I’m not trying to tell anyone else where to shop or what they should spend their money on. I know everyone works hard for their money and how they choose to spend that money is deeply personal. It really doesn’t bother me where other people shop, but apparently there are people who have a huge problem with the fact that I will not spend the money I work hard for on Wal-mart. To me it just goes into the pockets of the billionaire Walton family. It’s not a classist thing for me. I hear lots of people talking about the dregs of society who shop at Wal-mart. For me it’s a moral and ethical issue. These are my reasons for, no matter how good the deal is and no matter how many times people pester me to shop there, why I will not shop at Wal-mart. Will not. Ever.
1 – Their poor record on worker’s rights. For those of you who rant and rave about all the people who rely on public assistance, then you better not shop at Wal-mart. Even though this company grosses billions upon trillions of dollars a year, the Wal-mart Corporation refuses to pay their employees reasonable benefits and actively trains their managers on how to help their employees apply for public assistance. Really, Wal-mart? If you make a huge profit on cutting prices then you should be able to reward your hard-working employees with health benefits. Not to mention that they do everything possible to undercut worker’s hours so they won’t be considered full-time and qualify for said benefits in the first place. As a social worker, this deeply, deeply offends me. The point of having a job is so that you won’t have to rely on public assistance. I know for a lot of people that going on public assistance is humiliating enough, without your employer encouraging you to do so just so that the Walton family can add another wing to their castle. They need to take a lesson from Costco where all the employees own a share of Costco therefore having a vested interest in the company’s success. The CEO of Costco makes the lowest of all CEO salaries in the country so that he can pay the workers of Costco more. Ever notice how unhappy all the employees are at Wal-mart in comparison to places like Costco. Ever notice the level of customer service? It’s all connected. Also, Wal-mart may have low prices now at the cash register, but you’re paying for it in higher taxes supporting all their employees they refuse to give health benefits to.
2. Their detrimental impact on small businesses. When I worked at Smith’s 7+ years ago, there was talk of Wal-mart building small neighborhood stores to compete with local grocery stores. Our upper management was scared sh**less. The reason is Wal-mart came out and said that the only reason why they were doing it was so that they could put the small, locally owned, grocery stores out of business. Why Wal-mart? Do you really need more money? A lot of people complain about Microsoft being a monopoly, but they’ve got nothing on Wal-mart. Just where I live alone, I could go to six Wal-marts within 20 minutes of my house. This is ridiculous. It used to be that if someone had a dream of owning a small business, our country supported that. I believe it’s called the American dream. What happened to all our Mom-and-Pop stores where the owners knew you and you knew them? What happened to supporting our neighbors and putting money back into our communities? Now it’s all about supporting the greed of the Walton heirs.
3. They take government subsidies from small towns. Wal-mart has a history of going to small towns throughout the United States and making agreements with the local governments that say that the small town will pay to have electricity lines, sewers dug, etc. to entice Wal-mart to come. Really Wal-mart? You can’t afford to dig your own sewers and hook up your own power lines? What bothers me is even though Wal-mart is a corporation of billionaires, they’re taking money out of the pockets of these small towns that could go to important things, like I don’t know, the schools, the police departments, the fire departments, civic improvement. But who needs their children to be educated? Who needs protection from the police and fire departments? Who needs parks, sidewalks, roads? What we all need is more cheap crap from Wal-mart.
4. They have insufficient environmental protection policies. Wal-mart is notoriousness for not giving a crap about the environment. Forget all those warm and fuzzy commercials from them about “going green” and caring about the neighborhoods in which they live. Wrong. They don’t mind not properly storing fertilizer so that when it rains those toxins seep into the underground drinking water. Turning fields into a vast concrete jungle. We won’t even get into how the production of the products they sell have wreaked havoc on the environment.
5. Their aggressive and violent anti-union stance. I can understand why Wal-mart wouldn’t want their employees to unionize. If they allowed their employees to unionize, they might actually have to treat them with human dignity. They might have to offer them health benefits. They might have to pay them fair wages. It’s not just that they don’t want their employees to unionize, it’s the tactics they’ve used against their employees. If they even hear talk of unions, they will fire you. And that’s just if you’re lucky.
6. The hyper-consumerism attitude they promote. Really America, do we need more “stuff?” I love a new pair of shoes probably more than the next gal, but I can’t even believe how much “junk” is sold at Wal-mart. Our desire to keep up with the Joneses, or accumulate more stuff to fill our empty souls, has gotten out of control. Wal-mart feeds this. “Stuff” has never made anyone feel happy. No matter what they say, they just want you to shop, shop, shop!
7. Sam Walton would be ashamed if he knew what Wal-mart has become. His simple dream to give low prices to customers has led to a giant corporation that personifies greed. And he has his children and grandchildren to thank. They literally live in a compound that this so protected that it makes Fort Knox look easy to break into. If there was a nuclear holocaust, the Waltons would survive. Their compound is a series of mansions that exemplify excess. It’s disgusting. And every time you buy something from Wal-mart, you are putting more money in these sycophant’s pockets.
So these are my reasons. I’m not trying to convince anyone else that they shouldn’t shop at Wal-mart. You need to do what’s best for you. I cannot, in good concious, know these things about Wal-mart, and shop there. One of my most flavors of Tuna Helper (Tuna Tetrazinni…it’s so good) is only sold at Wal-mart. I would love to comprise my values and go and get me some. But I just can’t. Sometimes in life you have to take a stand for things you believe in, and this is something I believe in. Please don’t encourage me to shop at Wal-mart cause it ain’t gonna happen. If you buy me something from Wal-mart, I will say “thank you” and use it and appreciate your generosity. I’m not telling you where to shop, I’m just explaining why I can’t shop there.
Personally, I admire my sister and her family for growing their own food, shopping their local farmer’s market for locally grown food, and for shopping at local small businesses. If I lived in a larger city, I’d do this more. My in-laws get a lot of their produce from a local food co-op and by growing it themselves. Not only does this save money for them, but it supports local growers, small farmers, and the food just tastes better.
For more info on this subject check out the documentary “Wal-mart: the High cost of Low price” by Robert Greenwold.