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.