This Sunday while sipping my coffee and reading the Sunday paper (We get one print paper a week, the Sunday) i came across an opinion piece by Vincent Carroll titled “Too Good for Walmart”. Read it here (assuming the Denver Post website doesn’t screw up the link).
I loved how from the beginning Carroll takes the stance of being better than the snobby people who are anti Walmart, because he’s being more open minded. Of course he’s objective though, he makes sure to point out his neighborhood is getting a Target, which we all know is the same as a Walmart, so surely his point of view is completely valid.
I don’t know anything about Carroll but his rant against people who don’t want a Walmart seems to be based from a position of never having been in one, near one, or employed by one. I can claim all three of those, and can promise Caroll is wrong. In every point he tries to make, he’s wrong.
As an employer (I’ll grant you this was in the 90’s) Walmart is beyond shady. I worked up to and never beyond 35 hours a week, because that was the Full Time Employee cut off. 36 hours and I’d have been eligible for health benefits. The Walmart in my town opened next to a Mervyn’s and within about 2 years, the Mervyn’s closed up. The Shopping center they occupied, dried up almost completely. Nothing ever came into the empty Mervyn’s, many of the smaller unit stores had to close up as well. Yeah Walmart was great for the neighborhood.
When talk of unions spread through a store, corporate would load up a private jet with a team of manager level people and deploy them to a store. Suddenly that store had twice as many managers, glad handing around the store making sure employees felt loved, and appreciated and heard. Then the vote would pass, and the union team would leave and nothing would have changed for the employees. Now to be clear I never voted to go union, and would have quit my high school job had the vote gone through. Also as a high school kid I felt the pay was much better than average. Could I support a family? No, but it was always more than fast food, etc.
Now let’s address, those who frequent Walmart stores and the impact on the surroundings. You know why there’s not a site called People of Target (there is but it’s not actually about Target, go figure)? Because stereotypically or not, Target stores keep to a higher standard. The stores are cleaner, tidier, and overall less dingy. Why dress up to go shopping when the store is a pig pen of crap? Why treat the store nicely when it looks like a tornado just touched down? Etc. Walmart stores simply don’t encourage the same type of cleanliness other stores do. Safeway stores didn’t but they cleaned up, the focused on raising the image of their stores, and now most Safeway stores have a much classier look and feel. Walmart could do that too, but they don’t because they’re printing money off the poor who may or may not care, but have no problem buying 12 gal. jars of pickles.
To be clear, I’m not anti business, but I believe all businesses should have a conscience, and when making a profit is no longer the main concern, attention should shift to doing good. Renovating stores to raise the profile of the neighborhoods, using that tremendous power to encourage customers to eat healthy by making a healthy snack the same price as the Cheeto’s. Raise employee pay so that Walmart is the only job they need, vs. one of two just to make rent, Etc. And that’s where Walmart fails to me. Yes they give millions away to charities that have nothing to do with their business so that they can point to those when people criticize them.
So yeah those folks (of which I’m one) who are against a Walmart at 9th and Colorado are a bit snobby, but not for no reason. Perhaps Carroll should drive out to stapleton and hang out inside and outside the Walmart there. Or over in Littleton (just outside Highlands Ranch of course). Or any other Walmart location. Before he shouts down people who want to preserve the look and feel of their neighborhood, maybe she should look at what it is they’re fighting vs. simply seeing snobby white folk fighting a Walmart?
Here’s a hint for Carroll, When you attack “we’re too good for it” with “I’m better than you for being more open minded” you’re no better.