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Wal-Mart(47 posts)

Oct 19, 2003 9:07 AM

Wal-Mart, Driving Workers and Supermarkets Crazy

Published: October 19, 2003

n February Wal-Mart will open its first grocery supercenter in California, offering everything from tires to prime meats, and that could be a blessing for middle-class consumers. The reason is simple: Wal-Mart's prices are 14 percent lower than its competitors', according to a study by the investment bank UBS Warburg.

But not everyone is rejoicing about Wal-Mart's five-year plan to open 40 supercenters in California, stores combining general merchandise and groceries that are expected to gobble up $3.2 billion in sales. California's three largest supermarket chains, Ralphs, Vons and Albertsons, are scared, and so are tens of thousands of supermarket workers whose union contracts have put them solidly in the middle class. The three grocers' fears of fierce competition from Wal-Mart and their related drive to cut costs are widely seen as the main reason behind the week-old strike by 70,000 workers at 859 supermarkets in Southern California.


Wal-Mart has already helped push more than two dozen national supermarket chains into bankruptcy over the past decade. That list includes names like Grand Union; Bruno's, once Alabama's largest supermarket chain; and Homeland Stores, formerly Oklahoma's largest. And unionized supermarket workers fear that Wal-Mart's invasion will oust them from the middle class by pulling down their wages and benefits, which, taken together, are more than 50 percent higher than those of Wal-Mart workers. At Wal-Mart, the average wage is about $8.50 an hour, compared with $13 at unionized supermarkets.

"Wal-Mart's superstores are going to have a devastating impact on California's supermarkets," said Burt Flickinger III, a retailing consultant, noting that union wages and prices are higher in California than in most of the country.

Eager to stay competitive against Wal-Mart, Albertsons, Vons (owned by Safeway) and Ralphs (owned by Kroger) have demanded a two-year wage freeze for current workers, a lower pay scale for new hires and greater employee contributions for health coverage. Those employees now pay no health insurance premiums, while Wal-Mart employees often must pay premiums of $200 a month and deductibles of up to $1,000 a year, if they qualify.

With Wal-Mart in mind, supermarkets have engaged in tough bargaining across the country. That has led to a 12-day-old strike by 10,000 supermarket workers in Missouri and a six-day-old strike by 3,000 workers at 44 Krogers in West Virginia, Kentucky and Ohio.

It is hard to underestimate the power of Wal-Mart. It has 1.4 million employees and had $245 billion in revenues last year, equaling 2.5 percent of the gross domestic product. Each week 138 million shoppers visit Wal-Mart's 4,750 stores. Last year, 82 percent of American households bought at least one item there.

Wal-Mart sells 32 percent of the nation's disposable diapers, and it is the largest customer for Walt Disney and Procter & Gamble. It has singlehandedly persuaded music companies to issue sanitized versions of CD's. Its 1,397 supercenters account for 19 percent of the nation's grocery sales, making it the largest grocery retailer. With Wal-Mart planning 1,000 more supercenters in the next five years, Retail Forward, a consulting firm, estimates that Wal-Mart's grocery and drug sales will double to $162 billion, giving it 35 percent of the domestic food market and 25 percent of the drug market.

When Wal-Mart goes like gangbusters into an area, as it plans to do in California, competitors often feel panic. In Dallas, its share of the grocery market has soared to 16.4 percent from 8.5 percent in the past two years, according to TradeDimensions International.

"We have been in business for 68 years, and in that period of time, we have seen dozens o
Oct 19, 2003 9:08 AM
"We have been in business for 68 years, and in that period of time, we have seen dozens of competitors come and go," said Jack Brown, president of Stater Brothers, a supermarket chain in the Orange County and San Diego areas. "However, Southern California has never seen as big a competitive threat as the Wal-Mart supercenter."

Many factors explain Wal-Mart's ability to charge low prices, including economies of scale, the pressures it puts on suppliers and its embrace of imports — it imported $12 billion in goods from China last year, one-tenth of American imports from China.

Another big factor is Wal-Mart's relatively low wages. Its sales clerks average about $8.50 an hour, or about $14,000 a year, while the poverty line for a family of three is $15,060. In California, the unionized stockers and clerks average $17.90 an hour after two years on the job. Mr. Flickinger said wages and benefits for Wal-Mart's full-time workers average $10 to $14 per hour less than for unionized supermarket workers.


"The strike out here involves workers who enjoy decent wages, vacations and health benefits," said Kent Wong, director of the Center for Labor Research and Education at the University of California at Los Angeles. "These things were taken for granted, they made them part of the middle class, but now these workers are threatened with having these things taken away."

A big savings for Wal-Mart comes in health care, where Wal-Mart pays 30 percent less for coverage for each insured worker than the industry average. An estimated 40 percent of employees are not covered by its health plan because many cannot afford the premiums or have not worked at Wal-Mart long enough to qualify.

"What this means is, if I'm a Wal-Mart employee and I hurt my hand and go to the emergency room, who's going to pay for it? The taxpayer is," said Mr. Brown, the supermarket executive. "Wal-Mart's fringe benefits are being paid by taxpayers."

Wal-Mart officials say that their expansion will be a boon for California consumers and that their wages and benefits are competitive. Why else, they ask, would 600,000 workers take jobs at Wal-Mart each year?

Greg Denier, chief spokesman for the United Food and Commercial Workers, said the fear of Wal-Mart's supercenters is the main cause for the California strike, but he argued that the supermarkets have exaggerated the threat as a strategy to squeeze their workers.

"They keep saying they have to do this because Wal-Mart is bringing supercenters to California," he said, "but it's part of a national program to ratchet down wages and benefits."

Yet Wall Street analysts and retailing consultants say the California supermarkets, like others across the country, risk being stomped by Wal-Mart.
It's a sad and unfortunate reality ...Live Steam
Oct 19, 2003 1:06 PM
that there will always be bigger, better competition for our dollars that will push the small business to work on thinner margins or force them to shut their doors. Wal-Mart has obviously been able to stand the test of time and to embrace the new. I am not sure there is anything that can be done to stem this tide. Wal-Mart is in business to be profitable for their investors. They have a great business model. They haven't broken any laws that can force them to do things differently.

You posted the article, but didn't post any type of opinion on the subject. What do you think about the advent of the superstore - Home Depot, Lowes, etc...?
They are usually blocked around herefiltersweep
Oct 19, 2003 4:14 PM
Almost all communities fight tooth and nail to prevent Walmarts from opening. There are a few Sam's Clubs, but the Walmarts have been in outer outer ring suburbs. I've never seen a Walmart employee that actually looked like he/she enjoyed the job.

Personally, I won't step foot in anything run by them- I've had too many problems with our corporate Sam's Club memberships (like you really need to be a member), and the Target stores are much less offensive to my sensibilities.

Interestingly, as a tax-payer, we have actually publicly financed Target's corporate headquarters (in Mpls)- which makes absolutely no sense. We have mega/superduper Targets where you can actually buy groceries, and dubious sushi, but no one seems to complain like they do with Walmart.

For all the red-white-and blue, buy American rhetoric from Walmart, they sure don't like unions for their employees (like any employer does...).
bravoDuane Gran
Oct 19, 2003 4:30 PM
I also refuse to purchase anything at Walmart. I don't care if it costs twice as much elsewhere, I refuse to purchase from them. I just wish more people felt this way about them.
Haven't seen one yetmickey-mac
Oct 19, 2003 4:46 PM
Apparently, Wal-Mart plans to move into the LA market in 2005. They may surprise me, but I have a feeling Wal-Mart won't be the hit here it is in other parts of the country. I don't plan to set foot in a Wal-Mart, but my wife does most of the shopping. Once she realized that I never look at the price of anything when I shop, she decided to take on shopping duties on a full-time basis. I do have to say the Wal-Mart commercials give me the heeby-jeebies.
On your right!53T
Oct 19, 2003 5:15 PM
I say, go get 'em WalMart! I also think they will be a big hit in LA. As far as "almost all communities" resisting WalMart, that's just plain inaccurate. All suburban communities embrace WalMart, and suburbs are far more numerous than cities. (Did the poster not consider suburbs to be "communities"?)

I love to see a market at work, and that's exactly what the Walmart phenomenon is. As far as not having a union, God Bless America.
Not around herefiltersweep
Oct 20, 2003 4:03 AM
Suburban communities do NOT universally embrace WalMart around here- that is not to say that some of them don't maneuver through all the zoning hoops. Maybe other suburbs simply LOVE the idea of these huge stores going up in the middle of acres of parking. I've always perceived Walmarts as being in communities with populations of 20,000 to 50,000.

I'm not even approaching the issue of how WalMarts affect smaller communities' locally owned retailers- they are generally simply considered a blight around here (and people somehow perceive that they affect property values).

Yeah, it is all fun and games until YOU yourself spend 20 years of retirement as a minimum-wage Walmart greeter after your 401K was crushed... but at least you can park your antique RV in the WalMart parking lot so you have a place to live... or buy a gun so you can properly rob a bank ;)
Zoning Hoops?53T
Oct 20, 2003 3:49 PM
In my suburb (20,000 folks) we ahve zones specifically for big rectangular retail establishments with acres of parking. No hoops, come on down!

Are you saying tha Walmart crushed my 401K? I didn't know they were into photonics.
Never said Walmart crushed them- nmfiltersweep
Oct 21, 2003 6:18 AM
maybe you should go to work at Walmart then (nm)ColnagoFE
Oct 20, 2003 7:35 AM
I don't know what you consider "L.A.", but they're already...The Walrus
Oct 20, 2003 10:56 AM Northridge, Simi Valley and Santa Clarita, and I think I've seen one in Burbank; I'm sure there are others I've missed. Unfortunately, they seem to be plenty popular, to judge by the crowded parking lots.

Agree on the commercials--there's something unnerving about all those people grinning like imbeciles while that happy face is bouncing around. That alone will keep me out of those stores.
I don't know what you consider "L.A.", but they're already...No_sprint
Oct 20, 2003 11:55 AM
Yep, they're here. I don't expect to see one open up in LA proper though. They'd have to level several city blocks. The superstore you're referring to in Burbank is a Costco I think, groceries, gas, the whole 9 yards.

No biggie. I've never been to a Wal Mart. I don't do any of those superstore things. I prefer my local little shops. No family of 5 here to need bulk anything.

Wal Mart, as 53T kind of points out, isn't forcing us to change into something we're not, they're a product of people's demands.
I don't know what you consider "L.A.", but they're already...mickey-mac
Oct 20, 2003 8:19 PM
What I heard was City of Los Angeles. However, I didn't know Northridge (which is within the City of Los Angeles) had a Wal-Mart. I'm not surprised Santa Clarita has one. Some new mega-store of some sort seems to have popped up every time I ride out there. I remember when Magic Mountain was about the only thing in what's now the Santa Clarita Valley.
Buy American?torquer
Oct 20, 2003 7:22 AM
Isn't most of their stuff imported (largely from China)?
About two years ago, when China forced down a Navy intelligence-gathering plane and was holding the crew, wasn't there an e-mail campaign asking Walmart why all their tee-shirts were from China; the Chineese released the crew within a day or two.

As far as communities resisting Walmarts, this is mostly a function of their real estate model; they like to build on cheap land, in order to provide plenty of parking, which often isn't available in the closer-in suburbs (to say nothing of the inner city). Built-up areas generally have too much traffic already, and hardly want another traffic generator which would cannibalize sales from existing merchants; exurbs desperately want whatever revenue increases(tax, employment, spill-over retail) a big-box retailer may provide, so they are much more accommodating.
You are correctLive Steam
Oct 20, 2003 7:55 AM
Unlike many other chains, Wal-Mart is a destination business and does not need to be located near any other business center to generate revenue. They further strengthen their appeal as a destination by providing a single source shopping experience. This enables Wal-Mart to build on land that is away from higher priced commercial land adjacent to existing retail shopping. They then achieve their desired goal of pulling shopping dollars away from the other retail centers.

Wal-Mart is an American success story. The company is almost 70 years old. Other retail chains should have learned from their success.

Personally I have never been in one to shop. There isn't one located in our community. I have, however purchased some land on spec near one that was recently built in an area of NJ that I had previously specualted in. One must be like the small fish that swim alongside the sharks. Just don't compete for the same food :O)
In many small towns they take overColnagoFE
Oct 20, 2003 7:33 AM
Lots of towns like this in the midwest...they have no alternative to Walmart because everything else has shut down because they can't compete with the low prices.
bad pay, poor health benefits, lots imported from Chinagtx
Oct 20, 2003 4:57 AM
I guess you could say that about most of the bike shops I worked for...

In general we do try to shop at locally owned grocery stores that treat their people well. I do go to Home Depot. Never been to a Wal-Mart and don't plan to.
cheaper prices...worse service (nm)ColnagoFE
Oct 20, 2003 7:31 AM
Aren't super Wal*Marts targetting rural communities only?Kristin
Oct 20, 2003 11:32 AM
We had two grocery stores in Ticonderoga, NY, population 5,000. Grand Union (referred to as Grand Onion, by the locals) and an APG. The APG always had trouble. About 6 different grocery stores opened and closed in that location. The Onion was the "big" grocer in town and most people shopped there. About 4 years ago, they opened the Super Wal*Mart and Grand Union closed its doors. So did the on-again off-again discount department store next door to them.

Do stock boys working in Kettleman, CA really earn $17/hour? If so, I think I'll move to California. I'm not earning much more than that now? Does the Times author use averages that include both small towns and metropoli in CA? Because I doubt that Walmart plans to open any grocery stores in San Francisco, just as they do not plan to open any in Chicagoland. In large towns, where the wages will be highest, they don't compete with the grocery market. At least not yet.

I think its more interesting to look at the racial lines that are being drawn in where we shop. Is it because most non-caucasians still earn less? Or is it because many new-comers don't care where what they buy comes from? Seriously, there are places around town, where I am more likely to encounter people with thick accents. Those include Wal*Mart; TJ Maxx/Marshall's/Burlington Coat, etc(I shop for clothing in these places); Aldi's; Meyers, etc. Places where I'm likly to see mostly white women (men are rarely seen in these locations): Linen's N Things; Bed Bath & Beyond; Penneys; Carsons; Marshall Fields; Crate & Barrell; Pier One. The biggest difference I see is the discounts...though I have gotten some great bargains at Pier1, Linens N Things, etc... So what drives it? Is Wal*Mart specifically targeting immagrants? Is LNT not?
isn't it funny...mohair_chair
Oct 19, 2003 6:08 PM
Almost everyone claims to hate Wal-Mart. And yet, Wal-Mart just gets bigger and bigger every day. It simply doesn't wash. Clearly more people like Wal-Mart than hate it.
isn't it funny...mickey-mac
Oct 19, 2003 8:42 PM
I suppose the same is true of McDonald's, but I haven't set foot in one since I had a particularly bad hangover in '94 and couldn't find food anywhere else.
A better question, which I also asked above, isKristin
Oct 20, 2003 11:41 AM
WHO likes Wal*Mart? I'm seeing a huge trend of American newcomers shopping at Wal*Mart. There demographic is not very diversified. At least not here. My community may be an interesting demographic to study. We have large groups of Hispanics, African-Americans and Caucasians with smaller pockets of Asian and Indian members. I find that racially, this area is fairly segragated. Many (but not all) of the Spanish speakers and African American's live in what is considered to be the "poor" neighborhoods and live somewhere between poverty and upper-middle class. Where many of the Caucasian, Asian and Indian families live somewhere between middle-class and upscale. Of course these are generalities, but if you came here and walked our streets and visited our retailers, you'd notice what I'm talking about.
I like Wal-Mart...TJeanloz
Oct 20, 2003 11:52 AM
For commoditized products, Wal-Mart can't be beat. I don't go out of my way to go there, but if I need something, and I'm in the neighborhood, it's one of my first choices. Random stuff where quality is unimportant (to me) or I know exactly what brand I want - Wal*Mart is my first choice.
Interesting. Heard this from a logistics guyPseuZQ
Oct 20, 2003 7:42 PM
..talking about product assortment at mass merchants v. supermarkets. Paraphrased, he said that mass marketers make sure everyone walks out with something, whereas more specialized supermarkets (that carry products more appropriate to the prevailing demographic) ensure that someone walks out with everything.
Would somebody buy the NYTimes a calculator?TJeanloz
Oct 20, 2003 5:49 AM
I saw this peice in the paper yesterday, and one thing struck me:
"Another big factor is Wal-Mart's relatively low wages. Its sales clerks average about $8.50 an hour, or about $14,000 a year, while the poverty line for a family of three is $15,060. In California, the unionized stockers and clerks average $17.90 an hour after two years on the job. Mr. Flickinger said wages and benefits for Wal-Mart's full-time workers average $10 to $14 per hour less than for unionized supermarket workers."

I made $8.50 an hour at the bike shop, and it seemed like it was more than $14,000. Sure enough $8.5*40*52 = $17,680. So one full time wage earner at $8.50/hr puts a family of three above the poverty line, which is contrary to the shocking point they were trying to make. Being off by 25% is pretty significant.

Similarly, a couple of weeks ago in a report about life in South Africa's tenements, they described a hut as "barely 13 square feet, with only a bed and a few sticks of furniture." Well, 13 square feet would 3.6 feet by 3.6 feet, which is a very home indeed. I wish they would get a fact checker who has some concept of basic math.
most are part time--by walmart's requestColnagoFE
Oct 20, 2003 7:41 AM
walmart doesn't like to pay benefits so many of their workers are part time--even when they would like to be full-time. plus holidays and days off aren't usually paid when you are an hourly worker in a non-union shop. i'm guessing the figure is probably closer than you think but it is bad math and fact checking to not explain it.
Even if it is part time,TJeanloz
Oct 20, 2003 7:47 AM
Even if it were part-time, it would be ~31 hours a week. That's not a full time job, which the article implies (though doesn't explicitly say) these are. It could well be true that the average Wal-Mart clerk earns $14,000 annually - but that merits some explanation that it is not a full-time job. It just amazes me the consistency with which the NYTimes throws out numbers that make their point very, very well, but don't jive with reality (note the 13 square foot hut).
i believe wal-mart considers "full-time"rufus
Oct 20, 2003 8:22 AM
as 32 hours/week. probably most of their employees are held to less than that. likewise, walmart doesn't offer health insurance, and hasn't there been a big stink recently that in lieu of health insurance, walmart has been instructing their employees on how to get medicaid or medicare benefits instead?

i've set foot in walmarts, but refuse to buy anything from them. just my choice.
It's not WalMart's definition that mattersTJeanloz
Oct 20, 2003 8:43 AM
Remember, if Wal-Mart considers fewer hours "full-time" that would be better for workers - because they would more quickly reach the threshold for benefits (which only accrue to "full time" workers).

But if somebody's going to complain and say: "I only make $14,000 a year" - I at least expect them to be working what is considered full-time by most standards (40 hours). It turns out that most people just aren't making apples-to-apples comparisons. If you're only working 30 hours a week, what do you expect? How about getting a second job? Or is it just easier to complain about how unfair your employer is?
Same for teachersOldEdScott
Oct 20, 2003 10:27 AM
who complain bitterly about their sad salaries, which really aren't that bad when you consider most only work 9 months a year.

I know: Illiberal sentiment.
Liberal? I would think you would ...Live Steam
Oct 20, 2003 10:40 AM
get tarred and feathered at the next Hillarity rally hosted by the UFT, for saying that LOL!
It's one of my many right wing positions.OldEdScott
Oct 20, 2003 10:54 AM
Which I don't believe you've noticed, in your frenzied Clinton/OldEd bashing, Steam. I bet I'm to the right of you on some things, much to my commie comrades' chagrin.
Oh yeah, "IIIiberal" Funny what the eye sees! Say ...Live Steam
Oct 20, 2003 11:14 AM
what are your other right wing leanings?

I don't bash you. At least I don't remember bashing you. I may bash your post. Not the same. And another thing. Why am I a Robber Baron? I produce meaningful and real commodities/services for the community. How does your service benefit the community - political consultant = snake oil salesman? LOL!!! (and I'm not talking about any charity work) To me it seems kind of shallow, but I would never tell you that :O)
IL-liberal. As in not-liberal. nmOldEdScott
Oct 20, 2003 10:55 AM
love free enterpriseDougSloan
Oct 20, 2003 6:42 AM
Two undeniable facts, despite all the professed hatred of Walmart:

1. People shop there
2. People work there

If the place is so bad, either the "shopping experience" or the working conditions or wages, why does it thrive? Maybe it's the possibilty that it is providing something to those less fortunate than people who can spend all day on a computer bike forum can understand. In other words, it makes more products affordable for low income people, and creates jobs for people.

Competition is good. If I were a competitor, I'd feel panic, too. I might have to lower my mom and pop inflated prices or offer better service to customers.

P.S.: as we noted last week, people do often pay much more for certain products or better service -- ever shopped at Whole Foods?

gimme a an pop inflated prices?ColnagoFE
Oct 20, 2003 7:49 AM
sorry and pop aren't out to gouge you. they just don't have the buying power to get the low prices walmart gets. no way local shops can compete in price alone though i imagine someday people will come to value good service and personal attention when it has dissapeared. ever try to get decent help or advice at home depot? Whole Foods is comparing apples to oranges. Whole Foods is geared towards the consumer who has the $ to buy foods they consider "better" in some regard. It would be like saying Walmart is competing with your high end LBS just because they both sell bikes. I doubt you can evcen buy most of the stuff they sell at Whole Foods at Walmart.
ok, "higher"DougSloan
Oct 20, 2003 8:02 AM
My LBS sells Campy record Ti/steel cassettes for over $200; can get them at the "Walmart" of the internet, Performance, for $140 (at least at the time I last bought one). If I want the "personal attention" of the LBS to sell me a cassette, they I suppose I might spend 50% more.

I understand the reasons for the price difference, largely volume buying, whether it is the internet or Walmart. However, 99% of what I buy just doesn't require a scintilla of "service," at least any more than accepting my money and giving me the product.

The point of the Whole Foods example is that it has created it's own market for high quality and good service, even at greater expense. It's not competing with Walmart, any more than Mercedes competes with Kia. Local merchants need to be flexible and market toward their niche, even if they must create it. I think rather than that, they'd prefer to stagnate and continue selling to market closed of competition. Heck, I would, too. There are too many damn lawyers competing with me in California!

In many cases I find that service being ...Live Steam
Oct 20, 2003 8:06 AM
provided from mom/pop businesses to be in decline. Maybe it's due to customer burnout - or what ever you would call it. But I do find that many family owned businesses have become less customer friendly - at least locally near me. The people you say are giving you poor service are the same people, from the same community that served you in the local mom/pop store. They probably make the same wage or better at Wal-Mart than the mpm/pop could afford to pay. They also probably didn't get benefits from the mom/pop shop either.
love free enterprisefiltersweep
Oct 20, 2003 7:54 AM
It is interesting that with the internet, consumers are better informed than ever before.

We purchased a new car for my wife a few weeks ago, and I walked into a no-haggle/no-commission dealership knowing exactly what I could expect to pay for it- and knowing I could spend days driving around to each competing dealership looking for the same features and *maybe* save $200 at most. Time is money-

My point is, there seems to be less disparity in pricing these days. Even Walgreen's prices are not hugely inflated over what a Walmart would charge.

On the other hand, rather than paying for service for "Walmart products"- I'll pay more for convenience. What I mean is, how significant is "service" for household products anyway, like toilet paper, razors, etc...? I'll pay extra to go to a store where I can be in and out in a half hour, rather than walking a half mile away, wandering through miles of aisles, waiting in a long line, etc... same reason we don't shop at grocery super-stores.

Besides, the money saved is often insignificant. It is like buying gas- 10 gallons at ten cents a gallon cheaper gas is only a dollar in savings- certainly not something worth driving across town for.

BTW- the dealership kept pushing us to buy a newer used car- which was interesting- since I definitely was not interested- but I'm sure that make more money on used cars.

As an aside, are there any Whole Foods located in the outer ring burbs? They seem more of a gentrified urban phenomenon. These are also controversial in their own right, since those "in the know" don't view them as being a "proper co-op." Frankly, I don't really need organic ketchup- and if I did, even Heinz is bottling it these days ;)
Whole FoodsDougSloan
Oct 20, 2003 8:20 AM
All I know is that Whole Foods has the only edible beef in town. The rest of California beef is pure jerky.

Yes, they do seem to be in upscale urban areas. I suppose that is where you find people willing to pay $20 or more a pound for beef.

great seafood and produce as wellColnagoFE
Oct 20, 2003 8:32 AM
But you do pay for it. I imagine seafood is not as big of a deal in S CA, but in Boulder it is nice to be able to get something close to fresh. Just had a BBQ last night with items from WF. They make a cheddar and hot pepper fougasse that is to die for!
agree, but wife doesn't do sea foodDougSloan
Oct 20, 2003 8:36 AM
I live in the middle of the largest fruit basket on the planet. On my 6 mile drive home from work I could probably stop at 10 fresh fruit stands where, for example, they sell a 10 pound box of nectarines for $2, right next to the trees that produced them. No need to pay $2 EACH for them at Whole Foods. ;-)

Whole Foodsmickey-mac
Oct 20, 2003 8:11 PM
Whole Foods also has a fine selection of ales to pair with the meat. Most WFs around here have a fine selection of hard to find Belgian beers. However, I find most WF customers as creepy as the people in Wal-Mart commercials, just in a completely different way.
Why is Walmart boasting about hiring 600,000/year?BCtriguy1
Oct 20, 2003 11:26 AM
Is it just me, or does that reflect a pretty high employee turnover rate (something like 45%?), usually caused by being unsatisfied at work, rather then people fighting and clawing at one another to be hired by Walmart?
.50c/hr in Chinese labor.Tade deficit.Protectionism.Bad business model?128
Oct 21, 2003 6:17 AM
Isn't there now such a large a trade deficit with China and an exporting of manufacturing jobs to China that the business community is pressuring China through Congress to increase the value of it's currency?
And isn't it true that if China won't adjust their currency the business community wants tariffs on imports on goods from China?

I don't know the details but the Wal Mart model, in a long term cost benefit analysis, may be more complicated and detrimental than just cheap stuff at cheap prices. We need a stable, healthy, employed work force here in the Homeland. I question wether WalM is pulling it's weight.

Doesn't the Wal Mart model: expendable domestic employees and cheap foreign labor lead to protectionism and anti-competition? I really don't know I could just be flaming here.

Obviously employing Chinese labor at .50c an hour is tough to beat, and lying "You: Buy American. We buy Chinese" is problematic, but that is a whole 'nuther thing.

The big-box corporate lifestyle is ok for the go-go doublwide and slumming yuppy set, but I prefer the village common. And Target occasionally.
Tade: v. 1. To type "Trade" while holding one's tongue. nm128
Oct 21, 2003 6:23 AM