Smlwoman\’s Weblog

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Walmart: The High Cost of Low Prices November 17, 2007

Filed under: Uncategorized — smlwoman @ 11:32 pm


I am a huge Walmart shopper.  I just watched “Walmart; The High Cost of Low Prices” on Starz on Demand. ends November 29th.  It was very well done.  If you haven’t seen it, I recommend it.  If you don’t have cable there is a book called Nickle and Dimed by Barbara Ehrenreich or you might be able to rent it.  

Is it just Walmart?  What about Target?

While I was thinking about this, I realized we have two Targets in the Reno/ Sparks area.  We have 5 Walmarts that I can think of in the same area.  Target prices are fairly comparable.  Sometimes less expensive.  Sometimes more.  So, are all stores that can provide us low costs, the same? 

If you are a Walmart worker, do you agree with the claims of low wages, nonpaid overtime hours, poor insurance with high cost, women and minorities not respected?  Is it really like this? 

How abou a Target worker.  How is it for you?  I don’t know if I will get any responses on this, but I hope I do hear from those who can answer because they are or have experienced it.

The factory workers in China, I don’t get why their country allows this type of environment to take place.  Don’t they value their citizens wealth over an American family’s wealth? So many people work there.  Is it a better choice of pay, at $3 a day for ten to fifteen hour shifts, then other jobs in China?

Did Sam Walton really intend his store to be like this?  When you listen to the CEO of the company give it’s talk, you would think it was not.  So where and when did it all go wrong? 

I am frustrated because I love to shop at Walmart, but can I, in good conscience, continue to shop there knowing what I know now?  Ignorance is bliss, but not beneficial.  I should have bought my groceries before I watched this show.

A side note: One woman on the show said she was going to school to become a preschool teacher.  She worked for Walmart for six years.  Too bad she will go to school to get the same type of job she had at Walmart.  99% of preschool teachers make Poverty wages, have high cost insurance if any at all, long hours, and respect only from the families of the Children you care for.  At least for Walmart you didn’t spend thousands of dollars to work there.


4 Responses to “Walmart: The High Cost of Low Prices”

  1. kenny Says:

    Two thoughts:

    1) My wife and I (mostly my wife) were in a fairly anti-Walmart position when one day we were forced by a flat tire to go there. To our surprise (because of our prejudice against the place), the two workers we encountered were giving really, really good customer service – above and beyond kind of stuff. Of course these were just two people, but they kind of disabused us of our feelings that Walmart employees were just these poor huddled masses. These people were doing the kind of good work that I assume doesn’t usually arise among oppressed employees.

    2) Regarding low wages in other countries, this is the argument that I buy: basically, a low-paying job is better than no job at all. Countries like China are not in the position, economically, to regulate higher wages for their workers because if it cost just as much to hire a Chinese worker as it does to hire an American worker, then Walmart wouldn’t open a factory in China at all. Also, if the Chinese worker had other options, he or she wouldn’t work for lower pay. So it’s far from perfect, but it’s the best option available. Hopefully as China’s economy improves, so will the conditions for its workers.

  2. cheryl Says:

    The turnover at the Carson Wal-Mart is higher than the turnover at the Carson Target. Could that be related to employee satisfaction? I don’t shop Wal-Mart and I avoid Target. Costco is the *best* for employees and the environment and global relations. Smith’s and Safeway have unions to protect the employees. Grocery Outlet helps us find deals by taking stuff regular stores would put in landfills. I haven’t been to Wal-Mart in two years.

  3. Working as a preschool teacher may be much more fulfilling to this woman then as an employee of a major corporation. So even though the take home pay may be about equal, the social / psychological pay may be exponentially greater.
    In general, corporations tend to extract those personal interactions you’d encounter at a more local / small kind of business. It’s basic economics though, a business that can place orders in greater bulk, has more leverage to request discounts based off of their account size. It’s not just about the employees, but also impacts small suppliers who may have the corp as their main account. If they don’t accept the price they’re being requested to meet, the corp will go elsewhere. . . it’s just the economics of a capitalistic system. It’s a cycle that impacts our whole society though on a much deeper level.

    Trader Joe’s is an interesting company that seems to be trying to take the model in a different direction.

  4. I thought this was kind of funny to bump into…
    Steve Breerwood in regards to Walmart.

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