Posts Tagged ‘Walmart’

2nd November
2008
written by JHiggins

I caught this article in Business Week and couldn’t resist a sad commentary on our country and county.  Everyone has read the Walmart stories about how they are the death of many small businesses, how they underpay their workers, how they squeeze suppliers to the point that they are forced overseas in order to maintain shelf space. The usual capitalist pig type stuff.

I personally quit shopping there a few years back because of many of the above reasons. I like to shop local and keep the money in the small businesses of our community. I’ve shopped at Walmart in the past and from time to time I’ll venture in to see how Sam’s vision is coming along. I do shop at Sam’s Club for full disclosure.

I had the opportunity to meet and talk about one of my ventures with M.  (real name withheld as I didn’t ask him if I could blog about our conversation). M is a former CEO for Sam’s Club International, Petsmart among others. He’s in the top echelon of American CEO’s. 

We met at an Applebee’s in Phoenix, which I thought was odd for a CEO type like M. He pulled out an Applebee’s credit card and mentioned that he was on their board of directors, so much for judging a book by it’s cover.  M. and I got into a deep discussion about Walmart and I shared with him my philosophical reasons for not shopping there. He had an interesting theory and since he’s been inside I think it has quite a bit of merit.

His theory on Walmart is that just like major retailing giants that dominated America in the past, Walmart will implode on it’s own success.  In the 40′s 50′s and 60′s the dominate retailer in America was Sears and Roebuck (and Montgomery Wards to a lessert extent). Sears pioneered the catalog business, built mega stores in downtown’s and eventually suburbs across the country. The Sears Tower went up as a testament to their dominance. 

Sears Tower - at the time 3rd largest building in the world

Sears Tower - at the time 3rd largest building in the world

M’s theory is the entrepreneurial spirit that made them the power house got lost in the beauracratic maze that inevitably sets in an organization (or government for that matter). The theory goes that middle management works harder to justify their existence than they do on making necessary moves for the organization.  Eventually  the sharp edge is lost and an economic hiccup can set off a series of dominoes until its too late.  Same thing happened to KMart and eventually, according to M. it will happen at Walmart.

 

 

 

 

  As an aside, M. turned me on to Greenleaf’s Servant Leadership and I highly recommend the book and its philosophy, it’s one of those life changers.

Walmart’s quest for low prices took the quality out of most of their merchandise. Walmart’s customer service is non existent and most of the employees look so overwelmed and under supported that they could care less about the principals that Sam insisted on to build his brand. In the mean time I’ll still be shopping at Target and waiting for the day that I can say I told you so. 

But hey if gas prices have your pocket book a little lite and the ARM on your mortgage just adjusted, stretching a buck could become a big part of raising your family. To each his own.

Let’s bring it back to Tucson. Walmart cracked the top ten largest employers in our region at 5626 employees. Read the post HERE.  The Oro Valley market place celebrated a shiny new Walmart in what some people describe as a bait and switch job perpetrated by the OV council. A council which have since been replaced. 

The sad commentary is that the jobs Walmart creates don’t come with quality benefits or high wages our region desperately needs. Walmart’s are part of our equation but we must bring in higher paid skilled industries to create an economic base that can afford simple things like buying a home.

Check out TheStoryOfStuff.com for an different way of looking at our consumption.

And a Jib Jab link that fellow blogger at L.O.V.E. linked to the other day that’s worth a view.

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