Another Reason To Say The Hell with Wal-Mart
For one thing, they chisel their employees. But here’s another reason.
A friend and former client of mine had a product he wanted Wal-Mart to carry in some of their stores. He was summoned to Wal-Mart headquarters in Arkansas and told he would have 10 minutes to make his case. After a lengthy wait, he was ushered into a very plain room and offered a seat on a folding chair. In front of him, sitting behind a Formica-topped table, were three Wal-Mart buyers. A large clock was conspicuously placed on the table.
My client sailed into his pitch and after a few minutes one of the Wal-Mart guys raised his hand and said, “OK, we like it. What’s the unit price to us?”
“A dollar eighty-seven cents,” said my friend.
“A buck sixty or no deal,” said the Wal-Mart guy.
My friend swallowed hard, but agreed. Then he said that because this was such a break for his little company, he would be willing to do some modest promotion in some of the larger markets where his product would be carried.
The Wal-Mart guy glared at him. “If you can afford to advertise,” he snapped, “you can give us a better price. A buck forty or no deal.”
Why would you want to do business with people like that? More to the point, why would you want to shop in one of their stores?
By the way, if you want a good look at what it’s like to work for Wal-Mart, read Nickle and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America by Barbara Ehrenreich.
Here’s a link to an animation that does a good job of depicting the metastasis of Walmart:
Walmart just lost a class action suit in Minnesota, for denying employees breaks and forcing them to work off the clock.
(from the MN Star-Tribune article)Braun, who worked in an Apple Valley store for about 14 months beginning in March 1998, said the store repeatedly didn’t find people to give her breaks when she was the sole cook and waitress at the store’s grill.
In several instances no one came in time for her to go to the bathroom. “I would end up soiling myself,” said Braun, now 53 and living in Rochester. “Sometimes I’d have other clothes with me in my locker, or they would say to me, ‘We have clothes in the store you can buy.'”
I don’t think I’d want to eat there, either.
That was one of my points. In fact, the president of Snapper, the company that makes a high-quality line of lawn equipment, REFUSED an invitation from Wal-Mart to have his mowers and tractors carried in their stores. He acknowledged it would have meant a huge increase in sales, but also said that the constant pressure from Wal-Mart would eventually have forced him to cut corners on the quality of his products. He was not willing to do that … and good for him!
As to those ‘ungrateful’ Wal-Mart employees seeking help from unions, the book I mentioned in the post will be a real eye-opener. I recommend it.
Your friend is lucky Wal – Mart turned him down – When his contract would come up for renewal, they would have squeezed such a low unit price out of him that he would have to move production to China.
I really enjoy your train reports and comments but please don’t join some of the disgruntled labor unions (which, after being unsuccessful in organizing
Wal-Mart’s employees have started anti-Wal-Mart publicity campaigns) in bashing Wal-Mart; they’re a very successful company offering discounted prices to millions of consumers every day. And you have to know they can do that only if they vigilantly control their costs.
If they don’t negotiate the best possible prices from their vendors, and keep a close eye on all their expenses, including payroll, I’m not sure how they can continue to save consumers the most possible money.
In the case of your vendor friend, if he’s a good salesman perhaps he can sell his product to another retailer. If it sells well there, he’ll have a success story to share with Wal-Mart. And if they still don’t buy what he’s selling, then maybe it’s their loss. Even so, Wal-Mart’s buyers are obviously the best ones to judge that sort of thing.
If I were a retailer I would certainly want my merchandise managers to negotiate the best possible deal from all vendors.
Regarding salaries and benefits for employees, I would think it a safe bet that Wal-Mart compares favorably in the retail industry.
I’m not sure most of the independently-owned corner drug stores, hardware stores, and clothing stores in thousands of towns, large and small, exceed the salary and benefit packages offered by Wal-Mart.
And it seems that when Wal-Mart opens new stores they usually have many more job applicants than available jobs.
You would have them increase their operating expenses? To what end?
Oh – I think I’m posting this comment correctly; it’s my first one. And I am using my full name because in many cases, I think, anonymity can sometimes lead to something less than responsible comment.
It’s called hubris. And I’m old enough to remember the WalMarts of 20-25 years ago – before Sam Walton died – that were seemingly decent places to work and shop. I don’t know what happened other than Mr. Sam’s death and that I’ve read that Bentonville, AR is now a true Yuppiedrome with obsessive Type A’s running the show.
We also have given up on shopping at WalMart and Sam’s Club.