How Wal-Mart Is Destroying America

How Wal-Mart Is Destroying America

by Bill Quinn

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Overview

In this delightfully controversial book, one small-town Texas grandpa takes on America's retail king. Folksy and down-home, yet packed with well-researched facts, this book tells how Quinn believes that Wal-Mart:
-- Sucks the life out of small towns, forcing mom-and-pop stores to close, and putting thousands out of work.
-- Mistreats its employees. Includes an exclusive tell-all interview with a former manager who's willing to dish the dirt.
-- Endangers the public.

...and much, much more. Also includes strategies for how communities and individuals can band together to fight the retail megalith. If you think you don't need this book, there's almost certainly not a Wal-Mart in your town!

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780898159738
Publisher: Ten Speed Press
Publication date: 04/01/1998
Pages: 104
Product dimensions: 4.99(w) x 7.97(h) x 0.35(d)

Read an Excerpt


Chapter 4: 6 Reasons to Beware of Wal-Mart

Promises, Promises

Once upon a time, when Wal-Mart had fewer than 200 stores, Sam Walton called a managers' meeting. The wife of one manager, fearing that the chain would one day open seven days a week, was assured by Sam himself that two things were certain (no, not those two things):

  • The chain would never, ever, ever open on a Sunday.
  • The chain would never, ever, triple never sell alcohol, in any form.

(Remember, Sam's other never, ever rule, that he'd never, ever go into a town where Wal-Mart is not wanted? If you wonder what became of that rule, you might want to go back and look at chapter 2.)

What can Sam have been meaning, to make promises like this, that he was never going to keep? Look what happened:

Retailers in the small town of Pella, Iowa, have long observed a day of rest on Sunday. Wal-Mart had been in town for nine years and seemed to respect this taboo. Then suddenly, orders came from headquarters in Bentonville: The store must open between twelve and five on Sunday. So much for the corporation's promise - and so much for sensitivity to local feelings.

But it gets worse.

Wal-Mart, by its own policy, is now universally open on Sundays, unless prohibited by a state or local law. This pretty much forces the competition to open on Sunday, too, if they want to stick around. What is more, Wal-Mart employees with strong religious beliefs have been forced into an impossible dilemma: work on their Sabbath or lose their job.

According to The Wall Street Journal, Scott Hamby worked at Wal-Mart in Bolivar, Missouri - until he was fired for refusing to work on Sunday, preferring to go to church. According to Hamby, his manager's reaction to his situation was to tell the woman in charge of setting staff schedules to "keep Scott here on Sunday until he quits." Hamby, a devout Christian and a graduate of Southwest Bible College, needed his job but cherished his convictions still more. He felt he had no recourse but to sue. A court in Springfield, Missouri, sided with Hamby.

In the wake of this lawsuit, Wal-Mart is being forced to change its policies to accommodate those who prefer to worship someone other than Sam on Sundays. The Wall Street Journal also notes that this settlement "could have far-reaching implications for other companies with weekend staffing needs that conflict with workers' religious practices."

Guess Sam met his match this time.

But what about liquor?

Oh, yes. Well, since Sam made never, ever promise number two ("Wal-Mart will never, ever sell alcohol, in any form"), Wal-Mart has become, by some estimates, the biggest nationwide purveyor of beer and wine.

So, two solemn pledges, two utterly broken promises. I do wish those other "dependables" (death and taxes, that is) were this easy to get around, don't you?

Always the Low Road

A few years ago, you may have noticed that Wal-Mart mysteriously changed its slogan. The discounter had been promising us "Always the Low Price. Always" for years. Suddenly it became "Always Low Prices" - which still sounds pretty good, I guess, but why the switch? Did something change in the way Wal-Mart does its pricing?

Well, no. Wal-Mart just got caught out, that's all.

The National Advertising Review Board, which is funded by the Better Business Bureau, investigated the claim that Wal-Mart always has the low(est) price. The Board found that this just was not and is not true, and promptly ordered our pals in Bentonville to stop saying it.

Untruth in Advertising

Michigan's attorney general brought suit against Wal-Mart for alleged violations in the state's consumer protection act. According to The Wall Street journal, Michigan's attorney general discovered that Wal-Mart's in-store advertisements were misleading: They "compared products that were not the same size or model without noting the difference, and ... the ads sometimes inflated the prices competitors charged." Wal-Mart settled, agreeing to various changes in the way it compares its prices to those of competitors. Hey, how about honestly and accurately, for starters?

It also may interest you to know that it is "against store policy" to jot down prices in a Wal-Mart. That's what Virginia Berger of Spring Hill, Florida, was told when she was accosted in a Wal-Mart doing just that, according to an AP wire story. Mrs. Berger, who lives with her husband on pension and disability benefits, says she was "angry and embarrassed, and I thought they were going to throw me out." She later found no problem in writing down prices at Kmart or Target. What is the meaning of this, I wonder?...

Table of Contents


A Letter from the Publisher ..... ix
Preface ..... x
Chapter 1: 7 Things that Happen when Wal-Mart Comes to Town ..... 1
Chapter 2: 1 Sure-Fire Way Wal-Mart Barges into Town (and 3 Ways it Sneaks in) ..... 18
Chapter 3: 2 ways Wal-Mart is Oh So Greedy ..... 29
Chapter 4: 6 reasons to Beware of Wal-Mart ..... 52
Chapter 5: 7 Ways Wal-Mart is Downright Bad to the Bone ..... 64
Chapter 6: 2 Ways Wal-Mart is a Menace to America and 2 Ways It Will Take Over the World ..... 78
Chapter 7: 12 Ways You Can Fight Back ..... 92
A Last Word ..... 103

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