Walmart vs. Obesity

Thursday, July 24th, 2008

The Examiner’s Mary Katherine Ham notes that a new law instituting a one-year moratorium on new fast food restaurants in South L.A. was sponsored by a city councilwoman who has fought like hell to keep low-cost produce out of those same neighborhoods:

Yet now the council requires giant retailers to survive an “economic impact report” before being allowed to operate in even the most blighted of neighborhoods.

In 2004, she backed an ordinance to keep one of America’s lowest-priced grocers (Wal-Mart) out of the area, according to the Los Angeles Business Journal.

By attempting to ban Wal-Mart, Perry was not only depriving her district of that store’s low prices, but also of the ripple effect Wal-Mart can have on area groceries. According to economic analysts, the price of groceries drops an average of 10-15 percent in markets Wal-Mart enters.

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52 Responses to “Walmart vs. Obesity”

  1. #1 |  Ben | 

    By attempting to ban Wal-Mart, Perry was not only depriving her district of that store’s low prices, but also of the ripple effect Wal-Mart can have on area groceries. According to economic analysts, the price of groceries drops an average of 10-15 percent in markets Wal-Mart enters.

    The reason they drop 10-15% is that they have to compete with Walmart if they hope to stay in business. Their costs don’t change, but their prices do. This is why small businesses go out of business.

  2. #2 |  Robert S. Porter | 

    This is why small businesses go out of business.

    As they should, if they can’t compete.

  3. #3 |  MikeT | 

    As they should, if they can’t compete.

    While this is true, one should not underestimate the damage that it can do to a small community to have most of its locally owned stores replaced with a single corporate giant. Wal-Mart also has a tremendous amount of power to force manufacturers to cut costs anyway they can, and one of the ways they did that was by sending manufacturing jobs out of the country. Thus Wal-Mart, to paraphrase Homer Simpson, is “the cause of, and solution to, all of life’s problems.”

    Granted, as much as I hate Wal-Mart, I also put my money where my mouth is and shop at Target and other competitors. That’s the only ethical way to oppose Wal-Mart.

  4. #4 |  Radley Balko | 

    Target has essentially the same business model. It just took them longer to implement it.

  5. #5 |  The Brown Acid | 

    Robert S. Porter | July 24th, 2008 at 12:27 pm

    This is why small businesses go out of business.

    As they should, if they can’t compete.

    ———————————-

    Now if only we could apply the same principle to large corporations and banking institutions……

  6. #6 |  MikeT | 

    True, but I believe in spreading my money around. Not say that my money is anywhere near close enough to tip any scales at their level, but it’s a matter of principle (and bargain-hunting). Also, I’ve seen a lot more “made in America” products at Target than in Wal-Mart, which is why I’ll shop at Target when I’m not at a specialized store.

  7. #7 |  MikeT | 

    Now if only we could apply the same principle to large corporations and banking institutions……

    If only large corporations like Wal-Mart were as powerless to use eminent domain and curry special favors with the government as mom-and-pop shops.

  8. #8 |  The Brown Acid | 

    I actually like Wal-Mart. I have to admit. I just hate that large corporations that tank (not saying wal-mart has, but others) aren’t held to the same standards of capitalism as people who own family businesses that are just trying to squeeze by.

  9. #9 |  Robert S. Porter | 

    Now if only we could apply the same principle to large corporations and banking institutions……

    Many do. There are plenty of large corporations that have gone out of business without massive interference of the government first. That said, I’m as big an opponent of subsidies and bailouts as the next libertarian.

  10. #10 |  The Brown Acid | 

    One example of where Wal-mart has kicked ass before:

    I foolishly purchased a Sony Playstation 3 40 GB, thinking I could play PS2 games. Put a game in and get this message:

    “This model of Playstation 3 does not support Playstation 2 software”

    Came very close to throwing the fucking thing out the window. Tried to work with Sony to get my money back so I could buy the backwards compatible model. No dice. So I boxed the damn thing up, took it to wal-mart, got a refund in store credit no questions ask.

    1 week later I went and camped out at Wal-mart for a few hours anticipating the metal gear solid 4 release – You could buy a PS3 bundled with the game, a better quality controller, and backwards compatibility as opposed to a piece of crap for $100 more. I figured I’d eat the cost and just enjoy the game I got out of it as a result. When I went to buy the thing, Wal-Mart alerted me that it was subject to a special promotion – I got a $100 Wal-Mart gift card with it.

    All in all I got way more bang for the same amount of buck, and all it really cost me is some of my dignity (in camping out like a nerd for a damn game) and soul
    :)

  11. #11 |  Robert S. Porter | 

    “[O]ne should not underestimate the damage that it can do to a small community to have most of its locally owned stores replaced with a single corporate giant. Wal-Mart also has a tremendous amount of power to force manufacturers to cut costs anyway they can, and one of the ways they did that was by sending manufacturing jobs out of the country.”

    I don’t agree. The reason that mom and pop stores go out of business is because they suck. Wal-Mart replaces these small shops with a cheaper and more convient place to shop while absorbing a lot of the displaced workforce. “Locally owned” is no real indicator that the store is better for the community, especially if consumers have to play much more for the products.

    As for the manufacturing loss, that’s just useless nationalism. Creative destruction is good and Wal-Mart is right to force companies to produce cheaper or get out of the way. China, India, Mexico or whatever all have the right to compete in the global marketplace, and the consumers are better for it. Besides that, while the number of people employed might be lower, the value of manufacturing jobs in the United States are at record levels. It’s just becoming more efficient.

  12. #12 |  Matt | 

    “Wal-Mart also has a tremendous amount of power to force manufacturers to cut costs anyway they can, and one of the ways they did that was by sending manufacturing jobs out of the country. ”

    So what if they do? Walmart should be free to employ whoever they want wherever they want. Sorry if they employ people you don’t like, but be man and get over it. Why should the consumers of America (which is pretty much everyone) be forced to pay higher prices for the sake a few? There is nothing fair or equal about that, especially for the poor who are being forced to buy higher priced goods against their will like this scenario in LA.

    I appreciate that you use your buying power to oppose companies and practices you don’t like rather than proposing restrictive legislation. It is the ethical way to do it. But you oppose the very thing about walmart that is good for everyone, low prices that increases everyone’s purchasing power.

    It is their abuse of eminent domain laws that deserve our scorn and boycotts. And that is why I shop at Target.

  13. #13 |  Ben | 

    I don’t agree. The reason that mom and pop stores go out of business is because they suck. Wal-Mart replaces these small shops with a cheaper and more convient place to shop while absorbing a lot of the displaced workforce. “Locally owned” is no real indicator that the store is better for the community, especially if consumers have to play much more for the products.

    I buy and sell a lot of power tools. I work for a small building materials yard. I sell a DeWalt DW272 screw gun for about $20 more than Home Depot (which works out to about 20%). Some of the cost difference comes from pure volume, which I understand and have no problem with. However, because of Home Depot’s size, they will say to DeWalt “Hey, we want to purchace 10k of your DW272s… but I want a different motor and gears in it.” DeWalt doesn’t want to lose the business, so they do it.

    There’s no difference except for an extra letter in the S/N. Same model number. (All of this comes from a dewalt mfg rep.)

    Our company (about 30 employees) can barely get a DeWalt sales rep on the phone, much less dictate how they build their tools. Walmart does the same crap.

    I don’t know what the answer is, since volume buying works both ways (we sell sheetrock better than Lowe’s a quarter mile down the road) but there is something to be said about diversity in business, which Walmart destroys often times.

  14. #14 |  Chris in AL | 

    Hi Ben

    Question: The Home Depot model with the different motor and gears…I assume these are lower quality components which contribute to the cost savings? I have heard about this where the same model item seems to be available for less but it is really not the same.

    I have always been a little skeptical though, on the belief that the manufacturer, if they normally make a quality product, would not want an inferior product out there, especially at the big stores where the majority of their products are sold. Because if customers buy what turns out to be a low quality item, they will think DeWalt makes crappy tools, not Home Depot.

    I know the big discounters do it with items like clothing, Wal-Mart has their Faded Glory jeans for example that I am sure are lower quality. But they also sell Levis which I assumed were the same quality Levis you would get anywhere else. Same with brand name electronics and tools.

    You are saying this is not true, meaning one would actually get more value paying more at a smaller store. Is this the case?

  15. #15 |  Kwix | 

    WalMart, Lowe’s, etc. can’t be everything to everybody. It’s called “find your niche” and build a market in it. As Ben stated, his hardware store sells more sheetrock than Lowe’s and probably for good reason. I am willing to bet that he has no problems with calling a yard worker over to load a flatbed full of sheetrock on short notice. Try getting one of the Blue-smocked ones at Lowe’s to give you the time of day, much less locate a forklift to grab a stack of board. Customer service and personal knowledge is that niche. If it means that all you sell profitably is sheetrock, then so be it.

    If a local grocer (mom and pop or even chain) sells the same crap produce that WalMart does for 20% more, then why would I buy it? They are a smaller shop, they can root out and locate better merchandise like vine ripened, locally grown tomatoes that actually taste good or employ a butcher to hand cut beef to specifications. The niche pricing would be higher than WalMart but at least so too would the quality.

    WalMart, HomeDepot, Lowe’s, etc. all market to the lowest common denominator and demographic. If you are also marketing to that demographic they are your competition. So either you sell products they don’t, sell cheaper than they do, change your demographic or go out of business.

  16. #16 |  Thomas Blair | 

    The reason they drop 10-15% is that they have to compete with Walmart if they hope to stay in business.

    Boohoo. If you can’t provide what people want at a price they’re willing to pay, then you need to find another trade.

    Their costs don’t change, but their prices do.

    You don’t know that, and even if you have a personal anecdote, you can’t speak for everyone. Competition breeds competence. Those less competent get pushed to the side.

  17. #17 |  Thomas Blair | 

    Boohoo on me. I screwed up my tags. Obviously, “Their costs don’t change, but their prices do” should be quoted and my comments below justified left.

  18. #18 |  Kwix | 

    Also, for what it’s worth, WalMart’s diversified product offering allows them to offer some items at drastically reduced prices.

    For example (at least when I worked there) all of the packaged foods that were not “snacks” were typically sold at or just below cost. The idea was that a $0.29 can of corn would get the customer in the door where they may then buy a marked up bag of Fritos and possibly a pair of jeans. This wasn’t just the store brand either, but DelMonte, Dole, Mahatma(rice), etc. The loss of profit on the corn and rice was more than made up for by the other items in the store.

    Since then, I have noticed that quite a few retailers have moved to this model (Super Target, Super Kmart, Fred Meyer/Kroger now usually have a large clothing/furniture department, etc).

  19. #19 |  Matt Moore | 

    I don’t know what the answer is, since volume buying works both ways (we sell sheetrock better than Lowe’s a quarter mile down the road) but there is something to be said about diversity in business, which Walmart destroys often times.

    In your post you compare Wal-mart, Home Depot, Lowes, and the store you work at. How much more diverse would that picture be if Wal-mart hadn’t “destroyed” it?

  20. #20 |  Jay | 

    #11 “more convient place to shop” Dude have you ever shopped at wal mart? It may be cheap but convenient it is not. I have not been in a wal mart in ~5 years.

  21. #21 |  chance | 

    “there is something to be said about diversity in business, which Walmart destroys often times.”

    I agree with this. Within a few miles of me are two Wal-Marts and two Targets. There are a couple of Lowes and Home Depots as well. The number of small businesses is, well, small. The prices are relatively low, but quality is spotty – sometimes really good, sometimes really bad. Anyway, my admittedly very basic understanding is that competition is good because bad businesses either fail or improve, benefiting the customer. The more businesses competing, the better. But look at my example above: who can build a small store to realistically compete with that? Using the tactics Ben and other have described, it wouldn’t matter if I had lower prices and a better product, I see little real chance of thriving. Surviving possibly, but that’s it. Sure, Target and Wal-Mart are competing, but it is pretty obvious that the two competitors will quickly find an equilibrium that is best for them, and not for necessarily for the customer. Another competitor could upset that balance, but it would likely again be a huge chain, and exactly how many multi hundred thousand sq ft chain stores can one city support? How many would it want to? Should every town across the U.S. have the exact same stores, with the same stuff in them, just so we can have lower prices? I dunno, I like lower prices, but dang.

  22. #22 |  Michael Leatherwood | 

    I don’t usually shop at Wal-Mart. Its not because of location or business practices. It is because its crowded, crammed tight, has long lines, and is basically an unpleasant experience.

    So, for consumers like me, price is not what drives purchasing.
    Yes, if they have a sale on something I wanted, and the value is considerable, I might hit Wallyworld around midnight and dodge the floor buffers.

    However, I shop in other places because they have better service, across-the-board better quality, and friendlier staffs. And if I pay a premium for that, so be it. And I am sure I am not the only person who places value on items beyond price.

  23. #23 |  Nando | 

    You people are smart. I don’t think there are any dumb people that read/post in this blog, with the exception of a troll or two.

    That being said, there are plenty of good points on both sides of the Wal-Mart argument. I lean more towards the “I don’t mind Wal-Mart, even though I don’t shop there” crowd. I just can’t stand the amount of people, the parking issues, the long lines, and the rudeness I have to put up with every time I go to Wallyworld. What I do like about Wal-Mart is that they provide a great service to the poor in a community.

    In the US, a family of four with two full-time workers earning minimum wage is below the poverty line (the same holds true for a family of two with one person working full time at minimum wage). That is sad. My best friend is the sole breadwinner in his family of four (wife and two kids) and, even though he makes $12.50 an hour, he still struggles to make ends meet. If it weren’t for Wal-Mart and Sam’s Club, his family would not be able to survive. He’s able to buy most of his family’s necessities and still have money left over to rent a few movies a month in the Redbox ($1 a movie per night), which is actually a treat in his family. I’m sure he’s not the only person who wouldn’t be able to get by without a Wal-Mart in his community.

  24. #24 |  MikeT | 

    As for the manufacturing loss, that’s just useless nationalism.

    No, it’s a realistic concern since most people aren’t fit to work in intellectually-demanding jobs.

    Creative destruction is good and Wal-Mart is right to force companies to produce cheaper or get out of the way. China, India, Mexico or whatever all have the right to compete in the global marketplace, and the consumers are better for it.

    Get off your knee-jerk, libertarian high horse. I never questioned their right to compete. I questioned whether we should be lauding a company that is so massive that it can pressure the manufacturing sector into sending jobs overseas.

    Look, I know this is a very hard concept for some of you, but sending jobs overseas is not necessarily a good thing. Most people are not capable, not even close to capable, of working in the primary wealth producing fields like engineering, scientific R&D and the arts. The more that the economy becomes balkanized between “shit jobs,” “jobs that require a 120 IQ or higher to succeed at or a shit load of inborn talent” or “jobs that are in protected fields” like medicine and law, the harder that libertarian reforms will be to implemented.

    Besides that, while the number of people employed might be lower, the value of manufacturing jobs in the United States are at record levels. It’s just becoming more efficient.

    A lot of manufacturing is indeed coming back to the United States because the cost of producing products in China for sale in the U.S. is increasing because of energy costs and inflation. That’s not the point. The point is that job loss in our market is never a good thing, unless it is the result of real creative destruction such as taxi drivers replacing buggy drivers. Outsourcing hardly qualifies as creative destruction.

  25. #25 |  pierre | 

    I dont buy this market forces bull-shit.

    Good for her for keeping wal-mart out of her community. Hell I think people should start burning the fucking places to the ground.

    BTW when I was 18 I worked at a wal-mart for almost a year. The pay was good compared to other jobs available to me as a fresh-out-of high school kid. My complaint against wal-mart is on the effect on local business.

    And the “well if they cant compete” argument is bullshit as well. There is no chance to compete. Also think it’s ok to pay more for goods to support your community.

    I have actually lived in “low-income” neighborhoods. Poor people don’t really buy produce. They buy total shit. Soda, chips, snacks, microwave meals, box food, ramen, etc. etc. They’ve never been taught how to cook proper meals.

    Go to any grocery store in a poor neighborhood, and it’s always the same. The produce department smells like rotting vegetables, and is a mess.

  26. #26 |  Joe | 

    If I demanded a 15% sales tax on the poorest neighborhoods with the proceeds divided amongst local business owners, I would be called an idiot. But do it under the guise of opposing Wal-Mart and you are instead progressive.

  27. #27 |  Matt Moore | 

    I can’t wrap my head around how clueless, how intellectually inconsistent these two statements are:

    My complaint against wal-mart is on the effect on local business.

    Go to any grocery store in a poor neighborhood, and it’s always the same. The produce department smells like rotting vegetables, and is a mess.

    So local businesses suck, but you’re against replacing them with a Wal-mart with a nice produce department… why? Because poor people are stupid?

  28. #28 |  Matt Moore | 

    The more that the economy becomes balkanized between “shit jobs,” “jobs that require a 120 IQ or higher to succeed at or a shit load of inborn talent” or “jobs that are in protected fields” like medicine and law, the harder that libertarian reforms will be to implemented.

    The manufacturing jobs, the ones that required no skills or intelligence, that you’re so enamored with were “shit jobs.” They just paid well because of labor organization and artificially high prices that domestic companies could charge when they had no foreign competition.

    Hell, some of them didn’t even pay well. No one made it rich working in one of those textile factories everyone boohoos about losing to Asia.

    Odd, also, that we’ve lost all these jobs that are the only thing stupid people can do, yet unemployment is amazingly low.

  29. #29 |  Robert S. Porter | 

    #11 “more convient place to shop” Dude have you ever shopped at wal mart? It may be cheap but convenient it is not. I have not been in a wal mart in ~5 years.

    Yes I have, and you just admitted you don’t, thus by your logic I am more qualified to speak on the topic. I probably go to Wal-Mart one or two times a week and there’s one literally 1500ft from my front door.

    Wal-Mart absolutely is convenient. There are plenty of locations to go to. Large parking lots since I often drive. Plenty of product in stock. Generally helpful staff (Seriously. They might not be the best but they’re perfectly adaquate.) Additionally they have a multitude of selection. They have food, hardware, pet supply, sporting goods, housewares, electronics etc, all in one location, often with the lowest prices in town. The products at Wal-Mart might not be the highest quality in everything, but why do I or the average consumer need to buy the highest quality of every product. Wal-Mart supplies the goods and the quantity and quality that I need in most cases.

    How is that not convenient?

  30. #30 |  pierre | 

    Matt Moore –
    There aren’t small businesses in low income areas, so I guess it really doesn’t matter.
    I was more referring to it’s effects on local businesses in small towns and cities, so I suppose you are correct, my point is somewhat contradictory… but not to the degree that you purport in your post.
    I never said local businesses suck. I’m saying supermarkets in the ghetto suck. And there are many other small businesses that a wal-mart can replace. (Just not in the ghetto. Because there is no business there)

    Wal-Mart is only there because they are more than happy to suck the cash out of poor people’s pockets. Not to help the community by providing jobs as they so often claim. Any taxes collected from the store aren’t going to impact in any way the immediate community.

    So whats the benefit to the community? Why should they be allowed to open? Being closer than the other grocery store or “more convent” is hardly a decent standard for uplifting the community.

    They would be better off making the argument that they are feeding the indigent community via all of the shoplifting that will occur once they are open!

  31. #31 |  buzz | 

    “So whats the benefit to the community? Why should they be allowed to open? Being closer than the other grocery store or “more convent” is hardly a decent standard for uplifting the community.”
    The benefit, if you disregarded all the above comments, is fresh produce at cheap prices, not to mention cheap everything else for people who don’t have that much money. Plus jobs for those who currently don’t have one. They should be allowed to open because this is still America and they have a lawful business. Their only obligation is to turn a legal profit.

    “I dont buy this market forces bull-shit.

    Good for her for keeping wal-mart out of her community. Hell I think people should start burning the fucking places to the ground.”

    Or perhaps it isn’t still America where you live. Much better to deny the poor the availability and cost savings so that this council lady can indulge her progressive thinking. Not like she cant afford food and produce.

  32. #32 |  Matt Moore | 

    So whats the benefit to the community? Why should they be allowed to open? Being closer than the other grocery store or “more convent” is hardly a decent standard for uplifting the community.

    By your own admission, if they open in a poor neighborhood the benefit is produce that wasn’t available before at affordable prices. You may sneer at that, but I don’t share your disdain of the poor.

  33. #33 |  The Brown Acid | 

    MikeT:

    “A lot of manufacturing is indeed coming back to the United States because the cost of producing products in China for sale in the U.S. is increasing because of energy costs and inflation. That’s not the point. The point is that job loss in our market is never a good thing, unless it is the result of real creative destruction such as taxi drivers replacing buggy drivers. Outsourcing hardly qualifies as creative destruction”

    MikeT, thank you for stating this so eloquently. As a former Detroiter, most of the men in my family have lost their jobs at Ford/Chrysler/GM due to this “creative destruction”. (And by the way, a mexican manufactured automobile components are crap quality) so I have a hard time being a cheerleader for outsourcing. Biased? You betcha.

    Most of the men in my family are just too old for “Retraining”. I got lucky because I saw what was happening to the manufacturing sector in Michigan and decided I wanted no part of that scene, so I enrolled in college. My dad, uncle, brother, grandfather, etc. don’t really have this option.

    The big three dropped the ball because their operations were governed by incompetent suits – these guys forgot that their #1 customers were employees. Why they thought their employees would hold on to their brand loyalties after said employees’ companies dropped them like hot slag in exchange for sweet sweet cheap mexican labor is beyond me.

    The sad thing about when this kind of shit goes on is that it’s the floor workers that suffer. The guys who cause all the trouble to the companies are rarely held accountable. When the bigwigs screw up bad enough that they are relieved of their duties they get sweetheart deal golden parachutes for their troubles.

    I weep for American capitalism.

  34. #34 |  the brown acid | 

    I should also mention that it’s not only the former employees of the big 3 that CAN’T buy big 3 autos anymore – their friends family and acquaintances are pretty pissed at these companies as well and refuse to buy their products.

    You’ll never see me driving a ford or GM car.

  35. #35 |  Dreadnaught | 

    We all love Wal-Mart. If that were not the case, it would go out of business.

  36. #36 |  the brown acid | 

    “The manufacturing jobs, the ones that required no skills or intelligence, that you’re so enamored with were “shit jobs.” They just paid well because of labor organization and artificially high prices that domestic companies could charge when they had no foreign competition.”

    Hey Matt, ever work in an auto plant? It’s tough work. Now if you’re a mindless drone who doesn’t care to run bad parts that may fail and kill people driving your product some day, sure, manufacturing jobs don’t require much in the way of intelligence. If you take pride in your work and want your company’s products to enjoy a good reputation – well then the story is different.

    As for labor unions – isn’t this just another function of capitalism? Workers banding together to extort better pay and benefits from the guys up top – to me that seems like free market principles in action via the labor market.

    On behalf of the Michigan auto-worker who can’t find a job now: Take your little economic theories and your hard-on for sweatshop labor, get back up on your high horse, ride out into the sunset, and promptly go fuck yourself.

  37. #37 |  Ben | 

    Yay, second day of this thread for me.

    In your post you compare Wal-mart, Home Depot, Lowes, and the store you work at. How much more diverse would that picture be if Wal-mart hadn’t “destroyed” it?

    I understand what you’re saying, but here’s the thing. Back a year ago, there was no Home Depot or Lowes within 25 miles of here. There were several independent lumberyards around. Three that I can think of off the top of my head. All three are hurting BAD right now. Between the housing crunch and the fact that Lowes opened up a couple miles down the road, there’s a good chace that they will go out of business. The failing yards offer excellent service and knowledgable sales people, things Lowes can and will not provide. Yet these businesses are dying. They can’t touch Lowe’s prices.

    In our case, we’re not hurting because we’ve been in a niche market for almost 30 years. Lowes won’t come after our customers because we supply product (we specialize in sheetrock and such) in oddball sizes that lowes can’t profit from. We were lucky.

    Look at small independent donut shops. There used to be three in the town next door to mine. Now there’s three Dunkin Donuts and no independent shops.

    Diversity is good. Forcing diversity out with 1% margins on lower cost (volume not profit lol) is bad.

  38. #38 |  Invid | 

    American car manufacturers are failing and making (crappy) cars in Mexico…and Japanese car manufacturers are not failing and making (good) cars in America…I recommend you try getting a job with Honda or the like.

    As to labor unions, the free market went out the window with the passing of labor laws. Don’t mistakenly think that our corporatist system closely resembles the free market.

    On behalf of a recently licensed Pennsylvania attorney (who also can’t find a job), why don’t you take your blue-collar working-man nobility down to the bar and have a few pints and cry there about how much pride you took in de-burring car frames.

  39. #39 |  Matt Moore | 

    Diversity is good. Forcing diversity out with 1% margins on lower cost (volume not profit lol) is bad.

    You seem to think that axiom is somehow set in stone, but it isn’t.

    The failing yards offer excellent service and knowledgable sales people, things Lowes can and will not provide. Yet these businesses are dying. They can’t touch Lowe’s prices.

    I guess that excellent service and knowledgeable salespeople aren’t worth as much to other consumers as they are to you. Or maybe Lowes service isn’t as bad as you think.

  40. #40 |  chris m | 

    #36 the brown acid:

    “As for labor unions – isn’t this just another function of capitalism? Workers banding together to extort better pay and benefits from the guys up top – to me that seems like free market principles in action via the labor market.”

    If you accept the functions of capitalism, then you should understand when GM says “fuck you” to the labor union in favor of lowering their production costs.

    “The big three dropped the ball because their operations were governed by incompetent suits – these guys forgot that their #1 customers were employees. Why they thought their employees would hold on to their brand loyalties after said employees’ companies dropped them like hot slag in exchange for sweet sweet cheap mexican labor is beyond me.”

    If what you say is true – that GM will loose its #1 customers as a result of these bad decisions – then GM will suffer financially.

  41. #41 |  hutch | 

    “It is their abuse of eminent domain laws that deserve our scorn and boycotts. And that is why I shop at Target.”

    wal-mart doesn’t abuse eminent domain; elected officials do on wal-mart’s behalf. if those elected officials have made it known they are willing to give goodies out to other special interests, wal-mart would be foolish not to ask. it is your local government that deserves the scorn. if your wife has an affair with another man, who deserves the most blame: your wife or the other man? does anyone really believe that a punch to the nose of the other man is going to make sure it never happens again?

  42. #42 |  Matt Moore | 

    Hey Matt, ever work in an auto plant? It’s tough work. Now if you’re a mindless drone who doesn’t care to run bad parts that may fail and kill people driving your product some day, sure, manufacturing jobs don’t require much in the way of intelligence. If you take pride in your work and want your company’s products to enjoy a good reputation – well then the story is different.

    Check the context of my comment. I was arguing with a guy that said we were losing all the jobs that dumb people could do to other countries.

    Also, arguing that American car companies took pride in their work and made cars that didn’t fail is silly, since reliability is one of the areas where Detroit couldn’t compete with Japan.

  43. #43 |  Matt Moore | 

    Also, brown acid, I decided not to respond to your final paragraph except to tell you that it makes you sound like a buffoon.

  44. #44 |  J sub D | 

    While this is true, one should not underestimate the damage that it can do to a small community to have most of its locally owned stores replaced with a single corporate giant.

    Ask an employee and they’ll tell you that “Mom and Pop” stores = no advancement opportunity coupled with skinflint employers. You also get the added benefit of listening to them whine about how they never make any money. That’s to prep the employeee for the inevitable no when they ask for a cost of living raise.

  45. #45 |  Dakota | 

    If Wal*Mart and stores of that ilk, are “let” into major urban areas the only “local” buisness that are going to lose out are the bodegas and other mom & pops that gauge you relentlessly. Spam for 2 bucks a can, or 6 bucks for a 18 load thing of Tide. Good riddance.

  46. #46 |  Eric Ogunbase | 

    Well, Wal-Mart does use despicable tactics against manufacturers, but they are one of the few retailers willing to open in “the hood”. The Mom and Pop stores won’t. The ones that do, leave much to be desired. When we lived in a blighted, urban area (read: Detroit), we did our shopping in the surrounding suburbs. Why? We could get good quality produce and meat. In the local stores, the quality was just lower, and if you asked for help, the workers would treat you like you were a bother. It was a no brainer.

    This particular councilwoman is just anti business. But it’s not like anyone will vote her out of office.

  47. #47 |  Eric Ogunbase | 

    @ 45: I agree. But those stores HAVE to charge more, to make up for things like increased insurance, the cost of installing the 1.5 inch thick bulletproof glass, as well as the multiple bars and grates on all entrances.

  48. #48 |  Matt Moore | 

    Well, Wal-Mart does use despicable tactics against manufacturers, but they are one of the few retailers willing to open in “the hood”.

    Wal-mart won’t carry products unless they’re getting the lowest possible price from the manufacturer. I fail to see how that’s despicable.

  49. #49 |  Kwix | 

    Well, Wal-Mart does use despicable tactics against manufacturers…

    I have heard this many times before but I have yet to see it in action. What is “despicable” about asking suppliers to meet a target price? If the supplier cannot, they don’t get the contract with WalMart. It is really that simple**. If nobody can meet the price then WalMart either has to renegotiate or not carry the product (last time you saw a Prada bag in Wally World?). If a company does not get a contract with WalMart, they are not in any worse shape than before they submitted the proposal though future earnings are harder if a competitor* gets a large contract.

    Additionally, there are stores other than WalMart, albeit none as large, to sell product to. It’s when companies make bad business decisions (see Rubbermaid’s over expansion 10yrs ago) to satisfy WalMart or other distributor rather than saying “no” that causes problems for the company.

    * See, this whole competition thing, that’s capitalism in action. Companies compete on many different levels to get the best product (whether physical or service oriented) to the customer at the best price for the quality.
    ** This is the same principal you use in your day to day transactions as well. I don’t care how nice a stereo sounds, if I can’t afford it I am not going to buy it. Sometimes companies realize that and renegotiate (lower the price). Sometimes they can’t (or won’t) lower the price and I am left longing for that nice Bang & Olufsen that I will never have. Sometimes they can’t or won’t lower the price and don’t have enough customer’s to stay in business (Auburn/Cord/Dusenberg).

  50. #50 |  Andrew Williams | 

    You all suck! And so does Wal-Mart!

    There–I just insulted everybody!

    I am now King of All Media!!!

  51. #51 |  The Agitator » Blog Archive » Food Apartheid | 

    […] is, the only types of stores that could make fresh produce in low income areas profitable–are off limits in the big city. Maybe we should just let the government handle all of the food distribution in low-income […]

  52. #52 |  Bryan C | 

    The failing yards offer excellent service and knowledgable sales people, things Lowes can and will not provide. Yet these businesses are dying. They can’t touch Lowe’s prices.

    Which leads me to conclude that the people actually buying the products don’t need or want excellent service or knowledgeable salespeople.

    Or those same people simply don’t know that these lumberyards offer superior service and advice. I certainly wouldn’t expect this. In my experience lumberyards are usually uninviting industrial-looking places filled with impatient contractors in big trucks. I don’t feel welcome.

    The first case is a bad investment decision on the part of the lumberyard. They chose to spend money on “excellent” instead of “adequate” and priced themselves out of the market.

    The second is a lack of advertising or bad public image. Many customers will spend a few extra bucks if they’re getting something out of it. They need to convince those customers that the benefits to them outweigh the cost. Sadly it seems that many local businesses have never had to compete against a real adversary and have no real interest in leaning.

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