Wal-Mart Gift Wraps Me Another Reason to Hate Them (March 18, 2010)


I have been calling this retailer “The Evil Empire” for years. I know they have everything, and they have it on the cheap, but I won’t shop there.

Let’s leave aside the unfair business practices, and predatory assault on regional Mom and Pop stores the chain unleashed in the 1980s and 90s. Let’s forget about their sweat shop labor practices: the abuse of needy seniors, the unfair pay raises awarded to men over women. I can even try to overlook some of their most glaring PR gaffes, say two Christmases ago when a man did a nice thing and bought hundreds of $10 store gift cards to pass out at his local outlet, only to be kicked out of the place by management, worried that the benvolent gift might decrease recipient spending.

On the whole, no matter how many lovey dovey ad campaigns they launch, Wal-Mart appears to me to be the very eptiome of the heartless corporation. Daley and I don’t see eye to eye on much, but I for one am thrilled he has thus far kept Wal-Mart out of City limits. May it always remain that way. I would rather spend an additional five cents on my body wash at the far more civic minded Target.

Incidentally, if you doubt the veracity of any of my claims thus far, feel free to take to the Web. The truth is out there, as Mulder might say.

However, last evening while watching CNN, and again this morning, when I booted up my computer, I came across a story that managed to shock me, though I had long given up on Wal-Mart having any shame:

Black people must leave, NJ Walmart announcer says

Now, before any of you jump on my back, yes, I know this was one rogue employee, and this behavior is not explicitly condoned by corporate. Wal-Mart execs are falling all over themselves to snuff this PR mess, vowing to get to the bottom of the “unacceptable” behavior. That’s wonderful, except this is nowhere near the first time complaints of racism have been leveled at the retail giant. This latest example, perhaps arguably the most egregious, is just one of many.

1. November 16, 2009

Arrest at Walmart triggers charges of racism
Incident with white customers and workers could land black teacher in jail

2. May 2009

Wal-Mart Charged with Racism…Again, and Other News

3. December 2, 2005

Racism alive and well at your neighborhood Wal-Mart
If we expect the President of the United States to be held accountable for the direction of our nation, down to the smallest detail, then we must hold the chiefs of Wal-Mart to the same standard.

I bet New York wishes it could create some literal distance between itself and the white trash Garden State right about now.

I refused to be dazzled by dollar bargains when my social conscience knows better. As I detailed, it’s more than just systemic racism that irks me about the company. But this pattern has to be fixed, and fixed now. And “yes, we can” shop at another store until Wal-Mart cleans up it’s act – recession or not.


Jen’s Black Friday (November 27, 2009)


When Jen announced her plan to take KK (who wanted the “experience” – la dee da) and head out to Old Navy at 3 AM today, my jaw hit the floor. Jen has a hectic life, but yet and still, the woman likes her sleep when she can get it. We’re talking about a lady who could hibernate for 10-12 hours anytime, even while lying down for a nap, in high school. Work, household, KK and Rosebud leave little time for such indulgences now, but surely I belived Jen would have a bit of a lie in the day after Thanksgiving.

As it turns out, in a year of spiraling medical bills, a declining economy and little retail therapy for my baby sis, the pull of low cost schwag was a siren’s call too loud to ignore. She ran down the great list of items, in perfectly plotted coordinates, that she planned to score from Old Navy and Traget for less than $120, while we munched our Thanksgiving turkey. The variety was too much for my poor memory to handle, but I know a slow cooker, pajamas and an air mattress were in there. Door busters make stange bedfellows.

I will grant Jen that she did actually need all of these items, and I certainly admire her pluck, as well as KK’s in venturing out, to save some money. It was a witch’s tit of a windy morning too, the first bonafide winter day we’ve had this month.

Jen was kind enough to provide me fodder for this post by adding FaceBook status updates from her iPhone whilst wrestling with the chilly masses:

Yesterday at 10:39am: Mapped out my black Friday plan. Old Navy at 3 am, Target by 4am, then Kohls and maybe Wal Mart if I don’t receive any injuries before that.
15 hours ago: NOT enjoying my first doorbuster shopping experience. I spearheaded a 20+ person fight to get in line.
13 hours ago: Done!

Now by my calculations, since it’s 7:40pm now, Jen and KK briefed us on their initial doorbuster disaster at at 4:40am. Once I realized this, I felt a tremendous shudder of sympathy for my little lambs. Then I got angry.
My question is this: Why must retailers put people through this crap? If they can afford to introduce some loss leaders to bring foot traffic into the store, where they always offset the finacial hit, why can’t they do so on a normal day? And for Christ’s sakes, not at 4 AM. I have a funny feeling they enjoy the sight of us acting like desperate mice, saving the dollars that matter for our families and willing to do anything to get it. It’s like the ultimate reality show for the fat cats.
People are on hard times this Christmas season of 2009, more so than most of us can recall in recent memory. If the retailers want our consumer confidence back, the one we lost with the collapse of the nation’s financial institutions, job market and housing sector, throw us a bone. Let us get stuff we need at reasonable prices all year round. We will pay more for some luxuries than others granted, and that seems like a fair market practice. But let us get some rest too. Lord knows we all need it.