Wednesday, April 28, 2010
I got to thinking this morning as I read today's Wall Street Journal about Walmart opening a smaller type of store. I'm kinda scared posting this, but I feel like I gotta say something. I promise this won't become a trend, ok? Mostly design and recipes from now on, I swear!
There's lots of Walmart haters out there in case you haven't noticed. People who boycott Walmart and Sam's Club because they put mom and pops out of business, supposedly. How they are non-union and thats a bad thing for some reason. How they import stuff from China and its cheap and putting Americans out of work somehow. How they treat their employees badly. Other reasons I'm not entirely sure of.
City governments lament the opening of Walmarts as if it's the end of the world. Change can be sad, like in the old downtowns where the five and dime is no more. But, at least where I live, Old Towns (Downtowns) have been flourishing. We have Friday night Farmer's Markets, festivals, theaters being restored, coffee shops,and funky boutiques. I suppose the advent of malls of the 70's perhaps had a hand in shutting down many downtowns, but I think it was mostly people choosing to shop at the mall. If it's a place that has value to people, it will survive even Walmart.
Many people I know who detest Walmart love Starbucks, Costco and Target.....does that make sense? It is often argued that Starbucks shut down the local donut shop, but more than likely, it has renewed interest in those local places. I believe Walmart fills a need separate from mom and pops, and that's why people shop there. The cashiers are cheerful and helpful. Everyone asks: Can I help you find anything? Stocking stuffers, shower curtains, paint, you name it is here (except fabric..sniff sniff..my Walmart closed their fabric dept last year and I'm still in mourning) I don't buy everything here, I still shop the specialty bakery, the neighborhood upholsterer does work for me, and I frequent the old town shops, among other things. Perhaps shopping at Walmart saves me money so I can splurge a little more on that kind of stuff? Hmmm?
I happen to heart WalMart and Sams. I go there and this is what I find: More elderly employees than anywhere else. Many handicapped employees. To me, they always seems happy and cheerful. (Well, mostly...there is one dear older lady in particular I see who's a little grumpy...but she's there most days so at least she's keeping busy, right?) I find shorts with elastic waistbands for my boy for $5.00 (he won't wear any other kind) I find shoes for summer that I can just throw away after season ends they've gotten trashed at the beach. I find a one-stop place where I can get my prescriptions, glasses and groceries at a great price. They are closed on Easter Sunday and Christmas Day--I like that. Where my prescription, even without insurance, costs a measly $4.00 for a 30-day supply. In fact, many Rx's are just $4.00. If I need to return something, they have an excellent no-hassle return policy. I've returned fruit that wasn't up to par, a shirt that didn't wash well, electronics, and other things no questions, no problem.
I live in LA. I used to live in an area very close to a not-so-great neighborhood. The only store there was a liquor store, which had a few grocery items that looked way past their due, and a knock-off 99 cent store knockoff that was filled with the lowest-quality junk that mostly was priced way above 99 cents...this was the only choice people had. Now, imagine they had a Walmart or Super Walmart to shop at. They would be able to buy fresh groceries, toys, good pots and pans, and everything else they needed at a very cheap price. The crazy part is, it is precisely these neighborhoods in cities that need a big store don't have one. Ever wonder why? City governments vehemently rally against them. Why? Why would representatives the people voted in to serve them rally against something so simple as a STORE that sells things people NEED? I think if you polled the "regular" folks, the working families, the young mothers, the oldsters in those neighborhoods they would love to have a Walmart nearby.
Well, the point is, it's a free country and you are free to hate Walmart. You are free to not shop there. But likewise, I am free to love it. The best part is, if I don;t love it someday, I am FREE TO CHOOSE to go elsewhere. No one forces anyone to shop anywhere...yet. But isn't it a kind of forcing to stop a Walmart from opening when the people want it? Think about it....
(and please don't send me rants about how Walmart is ruining the environment, humanity and the world. I know all about the other side's cause and what they believe... I respect your opinion, I just don't agree. Kindly offer me the same courtesy.)