January 27, 2006

Quotes > Glenn Reynolds on Wal-Mart

"You know, to me Wal-Mart is a lot like George W. Bush. It's not that I'm that big a fan in the abstract, really, it's just that the viciousness and stupidity revealed in its enemies tends to make me view it more favorably than I otherwise would."
 -- Glenn Reynolds

Yep. I'm aware Wal-Mart is declasse. I'm also aware that in some cases their prices are 50% lower than Kroger's and Target, which is why so many single moms shop there. I also know that they have generous return policies (unlike Target) and that they provide their best prices without using a membership card (unlike Kroger's and most grocery store chains). And unlike Target, Wal-Mart provides the libertarian ideal where Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms is a store rather than a government agency. (Target sells none of the above.)

I view Wal-Mart the way I now view Microsoft, now that I no longer exceptionally villify them. Have they done and are they doing some bad things? Yes. And they need to be reigned in in a few areas. But the idea that they're successful means that they should be beaten up is also silly. I'm also aware that Wal-Mart has kept consumer prices down and increased manufacturing and distribution efficiency.

It's also silly to think that Wal-Mart will be number 1 forever. That's what people thought about Kmart 20 years ago, and about Sears 20 years earlier when they were a Dow Jones blue chip stock (they're no longer one of the Dow Jones stocks). Success is transitory. Ten years ago I thought that bookstores in the future would be yellow and black because they would be filled with "For Dummies" books, but after buying Cliff's Notes and other imprints IDG went through a downturn, just as Sears and Kmart did. Henry Ford's car company and Oliver Winchester's rifle company are also falling on hard times, and it's mostly to the detriment of American workers, to no one's rejoice.

In my opinion, people who think that Wal-Mart can or will be replaced by an American-owned, union-friendly, utopian worker's paradise are living in a dream world.

See also:
- Bush Beans, RFID Tags, and Wal-Mart

Posted by lesjones | TrackBack


Maybe it's just a local thing, but nobody is ever *happy* at my Wal-mart.

If I go to Target, usually I'll meet a smiling employee or customer somewhere. If I'm in Wal-mart, it's all scowls and "Where's my relief? It's time for my break!"

One can't use the "Funding the Chinese war machine" argument anymore, because all the businesses who aren't selling mostly imported goods are dead are dying. I at least try to make sure we're buying from friendly regimes, like S. Korea.

And what the shock-u-mentaries on TV don't tell you about Wal-marts negotiating practices is that the other large chains do the same freaking thing... It's just that a business can survive without selling to Target, but they've got no hope if Wal-mart snubs them.

So I still visit Wal-mart, but only because there are things there you just can't get anywhere else. I try to limit my visits to one a month, though, and I make sure to complain about it to my wife when we go.

Posted by: Paul Simer at January 27, 2006

Yeah, I don't think Wal-Mart is the world's most pleasant shopping experience. They've got lots of room for improvement there.

Posted by: Les Jones at January 27, 2006

One thing that is striking is that I only enjoy wal-mart at, say, 3AM on a monday morning, because there aren't half-hour lines.

Sometimes I go to Target and it's freaking packed, and I'm literally ready to turn around because I don't want to wait and then I remember .. wait, Target actually staffs for their busy days..

Posted by: Chris Wage at January 28, 2006

The thing people don't hear about Wal-Mart's negotiating tactics is that Sears was notorious thirty years ago (within the manufacturing community) for how hard they squeezed their suppliers. They would contract with a small firm to produce Kenmore or Craftsman merchandise, get them hooked, and then squeeze them till they failed and find someone else. Funny thing tho, this practice was already going on in some industries when Mr. Sears hired Mr. Roebuck to repair watches for him.

Posted by: triticale at January 28, 2006

Check out this article some time..

It's a fascinating look at how Wal-Mart affects suppliers through the eyes of the owner of Snapper.. It's pretty even-handed and interesting.

Posted by: Chris Wage at January 29, 2006

Chris: good stuff. Not every company does or should do business with Wal-Mart or everyone else. Sounds like it's not a good fit for Snapper. To me that negates the BS idea that no company can turn down Wal-Mart's offer to buy their annual production for five ents.

Posted by: Les Jones at January 29, 2006

As for Glenn Reynolds, he's just a tort lawyer/law school teacher. What made him such hot stuff ? Is he the Brad Pitt of bloggers now, if you want to call that thing he does a blog ?
Inadequate medical insurance and the hiring of illegal immigrants are not issues that should be lightly dismissed. Maybe Reynold's opinions should be lightly dismissed.

Posted by: ANGRYWOLF at January 30, 2006

Nice post, not sure I how I missed it until now. Sounds like we (Glenn, yourself and I) are on the same or similar boats regarding both Wal Mart and Bush. Like you point out, and as I have said in the past to others, Kmart was unbeatable until Wal Mart showed up. We put up a post and link back.


Posted by: Frank at February 03, 2006
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