Poll

Do you shop at Wal Mart?

Yes.
322 (55.5%)
No.
258 (44.5%)

Total Members Voted: 567

Author Topic: do you shop at walmart?  (Read 48894 times)

Spork

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Re: do you shop at walmart?
« Reply #50 on: October 03, 2013, 08:06:17 AM »
I would think "inexpensive groceries" has some positive influences for both high and low income shoppers.  Sucky place to work?  Probably.

Inexpensive in price only.  Walmart is ground zero for fake and poorly regulated foodstuffs entering the US from less discriminating countries of origin <<cough>><<china>>, like fake organics, potentially toxic honey, seriously questionable seafood, etc.  If it's cheap and says "free range", "organic", "grass fed", "local", etc. at Walmart and similar I just assume it isn't.  Since I personally don't trust any food from China I choose not to buy any food at Walmart.

I share your distrust of food from China.  I avoid it like the plague.  (I am especially suspect of seafood.)   My statement was simply to support that the do offer a value for low income shoppers (and probably more so than for high income shoppers) by offering cheap food.  A can of Campbell's soup is a can of Campbell's soup regardless of what store it comes from.  The poor are not the ones buying free range/organic/grass fed products.  Those are products marketed at the wealthy and wealthy wannabes.

oldtoyota

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Re: do you shop at walmart?
« Reply #51 on: October 03, 2013, 09:12:58 AM »
No. I don't like their business practices, and the stores smell bad.

oldtoyota

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Re: do you shop at walmart?
« Reply #52 on: October 03, 2013, 09:15:09 AM »
I did buy my tramontina dutch oven from them for the same reasons you bought your pans, Sol, more than 5 years ago and Im still in love with it.
They also have a good canning jar in their generic housewares line that is less expensive than Ball/Kerr (the most commonly stocked) so if I need those, I will go there specifically for those, and then see if there are any deals to be had while Im there. Sometimes I go for their school supplies in the fall.

I bought a 75-year-old dutch oven from ebay. Cast iron. No need to shop at Walmart for cookware.

hybrid

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Re: do you shop at walmart?
« Reply #53 on: October 03, 2013, 10:14:09 AM »
Meaning that we have a pretty useless set of answers, no?

No.

Here area few alternatives to consider.  How about "How much do you spend at Walmart annually", or "How often do you shop at Walmart?"

If a binary statement is the goal, then sure, the poll works as it is.  But I also think it would provide more interesting data if it were fleshed out some.

arebelspy

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Re: do you shop at walmart?
« Reply #54 on: October 03, 2013, 10:34:47 AM »
Meaning that we have a pretty useless set of answers, no?

No.

Here area few alternatives to consider.  How about "How much do you spend at Walmart annually", or "How often do you shop at Walmart?"

If a binary statement is the goal, then sure, the poll works as it is.  But I also think it would provide more interesting data if it were fleshed out some.

Those have problems as well though.  The first, for example, tells us nothing if someone selects 5k - is that 5k out of 5k spent total in that category (i.e. 100%)?  Or 5k out of 100k (i.e. 5%)?  The second similar - do they shop there often because they shop a lot, or because that's their main store?

They both also have the issue that the binary one does of not distinguishing between someone who never shops there (or spends $0) because they don't live near one, versus have a philosophical problem, nor do they address the person who does shop there despite philosophical problems.

Any poll is going to give you a limited set of information, whatever you change it to.  A poll of "do you have a philosophical problem with Wal Mart" will give a different set of data (but also be limited in what it answers).  You all seem to think there is a perfect poll, or your one tweak will make this poll so much better.  All it will do is solve one problem (i.e. answer a different question better), and introduce others (questions it leaves unanswered).  As for finding out what percent of Mustachians shop at Wal Mart (for whatever reason) or don't (for whatever reason), this one is about as good as you can get, despite it not answering other questions that it isn't asking.

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Re: do you shop at walmart?
« Reply #55 on: October 03, 2013, 10:45:35 AM »
There's a supercenter one less than 5 minutes from me, and I still avoid it at ALL costs.   Extreme hate for that place, their practices, their junk they sell, the rude customers, the disorganization, their want to put items furthest from you so as to get you to impulse buy more crap product, and their want to take over small businesses that I would much rather give my money to.   I might go in once or twice a year, cause let's face it, I can't find a bike tube anywhere else in my town.  :(    And yes, I've ordered online things I probably could have gotten at that rotten place just to avoid going into that store, the shipping charge is well worth my sanity sometimes.

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Re: do you shop at walmart?
« Reply #56 on: October 04, 2013, 12:28:24 PM »
Walmart mostly sells cheap crap, but they do have groceries cheap and there is one on my way home from work.  Consequently I sometimes find myself at the checkout with microwave popcorn, salsa, and shotgun shells (marveling that I am not going home to a trailer).  The biggest problem I have with ChinaMart is the freakshow clientele.  It does not seem to matter which store I am at, they all have candidates for www.peopleofwalmart.com.
I'm the same way. If it's just a groceries trip we go to the locally owned groceries store. However we do cave sometimes if we need other stuff as well. For instance last month we got all our food, oil for both vehicles, a 100 rounds of shotgun shells, and my HIP stamp so I could spent my evenings dove hunting. Also as you stated walmart is full of free entertainment just start walking around lol.

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Re: do you shop at walmart?
« Reply #57 on: October 04, 2013, 01:18:43 PM »
Any poll is going to give you a limited set of information, whatever you change it to.  A poll of "do you have a philosophical problem with Wal Mart" will give a different set of data (but also be limited in what it answers).  You all seem to think there is a perfect poll, or your one tweak will make this poll so much better.  All it will do is solve one problem (i.e. answer a different question better), and introduce others (questions it leaves unanswered).  As for finding out what percent of Mustachians shop at Wal Mart (for whatever reason) or don't (for whatever reason), this one is about as good as you can get, despite it not answering other questions that it isn't asking.

It is what it is.

Perfect?  Nah, no such thing in a poll.  Better?   Yeah, I think this poll could be better.  It doesn't begin to tap into the reasons for not shopping at Walmart or the frequency with which Mustachians shop at Wal-mart.  As you said, it is what it is.   

Since I'm the one critiquing, it's on me to make a better one. 

Jamesqf

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Re: do you shop at walmart?
« Reply #58 on: October 04, 2013, 02:49:27 PM »
Transcript, as requested:  http://lybio.net/nick-hanauer-ted-talks-the-inequality-speech/people/

Thanks for finding that.  Have to say that I've seen (& discussed) those arguments before.  I don't agree with them, for several reasons, but the one most relevant here, I think, is that he's basically blaming evil capitalists(tm) for something that's really an effect of automation & increased production efficiency.  That is, there are a bunch of low skill but fairly well paying jobs that have been reduced or eliminated by computers.
« Last Edit: October 04, 2013, 02:54:19 PM by Jamesqf »

RootofGood

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Re: do you shop at walmart?
« Reply #59 on: October 04, 2013, 03:22:18 PM »
I shop there probably every 3 weeks.  There are 3 superwalmarts within 3 miles of my house, so I have my pick of the litter. 

Prices are decent, but not better than Aldi and sales at local grocery stores.  We usually get toiletries, paper products, and other grocery items that don't go on sale much. 

Automotive, hardware, toys (for the kids), and garden items also make their way into our cart.  Prices are hard to beat, but not impossible.

Every time I go in though, I am reminded of why I hate walmart but love saving money.  Long lines, poor service, disorganized and/or mislabeled shelves.  But hey, they are cheap! 


As to the philosophical question, I have no political aversion to shopping at Walmart - it's a free market after all.  They provide enough value and barely enough convenience (everything in one store) that I patronize them regularly (every ~3 weeks).  I can't separate them morally from Target or any other large retailer.

Oddly enough, I used to do tons of consulting work for them on the engineering side.  Walmarts were almost all I did for about a year when they were growing like mold back in 2007-08-ish.  Fun times.  Their business management of real estate development is very savvy and thrifty, probably one of the better consumers of professional services that I encountered, and that includes a number of other fortune 500 companies.  It was always fun representing them at public hearings when you're the guy bringing a walmart into 500 angry citizens' back yards!  :)

StarswirlTheMustached

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Re: do you shop at walmart?
« Reply #60 on: October 04, 2013, 04:48:35 PM »
I don't shop at Walmart; three reasons:
-I avoid it for ideological reasons, yes. Like many, I don't like company's specific policies, or what the big-box model in general has done to our towns.
- also because I find it incredibly unpleasant to be in their stores.
- and because I cannot afford a bunch of useless, cheap plastic crap. If I have to spend money, I will buy quality and save in the long run.

That said, when I needed a new bike helmet a couple of weeks ago, I did go to walmart. They had Bell, which is a good enough brand for me. The local outdoors stores and Canadian Tire (not much better, but at least my money stays in the country, and I prefer the shopping experience) had already switched over to selling winter gear-- bike helmets were packed up and unavailable. Since I wanted to test the fit and did not want to go without while I waited for shipping from an online retailer, that left Walmart as my last resort. It was the first time I'd set foot in one in over five years, and I'll be happy if it's another five before I do so again.

cosmie

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Re: do you shop at walmart?
« Reply #61 on: October 04, 2013, 09:00:38 PM »
I don't shop at Walmart too often, however I do shop at Sams quite a bit. I have no reservations for doing so. After having worked for a supplier that did billions a year in sales to Walmart, I actually have a lot of respect for the place. Their "high end" products may be relatively low end and cheap, but that's by design to appeal to their target demographic. Walmart knows, with a huge degree of certainty, exactly what a product can sell for in one of it's stores. And it will share its extensive supply chain and product development knowledge and resources to drive down costs to hit that target. However, they will not accept inferior quality (there was a period right after Sam Walton died when this wasn't true), relative to the price. And it's in everyone's interest for that to be true: no supplier is too big to be able to nonchalantly eat the cost of returns for a faulty product selling at Walmart volume, and Walmart doesn't want that for it's customer base. No, this doesn't mean that the 99 cent generic pizza cutter is going to be as durable as the $5 brand name, but it'll be one of the best 99 cent pizza cutters you'll find. Could they have made a better $2 generic pizza cutter? You bet! Would their target market have preferred a better quality $2 one? No, they found their market wanted one for $1 and they made it happen.

And as for the "cheap Chinese product" bashing - that's really industry dependent. The consumer goods industry I worked in did more localized production; the company I worked for had about 30 plants in the US and 75% of US sales were produced domestically. A large portion of the other 25% were ethnic goods imported from factories in those ethnic regions. Other industries such as electronics predominantly produce in Asian countries, and that'll be true regardless of if you're shopping at Walmart, Costco, or the American Owned Small Business down the road.

Now their views on worker compensation, political leanings, "killing the small business", etc. Those are totally different arguments against potentially shopping there, but I lean enough on Walmart's side not to care. I employed idiots (not talking about all my employees) when I managed a pizza joint, and at the automaton skill level there really is a limit to how much you can pay someone to do a skill-less job. The fact that workers are "subsidized" by social welfare may me more indicative of people living beyond their means and a gross expansion of what constitutes a necessity. And having lived in NJ for 6 months and having only small businesses within ~45 minutes of where I was, it drove me crazy dealing with incompetent people attempting to sell me inferior (or old) products at a premium, and justifying it by "not being able to compete" with big box stores. I know the owner of a carpet store that rails against Home Depot and Lowes, complains he can't compete on price, yet a cursory glance at his business makes you wonder how he stayed in business before the box store came. His business was a house of cards called mediocre that came crashing down when he had to compete; but rather than compete, he just complained (including to his customers). Not to say every small business is this way, but a lot of the ones that complain weren't that spectacular before Walmart came, and simply didn't want the competition that may expose the absence of any redeeming qualities.
« Last Edit: October 04, 2013, 09:15:46 PM by cosmie »

Sofa King

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Re: do you shop at walmart?
« Reply #62 on: October 04, 2013, 09:28:40 PM »
LOL!!! I love all the "I don't shop at Walmart but I do go there to get some things sometimes" LOL!!!

As for me YES!!!! Why wouldn't I?  The best prices by far especially for groceries!!!

Me and my girlfriend have "White Trash Night" where we first go out to dinner at Denny's then hit Walmart for some shopping fun!!!  : )

RootofGood

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Re: do you shop at walmart?
« Reply #63 on: October 04, 2013, 09:45:38 PM »
LOL!!! I love all the "I don't shop at Walmart but I do go there to get some things sometimes" LOL!!!

Yeah, +1 on that.  :) 

And to cosmie, glad you pointed out the $0.99 pizza cutter.  Sometimes I'm in the market for a gadget or tool and I don't want to spend more than a buck (or some very low price point).  Melon baller, garlic press, kitchen timer, etc all fall into this type category.  If it is only 75% as awesome as the $5 variety, I'll be ok. 


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Re: do you shop at walmart?
« Reply #64 on: October 05, 2013, 06:08:33 AM »
Here is why I will forever love WalMart:

My marriage ended a couple of months before a Christmas once and it left me dirt broke.  In that moment I vowed to gain control of my finances and spend only cash until I dug out of the post-divorce aftermath that included a continuous stream of legal bills.

Problem:  Santa is supposed to come when you have two little kids.  And little kids start to worry when Christmas trees are going up everywhere and they still don't have one this year.  My little daughter in particular was seriously concerned that no tree meant Santa wouldn't know to come to your house.  I looked around every corner tree lot and they all had their cheapest trees at $50+.  I told my daughter I might not be able to put up a tree . . .

Enter Walmart:  about a week before Christmas, I was there for something else and they had just marked all of their trees down to $10 each.  Lights there were only $3 per string at that point, so up went the tree with the cheap lights and some homemade paper ornaments.  Everyone was happy with that!

So whenever someone says "I don't need the cheap crap they sell!" I just remember inside that some people do need it.

(PS now we have an artificial tree, and my kids don't believe in Santa anymore, but in that moment Santa and having a tree were really important.)

Quote
I employed idiots (not talking about all my employees) when I managed a pizza joint, and at the automaton skill level there really is a limit to how much you can pay someone to do a skill-less job.

I'm with you on this, and I'm amazed at how many people, who have NO skills and a piss poor attitude to go with it, expect to be paid more than minimum wage.

lentilman

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Re: do you shop at walmart?
« Reply #65 on: October 05, 2013, 06:50:55 AM »
Yes, although it's not a regular shopping destination. 

When I first shopped there, Walmart had quite an emphasis on sourcing products made in the USA.  It actually felt that you were really helping the American engine run by shopping there.  (Yes, showing my age)  Sam was still alive and the Walmart culture was very, very different from the ruthless crap-spewing boxstore it has morphed into.

RootofGood

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Re: do you shop at walmart?
« Reply #66 on: October 05, 2013, 07:58:35 AM »
Enter Walmart:  about a week before Christmas, I was there for something else and they had just marked all of their trees down to $10 each.  Lights there were only $3 per string at that point, so up went the tree with the cheap lights and some homemade paper ornaments.  Everyone was happy with that!

So whenever someone says "I don't need the cheap crap they sell!" I just remember inside that some people do need it.

+1 

We live in a decent neighborhood surrounded by mostly lower income housing.  The people I see shopping at walmart near our neighborhood are mostly lower income and often have a gaggle of kids.  These are the people looking to get inexpensive things, many times for their kids. 

rubybeth

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Re: do you shop at walmart?
« Reply #67 on: October 05, 2013, 08:57:10 AM »
The Wal-Marts in my city aren't location in convenient places for me. I'd have to go out of my way to go there, and I'd rather use the local employee-owned grocery store and Target (HQ of which is in Minnesota where I live, and I  have family/friends who are employed there). I also had a bad experience with buying eye glasses at Wal-Mart many years ago (the arm broke just after the warranty was up--and they wouldn't fix it, said I should just buy a new pair) so that clinched it. My parents shop at Sam's Club, though, and they pick up our coffee for us and we pay them back (big bags of Fair Trade Colombian Supremo for $15) so I guess we spend about $180/year with the Wal-Mart corporation even though we rarely darken their door.

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Re: do you shop at walmart?
« Reply #68 on: October 05, 2013, 10:06:54 AM »
i don't *hate* wal-mart. like any giant entity, there's good and bad. the bad has been detailed a bit in this thread, and a little bit of the good, but a lot of people aren't aware that wal-mart has done amazing things to improve the eco-friendliness of packaging and to streamline supply and transportation chains. i'm sure the intention was to save money rather than save the world, but hey, two birds with one stone. when wal-mart makes even a small change toward "green," it has a huge impact.

generally, though, i don't like to shop at wal-mart because it's a nasty aesthetic experience to me. it smells bad (is that what china smells like? yikes!) and it's a mess, and people seem to like to take their children there to beat them with an audience.

i know target is not much better in terms of selling cheap crap from china, but when there is some cheap crap i need to get my hands on, it's my first choice simply because they seem to care at least a little about the experience of shopping there. if i have to spend time in a store, i'd much rather do so in one that's clean, with good lighting and wide aisles.

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Re: do you shop at walmart?
« Reply #69 on: October 05, 2013, 11:05:02 AM »
LOL!!! I love all the "I don't shop at Walmart but I do go there to get some things sometimes" LOL!!!

As for me YES!!!! Why wouldn't I?  The best prices by far especially for groceries!!!

Not if you live where there's a WinCo :-) 

Some things I will buy at WalMart because I can't find them anywhere else that's convenient (frozen yoghurt, 0W20 motor oil), sometimes other things because WalMart is closer/more convenient, but not much because it's actually cheaper.

Tyler

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Re: do you shop at walmart?
« Reply #70 on: October 05, 2013, 11:17:36 AM »
So whenever someone says "I don't need the cheap crap they sell!" I just remember inside that some people do need it.

+2

FWIW, I've worked in product design for a while and have seen how the retail business works. Every major retailer sells "cheap crap from China", often from the exact same factories that make things for Walmart. Some just market it better than others, and charge you more for the work they put into nicer packaging and expensive commercials.

Whole Foods is just one example - much of their produce is also imported (see link in a previous post). And for electronics, Best Buy products are very often identical to Walmart stuff internally, but with a different housing and a made up brand name. (I know because I've visited the factories and designed the new housings for them).  So in my experience, when you buy something research the specific product and not the retailer stereotype. There are good and bad products everywhere.



« Last Edit: October 05, 2013, 11:21:54 AM by Tyler »

mlipps

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Re: do you shop at walmart?
« Reply #71 on: October 05, 2013, 07:35:48 PM »
There isn't a Walmart that is convenient to me thanks to Chicago's Big Box law. But if there were, I wouldn't shop there. My biggest reason is mostly just that I'm too lazy though. I just hate how huge the store is, how huge the parking lot is, and how if I need one thing from the pharmacy and 20 grocery items I have to walk 4 miles to get there. And in most towns at least that I've seen, they also seem to be somewhat inconveniently located compared to other stores that have been around longer.

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Re: do you shop at walmart?
« Reply #72 on: October 05, 2013, 07:55:19 PM »
There isn't a Walmart that is convenient to me thanks to Chicago's Big Box law. But if there were, I wouldn't shop there. My biggest reason is mostly just that I'm too lazy though. I just hate how huge the store is, how huge the parking lot is, and how if I need one thing from the pharmacy and 20 grocery items I have to walk 4 miles to get there. And in most towns at least that I've seen, they also seem to be somewhat inconveniently located compared to other stores that have been around longer.

I know what you mean.  It's great if you need some auto maintenance stuff, a toy or gift, hardware, groceries, and toiletries.  Everything in one store, you spend an hour or so and get your week's shopping done.  But holy crappers, it take 30 minutes to get a couple things sometimes. 

I like small stores because they are easy to get in and out quickly.  And if you forget something, it doesn't take 5 minutes to walk to the other side of the store.  Aldi is awesome for that reason.  You're never more than 20 seconds from any point in the store.

athomeintheworld

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Re: do you shop at walmart?
« Reply #73 on: October 05, 2013, 09:04:00 PM »
No.  Absolutely refuse.  I do not believe in supporting this company.  Walmart is bad for employees, bad for communities.  The few dollars you save will screw over your community and end up hurting you much more in the end. 

I shop Target or Amazon for household stuff.  Only buy food at Trader Joe's, Sprouts (farmers market/health food type store) and similar.  I don't go to "regular" grocery stores because I believe you vote with your dollars - and I don't want to support those types of places. 

Because I cook from scratch and mostly buy "ingredients" not processed foods this does not cost any additional money.

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Re: do you shop at walmart?
« Reply #74 on: October 05, 2013, 09:34:22 PM »
I like small stores because they are easy to get in and out quickly.  And if you forget something, it doesn't take 5 minutes to walk to the other side of the store.  Aldi is awesome for that reason.  You're never more than 20 seconds from any point in the store.

But then you need to drive/bike/walk/take a bus to maybe half a dozen different stores located all over town, to do the shopping you could do under one roof at "big box store" (not necessarily WalMart).

ruthiegirl

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Re: do you shop at walmart?
« Reply #75 on: October 05, 2013, 09:40:28 PM »
 My local Walmart is a grocery store only, brand new and rather swanky-feeling with good prices.  I could see shopping there, but I am lucky to live within biking distance of a Winco and that places rocks. 

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Re: do you shop at walmart?
« Reply #76 on: October 05, 2013, 09:50:28 PM »
I like small stores because they are easy to get in and out quickly.  And if you forget something, it doesn't take 5 minutes to walk to the other side of the store.  Aldi is awesome for that reason.  You're never more than 20 seconds from any point in the store.

But then you need to drive/bike/walk/take a bus to maybe half a dozen different stores located all over town, to do the shopping you could do under one roof at "big box store" (not necessarily WalMart).

I just alternate. I got to Aldi once a month, Trader Joe's about every 6 weeks, Dominicks (normal grocery store) when they have good sales, and Target all the other times. It's not a big deal.

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Re: do you shop at walmart?
« Reply #77 on: October 05, 2013, 10:54:38 PM »
But then you need to drive/bike/walk/take a bus to maybe half a dozen different stores located all over town, to do the shopping you could do under one roof at "big box store" (not necessarily WalMart).

I have no problem going to walmart, and hit them up every 3 weeks or so when I need more than grocery staples and fresh produce.  I definitely agree - I would rather get auto/hardware/garden/clothing items at Walmart while I'm getting groceries and personal hygiene items than make 6 different trips.  That means a 2 hour shopaganza but it's better than 4-5 hours driving 6 different places. 

What I meant about Aldi is they are great for running in, grabbing $40 or so worth of stuff (milk/eggs/produce typically), and getting out quickly.  And when you forget something on the other side of the store, it isn't a big deal (it's only 20 seconds away).

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Re: do you shop at walmart?
« Reply #78 on: October 06, 2013, 07:39:44 AM »
What does everyone perceive as the moral difference between Target and Walmart? Do people just prefer red to blue?

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Re: do you shop at walmart?
« Reply #79 on: October 06, 2013, 08:04:04 AM »
What does everyone perceive as the moral difference between Target and Walmart? Do people just prefer red to blue?

This confuses me as well.

I'm not sure what people think the big difference is, besides the fact that they've heard negative things about Wal Mart's practices, and Target is more under the radar.  It's much more cool to hate on Wal Mart.

I shop Target or Amazon for household stuff.

Have you read about Amazon's warehouses and practices?  I'd be ecstatic to work at Wal Mart if e choices were Wal Mart or Amazon.

To me this all seems like a PR problem.  Wal Mart had some haters whose message spread, people jumped on board without actually doing any research, and it became cool to dislike Wal Mart.

I think Wal Mart is fantastic.  Do I support all their practices?  No.  But I think they do great things for many people, especially in China and places where their stuff is manufacturered.  I think they offer great prices for people who otherwise couldn't afford those things (i.e. the poor).  The world is much better with Wal Mart in it than without.

Notice how it's always privileged, mostly middle and upper class people that hate Wal Mart?  Poor people love it because it provides value to them.

Penn and Teller had an episode of their TV show Bullshit that's worth watching regarding Wal Mart.  Go download it. (Though I know most people won't, because it's easier to stick with your oping than research facts, or won't have an open mind while doing so.  Oh well.)
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Re: do you shop at walmart?
« Reply #80 on: October 06, 2013, 09:15:46 AM »
Notice how it's always privileged, mostly middle and upper class people that hate Wal Mart?  Poor people love it because it provides value to them.

People who hate on walmart on behalf of the poor and disenfranchised who simply aren't informed enough to know to hate walmart.  Those people are cultural elitists. 

If you have $100 and need to provide food for your family for a week, you have little time in between your two jobs, and meager access to transportation, then you're shopping at walmart unless there is a compelling alternative.  Not surprisingly, a significant minority of America is in this situation unfortunately.  Ask a single mom looking to stretch a buck if she wants to boycott walmart to spend more elsewhere. 

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Re: do you shop at walmart?
« Reply #81 on: October 06, 2013, 09:50:05 AM »
Notice how it's always privileged, mostly middle and upper class people that hate Wal Mart?  Poor people love it because it provides value to them.

People who hate on walmart on behalf of the poor and disenfranchised who simply aren't informed enough to know to hate walmart.  Those people are cultural elitists. 

If you have $100 and need to provide food for your family for a week, you have little time in between your two jobs, and meager access to transportation, then you're shopping at walmart unless there is a compelling alternative.  Not surprisingly, a significant minority of America is in this situation unfortunately.  Ask a single mom looking to stretch a buck if she wants to boycott walmart to spend more elsewhere.

I'm pretty sure you're agreeing with me, but that first sentence is awfully convoluted. :)
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Re: do you shop at walmart?
« Reply #82 on: October 06, 2013, 10:36:48 AM »
Ask a single mom looking to stretch a buck if she wants to boycott walmart to spend more elsewhere.

I understand this argument, but I still think it is misguided.  Do you ask a plantation slave if he wants nicer slave quarters?  Do you ask a heroin addict if he wants 50% off his next hit?  Self interested parties don't always act in their own self interest.

Besides, most of us here aren't in the position of needed to stretch a buck at any cost, even it means buying arsenic-laced brown rice while drowning a kitten.  I think this site is about spending in accordance with your values in order to save the world, not just about spending the lowest possible number of dollars consequences be damned.

I could save money by not buying a car seat for my infant, or not buying a bike helmet, or not buying health insurance, or not vaccinating my kids, or living in the ghetto neighborhood, or any of a thousand other cost-saving measures that are still NOT THE RIGHT CHOICE FOR ME even though they would save me money.  Making a better life, for me and for everyone else, isn't always about saving money.

Walmart is insidious because because people don't recognize the larger macroeconomic consequences of supporting a retail system that perpetuates their own poverty.  They're the slaves being offered larger slave quarters in exchange for enslaving their children and enriching the plantation owner. 

If you're making spending decisions based solely on cost efficiency, then I think you've missed the point of this blog.

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Re: do you shop at walmart?
« Reply #83 on: October 06, 2013, 10:57:24 AM »
Walmart is insidious because because people don't recognize the larger macroeconomic consequences of supporting a retail system that perpetuates their own poverty.

You're assuming your conclusions here.  First demonstrate that WalMart specifically, big-box stores in general, or - in the extreme - improved marketing efficiency actually perpetuates poverty.  Overall, of course: there will always be individuals who lose by any economic change, just as others gain.

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Re: do you shop at walmart?
« Reply #84 on: October 06, 2013, 11:04:06 AM »

First demonstrate that WalMart specifically, big-box stores in general, or - in the extreme - improved marketing efficiency actually perpetuates poverty.

I don't really feel compelled to bear the burden of proof here.  We're all free to make our own decisions based on our research.

Quote
Overall, of course: there will always be individuals who lose by any economic change, just as others gain.

This is the key, though.  I would even go so far as to say that Walmart is a net value generator for the economy as a whole, it's just that none of that value accrues to the people who actually shop there.  Places like Walmart are the reason why we have such a rapidly growing disparity in wealth distribution; they help the  rich get even richer, and they help the poor stay poor.  Somehow, both sides of that equation think they're getting the better deal.

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Re: do you shop at walmart?
« Reply #85 on: October 06, 2013, 11:11:18 AM »
Ask a single mom looking to stretch a buck if she wants to boycott walmart to spend more elsewhere.

I understand this argument, but I still think it is misguided.  Do you ask a plantation slave if he wants nicer slave quarters?  Do you ask a heroin addict if he wants 50% off his next hit?  Self interested parties don't always act in their own self interest.

Wow, did you really just slap those slave shackles onto single moms?  Could it be possible they want to save money on grocery and retail items in order to invest the savings in their 401ks (poor people are allowed to have 401ks too)?  Or put their savings into starting a business for themselves? 

There are so many people just barely keeping their head above water (sometimes through no fault of their own), that they don't have the luxury of scoffing at places like Walmart and spending more money elsewhere.

« Last Edit: October 06, 2013, 11:37:43 AM by RootofGood »

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Re: do you shop at walmart?
« Reply #86 on: October 06, 2013, 11:35:26 AM »
I would even go so far as to say that Walmart is a net value generator for the economy as a whole, it's just that none of that value accrues to the people who actually shop there.  Places like Walmart are the reason why we have such a rapidly growing disparity in wealth distribution; they help the  rich get even richer, and they help the poor stay poor.  Somehow, both sides of that equation think they're getting the better deal.

When walmart comes to town, price competition means mom and pop businesses can't keep setting prices at whatever level they would like (if they had a monopoly or oligopoly).  Walmart competes, prices go down for all (if competitors want to stay in business). 

Some mom and pops are inefficient and close down (a market result encouraging efficiency).  Others innovate and compete on price but provide differentiated service to make them a viable competitor. 

I don't know what fairyland of retail options the anti-walmart crowd once knew, but I've never seen it.  Visit small town America before and after a walmart comes to town.  The victors are virtually everyone who likes buying a wide variety of things at reasonable prices (whether it is essentials or stupid anti-mustachian luxury wants). 

I look at my local Asian and Hispanic grocery stores as an example of what happens when there is no strong competition, and what happens when a strong competitor is introduced.  There is no big box Asian grocer near me, but there are  ~5 smallish Asian grocers within ~2 miles.  4 suck, have moldy produce, dusty shelves, horrible inventory management, and ample expired non-perishable canned and jarred goods that have now perished.  Caveat emptor indeed. 

A new Asian grocery opens up.  Good shopkeeping, fresh veggies at lower prices, good inventory management so the shelves have food with expiration dates far into the future, also at lower prices than their competitors.  They "coincidentally" happen to be next door to walmart - I'm sure the thousands of customers shopping at walmart never walk across the parking lot and shop at the good asian store thereby enhancing their revenue ;) .

Same with the Hispanic grocery markets.  A grocery store sized Hispanic market opened up shop a few years ago.  A couple crappy hispanic grocers closed soon after.  Now we have lower prices, fresher produce, and more options.   This store is also extremely close to Walmart.  Hard to say they don't benefit from Walmart's pass by traffic and strong draw of customers.  These are my friends and neighbors, and my children's classmates from less fortunate families who benefit from strong competition. 

It defies logic that Walmart coming to town bucks this trend in retailing and general groceries.  They bring price competition, forcing other retailers to compete or leave the market.  Any business that says "I can't afford to compete with Walmart" is basically abdicating the challenge and saying "Walmart provides a better overall value proposition than I do." 

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Re: do you shop at walmart?
« Reply #87 on: October 06, 2013, 10:51:35 PM »
We also have to consider that at least when it comes to food, WalMart is far from the lowest possible prices.  Consider this example: http://business.time.com/2013/08/07/meet-the-low-key-low-cost-grocery-chain-being-called-wal-marts-worst-nightmare/  WinCo somehow manages to have generally lower prices on the same products. 

Even beyond that, for those of us who are interested in either eating cheaply or cooking good food from scratch is WinCo's bulk food bins.  Did you know that there were more than a couple of kinds of rice?  WinCo has at least a dozen in bulk.  Same for flour, beans, pasta...

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Re: do you shop at walmart?
« Reply #88 on: October 07, 2013, 07:49:48 AM »
We also have to consider that at least when it comes to food, WalMart is far from the lowest possible prices.  Consider this example: http://business.time.com/2013/08/07/meet-the-low-key-low-cost-grocery-chain-being-called-wal-marts-worst-nightmare/  WinCo somehow manages to have generally lower prices on the same products. 


That's going to be very location dependent.  I don't have a Winco within 100 miles (which is the largest radius I could search for on their site.)  Walmart is cheapest where I live, by far.

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Re: do you shop at walmart?
« Reply #89 on: October 07, 2013, 07:54:53 AM »
That's going to be very location dependent.  I don't have a Winco within 100 miles (which is the largest radius I could search for on their site.)  Walmart is cheapest where I live, by far.

I had to google them, as I have never heard of them on the east coast USA.  Sounds vaguely like Aldi's - spartan interior finishes, bag your own groceries.  Hopefully they will migrate their way toward the east coast.  Even if I don't end up shopping there, price competition is always good.

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Re: do you shop at walmart?
« Reply #90 on: October 07, 2013, 11:29:40 AM »
That's going to be very location dependent.  I don't have a Winco within 100 miles (which is the largest radius I could search for on their site.)  Walmart is cheapest where I live, by far.

Sure.  I was just pointing out that it is possible for a grocery store to beat WalMart on price, and still remain profitable.  Apparently, at least: I have sometimes thought that the only possible explanation for the price disparity between WinCo and other supermarkets is that they're really running a money-laundering scheme :-)

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Re: do you shop at walmart?
« Reply #91 on: October 07, 2013, 03:01:00 PM »
What does everyone perceive as the moral difference between Target and Walmart? Do people just prefer red to blue?

This confuses me as well.

I'm not sure what people think the big difference is, besides the fact that they've heard negative things about Wal Mart's practices, and Target is more under the radar.  It's much more cool to hate on Wal Mart.

I can't speak for anyone, but for myself, I will say that I'm a health care lawyer and so I've read the Maryland case on Walmart's health care (actually, I wrote a paper related to it in law school).  It's possible that Target has bad practices as well, but I don't know about them and I do know about Walmart in more depth.

Generally I don't go to either place, but when I do, I tend to go to Target.  Just like I choose the pizza place in my neighborhood that *doesn't* have multiple overtime wage violations or where I like the decor, the people, the product, etc.  It's one factor I consider of many.
« Last Edit: October 08, 2013, 08:28:32 AM by CommonCents »

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Re: do you shop at walmart?
« Reply #92 on: October 08, 2013, 07:47:23 AM »
The difference between Target and Wal-Mart may not seem like much difference at all, but I can tell you the shopping experience for me is completely different. I will readily admit that I am Target's "target market," being a 32 year old busy career woman. Wal-Mart is huge and stresses me out, and the stores all seem laid out to be extra confusing. The Targets I've been to are smaller and seem better organized (even the Super Targets). The things I need are closest to the front of the store (groceries, toiletries) and the stuff I don't need is more tucked away (electronics, toys, seasonal items). In my experience, most Target stores are also kept very clean (probably because they actually close each night instead of being open 24 hours) and the customer service is awesome (returns are super easy, no questions asked) and I get 5% back on every single purchase with my Target debit card (and 90 days to return stuff).

LalsConstant

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Re: do you shop at walmart?
« Reply #93 on: October 08, 2013, 09:36:42 AM »
I worked at Wal-Mart for two years while going back to school.  Several family members of mine have worked there, including one who is a career employee.

I can type reams of information about the experience and what I think of the company and whether you should shop there, but I'll try to hit the highlights:

1. Wal-Mart is unquestionably not perfect.  However the arguments made against it are more often than not skewed or flat out ridiculous.  There is some valid criticism of Wal-Mart naturally, no one who is this big and rich and powerful in their industry is going to have absolutely nothing to answer for.

2. Experiences vary widely.  Wal-Mart did not particularly value me as an employee and working there wasn't enjoyable, but I can't say they were unfair.  I felt I had reasonable opportunities and at the time I honestly felt like it was my best option personally.  I feel I could have been better treated but I also feel I was reasonably treated.  That's just me personally.

3.  I feel Wal-Mart is at worst morally ambiguous.  They aren't the problem they're the symptom.  Globalization, the efficiency demanded by the information age economy, consumerism, all of these terrible things Wal-Mart gets blamed for it did not create.  While the company does have agency in the portions of those phenomena it is responsible for, it did not create these problems as is often alleged (see #1).

However I also saw a lot of things at Wal-Mart that are good or at least well intended.  Safety protocols for example are very tight and go beyond the standards they're based on.  Outside of two unfortunate exceptions dealing with one incompetent person, management did not let customers abuse employees.  Wal-Mart does contribute to employee's retirement.  Believe it or not most of their employees do have health insurance (that used to not be true but they set out to remedy this and succeeded).  The company is one of the least wasteful places I've ever seen, if it's not necessary it's gone.  They police their own trash and waste admirably and even clean up the area around their stores (at least the two in my market did).  Wal-Mart provides jobs and goods and services to people who are disadvantaged in various ways.

I can't morally fault anyone for not forgiving Wal-Mart's shortcomings nor can I fault anyone who praises the company for its strengths.  These are just competing value systems at play and I'm not entitled to say whose values are better.

If I had to say one good thing about them particular to my experiences, it's that Wal-Mart gave me a badly needed income at a low point in my life where I had all sorts of problems, and it afforded me a chance to pull myself up by my bootstraps.  I don't work there any more because I moved on to something better, but I wouldn't have moved on to something better without going through Wal-Mart.

I started at 8.90 an hour.  I ended employment there with wages topping $11 an hour, plus I had health insurance.  Again this was within 2 years.

And where the store was at, these were competitive wages in that locality.  It wasn't an area with a lot of high paying jobs at the time.

I probably pocketed about $900 from additional perks like bonuses, stock purchasing, etc.  It's not a grand sum but I really needed it at the time.

It's not the worst job I ever had.  It wasn't a good job.  It was just work.

The worst thing I personally saw about the company is that the people at the very top are rich, well educated executives who don't know what it's like to stand on a concrete floor and push items across a register all day.  They are people who only understand metrics they can see.

They don't understand that they have some employees who are career workers who provide far more value to the enterprise than others.  They don't realize piling more work on fewer people only exacerbates the problem.  I really doubt they understand how much your feet hurt after walking on the concrete all day.

They make decisions driven solely by metrics they define themselves, and then when the situation goes badly, they just change the metrics.  The people who have to carry it out are never considered in the process.

But I have worked at other places that were just as cruel and soulless.  Once an organization gets to a certain size, no one in the organization can feel completely loyal to all its members.

Best experience working there?  It's the only place I've ever worked where both customers and employees told me, unsolicited, thank God for this company.  The customers especially make you feel like you're doing something that matters sometimes.  Their stories should all be collected and put into a book.

Worst experience?  Well besides the general soul crushing tedium and the fact you have very little say or control over how things are done, the worst part is seeing people who have worked there for a long time getting pay cuts and other things like that which aren't fair. 

Strangest experience?  Hard to say.  Truthfully the rudeness of the customers is just something you harden to over time though I do have some war stories of some really quirky people.  The People of Walmart site still makes me laugh because for good or ill the Wal-Marts just seem to attract the weirdoes.  It's neither a good nor a bad thing it just is.

When I worked there I never took it personally if someone didn't like Wal-Mart.  So shop there or don't, I can't define your values for you, but for whatever it's worth I've been in the belly of the beast and seen some things I thought weren't right and I still shop there.  For whatever it's worth, even the people who work there tend not to buy everything there.  Meat and produce have never been particularly strong products.

Personally I still go there, though I use a local chain store for most of my grocery buying, but if I need some antifreeze or something, Wal-Mart's fine.

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Re: do you shop at walmart?
« Reply #94 on: October 08, 2013, 09:41:51 AM »
I would have to intentionally pass half a dozen grocery stores and two Targets to get to WalMart.  My time is just too valuable at the moment to warrant the trip.

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Re: do you shop at walmart?
« Reply #95 on: October 08, 2013, 01:01:32 PM »
Fascinating writeup, Lalsconstant.  Thanks.  FWIW, I know two people who work at Wal-Mart who would probably echo your sentiments regarding the culture and its pluses and minuses.

One, a guy my age, has worked there twenty years and is well paid and treated.  He resisted being promoted into salaried management, which may have been his smartest move.  The other, an older woman who's the mother of a friend of mine, has also worked there for about twenty years since the textile factory she worked in closed.  She's fighting cancer and, to hear her tell it, the store or company (she doesn't really make the distinction between the two) has stood behind her.

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Re: do you shop at walmart?
« Reply #96 on: October 08, 2013, 02:06:54 PM »
For the most part, I don't always relate with the angst against Wal Mart. As a small business owner, they will give you enough rope to hang yourself. This is true with anything in life, moderation is key. As a consumer, if you don't like the product, don't buy it! As an employee, if you don't like your job, get a different one. As a resident, if they are trying to use local eminent domain laws, the blame your local govt that turns a blind eye or endorse that injustice against personal property.

We shop there for some goods. We try to buy US made ones, but don't feel bad buying something from China. We always look for the best cost to value relationship. As a consumer I vote with my dollars. I don't have a problem with endorsing some of their products and services that are of value to me.

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Re: do you shop at walmart?
« Reply #97 on: October 09, 2013, 12:14:20 AM »
The difference between Target and Wal-Mart may not seem like much difference at all, but I can tell you the shopping experience for me is completely different. I will readily admit that I am Target's "target market," being a 32 year old busy career woman. Wal-Mart is huge and stresses me out, and the stores all seem laid out to be extra confusing. The Targets I've been to are smaller and seem better organized (even the Super Targets). The things I need are closest to the front of the store (groceries, toiletries) and the stuff I don't need is more tucked away (electronics, toys, seasonal items). In my experience, most Target stores are also kept very clean (probably because they actually close each night instead of being open 24 hours) and the customer service is awesome (returns are super easy, no questions asked) and I get 5% back on every single purchase with my Target debit card (and 90 days to return stuff).

All of those are reasons why you enjoy shopping there more.

And that's fine, if that's why you choose it.

We were asking about the people who have a moral issue with Wal Mart, but then go shop at Target (which has many similar practices), and why the latter is okay but not the former.

If it's just a shopping experience thing, fine, knock yourself out.  :)
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Re: do you shop at walmart?
« Reply #98 on: July 04, 2016, 12:50:51 PM »
I go to walmart for a select few items - ammo, chemicals, cat litter, and prescription drugs.
Most of the rest I purchase from Costco, and the twice weekly trip to a nearby IGA for fresh foods.
« Last Edit: July 04, 2016, 12:55:08 PM by Digital Dogma »

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Re: do you shop at walmart?
« Reply #99 on: July 04, 2016, 01:00:30 PM »
I go there for cleaning supplies, paper towels, toiletries, photo printing usually. When I am there I'll also buy nonperishables. The produce there leaves something to be desired, though.