December 30, 2003

That Evil Walter Market

Xrlq pointed to this article which points out how the vast majority of Californians would benefit if Wal-Mart opens its planned 40 new superstores.

I am fascinated by the popular hostility toward Wal-Mart. When it was announced that they planned to open a new store on the south side of Milwaukee, activists claimed that the community didn't want it, what was wanted was small independent specialty stores. Funny thing is that the land Wal-Mart planned to build on was available because a mall which used to host such shops had turned into a ghost town because nobody shopped there and thus the small businesses had either failed or moved elsewhere.

One common criticism is that Wal-Mart squeezes their suppliers on pricing. Well, duh! Anyone who buys things for resale does that. Wal-Mart's purchasing volume and logistics sophistication means that it costs less to sell to them; they, and their customers ought to get the benefit. Sears, once this country's largest retailer, was notorious within manufacturing circles for how they treated the manufacturing companies which produced Kenmore and Craftsman merchandise, encouraging them to add capacity to meet promised volume and then threatening to withdraw the order without further concessions.

The most amusing criticism I ever heard was from a young woman who hated Wal-Mart because they treated their employees so well that they were willing to work without being unionized. I asked her if she would like them better if they treated their employees worse, but somehow we never made sense of each others positions.

Posted by triticale at December 30, 2003 12:26 AM
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