One thing you never hear about Wal-Mart

Whenever Wal-Mart is in the news, it’s usually because of the same stuff that most often earns any hugely successful corporation ink: controversy over whether its lower-level employees are adequately compensated, whether its habit of putting mom-and-pop stores out of business in the course of offering lower prices and more jobs is, on balance, good or bad for a community, and so on.
And when people admit to shopping at Wal-Mart, they are often obligated to emphasize what a dump it is, and that their ownpatronage of the place was a programmed form of slumming, a necessary but temporary lapse; apparently, everyone who has ever bought something at a Wal-Mart and lived to comment on the experience is the best-looking, richest, and most polite person in the joint. With the nicest teeth.
Here’s what I never hear mentioned: Wal-Mart is about as real as it gets out there. It’s America.


I go to Wal-Mart all the time. The last time I went I was grabbing for some popsicles when a tan, trim blonde woman who was maybe 23 or 24 sauntered by in very short shorts and a tighjt brown sleeveless top. For the record, I will note two things: Such sightings are rare where I live (I amicably coexist with people who, in the main, are what a friend of yore would call “mounatin folk”), and the woman had an unusually eye-catching bust. But the kicker was the single word “BITCH” in cursive letters splattered across that very prominent chest. The fact that she looked like the last kind of person to wear such a thing — she had a low-key, unassuming, and not especially vigilant way about her, to my thinking — rounded out a picture that I found delightfully off-kilter.
Moments later I found myself in line behind a couple of younger guys whose cart contained only a couple of cases of cheap beer and several bottles of Red Hot sauce. My instinctive thought upon noting this was that they had obviously forgotten to pick up a few extra rolls of toilet paper. When thecashier started ringing up these purchases, she asked both of them for proof of age, but only one of them was over 21. This set off an argument because the guy doing the buying insisted that his brother wasn’t going to be drinking any of the skunk piss, while the cashier insisted that it was a state law that she not only deny the guy the beer, but that she had to refuse to sell him alcohol for the next 24 hours.
The guy didn’t get especially rowdy, but he insisted on hanging around and pleading his case until a noise began erupting about ten or twelvefeet behind me. I turned to see a very fat man in a motorized cart yammering and growling at the two punks ot get a move-on. At first I thought he was complaining in a foreign language, but I soon ascertained that he was merely incoherent. The two guys left without their beer, at which point the clerk unloaded her carefully restrained annoyance upon my beaming, ever-sympathetic person. “What dicks!” I commiserated. “They just don’t get that you could go to jail if you sold them beer and then the younger one wrecked their car or something!”
“Really?” she asked with a fresh look of concern.
“Well, maybe,” I said, gathering my vittles. “Have a nice night!”
That’s all.

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  1. #1 by PalMD on July 27, 2007 - 10:01 pm

    As much as I love my local independent stores, Wal Mart and Target have VERY cheap prescriptions for my patients. I’m obliged to send them out there.

  2. #2 by Aerik on July 27, 2007 - 10:35 pm

    Thanks for putting that out there. I hate it when people say that Wal–Mart is putting all the "mom and pop" stores out of business. Know what I think of when I think "mom and pop store?" — two people who’ve lived in the same town their entire lives, before they met and through their 50+ years of marriage, incredibly ignorant of the outside world, who probably attend either the tiniest or biggest church within a hundred miles, probably wouldn’t sell you contreceptives if it’s a pharmacy, and gives free beer to the high school foot ball team. I get the opposite feeling from Wal–Mart.
    Maybe I’ve seen too many movies.

  3. #3 by PalMD on July 27, 2007 - 10:42 pm

    No, there really are some advantages to the local pharmacy, for instance. They know their customers, help them out, sometimes deliver, give a few pills without charging until the pension check comes in. But it’s still hard to beat 4 dollar generics.

  4. #4 by James King Auckland on July 28, 2007 - 1:30 am

    I love to get a huge knob up my butt, especially from a sexy shemale.

  5. #5 by deskzombie on July 28, 2007 - 9:51 pm

    Actually, I was quite impressed the other day when I walked up to my Walmart pharmacy’s drop-off window and the pharmacist greeted me happily and addressed me by my first name. Unfortunately, I can’t for the life of me remember his. I am a regular customer (~2x/month), but I never imagined, in a business with that much traffic, that I’d be remembered. They are also very helpful in other ways – taking time out to help me decide which blood pressure cuff to buy; asking how my thyroid surgery went. So, I don’t see any allure in a “mom and pop” operation when I get this level of service at the EVIL Walmart.

  6. #6 by deskzombie on July 28, 2007 - 9:51 pm

    Actually, I was quite impressed the other day when I walked up to my Walmart pharmacy’s drop-off window and the pharmacist greeted me happily and addressed me by my first name. Unfortunately, I can’t for the life of me remember his. I am a regular customer (~2x/month), but I never imagined, in a business with that much traffic, that I’d be remembered. They are also very helpful in other ways – taking time out to help me decide which blood pressure cuff to buy; asking how my thyroid surgery went. So, I don’t see any allure in a “mom and pop” operation when I get this level of service at the EVIL Walmart.

  7. #7 by Gingerbaker on August 3, 2007 - 6:50 am

    Have you all lost your minds?
    Where you shop makes a difference.
    And WalMart should be the last place anyone with a sense of social justice should be shopping.
    Sorry… but just because the place has a friendly pharmacist is no excuse to spend a dime there.
    George Bush has a nice smile too.

  8. #8 by JimFiore on August 3, 2007 - 7:15 am

    Several years ago I was talking to some friends about Mal-Wart. I told them that one of the things that bothered me is the fact that Mal-Wart pretty much forced consumer industry to go to China for cheap labor (or go out of business). So cheap, in fact, that it more than compensates for the cost of shipping goods completely across the Pacific Ocean. I remember saying “How come we never hear about the use of fuel to do that and the resulting pollution?” My friends looked at me and commented that they had never considered that and were a little amazed now that it was brought to their attention. These days, I sometimes hear that side of it in the major media. But I want to be clear that although M-W seems to have perfected this scheme, they are by far not alone in using it, so just targeting M-W is not a complete solution. In parallel to this, consider buying produce. If you have a choice between, say, strawberries grown a couple of miles away and some grown 3000 miles away, which do you choose?
    On the other hand, I don’t necessarily have a “warm and fuzzy” for any old local mom & pop shop. I will, though, shop a local store if I find that they have decent service and prices, even if the prices might be a little higher (I have certainly come across some mom & pop’s that I would never walk into again).

  9. #9 by Gingerbaker on August 3, 2007 - 10:15 am

    Rant here:
    There are SO many reasons to boycott this chain.
    They are a major force driving down the standard of living for all of us with their substandard wages and benefits packages, job displacement with local economy disruption, etc.
    They have a major negative impact on national pay scales and welfare costs through their massive and ruthless policies of wringing the last dime out of Chinese and American suppliers.
    …Well, you all know the drill
    Here you have a company that refuses to pay a living wage ( many stores’ orientation programs give employees tips on how to apply for food stamps!), or give health benefits to its employees ( even those who receive “benefits” get programs that are not better than what an individual can procure on their own.
    It does all this WHILE EACH OF THE FIVE WALTON DAUGHTERS IS WORTH 22 BILLION DOLLARS APIECE.
    Think Costco – the anti-Walmart. :)

  10. #10 by JimFiore on August 3, 2007 - 11:01 am

    I recall an article a few years ago (Mother Jones? The Nation? I forget) where somewhere in the SW USA a group of meat cutters at a Mal-Wart were on the verge of organizing a union (in spite of the work M-W was doing to subvert it). As M-W is vehemently anti-union, they solved their problem at the last minute by simply abolishing their in-store butcher shops ACROSS THE ENTIRE COUNTRY. How’s that for sending a message?
    I did not have much of an opinion on M-W until about a dozen years ago (they were not in our area at that time). In western NY, where my wife comes from, there was a big stink about a M-W coming into one of the towns near Buffalo. What struck me was the sort of insistence of M-W that they were coming in whether people wanted them there or not. There was no compromise or variance. I found that odd.
    A few years later, M-W made a deal with my town (Marcy, NY) to build a large distribution center. Many people were very excited about the prospect of jobs and a nice boost to the tax base (the facility was $10’s of millions). A couple years later, M-W challenged the tax assessment through some arcane BS and had it lowered to a small fraction of the facility’s cost (mainly because they had no intention to sell the facility and therefore, “going rates” for valuation did not have to be used- it makes no sense to me, but that’s the way it went). Of course, the town could not afford to mount a defense against M-W and could do little but let them bugger away. As M-W had also challenged taxes retroactively, the town OWED money to M-W. M-W then “cooperated” by being allowed to not pay ANY taxes for the next several years to recoup what they were supposedly owed. Quite honestly, the town got reamed and steamed on this deal.
    So, whenever someone tells me how they saved $$ at the local M-W, I always remind them that they paid for those “savings” several times over indirectly through things like higher property tax rates that are required to compensate for M-W’s disinterest in being an integrated part of the community.

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