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STORE WARS: When Wal-Mart Comes To Town


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

When will people start using their brains a little and begin to understand that these huge corporations are not the friends of the public?

If Wal-Mart gives 5k to a non-profit that 'gift' buys them a good name, but they take millions out of the community every year. I'm just puzzled by how stupid people are, how gullible, how naive.

Why are people so willing to be blind followers?

I used to live in a small midwestern town and it was depressing. the people couldn't wait for the new chevy to come out. that was the highlight of the year. people being so brainwashed by advertising to throw their money away on crappy products is completely sick. if our society becomes even more obsessed with consuming we are in a lot of trouble. why do you think 20 million americans are depressed? what do you think over consumption has on the environment? the answer to such gross over-consuming is the simplicty movement.

i used to know a girl who worked at wal-mart who said she liked it because she could go there and not think about anything.

wal mart in my opinion is completely selfish, and even evil. what about their products that are made with slave labor? ever think about that?

John Torrez
Add Los Lunas, New Mexico to the list of towns getting a Super Wal-Mart. This new Supercenter will be just about 10 miles from another Wal-Mart Supercenter in the town nearby so I don't see the point of building it. For those interested the link will be at the bottom of this message.

David Lancaster
You can add Rock Hill, Missouri, to your list of communities which have voted against big box stores. Resistant from voters caused two developers (one representing Walmart) to back away from a 40-acre project late last winter.

First of all please make sure what you print is true.You listed several towns that do have walmarts in them.For example:Strongsville and North Olmstead Ohio.I feel that you have mislead the facts to the people that are reading these statements.Walmart gives alot of money back to the community not to mention employing 200 - 300 people.Alot of people in the U.S.A work for walmart and I think before you print something make sure it's the facts!!Remember walmart is a very large employer so think before you mess with people's livlihood.Thank you.

Dean & Carolyn Money
Hi,to our favorite store. We would like to know if you are going to put a Super WAL-MART Store Near Hobe Sound, Florida, We just moved here from Crossville TN.and they had one and we miss it Thanks again, The Money's

The poster and president of this organization misses the point that any organization/company would be welcome in the area he describes. it sounds to me that a better choice would be a collection of small shops, multiple unit housing, a park, or farmer's market-anything that keeps money IN the community not directs the profits OUT of the community, and in this case OUT of the entire state.

Four years ago, negotiations were finalized with a town neighboring mine to establish a Walmart store. Objections similar to those in Ashland were raised but Walmart eventually overcame them with enough money to build intersections, widen roads, improve wastwater handling, etc. It was a good deal for that town to have an immediate capital boost!

My town, however, is located between the store an a major highway. As such, so many shoppers travel through my town to reach Walmart that my town has been forced to spend an extra $50-$100 K per year for additional police officers' time to direct traffic (especially near holdiays), street surface repairs, and similar expenses. A longer term plan has my town spending almost $2 Million in road upgrades to handle the traffic.

To make matters worse, while homes in my state have averaged a 25% appreciation in the last four years, homes on the route to Walmart have lost an average of 30% compared to four years ago. Not only does my town have to pay more for the cost of 'being in the middle', but some tax revenue is lost due to the decrease in assessed home value.

No town is truly isolated anymore. Zoning decisions made in one community can very well impact on the neighboring communities if care is not taken to include them in the overall decision-making process.

Riverside-Galatas Association
The Riverside-Galatas Assoc. is a grassroots organization which is 100% for a Wal-Mart in uptown New Orleans. It will be great in the decrepit Heavy Industrial Area, and yet accessible to inner city people by foot and bus, and by drivers.

The main opposition is a preservation organization which a whistleblower told us is being used by people for their own gain with the public monies under the guise of Civic Improvement. There was some opposition from high-priced shops on St. Charles and Magazine, but Wal-Mart's mix doesn't hurt our local small shops. We lost the Dime Stores which used to serve the cities. A survey indicated 95% of inner city and uptown people wanted this one.

Wal-Mart has already made many concessions on their standard style agreeing to specificly save most of the old trees, and seriously consider a nonstandard painted lady" color scheme,to provide benches and drinking fountains in shady areas so people can congregate and rest. New Orleans is a front porch place.

Of great importance are the construction and store jobs and the over $2million in taxes they'll pump in each year.

The Riverside-Galatas Assoc. is praying and hopeing that the Wal-Mart will open in that disastrous area.

The President

bill dare
I despise gall-mart, and will never shop there.

i would rather throw my money into a toilet and flush it, than even spend one cent in their disgusting 'stores'.

the coming of shatt mart is the beginning of the end. america is becoming a nation of obesity, heart attacks, and junk food.

thank you, and come again. : )

G. Russell Stewart
Wal-mart, has pandered to right wing religious extremists by banning Preven, an emergency contraception drug, from their 2,428 pharmacies. In many towns throughout our nation, Wal-mart has been responsible for, or contributed to forcing small family pharmacies out of business. Though some might have bent to local pressures, the vast majority of these pharmacists would NOT have wanted to be put in a position of favoring the religious beliefs of some patrons over those of others. Often a choice of pharmacies would have solved the problem.

I would do anything lawful to keep Wal-mart out of my town and to boycott it if it got in.

-what is the quote from socrates?

"the unexamined life is not worth living"

wal-mart is morally bankrupt.

stupid people will probably keep shopping there, and continue being as stupid as they have always been.

americans are not known around the world as being deep thinkers, or any kind of thinkers for that matter. the most popular vehicles are suvs, right? big, polluting, gas-guzzling, over-priced, dangerous piles of crap. they are a good symbol of american greed, selfishness, and stupidity. wal-mart is another example of american greed, selfishness, and stupidity..

At this moment Walmart is trying to sneak a store into a historic neighborhood in New Orleans. They plan to tear down a historic Cotton Mill to build a 900 car parking lot. They plan to fill the streets of this quiet neighborhood with cars. They plan to hurt all of the local businesses. They plan to take money out of New Orleans where its needed and send it back to where ever. We plan on stopping them.

New Orleans isn't generic yet and we plan to fight to keep this an ongoing reality.

Jerry Selleck
The WalMart controversy reveals nothing new, but most people don't study capitalism or history. It is always dog-eat-dog, but within the law. Businesses start and close every day, with jobs lost, tax-bases changed, and prices testing the fickle consumer. Recall how vehemently they fought the railroads in the 1800's because they would shut down the canals! Jobs lost, communities killed, tax bases lost! Oh the horror of it all! And if you think cheap overseas products are just the bane of WalMart, you need to start reading labels....There isn't a thing you eat, wear, or drive that doesn't benefit from cheap labor somewhere along the way. The ignorant American citizen wants it all: the freedom of capitalism with the security of communism.

Mark Read Moore
It's all about money, isn't it?

Money in the form of cheap prices. Money in the form of lower company expenses by stocking cheap products. Money in the form of Wal*Mart job opportunities. Money in the form of company benefits. Money in the form of savings (gas, time, trouble, etc.). Money in the form of Wal*Mart provided services for the community (roads, stop lights, etc.). Money in the form of company revenues. Money in the form of kickbacks for community leaders, politicians, and those in control. Money in the form of lawyer fees.

Sounds like America to me...

"Only when the last tree is cut; only when the last river is polluted; only when the last fish is caught; only then will they realise that you cannot eat money." -- Cree Indian Proverb

David Frossard
One of the most pervasive arguments we hear in these situations is, "Well, you can't (or shouldn't) fight progress." Apparently, to some in the Ashland City Council, if you think having one big store funneling profits to Arkansas is worse for a community than having many more small stores run by local families you're "against progress." If you think building giant ugly boxes on the fringes of town is inevitably going to kill off downtown you're "against progress."

Or, as one intellectually challenged fellow put it below, you're "furthering the socialist agenda."


Perhaps it's time to redefine progress as something other than more and bigger. Maybe it has something to do with community rather than consumption. With people rather than profit. With quality of life rather than size of stock dividend to Wal-Mart shareholders.

I operate on the principle that we should make economic choices that result in a better quality of life for ourselves AND our community (which, in the long run is best for our selves as well -- a win-win situation). If this means boycotting rogue companies like Microsoft, Nike, or Wal-Mart, so be it. To me, THAT is progress!

Michael Adams
I work and shop at walmart. walmart is a great place. screw the greedy unions.

Evil is the right word...when we participate in the enslavement and oppression of people in other countries by buying goods made in sweatshops and slave prison camps we are becoming evil, and supporting evil. If you want to choose supporting, and encouraing evil in the world by buying such products and supporting the companies who oppress people, then go ahead and be evil, but at least understand what you are doing and the role you play in this shrinking world. The cost of a product goes way, way beyond what you pay at the cash register.

big pig
-americans are huge overconsumers....they will buy anything. they could care less if what they buy is made by six year olds who work 14 hours per day, or by slaves who receive no pay and no health benefits. some coffee imported to the u.s. is grown and harvested using boy slaves in africa around the ivory coast. the same is true of the cocoa plants used to make chocolate.

wal-mart sells these kinds of products. they don't care about anything except raking in piles of money for themselves. the american public is so ignorant that they don't even know what they are doing when they shop at such a crummy corporation's outlets. although we live in a democratic society we don't practice democracy well. think about that the next time you are buying some shoes at wal-mart. i dare you to look inside and see where that product was made. you'll probablly buy it anyway since you have been brainwashed by thousands of commericals to believe that happiness is throwing your money away on useless items, but at least you might experience the smallest degree of guilt or even awareness about your own actions. sure, sure buy that case of croak-a-cola, those pounds of chocolate bars, that kitchen spatula and magazine....throw your money away. you'll be back in a week to do it again. but don't ever save any money. don't ever invest any money. don't ever donate the money to a good cause like PBS, or the Sierra Club or the Heifer Project. Just keep self-indulging, and wondering why you don't feel very good. Keep going into credit card debt, keep eating junk food. but whate ver you do, don't ever think about anything...make all your decisions based on greed. in a america greed makes you a winner.

Amber James
I think that Wal-Mart is great. I live right next to a town that tried to fight it off because they were worried about the "little man" businesses. I live about 20 minutes away from a Wal-Mart and sometimes I get tired of driving back and forth. I just think that everyone is looking at Wal-Mart in a negative way. I wouldn't stop shopping there if someone paid me. I have never had a bad experience while shopping there. I don't think that these groups that are trying to oppose Wal-Mart have any chance whatsoever. It is too big of a corporation and I give the guy props that came up with such an idea. Go Wal-Mart!

I think what is happening in these small towns is symbolic of the trend towards globalization. Even people in the Czech Republic are fighting 'hyper-capitalism'. I think what is happening in these small towns is symbolic of the trend towards globalization. Even people in the Czech Republic are fighting 'hyper-capitalism'.
Personally I don't buy a single product made in China because of their extremely poor human rights record, and repression of religion. Many shoes sold in America are made in China. Often they are crummy, and made with slave labor and people in the U.S. keep buying them. As a democratic society we have a reponsibility to not support undemocratic governments. If something was made with slave labor or by a little boy or girl in a sweatshop, that matters a great deal to me, and I refuse to buy it. I refuse participate in that evil, and make no mistake it is evil. I agree with the assessment that our society is becoming divided between un-thinking and thinking people. Basically Americans are getting more ignorant and fatter all the time.
-And this trend has nothing to do with class or income. Unthinking people refuse to use their brain and consider the consequences of their actions, for themselves and especially for's a pathological selfishness. Why is that Americans consumer one fourth of all the world's resources? Why is there an obesity epidemic in America? Why is the no. 1 killer of Americans heart attacks? Our selfish, materialistic, ignorant, consumer culture really is in a crisis... and Wal-Mart is very involved in perpetuating that sick culture. They even advertise openly on their web site their intention to build 400 new stores this year!!!! Disgusting!!!!

Ok, I've read a lot of post here about Wal-Mart selling products made in sweat shops. Big Deal. Let's see, Leather good from India. Clothes from central and south America. Why not take the clothes you're wearing right now and really find out where they come from? O ye hypocrites. Go to your neighbor store and buy your products. Where were they made? Are your Nikes' made in America? How about a phone? I bet it was made in China, regardless of where you bought it. Do you own a TV made in America? Really, What brand is it? I think not. Go somewhere else and buy it. You might pay a little more or even a little less but they all come from the same place. DOH! Do you really think that just because you buy a product at a local merchant that they get it from a different source? And for some to think that uneducated, brain-dead, people shop at the local Wal-Mart is just typical class dividing trash. I bet if you do a little thinking that you will find that a retailer like Wal-Mart, Sears, K-Mart, Etc., serves People from Every Social and Economic background. I don't own Wal-Mart stock or have any financial interest in Wal-Mart. Yes they do sell some junk, but show me a retailer that doesn't? When you get to the low price end of a product line, the lower priced product will not be made as well as the Top of the Line item. On the other side, they sell items that can be found in your local merchants but probally at a slightly lower price. EXACT SAME PRODUCT-Wow!

I saw the doc, and was amazed at the levels of ignorance of some of the townspeople, but I guess public education in America doesn't really prepare our citizens to make rational, mature decisions does it? One of the wal mart supporters said the protesting was 'ugly'. Sorry you don't like freedom of speech, and the right to assemble, but these rights are the foundation of our democratic society as stated by our constitution. It amazes me that Americans don't even know their own constitution. Our educational system really fails on many levels doesn't it? Our society seems to be splitting into two groups-people who don't think, and people who do. People who don't think shop at Wal-Mart. They don't read, or if they do it's People magazine or a couple of articles in a miserable small town newspaper. People who think also read books often, they don't watch mediocre network television, they know how to interact with the Internet, and they have a number of interests that don't involve over-eating and over-drinking. People who think, don't shop at Wal-Mart because they don't want to give a single penny to such a disgusting mega corporation. The psychological age of the some of the pro Wal-Mart people is Ashlund is probably 7-10 years old. These are adults in appearance and manner, but children emotionally and mentally. Such people will always be dominated by mega corporations because they either can not or will not think for themselves. Often such people want some kind of parental figure-this time in the form of a mega corporation - to tell them what to buy and how to spend their tiny wages. People like that almost seem grateful to have a giant corporation provide them with cheap, crummy products. The food products sold in Wal-Mart, soft drinks, chips-all junk food- is enough to give America a collective heart attack. It really is a terrible giant corporation selling worthless products.

Robert Wilson Haight
Fascinating documentary. As a resident of a small (3300) town in a rural (10,000) county in Kansas, I understand small towns. As owner of a small True Value Hardware, I also know and respect Wal-Mart; we have three within 40 miles.

The nearby Wal-Marts have several advantages over local businesses. Their access to capital is one of the largest; if small businesses need additional capital beyond what the business generates, they must take on debt. Wal-mart and other big-box retailers can print stock and sell it on the exchanges to meet much of their capital needs. I wonder how many of the people who have written comments on this board have contributed to Wal-Mart's capital by owning stock in them, either directly or through mutual funds or IRAs. The reason Wal-Mart and Home Depot keep adding locations near existing stores is an attempt to keep the growth momentum that Wall Street demands; there is no way for them to step off the merry-go-round.

As your program showed, big retailers often extract tax and public funding concessions which are not offered to local businesses, who then face higher tax rates because of the exemption granted the boxes.

The real profit center in discount retailing is import clothing; the cost for a $10.00 shirt produced under sweatshop conditions is measured in cents. Groceries, tires and toothpaste don't make the margin apparel does.

I price-compare at Wal-Marts frequently, but find it depressing to visit their stores; I see very few smiling faces, either employees or customers. The decor is garish packaging under glaring lights, which I find irritating. Each trip to Wal-Mart is a revelation to me about pricing; I would never have dreamed you could charge half the gallon price for quarts of paint, for example, until I saw Wal-Mart pricing. I usually find a dozen or so items that they are significantly cheaper on, and twice as many "blind" items that I am too low on! Sam built his empire by emulating supermarkets; aggressive prices on a few high-volume items, and most customers are too lazy to shop the rest.

Yes, I would like to see a followup, but since it will take a couple of years for the shakeout to occur, PBS might take a look at other communities whose experience was similar but occurred several years ago.

I've been employed at Wal Mart for a year and five months. I started out when I was a senior in high school as a part timer. Let me tell you something...I've was looking for a job since I was sixteen and I applyed at many jobs, but they wouldn't call back. I then later on I tried Wal Mart, and they called me back in a couple of weeks and I had an interview the next day and I was hired a week later. So for me Wal Mart has been a life saver. Plus a few months ago I was put in training to become a manager, and now I'm a manager over men's clothing at the age of nineteen. Now that shows me a company that believes in younger workers and that are treated equaly. And the whole thing about Wal Mart taking out smaller businesses, I believe in free enterprise, I believe there's nothing wrong in competing with your competitor's. They have the same ability to succeed just like their competitor's. I believe that making Wal Mart the main reason for small businesses closing down is just the easy way of putting the blame on them.

Carl E. Person
The battle of Ashland and similar communities should not be limited to zoning, planning and license issues. Instead, the battle should be more direct: to exclude the superstores because of their unlawful purchasing activities in which they buy goods at lower per unit prices than their amall-business competitors, which is in violation of the Robinson-Patman Act (with some exceptions which seldom apply). Thus, an action to enjoin the superstore from opening up in the area as long as the store owner continues to violate the Robinson-Patman Act would be the best way to stop the superstore, and it could (and should) involve the surrounding communities, small businesses, taxpayers and landowners, as well, and get all adversely affected persons on the same side instead of having them compete among themselves to see which town (with the superstore site and traffic) get to ruin the other towns which don't get the site.

All of this is explained in my new website I am an attorney handling various Robinson-Patman Act cases and other litigation for plaintiffs.

Jennifer and Walter Fester
We were so disgusted with Sprawl-Mart following the "Store Wars" telecast that we vowed to never again set foot inside one of their stores--even though we long ago gave up shopping there strictly as a matter of conscience for the very reasons the show raised.
We commend the Pink Flamingos for standing up in a valiant effort to keep Ashland, VA free from the Evil Empire. You're an inspiration to activists across the country.
Finally, kudos to the fine folks at PBS for offering yet another thought-provoking documentary. It has helped reaffirm our faith in broadcast journalism--which is so sorely lacking nowadays--and remind us why we continue to pledge our support to PBS.

I agree...almost no one thinks about anything when they shop except about getting a cheap price. they don't care if the company who is selling that cheap product is terrible, they don't care if the cheap product is made by children in a sweatshop who are paid 12 cents a day, they don't care if the product is going to fall apart two months later, they don't care if the product is make in a country such as China where there is no freedom of press, no freedom of speech, and human rights are non-existent. I guess the question is, what do American consumers care about other than buying some crap for a low price?

Kim, I am about 10 minutes away from Ashland, Va. I live in the Hanover part of Glen Allen. I do not believe in making a Wal-Mart. The subject should just be dropped. Wal-Mart's are freaking EVERYWHERE! There's a Wal-Mart about 15-20 minutes right down the damn road on Route 1! It makes me mad that people from all over the U.S. are getting in on this. I know you have your opinions and you have the right to say it. Yet, if you've never been to Ashland, if you've only heard it on the news about what's been going on..then you REALLY DO NOT know anything about this. It's a freaking competition! I understand that yeah, it gives people jobs, but there are more jobs opening up because more people are quitting so people always have an opportunity to go work there. I understand also that kids don't wanna work where their grandparents worked at but yet it doesn't matter where your grandparents worked at! If you're working you should be glad that you're getting paid.

Jim Smith
Well if you like the Dalai Lama, then you can't shop at Wal-Mart because Wal-Mart sells goods made by slaves in China and China is crushing Tibet. The government of China is oppressive and ignores human rights. They have been crushing Tibet for 50 some years. The Communist Army destroyed 6,000 monasteries in Tibet, besides dumping nuclear waste detonating nuclear devices, and slaughtering a lot of animals in Tibet. About 1.2 million Tibetans have died since the Chinese Communist Army invaded their homeland. When you buy these cheapo goods made in China such as shoes and toys you are supporting the destruction of Tibet.

Blake Smith
Your program and web site include discussion about smart growth, a topic that goes far beyond the Store Wars. The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) views smart growth land-use policies as being absolutely essential to meeting the housing needs of the nation's growing population. NAHB has created a balanced and progressive smart growth policy. At the core of that policy are the following smart growth principles:

-- Meeting the nation's housing demand by providing a broad mix of housing choices. A community must plan for and accommodate its anticipated growth in economic activity, population, and housing demand. Every American should have a free choice in deciding where and in what kind of home to live. The latest Census indicates that new households are being formed at the rate of 1.35 million per year. Such a growth rate requires the construction of about 1.6 million new homes and apartment units annually just to keep up with the nation's underlying demand for housing.

-- Comprehensive planning. Local jurisdictions should establish long-term comprehensive plans that make available an ample supply of land for residential, commercial, recreational and industrial uses as well as for open space.

-- More efficient use of land. Communities should adopt innovative land-use policies that encourage mixed-use, transit-oriented and pedestrian-friendly developments as well as cluster developments that allow for higher densities in one area and open space preservation in another.

-- Planning and funding for long-term infrastructure needs: Cities, towns and counties should adopt equitable and reliable means to pay for the construction and expansion of roads, schools, water and sewer facilities and other infrastructure.

-- Revitalization of our cities and inner suburbs: Revitalizing older suburban and inner city markets and encouraging infill development is universally accepted as good public policy.

If we work together, then we can enjoy the promise of smart growth: Environmental preservation, thriving communities and quality housing for all.

Randy Rhodes
I find it funny that people are opposed to "big business" coming into small town America but will not oppose "big government's" encroachment on their lives.

I am a fairly new resident of Bentonville, Arkansas - home office for Wal-Mart. I would love to see a documentary done in this town, to see the way that Wal-Mart has taken over what was a very small community, and turned it, basically, into "WalMartville". My husband is a firefighter, and Wal-Mart gives money, furniture, supplies, etc to the fire dept in order to avoid fire code violations. They pay their top executives an outrageous amount of money, yet pay the truck drivers, warehouse workers, etc, a ridiculously low amount of money. They pay the newspapers to cover up stories, they force employees in the home office to pay for their own office supplies - there are no other retail stores allowed in this city of 35,000 people. My husband and I go to the neighboring town of Rogers to go to another grocery store, and to KMart. Yes, their prices may be the cheapest, but at what cost to others?

Shula Sorensen
Todays Walmart Corporation is the 10,000 pound gurila that comes to town and throws it weight aound. In most places our elected offcials and the people we hire in our towns and citys turn a deaf ear to its residents, just so they could rub elbows with the big guys. We moved to Evans GA less then a year ago. Soon after mooving in we found out that the 10,000 pound gurila is coming to the neighborhood. All attemmpt to stop it faild. The planing and zoning told us how lucky we are because Walmart is so generous,they will stay away 301 INCHES from the property line. The property line is in the middle of a creek and back yards. Walmart site is 30feet to 50feet above the residetal neighborhood. AS a Super Walmart it will be open 24 hours, day and night. From March till now they have been blasting granit cracked walls in near by homes, silting the creek and no one cares. Georgia has wonderful laws on the books but no one is inforcing them. Evry time we have a good rain the Walmart site is violating the Georgia

Joan Kasper
In Coolidge, AZ a Wal Mart built a superstore next door to a Safeway. It is putting Safeway out of business Sooooo why doesn't Wal Mart buy out Safeway and build a Sam's store? In this area there are alot of big families and with all the prisons around here it would be a benefit to the people to have a quanity store where people can buy bulk and regular items at a good price. It would be a good business practice being this town and others around it are so far away from the big city stores.

This country was founded on the idea of free enterprise. Wal-mart is doing nothing more than that. I feel this story about Ashland did a very poor job of representing a "debate". It seemed to me to be very one sided and filled with inadequacies as far as their Wal-mart facts a figures. Wal-mart wouldn't be where they are if they weren't doing something right and if people weren't shopping there. It is, of course, human nature to cry "foul" when someone plays the game better than you.

I personally feel that Wal-mart has done more than a lot of other big companies (or little companies for that matter) as far as looking out for the communities it enters. There has been nothing said in these stories about the millions of dollars a year Wal-mart gives to charities, scholarships and many many other communite projects. Wal-mart also raised over 6 million dollars for the WWII memorial in Washington DC.

I would also like to address the people that say Walmart's wages and benefits keep people living at poverty level. Before a store is opened the area is checked out for going wages and then Wal-mart usually offers more. Not only that but Wal-mart offers stock options and profit sharing. How many companies big or small do that for the average american? Wal-mart offers their employees the opportunity to by stock (which Money magazine has said is one of the safest stocks to buy) straight from thier paycheck at as little as $1 a paycheck. Not only that but Wal-mart then contributes 15% of what ever the associates buys to that employee's stock account.

Say what you want about Wal-mart and thier management, but what most people don't realize is that for the most part management has worked their way up from cashier, stock person, maintenence. They know what they are asking employees to do and have done it themselves. If people are really interested they could fine this out for themselves but most are just interested in finding someone to blame for whatever "ailes" them.

Find another scapegoat, Wal-mart is not out to take over the world!

My husband and I have spent much of the past ten years driving around the country. We've been coast to coast and border to border. We avoid interstates and major cities like the plague. Without exception, when Main Street is filled with empty stores and downtown looks abandoned there is a Wal-Mart at one end of town or the other.

While it's true that other large retail and fast food chains damage our heritage, Wal-Mart seems to do the the most damage. We watched Storewars with great interest and wept with the people of Ashland who were smart enough to realize what this giant would do to their town.

I'm nearly a 7 yr. veteran of working at a local Wal-Mart and was completely shocked to see this program this past week on PBS. I had no idea people would oppose a retail giant like Wal-Mart and be so insistent on keeping them out of their town. Wow. What an eye opener.

I don't necessarily agree with everything the company does, but I will say this, they have been incredible as I've worked my way through college. They've always accomodated my schedule and provided me with a job, and I'll always be grateful for that.

I rarely (twice in 7 years) shop at Walmart, and will likely never enter one again. I agree with the issues raised in this discussion, especially those that go a bit beyond the ones raised in Store Wars, about zoning, community planning, etc.

There are a couple of other issues not yet posted here that I would like to raise. First, Walmart contributes to a monoculture of available merchandise that is as unhealthy as any other monoculture. Second, Walmart in essence, pits the working poor of the U.S. against the working poor of the rest of the world. I have heard low-income Americans say they cannot afford to boycott places like Walmart, even though they realize the goods they buy are probably produced under awful working conditions.

Third, you might check out Barbara Ehrenreich's book, Nickel and Dimed: On NOT Getting By in America. In it, she describes (among other experiences in low-paid jobs) her experience as a Walmart employee.

Finally, I am sorry the filmmakers did not choose to include Dar Williams' right-on-point song "Bought and Sold" that was written about Walmart and other "big box" stores and their impact on towns. Listen to this biting song by one of our premier independent singer-songwriters, and see if it doesn't say it all.

I think that Walmart should not be the only store to take the brunt of all these businesses closing. Before Walmart, we had shopping malls being constructed. They drove much of the business from the downtown district. Then Kmart and other large retailers came into play. Walmart came in later than these, and they became the largest retailer in the nation thanks to several strategies. Yes, they probably drove a lot of business from downtown districts, but other stores are playing a big part to. Super Kmart, Super Target, KOHLS, Home Depot, Kroger supermarkets, Lowes, Sears, JcPenney and Best Buy are all playing a part in driving business away from downtowns. Most people these days are always in a rush. Instead of running to several small downtown stores, most will go to a bigger one stop shop. These stores may be good in some ways, but the thing we need to blame is society. Think about it for awhile. Don't just blame one store for it all. Blame all.

David Gonsalves
I just watched the show on Walmart.

I have heard some of these facts befor, however some are new to me.

One thing more people need to realize is that Walmart is not the only company like this. I used to work for Lowe's home improvement. They treat there employees rotten and have many of the same busisness practices that Walmart does. Also, Lowe's has made, in principle, a deal with Walmart to help them talk to the small towns so that they can open more stores. They are doing this to compete with Homedepot. The only thing I can see happening in the future is that both Lowe's and Homedepot, which puts up a new store for each new Lowe's store regardless if there is another Homedepot nearby,

will begin to close underperforming stores just like Walmart. There for large tracts of land that use to have trees will become large concrete parks with no viable use for anyone until the big boxs stores decide they need them again.

I worked at Wal-mart for all of four hours back in college before I walked out and never went back-- not to work, and certainly not to shop. Several of the smaller stores in the town of 10,000 I lived in at the time closed down, despite Walmart's claims that it wasn't coming to town to close down the smaller locally owned stores. They claim to be an all-american pro-family company, but then why don't they employ more full-time people and pay them a decent wage? Why are they open on holidays--is that good for families? Why are their isles packed with foreign cheaply made garbage? One of the major reasons I left Walmart after four hours was the insincere "family" atmosphere-- the songs, the clapping, the "go-team, isn't it wonderful to be a part of Walmart?" Were they trying to brainwash me?-- I felt as if I'd joined a cult... a really bad cult in an ugly building with uglier outfits. It wasn't for me, and I've moved on to bigger and better things. Shop at Walmart? You've got to be kidding.

Great show PBS! I echo the cause of the big box protestors, but I believe the issue is too narrow if it only focuses on stopping the retail giants. The problem lies in town zoning.

I am not a fan of Wal-Mart, but how can communities complain about additional development when they have rarely opposed development of any kind in the past? Wal-Mart opponents express concerns about increased traffic, a loss of higher paying jobs, decreased revenue to the locality, and destroying the unique character of the town. Unfortunately, in upstate New York, I have noticed that Wal-Mart stores are being built in actively growing suburban communities chock-full of housing developments already devoid of any character, and almost totally dependent on the automobile. Wal-Mart, with its attendant acres of parking, and plethora of products under one roof, offers an appealing solution to the car-dependent shopper.

In a neighboring town of Halfmoon, a Wal-Mart is being constructed in that growing suburb of Albany, while that townís zoning board has recently approved a 200-unit plus housing development. No sidewalks are part of the site plan, no mixed use areas with convenient stores, or pizza joints, and there is no planning in any way to decrease the populationís dependence on the car. This, I have found is typical for a Wal-Mart success story, and I can name three other local communities with similar characteristics which have recently agreed to welcome the retail giant.

I believe people need to examine the communities they are building or moving into, and evaluate the kind of place they really want to live in. Ashland was ripe for a store like Wal-Mart. Your description of Ashland supports my point: ìSince 1980, the population has increased by 40 percent to 7,200 in 2000Ö Ashland's proximity to Interstate 95 has increased both traffic and population, and the downtown district no longer is the town's main source of goods and services. Instead, most Ashlanders have turned to shopping centers and malls on the outskirts of town. ì Gee, more housing developments and shopping done at the mall. How do they get there? Yet, in the next paragraph you state that ìAshland is pedestrian-oriented, a place where people can easily travel by foot and by bicycle.î This statement is diametrically opposed to the previous statement. I suspect that keeping Ashland a pedestrian-friendly community is only happening downtown, where businesses are beginning to fade and more people are driving, no

I suggest people opposed to Wal-Mart begin to address the real problemÖ zoning, which supports a dependence on the car, and itís attendant danger to children and the character of the community as a whole. According to the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for 15 to 20 year oldsÖ not gang violence, not school shootings, not second-hand smoke, none of these things. Yet we put our kids behind the wheel of a car at the ripe old age of 16; 15 in some states. Why? Because we build communities which require cars for them to get around town. They canít get anywhere when they live in sprawling housing developments which are zoned in a purely residential area, miles away from any commercial stores, or shops. I only hope that downtown Ashland doesnít become the ghost town many small towns with mom and pop stores, and affordable apartments, have become in the past twenty years.

As far as a town losing its character, that big blue Wal-Mart sign on the outskirts of Suburbia, USA demolishes that notion in an instant. The communities in upstate New York I refer to have already lost any small-town character they had years ago when they sold off large parcels of land, divided it, and zoned it into one-acre residential-only "American Dreams" for the upwardly mobile, SUV-driving suburbanite. I suggest people look at their towns and decide what they want it to look like in twenty years before they start opposing big box development like Wal-Mart. Chances are, if youíre already in a growing suburb, youíve already given up on any town character years ago.

Jenny Hawkins
The PBS show was something I have long waited for. I have boycotted WM for 7 years. I have told almost everyone I know and explained why. When a WM comes to town,more small businesses will close. I have seen it in Tulsa. A town or city loses more of its personality as WM moves in. Some towns in New England have won against WM and presvered their character. I am willing to spend more to avoid WM. I support locally owned stores and businesses. Just the other day, a wonderful restaurant closed it's doors for the final time citing all of the "chains" that have run it out of business. I wish more people would support local business. Think before you shop. You get what you pay for.Tell WM how you feel.Shop your conscience.

Matthew Lasar
I'd like to know more about the aftermath of Walmart coming to Ashland. What happened to local businesses? Did they stay open? Did they close down? What has the general assessment been among the locals? Where can I find out more about this?


I lived in a small, somewhat remote town in Michigan's Upper Peninsula for several years. Many of the people in this town were fine people, but for some odd reason several of the local merchants seemed to have an almost arrogant attitude toward customers - basically it was an attitude of "you have to buy from me!" and therefore good customer service was almost non-existant. These merchants abused customers in ways that were sometimes downright illegal, but that in any case would have insured their quick demise in any community where there was more competition. I'm talking about things like "bait-and-switch" advertising, refusing refunds for defective products, and just plain rude salespersons.

The first large store to locate outside the downtown area was a K-Mart. The local merchants were completely opposed to it, while some of the local residents were threatening the town council that if it didn't get built, it would be their heads on a platter in the next election. Several years later, Wal-Mart came to town and it was the same argument all over again. The thing is, many of the local merchants DID go out of business after Wal-Mart arrived, but most of those were the ones that had treated their customers badly (in one way or another) for many years.

Whatever bad things you might say about Wal-Mart - and I for one don't like the fact that they may be offering merchandise made by people who are working under horrible conditions - you can still pretty much count on the fact that no matter where you go, most of the clerks will be reasonably friendly, and they won't refuse a legitimate refund request, and they'll very seldom advertise merchandise that they don't have (the day after Thanksgiving being an exception, but even then I've seen them offer more expensive merchandise at the sale price after the advertised item ran out!).

People in the United States don't like hassles and aggrivation in their shopping experience. We are not a nation of "hagglers" when we go into a retail store. We want to be treated fairly. That is the type of consistency that many large chain operations offer. Just as you can go to any Burger King and order a Whopper and know exactly what you'e going to get, you can go to any Wal-Mart and know about what type of merchandise they will have, and that you are not going to pay full retail price. It is this type of consistency that many local merchants don't offer.

If communities really want to compete with the "big box" stores, they need to encourage merchants to treat customers fairly, and to be far more aggressive in prosecuting instances of fraudulent advertising ad other illegal practices by merchants (small OR large).

Wal-Mart does have an soft underbelly, by the way. Their lines at the cash registers are much too long because they don't hire enough help (at least in the area where I live). Often at least half the registers have no one operating them, while there are long lines at the ones that are open. That is something that competitors could exploit, since people in small-town America also dislike standing in line for more than a minute or two!


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