Thinking Outside the (Big) Box

Everyone knows Wal-Mart is evil. By destroying all local competition, Wal-Mart eliminates three jobs for every two it creates, and the jobs it does create must be wonderful for the Associates because Wal-Mart considers 28 hours a week to be full time, meaning the average worker grosses less than $11,000 a year and is not legally eligible for full-time benefits. In Canada, Wal-Mart won us over by replacing the dash between “Wal” and “Mart” with a maple leaf, and by airing TV commericals about how proud they are to sell Canadian-made boots — even though more than 80% of the items sold at Wal-Mart aren’t even manufactured in North America. Since coming to Canada in 1994, Wal-Mart has opened the equivalent of a new store every 16 days. Communities actually compete with each other to have Wal-Marts built in their towns, believing, I suppose, that lower prices will lead to a higher quality of life. Forget about the local economy and local culture. If I can buy a 20-pack of CD-Rs for $10, it’s worth it.

Wal-TownYesterday I met up with “a non-profit group concerned with the interaction between business, human rights, labour and community” calling themselves Wal-Town. I figured they wouldn’t tell me anything about Wal-Mart I didn’t already know. I was wrong. It’s interesting how much more I seem to care about my community now that I’m more informed about the practices of Wal-Mart (and other big box stores that have followed the Wal-Mart model).

I’m not going to give a lecture. But here’s a scanned copy of some Wal-Mart fact sheets I picked up during the Q&A session… I remember the good ole days when I thought Woolco was a big store.

About Phillip

Phillip Cairns is a beekeeper in St. John's, Newfoundland, who writes about beekeeping at

5 Replies to “Thinking Outside the (Big) Box”

  1. I’d boycott wally-world but that’s like, impossible. Plus, they wouldn’t notice so why shoot myself in the foot? If 100,000,000 other people did it at the same time, they may notice.

  2. Wal-Mart is so profit-hungry, even if a small percentage of customers bought locally, Wal-Mart would feel it. I personally can’t afford to buy underwear and socks anywhere else, but what I can afford to buy elsewhere, I do. I think if people were aware that something like 75% of the money they spend at Wal-Mart does not go back into their community but goes straight into the pockets of Wal-Mart shareholders, they think again about how great it is to have a Wal-Mart in their town. It’s argued that Wal-Mart attacts other businesses, but most businesses that build up around Wal-Marts are other big box stores who operate exactly like Wal-Mart, paying their employees crap wages, and so on.

  3. POST UPDATE: Jenny recorded most of the Wal-Town presentation and interviewed a member of the group afterwards. Itís worth a listen if you’re interested in specifics of Wal-Mart’s business practices — contains many real-life examples. Click the link I just added to the post.

  4. People point to Walmart and cry “anti-union”.
    Unions enable disfavored people to live satisfactorly without addressing their disfavor. This way their family’s problems are never resolved. Without the union they would have to accept the heirarchy, their own inferiority.
    Unions serve to empower.
    Walmart is anti-union because they are good. They try to help people address and resolve their problems by creating an enviornment where there are fewer hurdles.

    Media ridicule and lawsuits are creations to reinforce people’s belief that Walmart is evil in a subsegment of the industry dominated by the middle and lower classes.
    Low-cost disfavored Chinese labor is utilized by corporate america to maximize margins. They all do it. Only WalMart gets fingered because they are the ones who help, and those who seek to create confusion in the marketplace want to eliminate the vast middle class who have a real chance and instead stick with lower classes who may not work otherwise. So they dirty him up while allowing the others to appear clean.

    The coining of the term “Uncle Sam” was a clue alluding to this::Sam Walton’s WalMart is one of few saviors of the peasant class.

  5. I just don’t like walmart because it makes me sad about the state of the world. :/

    half the people shopping there just depress me due to their stupidity and ignorance, and the employees make me want to punch them in the face. :(

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