Mart: “Long pig on aisle 7. Shoppers take note, long pig has been sighted on aisle 7 — get it now at a low low price!”
I’ve had the experience of grocery shopping on 3 different continents.
Growing up in the Calgary area, it’s interesting that even though it has a stereotype of being conservative it is also home to 2 of Canada’s largest co-operative retailers (Calgary Co-op & UFA). Living in Toronto I wish that I could get a rebate cheque for grocery shopping at the end of the year. Set foot in a Walmart Christmas 2011 in Pincher Creek, Alberta since it was the only thing open in town at 7AM – was on my way to go skiing. That store was new and clean. Otherwise haven’t stepped into a WM in the last 15 years.
In the US, I’ve shopped at Topps in Buffalo, looked at an Aldi in suburban Buffalo (didn’t buy anything since it was desolate compared to German Aldi experiences), Ralph’s and Safeway in California seemed fine, and my CVS experiences have been all right.
Shopping in Europe had both the discounters (e.g. Aldi, Lidl, REMA 1000) and the higher end (e.g. REWE, Real, Tegut, Edeka) and the cashiers sit at their till, and scan your stuff and you have to work fast to bag it. For the most part they were decent stores – the odd discounter seemed a bit dodgy, dingy and dirty. The best grocery chain (since the KaDeWe in Berlin & Meinl on Graben in Vienna don’t count) I believe was Migros in Switzerland.
Africa – was in Zimbabwe at the end of the 90s before the currency crashed. It was an experience to go shopping with a couple locals and gave a new perspective on things.
@jonas: Regarding Target, their stores are generally cleaner and more well-organized, but, at least here in NYC, some of the stores have problems with empty shelves and definitely have problems with long register lines. That being said and only because I have to, in some cases, I prefer to shop at Target, or Costco (just not on Saturdays–yeesh!) any day of the week over Wal Mart, which I have only ever been in during visits to other parts of the US, where they were the only game in town.
what is kind of sad is, when walmart first came to the northeast, it was a huge step UP, cleanliness- wise & organized-wise, from k-mart & most of the other chain department style stores….the only one that wasnt a total pit was caldors & they were very hit-or miss as to finding what you were looking for….race ya to the bottom!!
If that’s your position you need to seriously reconsider buying anything that’s ever stored in a warehouse. Every distribution center in this country not dedicated to your medicine or food operates under the same metrics and design specifications. They’re not air conditioned because the doors are open too frequently and the air volume is too large. They’re metrics-driven because their bottom line is in throughput and limited storage time. They, quite frankly, break bodies and in general suck to work at. But don’t kid yourself, Amazon isn’t any more “evil” than where you’re buying things from now.
@aimai: there was a n NPR thing with the costco CEO years ago, he was trying to explian in short words to wall st that he wasnt an ‘Altruist” ((boo hiss!!) but that they saw steady long term profits (just not over night growth)) from treating their employees better & spending more on store infra structuer ….retention meant less training, meant better stores, meant happier customers, meant more cash in the registers….QED!!
they didnt get it, it was like rocket sci to them (& not rocket sci 101 either)
Also (too)) @ Cassidy, i thought every body knew by now that manufacturers make separate, low quality versions for walmart….if they dont walmart drives them out of business w the discounts they demand, google walmart & rubbermaid or walmart & pickles for the gorey details.!!
@Interrobang: q v Sam vimes, Boots, theory Of…
Do all warehouse/fulfillment centers need to have ambulances parked outside, and refuse to open the doors to allow the temperatures to drop below triple-digits because someone might steal something, and require workers to sign papers stating that their need for medical attention is not work-related?
If so, then yes, I will need to reconsider – but as I understand it, Amazon’s warehouse conditions are particularly evil. I don’t expect all warehouse jobs to be cushy, but there should be limits. Shit like that and Wal-marts treatment of employees are good examples of the need for workplace regulations that a) exist and b) get actually enforced. I know its a crazy dream, but maybe I will see it in my lifetime.
@Jebediah: “If so, then yes, I will need to reconsider – but as I understand it, Amazon’s warehouse conditions are particularly evil.”
If that’s your understanding then yes, you’re wrong. Any company large enough to be able to hire ambulances does so during a heatwave, it’s pretty standard practice… as are ice-chilled evaporation headbands, water bottle handouts, and “heat breaks”. As for the doors not being opened? It has little to do with theft and more to do with the fact that it’s an OSHA requirement that the dock doors, which sit 3-4 ft above ground level, remain closed so people don’t fall or drive out of them. Warehouse work sucks, royally. You ever worked in one, particularly one for a large multinational? I have, and no it wasn’t Amazon. I’ve read the industry magazines and seen their efficiency articles and the things they advertise. Where I worked was identical to what you’ve described and, from everything I’ve seen/read/heard it’s normal industry practice.
Amazon was providing none of those things -no headbands, no bottles, no “heat breaks.”
Ambulances were not there only during heatwaves.
Another part of their practices that I found abhorrent was the way they were using and abusing temps – their location had horrendous unemployment, so they were pretty much the only game in town. Temps were told if they worked well enough, they would be made permanent employees – but anyone who required medical attention was let go and nobody was getting made permanent.
If other warehouses do what you claim is standard – heat breaks, water bottles, etc. – then maybe I will buy more mail-order stuff than I do now (which is close to zero.)
If Amazon starts following these “industry-standard” practices, I might start buying from them again, but not before. Until then, I will keep doing what I am doing – which is to buy as much as possible from local brick-and-mortar stores. None of them are perfect, but least then there is some local tax revenue and presumably less employee abuse.
FYWP says I do not have permission to edit my comment, so:
ETA: Like Wal-Mart’s low prices, Amazon’s convenience and low prices come at costs that I am uncomfortable with – abusive employment practices, loss of local tax revenue and loss of local employment – so I don’t patronize them. YMMV.
I have worked in warehouses, but not Amazon or that type of place – Capitol Records warehouse, and a textile factory. The textile factory was dirty, sweaty, tiring work, but in my time there (including summertime) the only person who required medical attention was a diabetic whose sugar got too low.
Eric the Infrequent
Current warehouse worker here.
Yes, they are all hot in the summer and cold in the winter. People collapsing from heat exhaustion in the summer is not totally common, but far from being rare. It is rough work and no, opening the dock doors is not a solution, not just for safety reasons, but because it often exacerbates the problem. Warehouses are surrounded by concrete aprons and vast swathes of asphalt. Hot as it is in your average warehouse in the summer, the temperature just outside the dock door is likely 5 to 10 degrees higher. Opening the doors is the last thing you should do.
While Amazon’s warehouses sound shitty (never been in one myself) they tend to sound industry standard shitty, even to the aspect of using ‘temp to hires’ that never seem to get hired. I have been working in my current place for well over a year and I am still a temp.
And no, you can not salve your conscience by not ordering things online. Pretty much everything you buy gets processed in a warehouse anyway, under the same craptastic conditions.