Visit Your Local PBS Station PBS Home PBS Home Programs A-Z TV Schedules Watch Video Donate Shop PBS Search PBS

STORE WARS: When Wal-Mart Comes To Town


Talkback Pages: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7

Why is everyone "ganging up" on Walmart? I think they have proven to be a very successful business. It's not Walmart's fault that the competition can't keep up. It's not Walmart's fault that they are putting other stores out of business. I mean, what are they supposed to do? You can't expect that Walmart is going to just stop competing because they feel sorry for these stores that are going out of business. Isn't the philosophy of a business to turn a profit and simultaneously defeat the competetion or at least put up a good fight? Don't get me wrong, I like KMart and I shop at my local store. I also shop at Walmart among alot of other stores. So you can boycott Walmart but I can guarantee you that Walmart will never lose sales because of a few people who don't understand how a business works. True, Walmart is notorious for paying low wages and there are all kinds of stories that come from former employees..."they are inflexible", "I work every weekend", "I don't get recognized" and on and on. I would never work for Walmart but there are people who work at Walmart and stay at Walmart because they like it. I see alot of the same people and have been seeing the same people for several years at my local Walmart. They must be doing something right.

Wal-Mart faces key test in discrimination case
Sunday September 21, 2:38 pm ET
By Emily Kaiser

CHICAGO, Sept 21 (Reuters) - Wal-Mart Stores Inc. faces a pivotal hearing this week in a sex discrimination lawsuit that could become the largest ever and force the world's biggest company to pay female employees hundreds of millions of dollars.

The lawsuit, filed two years ago, accuses the largest U.S. private-sector employer of discriminating against women employees in pay, promotions and training, and retaliating against those who complained about the alleged abuse.

A judge in San Francisco is expected to hear arguments on Wednesday on whether to certify a class of plaintiff that could include 1.5 million current and former female employees of the Bentonville, Arkansas-based retailer.

<< Excerpt from Reuters, 9/21/03 >>

i was a very loyal employee at the 3489 store in goldenring,i was treated like point is they put togeather this totally un true stories about me and said i created a hostil enviroment which was not true,the other employees thought they could treat me like a nobody in any tone of voice .they were upset that my disablity which caused me hurt alittle more than other would affect my work performance.check around i,was good at my job and loved it.the problem came when i said the store was foul because they were stealing out the over night warehouse shoes, electrics ,cds,dvds,check the sizes men,9,10,11 in men charmaine of 3489 works in shoes she tells them when the managers on the floor ,or something like that.goldenring i know has the highest strinkage because the department managers are afraid or in on the stealing,karen, belinda just check when they started working then check your stortage.i,m not telling this because i,m upset but because i was one of your most happy employees ,i,ll still be a walmarts fan but you won,t make a profit if you don,t examine your goldenring area store.sorry i,m no longer an assocoiate of yours,i gave my everything.

if you think wal mart is cheap and greedy you should check out haines city ind inc in haines city fl and work their as i have then you will thank god fo provideing you a 28/40 hr job at wal mart with "some" benifits and some thanks

Randy Riegsecker
It's amazing that Wal-Mart, a corporation that produces absolutely nothing, is the largest in the world. Wal-Mart has higher annual revenues than General Motors, Exxon Mobil, Ford, and General Electric. Something like this could only happen in the self-serving consumption-based world we live in today.

Here in America, the desire to accumulate stuff at "low low prices" has more value than the desire to preserve American small businesses.

My daughter is growing up in a world where one-stop shopping is a way of life. Why are we always in such a hurry?

I make every effort to teach my daughter the importance of small businesses in a community. An apathetic pimple-faced teenager in a blue vest can't replace the value in personalized expertise you get at a small business.

Will it require the obliteration of all small businesses for us to realize, way too late, the error in our ways?

Yes I am starting to see the big picture for the company I have worked for these past 9 years. I have had many things happen in the last 3 years that have made me want to leave, but I have perserverred ... if you leave you cannot make a difference ... like you said in your data 70% of people leave in the first year and the company depends on that so that no one ever organizies for change, the medical benefits are expensive, but it cheaper by far than what I could get elsewhere. When push comes to shove and I have wanted to leave that's the reason I stay. My boyfriend says I should write a tell all book of my 10 years personal experiences with this company ... he thinks that I would clean up and hit them where they live, I have worked in 3 stores over my years ... there appears to be less hours to allocated and fewer Associates to cover those hours ... customer service is number 1 ... perhaps when I started out, but over the years all they care about is the budgeted amount for that period of time, if one Associate has to cover 4 to 7 Departments all at once they do not care, head office cares about whether or not a store is increasing sales year to year, not the quality of life for their Associates as they would have the general public believe, when hours get cut back for the first 3 to 6 months of the calendar year, they do not care that their Associates have to go to the food bank if they want to eat, they care whether or not they are meeting the ever loving budget, God forbid you have a family emergency or you are sick and cannot make it to work, budgets are so tight that in many cases there is not another Associate available to cover your shift because at times they hire just enough people to squeak by with, god forbid they have extra Associates to cover, they may have to pay out a bit more than they should in wages.

So the next time you are at your local Wal-Mart and cannot find anyone to help you or are faced with a long line in the check-out, rememember the cost to you of paying the lowest price is a certain amount of self-service and patience when waiting to be served because the few Associates scheduled at that time are sorely outnumbered. On a typical evening in January, because the budget dictates so, there may be 12 Associates including the duty manager and the 3 cashiers at the front, if you do the math its no wonder you may have a hard time finding someone to help you ... factor as well into that at any given time 2 or 3 or more Associates are having their breaks ... would you be willing to spend an extra nickel for every dollar you spent at Wal-Mart to ensure the Associates were paid a bit better and there was more than just a skeleton crew running the place? I am sure many of you would, but unfortunately the company would probably put that towards building more stores, not bettering your shopping experience or their Associates standard of living in way of wages or a work week that is stable and dependable.

I am determined to make people, customers and Associates alike see the light, they will make a change if customers stop spending their money there ... its a big job ... there are many ways to go about it. I may just have to write that book. For now I have authored a web-site. If you would like to go there and spread the word I would appreaciate it The nature of the small website is its hard to get traffic. The long address is ....




Caroline Daykin
I would like to respond to the lawyer in the film representing Wal-Mart. He questioned the difference between one big store and many small stores. His answer was "walls". He failed to take independence into consideration. The managers of chains stores are forced to run their businesses the way the corporation determines, rather than in a way they see fit. In a hypothetical situation in which a Wal-Mart or other chain store were to replace many small businesses, the former business owners would become merely actors where they once were thinkers and dreamers. Taking a paycheck home is not the only issue here. Autonomy and self-respect should be considered as well. Perhaps the values of freedom and individual acheivement so strongly ingrained in the American psyche should be maintained not by allowing free enterprise, but by protecting the ability of an individual to run an independent and successful business.

jerry feucht
I watched Store Wars tonight and saw a typical Wal Mart pitch to a community (Ashland VA) and a town council buckle to the dollar signs.

Wal Mart has a track record of destroying small business in communities, bringing in low paying low benefit jobs, and destroying good paying generous benefit jobs. The grocery industry in highly unionized areas is particularly hard hit because good employers with good labor agreements cannot compete with Wal Mart's predatory pricing and low labor cost.

Over 62% of Wal Mart employees have no health insurance. That puts a huge burden on community resources and the cost of insurance to responsible employers whose plans pay for costs when Wal Mart employees must use the health care system. Why aren't they insured? Even those employees eligible in most cases cannot afford the co-pays.

People who choose Wal Mart for an employer do not make enough in most cases to buy a home in the community they live. Full time is 28-40 hours a week. Easy to say that 70% of employees are full time that way, but hard to make a living not knowing how much you will work

Wal Mart is not a good neighbor when it comes to community. They have little involvement in charity (however if they do participate be sure they will let the world know.) Dollars spent at Wal Mart are sent directly to Bentonville and not used to enhance community projects or development.

The list goes on and on. To be fair I am a Union Rep and have fought this battle as has my Union for years. I won't go into the Wal Mart tactics to keep Unions out. I will say this: no matter how good the seminars are in Ashland on competing with Wal Mart I predict most of the businesses that sell or service similar items to Wal Mart will be gone in less than two years

Daniel Muller
I really wonder what language people are speaking when they call a business' choice to carry or not carry certain products "censorship." Is or is not Wal-Mart reaping in the bucks? I guess their customers are okay with these policies, just as I am. In fact, this is the only thing I particularly like about Wal-Mart.

What about the "artists" with nothing more than nasty words for lyrics? Do they enforce artistic integrity? No, they agree to Wal-Mart's customers' desires because ... they want a few more bucks themselves! Get a grip, and buy your soft porn elsewhere -- it is not hard to find.

I work for wal-mart,and am a manager of a produce department.The comment someone made about produce at wal-mart being really bad must have very poor quility people running the department,not to mention the manager.wal-mart has very good produce at good prices,if you dont like it,go somewhere else and pay more.I think other buisnesses are jeoulous of wal-mart and the success they have.If you cant beat them,join them.And by the way,wal-mart has provided a good liveing for me and my family,thanks,have a great day.

A Wal-Mart store in the N.E. had to bring in Managers that shave there heads and that look and act like prison guards. Why?

I work for wal-mart,and am a manager of a produce department.The comment someone made about produce at wal-mart being really bad must have very poor quility people running the department,not to mention the manager.wal-mart has very good produce at good prices,if you dont like it,go somewhere else and pay more.I think other buisnesses are jeoulous of wal-mart and the success they have.If you cant beat them,join them.And by the way,wal-mart has provided a good liveing for me and my family,thanks,have a great day.

Sarah Stewart
I just wanted to add my thoughts on Wal-Mart. I saw on the local news tonight that Wal-Mart pulled some magazines off its racks due to it's content and/or cover material. People can call this censorship, but I don't think it really is. Families call in and complain about these magazines. Wal-Mart then complies with it's customers by removing magazines. There is no family friendly anything left in this country. Radio stations are filled with vile talk, mainstream TV during the daytime is verging on pornographic, and our 10 year olds look like women of the night. I just think it is funny when people call protecting children censorship. I do enjoy smaller business's but people with kids can't drive all over the city to buy their goods at 10 different stores. In rural areas there aren't many stores. If Wal-Mart carries goods that mainly come from other countries that is sad, but moms can't be on patrol 24 hours a day to make politically correct consumer choices, not everyone shopping at Wal-Mart drives a mini-van,and has ten kids, some people are just making things a little less stressful by doing their shopping in one spot. I think PBS is great, but sometimes the liberal poo gets a little thick.

Kathleen King
I think that any town should have the right to have, or not have a big box store. That said, I do take offense at some of the things that Michael Paled (I believe his name is, I'm afraid if I go back I'll lose my text, my apologies if this is wrong) said in his article about the story, including the quote above. What makes teenage and older workers less valuable than middle aged adults? Does he not know that some teens and retirees work, not because they have a desire too, but because they have to? They make substantial contributions to their families, or to their own livihoods. Older workers are valuable workers who deserve the dignity of good jobs, which can be hard to find. Younger workers who get jobs at Wal-Mart learn the basics of retail, certainly more marketable skills than those they might learn flipping burgers at a local fast food restaurant.

I would also like to mention some things that nobody else seemed to notice about Wal-Mart. When Wal-Mart came into our t own, they took on some local projects, they painted our free food kitchen at their own expense and with their own labor. They helped us with financial aid for a green house for our middle school. They helped us raise money for computers for our school. They provide drivers for our meals on wheels program every week. They make donations to Project Grad program, a program to keep our graduating seniors safe from harm on graduation night. They donate money to our police and fire departments for upgrading equipment.

They employ and trained about 90 people who walked off the streets with few or no marketable skills, who otherwise would not be working in our small town. And when a local mill in Millinocket, Maine, (which does not have a Wal-Mart) went bankrupt, they donated 25 thousand dollars to the town, which was devistated by the loss of their only large employer.

As a corporation they are the largest supporter of Children's Miracle Network, which donates money to loca l hospitals for pediatric wards. Whe! n a Wal-Mart associate's child needed medical care in Bangor, the staff at the hospital went out of their way to let her know that those CMN funds had made their lives easier, and the lives of their patients better. So don't have a Wal-Mart in your town if you don't want one. But don't buy, willy nilly, into the fabrications and exagerations that the only impact that Wal-Mart has is a bad one. As for me, I'll keep my Wal-Mart, thank you.

I am not going to reveil my name or other information for I am currently sueing wal-mart for an injury that occured in walmart while I was shopping. The are all about money. I am self employeed and was shoping for new items for the house my wife and I just bought and while shopping I had a heavy box fall on my back. Because of this injury I lost 2+ months of work which hurt my credit record, being late on my first 2 payments because I was self employeed. Then to top it off they said it is not their fault that their shelves are stacked poorly. So in my opinion, walmart sucks bad and should start thinking about their customers, for they may be big now but someone bigger and better always come by.

People who support Wal-Mart are sheep, being shephed by environmentally destructive corporate bandits.

al greene
some of you seem to unaware of something called the foreign trade deficit. when we americans buy cheap, crappy products made in china or other countries where workers make one dollar per day, we are pouring money OUT of america into those countries. have you EVER thought of that? if you spend just a little more then you support the AMERICAN economy. by supporting the american economy you protect the future of America, and also your OWN future!!!! and you will also avoid buying goods made potentially by slaves in horrific working conditions. where are most of the products sold in wal-mart from? are they made in the USA??? no.

I work for Walmart, not in the united states but in United Kingdom. I have no problem working for walmart, being "forced" to work till midnight then start work again at 5.30am? I know I have been told before that if I am starting at 6:30am I cannot work past 8pm the pervious day. many people seem to have an objection to Walmart being competative, cos that's all there doing. Lets face it your not gonna get people to spend money in your store if you charge higher prices than everyone else. How about Walmart "funneling" money out of local comunities? I dont believe that is strictly true. Every product that is purchased in store has sales tax included in the tax. That is then paid by walmart to the local government. Also Walmart will put money back into the local comunity partly in the form of employee wages in whichever store your lookign at. Those employees im sure have a life, they'll quite probabaly go to the cinema or maybe they'll buy there milk or bread in the local store cos they cant be bothered traveling slightly further to the walmart store. I'll end buy saying everyone has a choice as to where they spend there money. Large companies will continue also to run there businesses in the best way they can, that means being competative. thats all walmart is being... Competative.

Melinda Gonzalez
When I first walked into the personel office of my local Wal-mart to fill out my employee paperwork I was excited. I finally had a job to pay my college tuition and that would work around my schedule. The first few weeks I bought into the "anti-union: everyone at Wal-mart is happy how things are now" philosophy. However, I was soon forced to see reality. I was made to work until 12:00 am one night and come into work at 5:30 am the same morning. I have done lots of research on Wal-mart and it appauls me the way they claim they are christian-based yet they are so aborobed with money. A true chrisian based company would make sure each and every store treated their customers and employees well before building more stores. Our store still has small un-rotatable blocks to put bags on, while stores that were built before us and after us have nicer rotating bag holders, and more bathrooms...of course these Wal-marts are in nicer areas of town. Wal-mart has been known to build a new store and lower prices so that surronding stores are forced out of business, only to higher their prices once the surronding stores are gone. I have seen some (especially elder) employees doing three things at once: trying to deal with a complaining customer and take care of new customers while management (usually younger people) stands around and conversates. And the whole deal with women making up most of the employee population of Wal-mart, while management positions are mostly held by men is so 1950's. I commend Ashlands people for standing up for what they believe. Maybe they did lose the battle in some people's eyes, but they are winners because they know the facts and are ready to fight for freedom, the freedom to live in peace. Who knows what the world will be like if Wal-mart continues it's ways with no one stopping them. In this case the path to hell is definently paved in good intentions, Sam Walton surely wanted Wal-mart to be customer friendly, but those intentions soon turned to gr eed. How sad it is.

What will happen when all that's left is wal-mart? I dont' even want to think about it. We won't have a choice anymore. Imagine that, not being able to decide where to buy your clothes, or your food, or your music. How sad, especially if you live in a small town. I don't shop at Wal-Mart, I can't stand the place. All the grinning signs over the cheap imported junk, and half the stuff I have seen cheaper in other stores. A few things might be cheaper at WM, but not everything. Once you are inside, you don't know what you are buying, and you assume it must be a bargain. It is Wal-Mart, after all.

I should say that we are a UFCW family, and that without our union benefits and pay we would never be able to own a beautiful home, be relatively ready for retirement, and be planning my daughter's college fund. I have never heard of a WM employee making as much as my husband makes, or getting as consistent pay or hours. He has been employed for 12 years, and does not fear losing his job for making an offhand comment. We have good health insurance and a pension plan and life insurance that will provide for us and our daughter. How many WM employees feel this comfortable with their jobs?

I think that anyone who feels that WM is a wonderful place full of jolly good cheer has been sadly misled. I have just heard from too many people, and seen too many cases of abuse of employees. Not to mention business practices that are so shady that they are under investigation and sued more than any other corporation in the U.S.

I also want to know how many of you all like to buy the Wal-Mart "sanitized" version of records. I certainly don't. When I go to an art museum I want to see the original, not a covered up version. I don't want some corporate desk jockey telling me what I can and can't hear, as if he was my daddy. I am an adult, and can decide for myself. If parents want to control what their children listen to, that is another story. Then it is up to the PARE NT to decide if a child should have the original CD or not, not up to WM to decide to alter the original to make it okay for anyone at their discretion.

I guess that is enough out of me for now. But there is more. Please think about where you shop. Think about how you spend your dollar, and how that dollar affects the rest of the world, not just your immediate circumstance. If you can save $5 a week by buying your canned peas at WM, that's lovely, but maybe you can live without the new DVD player from WM, because it was probably made by some sweatshop in taiwan, then bought by WM below average cost, shipped and distributed by WM trucks, and sold to you by workers who were paid less than half what my husband makes for the same work. Is that fair? Is that worth it to you? Are you really that shallow? Probably, if you are a loyal Wal-Mart customer.

Ben Gallegos
I am not surprised that this sort of liberal propaganda would pervade a piece run by PBS. All we've heard is the same old anti-business drivel that is so prevalent among the left. The only thing that Wal-Mart is guilty of doing is running a successful business that treats its customers well and offers them higher levels of quality merchandise at very low prices. As far as I know Wal-Mart in no way forces people to spend money at their stores and in no way forces people to work there. These stores are successful because people enjoy frequenting the stores. I know I do. Corporations such as Wal-Mart provide jobs and are what keep the economy in this great country strong. If one doesn't like the working conditions, then don't work there. It's that simple. Where would all these people work if Wal-Mart wasn't around? They would go to comparable retail establishments in the area. I'm quite certain that the retail establishments that they'd work for in lieu of Wal-Mart would not pay them sign ificantly more than what they currently earn at Wal-Mart, and I'm also quite certain that they would not get the opportunity to purchase such quality stock at the other company as Wal-Mart employees are able to do through their stock purchasing program. I am not rich, in fact at the moment I'm as poor as I've ever been, but I intend to be rich. However, I have chosen to do it by significantly cutting back on my expenses and going back to college to increase my marketable skills. Also, I have chosen to do it by living a responsible life which includes not having children when I am not capable of feeding, clothing, and educating them properly. I refuse to do it by forcing a well-run, efficient company to pay me more than my skills are worth and therefore forcing millions of consumers to pay the price.

The trend for urban sprawl started long before Wal-Mart came to being. Wal-Mart has just been a little more efficient at using this trend to an advantage. Unfortunately all the small-time people involved in this avenue of manufacture and distribution have the danger of becoming exploited. Many people living in this free society still feel helpless. The advantage of belonging to a free society is that we can choose to end it if we feel exploited. How can a person shop with a conscience when the choice is one store against the other, most items made and sold under these circumstances?

Wal Mart has no regard for it employees only for themselves as management. You must do what they tell you to do or risk losing your job. Example: While I was working at Wal Mart and when I was off work and having a few drinks (alcohol) at home. I received a phone call to come back to work and have my one-year review done right now. I told them I was off work and drinking (alcohol) I was told they did not care and wanted me in right now. All that for a .30 cent raise only for them to cut back hours so they can keep up their payrollÖWhat would have happen if I would have been in a wreck or pulled over for a DUI on top of that they wanted me to punch in the time clock. That would have been termination for drinking on the job. There insurance has a lot to be desired also but that is another story.

Thanks for the story on Walmart.God help us all since we signed off on the Republican Party Big Business love fest.We'll get the best government money can buy---Only problem is most of us can't afford to buy it. Enron,Tyco,MCI all pump millions into party coffers. The guy who only got a pink slip like unwed mothers is only a drain on resources.They're no use to us forget them.

"Was there a squabble over who would get Sam Walton's money after he passed away?"

I think they should reconize walmart as a great store.

I thought the piece was very good but very sad that the town council wanted to have the last word even though most of them had been voted out of office. I found it VERY SCARY that by 2004 Walmart expects to open a store every day! I don't know if Micha Peled heard of Greenfield, Massachusetts in Western Mass. Walmart tried to come into town here but the citizens made enough of a stink in refusing to let them come that Walmart did not come! In fact, this was so unusual how such a small town could prevent Walmart from coming it made national news!

Lenore Bach
There is a new kind of revolution underway along the scenic by-ways and small towns all over America. It seeks to protect and preserve the last of the great green spaces for future generations to enjoy. As free and self-determining Americans, we believe the destiny of our small towns lies directly in the hands of the local citizens who live, work and die there; not global corporations who aim to blacktop any green space they lay claim to. This is still the United States of America--with a government of the people, for the people and by the people. It is not the United States of Wal-Mart. United We Stand.

jeff schmidtke
an excellent job. my only criticism is that it leaves people with so many questions. it is one of those films you can watch continuously, picking up on small details each viewing. say 20 years from now, it will be interesting to see how the 'pro' walmart individuals maintain there view. that is, the ones without high levels of investment. the entire sense or feeling of history, uniqueness, pride, community, etc. will be lost in many american towns, and of course, international cultures as well. its funny... 'Wal'-mart, the thing is there aren't any walls. i guess one can never have enough, ie ceo's and there unfortunate followers. micha and crew... keep working, your goals are inspiring.

Wal-mart is the best place to work at !! all you people are jealous because ..wal-mart is gooD! to good employees! like me!!! BOO TO ALL!!!!!

Wal-Mart does not train its loss prevention associates to spot credit card fraud. When an experienced loss prevention associate is alert and actually observes a stolen credit card being used in a Wal-Mart store the Loss Prevention associate's hands are tied by ridiculous Wal-Mart corporate policies and narrowminded managers. The Loss prevention associate is regularly told to do nothing while ignorant cashiers are encouraged to press buttons and process the sale. The corporation does not want its dirty secret to be known. Loss Prevention revenue accounts for a small percentage of Wal-Marts revenue.Loss Prevention at Wal-Mart is a facade. The emphasis is made on big profits through high volume even if that sale is with a stolen credit card. Sad but true.

did you know that walmart MAKES 13-15 year old chineeze girls work for less than the chineeze minimum wage? they have no regard for safety and provide the girls with no training. for what?? so some little kid in the us can have his little power ranger toy?!?!? walmart also used to (they still might)take out life insurance policies on some of their lower level workers? when the workers they have the policy on die walmart gets all the money!! they pay nothing to the familys of the dead. hope that was something to think about.

Frank Sims
wal-mart also sells products made in the mexican maquiladoras which are places of sweatshop like conditions. sometimes the workers are encouraged to take drugs to increase their productivity. they get hooked on the drugs and waste their money. the managers at the maquiladoras take their money. the maquiladoras sometimes are the focal point of drug trafficking and even the selection of a young women for selling to evil males for criminal purposes such as rape, masochism, pornography, and murder. recently a documentary was made about the 500 'missing' women of juarez, and why their murders have not been solved. the documentary won a prize at the sundance film festival. if you don't think there are evil aspects to wal-mart, you need to wake up, because if you shop there you are involved in the evil. wal- mart makes me sick, and the ignorant, greedy people who shop there also make me sick. wake up to the evil that is involved in mass consumerism.

In response to Kaylo Brooks' previous post. Current news on the case.
Doug Grow: Officially free, Baxter Two still fighting Wal-Mart Doug Grow Star Tribune
Published Aug 15, 2002 GROW15

The Baxter Two are free again, and maybe mighty Wal-Mart is starting to get nervous. An obstruction-of-justice charge was dropped against the second of the Baxter Two, Kaylo Brooks, earlier this week in Crow Wing County. The misdemeanor charge stemmed from a protest outside the Wal-Mart store in Baxter, Minn., 14 months ago. In May, a similar misdemeanor charge against the other half of the demonstrating duo, Gary Payne, was dismissed.

This case may have ended with a fizzle. But it started with an unusual twist on June 6, 2001. On that night, a Baxter police officer arrested both the man who is believed to be the only criminologist in Crow Wing County and a woman who had just been named student of the year at Central Lakes Community College in Brainerd. Payne, the criminologist, is a sociology professor at Central Lakes who teaches large numbers of budding police officers. Brooks now is a student at St. Cloud State.

The two had refused, on principle, to show the police officer their identification at a demonstration outside the Wal-Mart store where, along with a dozen others, they were protesting Wal-Mart's alleged relationships with sweatshops in Central America. In fact, a couple of different organizations have been involved in protests outside the Wal-Mart in Baxter, a town next to Brainerd. In addition to the group protesting social justice issues, there's a group of business people hoping to prevent more -- and even bigger -- chain stores from being hastily built in the area. For one thing, they want studies of the impact such businesses might have on the environment and the main streets of communities in the region.

Ed Shaw, an attorney who formed the Coalition For Responsible Development, has advised members of the groups about their protest rights. Among other things, he has explained to demonstrators that they do not have to give identification to police unless the officers have very specific reasons for asking for the ID. So, when the police officer said he wanted to see Payne's ID, Payne confidently refused. The confidence was quickly shattered when the officer arrested him and put him in handcuffs. The criminologist got a night in the Crow Wing County jail on an obstruction charge.

"It was a first," Payne said. "I'll be a better teacher for it."

Payne is a philosophical soul. He said a significant percentage of the students at Central Lakes are in a police-officer training curriculum. His job is to teach future cops about such things as the sociological origins of crime.

"I know cops pretty well," he said. "I think they go into their profession with good intentions but they often follow the path of least resistance. When they get a call from somebody at a place like Wal-Mart, they assume that the good guys are the guys with power and the bad guys are the demonstrators."

When Brooks, who intends to become a social worker, asked why Payne was being busted, she said she found herself handcuffed and slammer-bound.

"I wondered why we were being arrested," she said. "I told [the officer] he should arrest Wal-Mart executives. Those are the real criminals."

The officer, and officers from four other squads that arrived on the scene, didn't seem interested in her thoughts. Ultimately, the criminologist/prof got the better end of the deal than the student of the year. Payne initially was tossed into an already-occupied drunk tank. (More fodder for the criminology course.) But, he said, late in the evening a jailer who was a former student of his moved him from the drunk tank to a recreation room at the jail and gave him videos to watch until he was released. A Crow Wing County judge threw out the case against Payne in May.

Brooks, who spent the night in a cell sans videos, didn't learn until the other day that the city attorney's office had decided to drop the case against her. There was no reason given for dropping the case.

It should be noted that the lingering charge didn't exactly stifle her. In the last year, she has led St. Cloud State students to demonstrations outside the Wal-Mart store in St. Cloud.

Postscript: The highlight of the celebration was the planning of the next demonstration outside the Baxter Wal-Mart.
-- Doug Grow is at

The people of Ashland need to put down the crack pipe and hop on the clue bus. Walmart is the best thing that could happen to that little hole in the wall. Did they really think that a group of lonely women hanging out at a coffee shop could stop the store from coming to town? Long live Walmart. Get a life Ashland.

When I shop at Wally World, it's not uncommon for me to save 30 to 40 dollars per week on my grocery bill. An example: A large box of Triscuits sells for $3.29 at a higher priced grocery store in my area, while the same box sells for $2.50 at Wal-Mart. I've found that Wal-Mart can be 30 to 40 cents lower on many items, if you buy a lot of items as I do, this adds up. The idealists may crow about "killing off small town America and its businesses," but if Wal-Mart wasn't here, someone else would come along to fill the void. Another Mom and Pop store would come along and try to sell cheaper than a competing Mom and Pop store, so we would fault that Mom and Pop store for killing off the competition? No, this is the way businesses operate, that is "sell at a cheaper price, and try to provide good customer service." To blame Wal-Mart for the demise of small town business is somewhat can go back to the late sixties and seventies when everyone blamed the interstates for killing off small towns too. I will continue to shop at Wal-Mart because I need to save for those rainy days like we all do....ain't no gonna take care of my family other than me.

Each one of us have the ability to choose where we shop. In doing so we decide who's business grows and who's dies. Wal-Mart has never directly put any one out of buisness...their customer has. No matter if your the president of a large corperation or a small business owner you have the same boss...the customer and they can fire you just by not shopping in your store. Think about it, the no. 1 reason small town downtowns dying is do to our love for the automobile, it's just to hard too park downtown. Do you want to stick that $30,000 car into a narrow, high traffic congestion filled space? I think not. Although Wal-Mart sells many different items they don't sell every thing and though they don't like to admit it, service is not as good as it could be. This leaves an opening for the independent business person, they must capitilize on it. Even a Wal-Mart clerk has sent me to another retailer in the area when they didn't have what I was looking for. As far as the future is concerned there will always be competion and competion keeps prices low. At one time Sears was a major threat to small town business, people could buy all kinds of things from that big catalog. But if you haven't noticed there not the big threat they once were. Times changed and the needs of the people have too. I think Wal-Marts down fall is the large stores. Older people don't like shoping those stores because they physically can't walk around that much space. And a large segment of our population is getting older. Even Wal-Mart has to have their business. Can Mom and Pop find their way back into the picture...sure IF they give the BOSS what they want.

this is to the people out there. i have worked at a walmart and really enjoyed my experience. i am no longer with walmart because my assistant manager was harassing me and they did nothing to help me out. i think that walmart is great in some ways, and bad in some. if they woould take the opinions of associates more seriously they could make communities happier. well that is all i have to say

Wal-Mart is so cheap!My mom has been a VERY hardworking stocker at our local store for more than three years and STILL hasn't made seven bucks yet!I live in a small town, so we don't have many places to shop around here. We are supposed to get a supercenter in 3 or 4 years,so that will run all our other stores out of business.

The manager should have been outta there a long time ago! For many reasons,but I won't say what. But I will say he's too cheap to order bags for the merchandise! Yeah,Wally-world really cares about their customers.The customers' money. Everybody thinks Wal-Mart is the grandest place on earth,let them work at one! Thanks.

If people like Wal-Mart ... great.
If people don't like Wal-Mart... great.
I can understand the town being worried about the down-home type businesses being run off by lower prices from the retail champion. The same thing happened here in Lewisburg, WV (Walmart #1499). It's been around for about 6 or 7 years now, and believe it or not, other businesses haven't been run out of the community. Quite frankly, people figured out that they can still shop at other stores. Nobody's forcing them to go inside and spend their money in Walmart. People still have the option of making a choice. Are you really going to drive farther to save a few cents on a loaf of bread, or gallon of milk? If they want it, they will buy it. Free speech? Yes, you have the right.

"Damn Walmart. Lowering prices to run other stores out of business," comments John Doe while pushing a buggy full of items from Walmart to his vehicle. What right do you have to complain if your shopping there!? However, if everyone in the town is against a Supercenter being built, don't shop there. Wow, there's a thought! If you shop in the store your against, doesn't that defeat your entire purpose? A store will lose money if no-one buys anything.

Sweat shops. Poor children in China. (Contrary to popular belief, Walmart receives supplies from the same source as any other retail chain.) Other retail stores are doing the same thing, so why blame solely Wally World? Even an "american" made Kodak camera is made in Mexico! That "Japanese" Fujifilm "crap" is actually American made right in South Carolina.

When it comes down to it, Walmart's not perfect. They do good things for the community, but also have a price on the local store-owned businesses. I know that, you know that, who doesn't know that? So in conclusive debate:

Pro Walmart -- Enjoy your right as a consumer.
Against Walmart -- Enjoy your right not to be forced to shop there. It really is the people that decide the fate of business.

Al Westerman
I home that tonights segment will be followed up with another look in the future of the actual impact on Ashland. As an investor I find Walmart to be a very good investment, but reflection is important and no matter how large the gains, the price that is put upon a community should be the greater concern. Hearing the one researcher state that her study was not accurately reflected by Walmart's ad campaigns is very timely. With so much concern about how honestly businesses report their earnings and the need for SEC intervention, I would begin to wonder what else Walmart has lied about. One thing is very clear; the traditions of Saw Walton no longer guide the leadership of Walmart. The one other point worthy of consideration is the one Town Council member that stated he ignor the wishes of every voter to do what he thinks is right. Frankly, it is the duty of elected officials to serve the will of the people. He should rightfully be tared, feathered, and run out of town on a rail.

Government of all sizes is "of the people, for the people, and by the people" ... which he seems to have conveniently forgotten. I do hope he has been or will soon be voted out of office.

Good luck Ashland, you are in for a very serious change to your community. I hope you survive it intact.

Frank H.
I'm a 26 y/o male (almost 27) that started with WM #2428 in Newton Kansas on Nov 9, 1999 and then (EARNED) a transferred to the Kansas WM D.C. #6035 in Ottawa Kansas the first week of Oct, 2001 and let me say that WM is a WHOLE lot better comp to work for than most, there is advancement and a person can work their way up into management, plus the stock options and health and dental insurance available to us associates!!

Hard work does pay-off!! least mine did..(lol) in transfering from store level to warehouse level and I plan on being general manager of D.C. #6035 someday and retiring from Wal-Mart...thank you!!

Sincerely a proud Kansas WM Assciate,
Frank H.

Look everyone who thinks wal-mart is good because it is affordable and they have to raise their kids on one income!!.................When I was a little girl my mother used to make us dolls out of socks, or she'd make playdough with water and flour and salt, The four of us and sometimes my mom (when she was not tired)played outside alot. We had water fights in the summer and snow ball fights in the winter. We did not have many toys and we had no video games. My mother worked in a local factory.)Often my brothers and I read books that my mom bought at yard sales for 10 cents. Our school clothes came from yard sales as well. Each year my mom clothed allf our of us and herself for less than $55 (this was in 1987 to around '00) believe it or not the price has yet to go up. I am 19 now and I am well fed because my mother taght me to buy rice, beans, and other bulk foods which are actually cheeper and better quality from a local vendor. There are ways to live a good fun healthy life and not have a TV or a kitchen full of pre-packaged sugary preservative filled foods. Milk can be bought in bulk and frozen from a local farmer for dollars below what wallmart sells there milk at. Eggs, vegatables, and fruit can also be purchased for much lower prices than wal-mart if you buy in bulk with your friends your neighbors or family.There is a community out there of people who care about the well being of a single mother and her children.

The hard part is trying to romove ones self from the consumer culture that teaches us all we need things to be happy. You'll never hear a comercial telling you that you are okay the way you are and you don't need anything...........however, all you really need is food, shelter, water, clean air, and your community.

today i saw a TV news report about a superwalmart store in kewanee, illinois. the superstore is selling gas below cost, and the local gas station next door is going bankrupt, because it can't compete. the walmart pricing, i believe, is illegal. in some states it is illegal to deliberately sell goods at a loss to undermine the competition. walmart has been sued for using this illegal tactic.

Eric Fretz
This film gets to the heart of what a democracy is and, sadly, illustrates how corporate America is gradually and insidiously eroding American democratic practices.

For me, the critical moment in the film was when the two members of the Flamingos go to one of the Town Council member's home to discuss his vote for or against Wal-Mart. At one point in the conversation, one of the Flamingos mentions a petition and the Council member (with a kind of arrogance that simply made my eyes pop) looks the two Flamingo representatives in the eye and says, "It doesn't matter how many names you have on your petition. That petition could include the name of every citizen of Ashland, and I would still vote for the Wal-Mart" (paraphrased from memory).

That Council Member, and all the folks on the Ashland Council really need to take a civics lesson and learn a bit more about representative democracy. They would do well to dust off their copies of the Federalist Papers and look again (of for the first time, for all we know) at Lincoln's Gettysburg Address where he envisions a government of, by and for the people. Political figures are elected by the people/voters to represent their will on public issues. When public figures forget this, they abscond power and authority and put our entire democracy in peril.

God bless the "dissenting" voices against the corporate takeover of America.The Asland Flamingos have taken their place in line behind a long and illustrious defenders of democracy. America is built on the idea of revolution and change--the old guard, the defenders of privlege and money will muscle their way in and disrupt the democratic process. They will wave the flag that equates [rampant] corporate capitalism with democracy. Sometimes they'll succed, as they did in Ashland, but ordinary people with a flexible and robust democracy behind them enjoy a power and a history that can and, hopefuly, will continue to combat a faceless, and I would add, value-less corporate America.

I watched the show, "Store Wars" with great interest. I felt a great deal of sympathy with all the characters, both those for the store and against. For the most part I felt the film was well done, except for the fact that the filmmaker seemed to me to be biased against large corporations.

I grew up in Traverse City, MI., where Urban Sprawl has been a real problem, and continues to be. In places like Traverse City, there are not a lot of high paying jobs. Unless you own your own business, or are a professional, there are not a lot of opportunities to break the minimum wage trap. A large company coming to a small town, where there are fewer opportunities, and little chance for advancement (how many mom and pop stores have corporate ladders to climb?) a Walmart or Target offers some people a chance to start at the bottom and work their way up. I think the film could have done a better job of emphasizing this as one of the quandries facing some of the citizens. This message was in the film,but I don't think it was as fairly presented as some of the other view points.

Having worked for several years at a large retailer, I know that it IS a part of the corporate strategy to stamp out the little guys in town. I think the documentary does a very good job of pointing this out. Ashland's downtown may survive. But not in the form that we saw in the documentary. It will probably be more coffee and tourist retail oriented. I also thought that the deception walmart practiced concerning the "Study" cited in their ads was outrageous. I wish more had been made of this, or that it could have been explained, or responded to. Perhaps it was at the council meeting....Yes I know that not everything can get in the final cut.

I also found it interesting that the "Pink Flamingoes" became the thing which they hated. They ended up dividing the town, and destroying the Neighborly spirit of the town, and stamping on other people. How ironic, and how sad. Kudos to the filmmaker. Full of pathos. Just ease up a little on the Anti-corporate america stuff, and I think you will have a great documentary, and not just a very good one.

Mark Anthony
If you asked the executives at Wal-Mart if they were in favor of protecting the environment and endangered species, in general they'd probably say that they were. This should be the key to questioning them in public debates: are not the human communities worth preserving in their "pristine" state? Economically, it might be an advantage to spoil wilderness, to ignore pollution, but many of us have questioned that premise and environmental issues have more clout today than they used to. This is another environmental issue--are we going to continue to let big business crowd out things which have to do with more than just economy and are worthy of protection? We are assaulted with ads, sprawl, billboards, waste, all serving no other purpose but to siphon more money out of consumers for the benefit of the affluent. The jobs created are inconsequential compared to the draining effect psychologically and socially upon the balance of human culture. Let us not be "assimilated" by corporate giants or fooled by their trickle-down economics deception. There ARE things money can't buy. It is time to act as politically active citizens and not docile consumers blindly trusting these self-interested monopolies. Centralizing monopolies like Wal-Mart are the enemy of diversity, and diversity is the cornerstone of life and liberty itself. We cannot allow city councils to ignore residents and act unilaterally, there must be legal implementation requiring referendums on these issues and the people MUST organize and demand it from their politicians. Any party unresponsive to these demands, as the two primary parties have consistently been, must be opposed if the people are to be heard above the lobbies and interests of the wealthy conglomerates who influence elections and mayors and city councils.

Lewis Shell
To me, whether anything happens in a town or not should depend on the majority of the people. It looked to me that the majority did not want Wal-Mart, but politicians do not view it that way. The town council voted the way they wanted, not the will of the people.

Okay people, it is time for a *reality check*. I agree that Walmart's employee practices are dispicable. But until the employees unite, and make their complaints heard in a BIG voice, it will remain that way. They are no different than Walt Disney World. The Big guys make disgusting sums of money (which they had very little to do with creating) while the most important aspect to the business, the employee, gets shafted! I live in Deltona, FL. the largest city in Volusia County (nope, it is not Daytona beach!) Our community is mainly residential. There are very few mom and pop businesses. next door to us is little Orange City. Where we once had a Walmart (Beall's moved into the old space) and now have a Super Walmart. i am a stay at home mother of 4 children. I HAVE to shop the lowest prices. And if it is super Walmart, so be it! Lets not mention if you need milk at 3am.... when there is a price difference of .75 between buying a gallon of milk, and your family goes through 6 *gallons* a week, well, you do the math!! Wake up people! there are other ways to make changes! My groceery bill would be close to double, if I had to shop at the local Publix! Plus the selection is larger. I do not agree with a lot of their policies, but my family cannot afford NOT to shop at walmart! You feed and clothe a family of 6 on one income!! I don't do *all* my shopping there, but I do a large portion of it...try dragging 4 kids to 3 or 4 or eevn 5 different'll change your tune REAL quick!

Wal-Mart feeds and creates more addiction. they are like a drug dealer ring. go to and see how many new stores they plan on opening. walmart is coming to get you.
your mind is not your own.
you are an all-consuming zombie. if you don't believe me, check your checking account balance. you've been working for so long, and you have nothing. i bet you can't stop buying piles of shit, can you? in credit card debt? are you enjoying your slavery?

Peter Arzani
I have posted my view befor but will add.I live in Utah I travel through West Valley City just 8 miles south and west of Salt Lake City.On the corner of 3500 South and 5600 West there is a Rite Aid an Albertsons and a Super K store.Inbetween these anchors are about 15 smaller independent store owners all TRYING to make a LIVING you know, provide for there FAMILIES and those who WORK for them.Well guess what is giong up just north of super K not even 50 yards away you've got it a super Walmart.What will happen to this complex and all the people who work there I can tell you as we have seen befor,everything will just slowly close up.This is not about a big discount store it is about an emerging world power.Hitler did not become what he was just overnight,what will it be like when Walmart is the only store left in town?

As I watched the documentary what I noticed most was that those represented as opposition to Wal~Mart Discount (and the operative word is Discount) Store had the look of soccer moms and upper middle class property owners. The only parts of the town shown were azalea and magnolia lined. What was not represented in the documentary was the underemployed/unemployed lower socio-economic members of the community who do not live in the big southern houses. The people who cannot afford to shop at the typical downtown boutique. The people who need to buy thier children's entire school wardrobe for under $300 were not represented. The only blue collar worker I saw on the documentary was in favor of the store. To me this seems like a class war. I grant you that Wal~mart is not known for its high paying jobs but at a time when we are going to start seeing the effects of "welfare reform" some job is better than no job, some food is better than no food. When the wealthy upper middle and middle class who are making it just fine in todays economy raise an uproar about the devaluing of thier property my last instinct is to actually listen to them.

I would like to view your show but I live in Dallas and it will not show until after the SUPERCENTER people have gotten approval from the city to build a huge building in our neighborhood. Can you help?

Check out the RESOURCES section of the website to find informaiton on Sprawlbusters and other related organizations.

We must look at the big picture, you have all heard the saying "the rich are getting richer the poor are getting poorer." It is proven beyond a doubt that W.M. sucks the life out of CBD's. What is new? They bring you low, competitive prices but what happens when you buy groceries at Wal-Mart? It is hurting you, yourself even though not directly because it takes business from a local grocery store owner that is in the middle class that lives in the community. When the grocery owner gets off work he stops to buy gas at the local gas station, on the weekend he goes to the movie theater and to a local restaurant for dinner. It is a circulation process that keeps the community healthy. What happens when you buy groceries at Wal-Mart? The guy that owns it lives 2,000 miles away, he doesnt buy gas at the local store, nor go to the movies or the local restaurant. The circulation process is now a funnel effect going straight out of the community. What happens to the gas station? He will lay off an employee. What happens to the local grocery store? He goes out of business and no longer supports the community. You get the idea, please educate yourself, read a book or a magazine and not television. You know why people get frustrated with something (like the idea of Wal-Mart having a negative effect)? It is because they dont understand, they dont know about the healthy process of an economy. This is too big of a discussion to get into and I could write a book because Wal-Mart sized corporations effect every aspect of our world from the ground we walk on (the environment) to our very own so-called freedom. If you think everything in this world is fine and if you think Wal-Mart is good for the economy....think for a while, do research, dont react upon emotion. Please be a student your whole life, if you think I am far fetched give me a logical eductated explanation, dont waste my time.


Story | Small Towns | Big Stores | Sprawl
Talkback | Film | Resources | For Teachers | ITVS
for teachers resources the film sprawl small towns big stores the story