Saturday, February 16, 2008

The Biggest Box

I can already hear screams of horror ... I am about to hold forth on a very unpopular topic around here - WalMart.

Since we're encouraging the big box business over in Warrenton, I'd like to see a WalMart go in. Not even a Super WalMart, just a plain old WalMart. Okay, you can start screaming now.

Oh, I know all the arguments, one being that they pay their employees poorly. Well, nobody tied 'em up and made 'em work there, for heaven's sake. In an area like this one, it could make the difference between having a job and not having one at all. And McDonald's pays just as poorly, if not worse.

The biggest argument is that WalMart puts little stores out of business. Frankly, that's a crock, and most of the time, when people say that, they're referring to what are known as Super WalMarts, which include a grocery store. And even that argument is a crock, since the other big box stores, such as Safeway, have already wiped out the mom & pop grocery stores, for the most part.

As for other merchandise, if you want high quality expensive shoes, pants, whatever, you're not going to go to WalMart, anyway. But if you want the best value for your dollar, and are happy to settle for just good quality school clothes (which they're going to grow out of in a year, anyway), WalMart is the place to go. The clothes aren't fancy, and often aren't very stylish, but they're more than adequate, and functional. Same goes for the shoes.

The only store that would be put out of business in this area would be Fred Meyer, and that would be no great loss. When I first moved up here I needed the usual stuff for the house, including a shower curtain. So I went to Freddie's, and found one I liked with a lighthouse on it. It was $19.99. I thought it was a bit much, but I paid it, and went on my merry way.

Three years later, it needed replacing, and the very same shower curtain was now more than $25 at Freddie's. But by then, I knew where the WalMart is. So I looked at the WalMart shower curtains. I was utterly pissed off to find the very same shower curtain ... identical in fact, down to the manufacturer ... for $9.99. Whoa. Now I keep an ongoing list of things I need at WalMart, and the next time I have to go to Portland, I stop at WalMart in Longview.

At the time of the shower curtain fiasco, I decided to cruise around the store to check the cost of other things I was buying at Freddies. And I was horrified. Freddie's was charging $1-$3 more for almost every single item, same brand, etc. In the clothes department, there was no comparison at all. WalMart clothes and shoes are affordable. Freddie's are not (at least in my opinion).

I'm a photographer. I use a lot of photo frames. If I bought my photo frames at Freddies I'd be in the poor house. WalMart has perfectly good frames for reasonable prices. Can't beat it.

I should also mention that now WalMart only charges $4 for many prescriptions. A pal of mine in Texas is overjoyed, since she's on a lot of prescriptions. I don't have to tell you that for those without medical insurance, and there seem to be a lot of them up here, that would be a lifesaver - and maybe the difference between being able to afford needed meds or doing without.

I could go on and on, but I'll spare you. All I know is that I ain't the only one around here who has to watch every buck they spend, and I'd rather get the most bang for my buck as possible. So I'm all for good old affordable WalMart. Bring it on.

Click here to see Elleda's photography at the Astoria Photografpix web site

13 comments:

Patrick McGee said...

Walmart Elleda,

My money's on Walmart going in over at the Iverson Farms property at Miles Crossing and the reason that the infrastructure has to be in place and Warrenton Parkway, at least, be a go.

Just a prediction only but, I can already see the cogs meshing on that one.

Patrick McGee said...

Crap! I forgot to put in..."The reason the Astoria Bypass issue will not die is the reason above....Walmart and by the way, what better place to put in a "Good Sams Travel Park Franchise" than at "Richard Lee's "Jed Calmpett Golf and Trailer Park Reort?

The Guy Who Writes This said...

They are flooding the market with Chinese sweat shop crap of little value or quality. They will eat up local businesses. They censor and will not carry many products because they don't fit the main stream Christian mold. They offer sales but not services. If you buy a lawn mower from them and it breaks you are screwed.

If you have a business license you could get a better deal buying your frames and supplies wholesale. I am shocked when ever I see a business person paying retail.

Elleda said...

Patrick,

I'm still laughing about Miles Crossing. Sounds like a good fit.

Guy,

They won't eat up local businesses any more than Fred Meyer or Costco does. People who need affordable stuff can go there and not get ripped off by the prices at Freddie's. Like a lot of people, I only shop at Freddie's because there's no alternative.

Don't know about lawn mowers, or anything like that. Any big box store you buy stuff like that from, not just Walmart, only provides sales, not service.

As for the frames, Walmart's retail price is cheaper than I can get them wholesale.

The Guy Who Writes This said...

Where are they made? What economy are you supporting. Do you feel that you are underpaid? If so maybe it's because you support devaluing products that are made here by buying sweat shop crap from China. And as far as a Miles Crossing location hurting Lee, probably so, but it will probably kill Brims, and Utzinger's and a few other businesses out that way.

I just don't understand how people can appreciate the beauty of this area and at the same time want to turn it into another Longview.

If this is how you want to redefine our area do you think you will be able to sell photographs of the new Wal*Mart store at Sunday Market?

Elleda said...

Guy,

I don't think it will ever happen here. At least not in my lifetime.

And I was merely observing that if they're going to put big box stores all over Warrenton, which seems to be the trend (not my idea, by the way, but that of the powers that be around here), why not put one in that people can actually afford to shop at. It's not like most of the population around here is rolling in money.

And, people are already making the trek to Walmart in Longview. I know several people who go once a month to shop in Longview because the prices here are so high ... and Walmart is one of the stops on the list.

I'm just sayin' ... if people are going to shop there, anyway - and they are, and they do, and they will - why not add it to the big box stores already on the list?

Hey, don't blame me ... I didn't start the list, or have anything to do with the push to put in big box stores in Warrenton. They were here before I got here, and so were the plans to put in more of them. That seems to be very much a home-grown local concept.

As far as the Sunday Market goes, it's more of a place for people to walk their dogs and chit chat than an actual market.

Patrick McGee said...

I keep meaning to tell you how impressed I am with your art Elleda.

There, I did it and you keep doing it.

Elleda said...

Patrick,

Thank you very much. I appreciate your taking the time to tell me so.

I'm working on a lot of new images, some local, some not. There never seems to be an end of things to photograph in the northwest, that's for sure!

Sweeti said...

I'm so with you on the Walmart thing. We almost got one in Oregon city and the people caused such a big stink that they reconsidered where they'd put it. Needless to say we didn't get it. I definately would shop there.

Elleda said...

Hi Sweeti,

Yeah, everyone makes such a big stink about Walmart, yet welcome Safeway. Who knows how many mom & pop grocery stores Safeway has wiped out?

Seems to me, the ones who kvetch & whine the most about Walmart are the ones who can afford to shop at the overpriced stores, and they don't give a thought to those who don't have that kind of money ... to those who need Walmart to get by.

Just think about the $4 prescriptions at Walmart, for heaven's sake. I don't even want to think about how many seniors in the Astoria area are doing without meds, or cutting back on their food, because they can't afford their meds.

I don't think it will happen, because those who can afford to shop elsewhere get so irrational about Walmart, but it would sure be helpful to those of us who have to watch our pennies if there were one locally.

nootka said...

Count me in the no Wal-Mart (and yes, I can afford to shop elsewhere, but I try to get by with less of something and think about what I'm getting/where it's made and buy things I know are quality for the $$$) demographic.
Not anywhere in this county do we need one.
I think it IS sad that some stores exploit their "only" status and our isolated status as a small city, and that low-income would suffer. The way up out of the muck is NOT through the doors of a Wal-Mart.
I bought a few of your photographs as Christmas presents, and I bought frames made in the USA from Old Town Framing.
Frames make or break a piece, IMO, and these, while not "cheap" are NICE and something I will be proud to have a long time and re-use.
Most made in China crap is throwaway garbage with excess packaging that we don't need, anyway.
Ooops...end rant! :)

Daryl Moore said...

Hi Elleda,

Maybe you haven't completely thought through the Wal-Mart thing. Here are some interesting facts about Wal-Mart:

In 2004, Wal-Mart employees used $2.5 billion dollars in federal money for health care, subsidized lunches, government-health care, energy assistance, and more. "Federal Money" is your money, and mine.

Wal-Mart has received at least $1 billion dollars in federal subsidies for "growth", i.e., building new stores. More federal money.

100 new McDonald's wage jobs don't help a community, they hurt it.

3-years after Wal-Mart enters a community, clothing retailers in the same community report average sales drops of 28%.

Wal-Mart stores cause previously unpredicted vehicle density that destroys roads. We pay for those roads. Granted, bad planning can be partly blamed for that, but none the less, more tax dollars go towards supporting Wal-Mart stores.

Wal-Mart sent $18 billion dollars to China in 2004. Then, 70% of the goods they sold were made in China. Both numbers have steadily risen since 2004. Wal-Mart is responsible for 10% of the entire US Trade deficit.

If Wal-Mart was a country, Wal-Mart would be China's 8th largest trading partner.

By the way, Hasbro is one of the 30% of the "domestic" products Wal-Mart sells. Hasbro, headquartered in Rhode Island, reports that the vast majority of its products are made in the far east. So even though Hasbro is a domestic corporation, its products are made overseas.

Wal-Mart's "retirement" plans for employees are 67% Wal-Mart stock. Remember Enron?

Microsoft has created over 2000 millionaires. Wal-Mart has created 6.

When employees unionize, Wal-Mart closes the store.

In 2001, 65% of employees were women, and 15% of store managers were women.

Women store managers, on average, earn $14,500 less than male store managers (in 2001.)

Wal-Mart has been fined over $400,000 for violating child labor laws.

In 2005, Wal-Mart paid an $11 million dollar fine for its extensive employment of illegal immigrants.

Wal-Mart is America's largest importer. Who pays for port inspections? You, me, and the rest of us.

In 2004, Wal-Mart was responsible for 576,000 20-foot containers shipped to the US. How much diesel was burned carrying those?

Home Depot and Target combined don't equal Wal-Marts imports.

Citing "lower prices" Wal-Mart has lobbied congress to *reduce* security at ports, where only 5% of containers are inspected.

Is it really worth "saving" a few dollars?

I, for one, never darken Wal-Mart's doors.

Elleda said...

Hi Daryl and Nootka,

I have heard all of the anti-Walmart arguments,facts, figures and statistics. And I and understand where you're both coming from on this. However, the bottom line is the bottom line: Walmart is affordable.

The person short on money, living paycheck to paycheck and/or living hand-to-mouth doesn't give a rat's ass about anti-Walmart arguments or statistics. They care about everyday reality and survival, i.e. stretching every dollar till the pennies squeak and getting the most bang for every buck.

They can afford to shop at Walmart, and that's why Walmart succeeds. It's simple capitalism and the rule of supply and demand - there's a demand for affordable goods, and Walmart fills it.

Those who have money are free to shop anywhere they please. Those who don't have money don't have those choices, and should be able to buy what they need without being gouged.

I won't even get you guys started on Dollar Tree.