Why I don’t shop at Wal-mart

I don’t. I did last summer when I absolutely had to, but I haven’t since. except at Christmas.

I didn’t mean to, though. Mother Kay needed to buy a white work shirt for her son. We searched all the other stores for his size, and finally, in desperation, despite it being just a few days before Christmas, we ventured into Walmart, keeping our heads down and sprinting for the men’s shirt department. No, nothing on the peg rack, nothing on the shelves – until I spotted a lone white shirt, tossed into a pile of t-shirts. I grabbed it, checked the size – it was the only one they had, and there was no packaging to be found with it. Obviously, someone had subbed a more expensive shirt in its cello-wrap and dropped this one in a hidden spot. (This is theft, by the way, if you are ever tempted.) “But how will they ring it up?” Kay asked. I steered to customer service/returns where there was just one person in line, while the cashiers were backed up twenty deep. They looked up the price by its stock number on the tag, charged her about $14, and out the door we went, in less than fifteen minutes. I felt like Indiana Jones.

That was the last time I set foot in a Walmart.

I don’t shop at Walmart for the obvious reasons. Almost everything they sell is poor quality, and imported from thrid-world countries where the workers are paid less than a living wage, live in dormitories for years away from their families, and are virtual slaves. They are lured away from their rural villages or city communities by promises of steady work, but they gain nothing.

Most of the stuff at Walmart is pretty close to useless. It doesn’t last long, it is made of nonrecyclable materials and so much of it is no more than ornamental junk. Walmart rides every fad that comes down the pike, until it drops dead under them, and then dumps the stuff they couldn’t sell at a deep discount in landfills.

We don’t need more stuff, and we don’t need useless junk imported at great expense in huge container ships burning lots and lots of oil, polluting as they go.

Packaging is not environmentally friendly; it is designed to make selling quicker and easier, to make the product look better than it is, and to facilitate stocking while preventing theft. Most of the packaging can’t be recycled.

Walmart encourages the poorest to spend their money on stuff that doesn’t last, on food that has no nutritional value, and to desire what they simply can’t afford. Walmart will throw out a few loss-leaders in their brochures eahc week: mac and cheese, 3/$1; tuna, $.70 a can; but the rest of the food and goods are no better priced than the supermarket and are sometimes higher.

Walmart destroys small towns. People spend more money driving to the Walmart than they save, on a presumed economy. Meanwhile, local merchants who charge a little more lose customers to the ‘cheaper” prices at Walmart. Things get put on sale regularly at Walmart, but they are often things no one wanted anyway; people get a sense of triump in finding these supposed bargains, even if they don’t need the merchandise. Eventually, there is no choice but to buy the trash can/wall paint/underwear somewhere else. Every other store has closed.

Walmart doesn’t care if the food and goods they sell are locally produced. They are looking for the best wholesale price, and if a local producer is willing to take a huge cut in profit, they might be able to stock at Walmart – but not likely, if it doesn’t fit the Walmart profile.

Working conditions at Walmart are marginal for their employees. No one makes a good salary even after years of employment. The day is regimented. Employees are part of an international corporate machine.

I do not want to support a corporation that is mostly concerned about profit for a few, while exploiting many.

22 thoughts on “Why I don’t shop at Wal-mart

  1. I try not to shop at Wal-Marts either but it is the only Store in Town that carries the Craft stuff that I usually use without having to drive an hour or two away. I do not like any of their items because not only are they done poorly & your right they don’t last but they also go up on everything evryday. I try to keep all of my stuff in stock so it’s less time I go to town & end up shopping in that store.

    • I had the same experience when I made crafts to sell. Things on sale at Walmart were right at hand, rather than having to order or drive to another city.

  2. So true. It’s heartbreaking that our states are filled with town squares that stand empty because the shops have failed. Businesses that supported families for generations, gone. Walmart is destroying commerce for the small business. And you’re right; the goods are shoddy and produced on the backs of abused workers.

    • I don’t want to have to buy new every few months or even every couple of years. Once I find something I like, I want to keep it and not have to replace it. Case in point: Kithcen china. I have had the same set for more than ten years, and not a chip or crack on it. It came from Finland (Arabiaware.) Mother Kay was given a set of kitchen china amde in China less than two years ago – chipped, cracked and crazed, ready to be replaced. My set was expensive, but it will last another thirty years or more – long enough for me!

  3. For clothes purchases I mainly go to private sellers on eBay, or ladies making clothes from home and selling online – not always; I did buy some winter woollies from a supermarket recently, which would come under the head of the objections you rightly outline. I bought them there to save money.
    For food, I do a mix of Sainsbury’s supermarket which has quite a good sustainability/organic/fairtrade/compassionate-farming etc track record, and the farmers’ market and small local shops. And we grow veggies and exchange produce with friends.
    Gifts I often recycle directly: people give me lovely presents, I have a happy time opening them and luxuriating in the joy of it, then put them in a drawer ready to be someone else’s present (along with the carefully-opened gift-wrap).
    Books I buy 2nd hand where poss, from sellers registered with Amazon.
    Stationery mainly from a small local stationer. Furniture and household items 2nd-hand from local flea-markets or from eBay (2nd hand from private sellers if poss) or charity shops.
    Life is busy and money is not to be wasted: I don’t beat myself up when I err, I try to steward my resources the best I can, and try to think of the journey the money I spend will make – what communities, what endeavours, what individuals will it be blessing?

    • We can’t be rule-bound, and tied in knots when we have to do something that goes a wee bit against conscience. I try to stay off the slippery slope, though! Here in Ontario it is easy enough to track down farm stands and local produce at farmer’s markets. I sew my own clothes and have bought from ebay as well. What does Walmart have that I need? I will admit, though, that underwear has to come from somewhere, and I simply can’t afford boutique stuff! So until I find the time to sew my own, I do buy it at the Superstore. (A lot like Sainsbury’s.) And Mother Kay threatened to have me committed to a psych unit if I started making my own from old t-shirts.

  4. Great summation, Magdalena. I would weigh in with my experience here, as well. I worked for a while at a financial counseling agency. We had two different people come in who were (underpaid) employees at different Wallie stores. We gave them each a form to get Advanced Earned Income Credit (it’s a U.S. Federal payment for those under a certain income and meeting certain other criteria of having children and such). This isn’t a huge pile of money–nor is it “welfare.” These folks will file for Earned Income Credit when they file their taxes, but this is a small amount to help each pay. The admins in both stores REFUSED to process the form…not OUR form, mind you…this is from the Internal Revenue Service. It doesn’t come out of Wallie’s pocket (heaven-forbid!). We had to confront both stores about this and had a fight on our hands in both instances. At that point, I decided Wallie didn’t have ANYthing I needed badly enough–EVER. I’ll do without first.

    • They probably didn’t want to get entered into the statistics. “Walmart employees needing assistance.” I used to get the AEIC when I was a young working mom, and it helped when the car needed repairs or we needed medications. It’s an advance payment against an income tax refund, with no interest – unlike those tax prep or check cashing places.

    • Oh, I forgot to include that! I feel a little guilty laughing at people’s poor style choices, but then they may deserve it for their lack of discretion. WARNING: site is potentially offensive to anyone who vlaues modesty before their eyes or is particularly sensitive to hideous fashion choices. Goes to show that Walmart has replaced the village green or the local tavern as a meeting place for all kinds of folk.

  5. I don’t shop at Walmart very often, and here are my reasons:

    1. Prices on Walmart brand pet food is several dollars more expensive than the store brand at Meijer.
    2. They no longer have a fabric department.
    3. Generally they do NOT have the lowest price, take powdered milk, it is $2+ more expensive for the walmart store brand box, compared to the Kroger store brand box.
    4. The meat department – overpriced, and poor quality.
    5. The produce department – good prices, but nothing lasts once you get it home, and it may look beautiful but usually is tasteless.
    6. Lack of choice, walmart carries only what Mrs. Average American wants to purchase and that is it.

    I feel that I should support Walmart for the following reasons:
    My son-in-law and sister-in-law both work at Walmart stores.
    My brother-in-law, 2 nephews, and a nephew-in-law all work at the Walmart Distribution center, all of these jobs help support families/spouses etc. and the paychecks are needed.
    All of the above make a wage they can live on and all have health insurance, all have had opportunity for some advancement.

    But, I still avoid Walmart, and Magdalena, you are quite right, they carry a lot of low quality, cheap, unnecessary items, and the whole store is set up to part the shopper with as much of their hard earned money as possible.

    My son-in-law said that the average Walmart Shopper (Mrs. Average American) will shop at Walmart 3x’s/week, this is why the endcaps, and displays in all departments are changed almost daily, they do not want the shopper to become bored. Walmart has studied the consumer to the nth degree, they know what will sell, and pretty much who will buy it.

    • Quite right, that sometimes Walmart is the best employment around; here in Canada, though, their workers tend to get the lower wages and fewer benefits than American workers. And don’t even think about unionizing! (Not that I’m a big fan of big unions, either.)

      Walmart plays up its lower prices on a fe items, but then gouges the consumer on other items, especially food, unless one shops very carefully. When I had to shop at Walmart, I took along my grocery receipts from other stores so I could compare.

  6. Magdalena,

    Walmart is busting its gut to establish itself in australia (where the duopoly of Coles and Woolworths have over 80% of market share between them – plus carve-up of virtually all the commercial landscape from computer technology outlets to clothing retailers, to music and entertainment etc etc). Aldi (A German ‘Cheap and nasty’ chain) has had a presence here since around 2001 and is, ehm, as rotten to the core as Walmart. I hope the Aust. Australian Consumer & Competition Commission can keep them out!!!!

    this all ties in with the slow food manifesto, that can be applied to everything else from furnishings to clothing and many things in between.

    We need a mighty shake-up to bring the ‘average jo’ and the greedy multi nationals alike to their senses!!

    Yes, there will be pain, but perhaps we will start, as a society, to work together for something other than obscene annual profits at the expense of workers and God’s creation.

  7. I was horrified at how Walmart seemed to have taken over when I lived for a while in the US. Everyone was obsessed with it being cheap and no-one could see that it’s cheap for a reason – all the reasons you’ve cited. We have a similar thing in Britain now, Primark, it only sells clothes but unimaginable trash, worse even than Walmart (!) but, again, everyone is obsessed with the cheapness of it. It’ll last 3 months wear and wash and be in landfill forever like polythene bags.

  8. I buy my son’s clothes there. They are cheap but he is hard on them. They last just as long as more expensive ones from Sears, but at a fraction of the cost. Even if Sears does guarantee kids clothes, I can buy 4 for the price of 1.

    However, it is a rare day when I can buy something for my daughter there. The girls clothes are trashy and immodest, even the little girls stuff. What kind of message are they sending when it’s cheaper to dress immodest. Are poor people not entitled to modesty? Then people wonder why kids are growing up too fast.

    I try not to buy much else there, but for some reason we have the 2nd largest WM in North America. That’s right, little Fairbanks Alaska with a population of about 75,000 has the second largest WM around. Why? It’s getting so all we have are box stores in this town. Sure, they have local employees and pay local tax, but most of the money and control goes elsewhere.

    Another thing, crime is higher in the area where WM has a store. I don’t know exactly why but it seems to happen everywhere WM goes in the crime rates rise.

  9. I used to work for the British arm of Walmart (Asda) and even though I worked full-time – over 35 hrs per week – because of the low pay I was entitled to our government’s Working Tax Credit. I also found that the company does not treat its colleagues fairly and there are a lot of shady goings on within each store. I only worked for the company because I was unable to find any other work. I also believe that my workplace was very dark, spiritually, and members of my church homegroup spent time walking around the store praying for me.

  10. I would like to add to the above that after much heartbreak and prayer (mostly all work-related) God made big, big, wonderful changes in my life and I am now a SAHW to a lovely Christian man. I know that I am in the right place for me and am so grateful to my Saviour.

  11. Amen and AMEN! I’m by nature a very light drinker, but on the day that Mal-Wart declares bankruptcy, I’m gonna drink a lotta champagne. The only way I shop there is if I’m dead-broke and out of food. Simultaneously. And since I now garden, it doesn’t happen much.

  12. Kay, that echoes my friend’s experience of working for Asda. She worked for it years ago when it was a real British company (Associated Dairies) and went back recently. She says the atmosphere has changed to one of utter dejection.

  13. I don’t have any more of an issue with Walmart than I do with any large chain with massive buying power. They are no more corrupt than Target or Kmart or any other chain. It’s not like those other chains aren’t benefiting from sweat shops and the like. I feel like Walmart is just the target of the day because it is so successful. And, by the way, if you shop at Walmart “only some of the time” you’re a Walmart shopper.

    • I chose Walmart as the subject because I live in Canada and we don’t have that many chain stores here, except for Zellers/HBC, which is similar to Kmart. The HBC (Hudson’s Bay Company) “The Bay” stores would be like Sears – a little mroe upscale than the downmrket Zellers. I don’t shop there, either. My sisters who lived in Europe would say the same things about Ikea.

      Those who commented that they shop Walmart “some of the time” meant that they couldn’t find what they needed elsewhere, and from their comments, I doubt if together they spent enough to cover the lighting costs in one Walmart for one day. My point is that when we become dependent on one supplier, we become vulenrable to participating in their corporate sins.

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