The competitive difference between the homogeneous corporate paradigm embodied by Walmart and the community-centered model cultivated by Whole Foods grows increasingly stark. At Walmart, sterile interchangeability and observable lack of integration within its communities, its customers, and its supply chains have put it out of touch with consumer expectations for local and personal service. By contrast, when Whole Foods opens a new store, it aims to root itself in its community by curating and supporting hundreds of local vendors---even going as far as providing them with marketing help or product development tips. Accordingly, Whole Foods is booming and serves as a bellwether of a community on the rise, while Walmart will close more than 250 stores this year and has even been tied to an increase in crime. By using these local vendors, the business is not only saving money on the cost of product transportation, but it’s also creating vendor loyalty whenever it gives new vendors a loan and access to a wider customer base. And with this concentration on local suppliers---combined with an effort to do goodwill in the communities the chain participates in---the company becomes a brand that local customers remember.Yes, I know, Whole Foods also has problems---I do shop there, but rarely and only for certain bulk foods I have difficulty finding elsewhere---but the company does make sincere efforts to connect locally as Kelly illustrates. The real lesson here is one I've repeated time and time again, the best solution (and one I follow) for any community is accept that buying local and supporting locally owned businesses over national and international corporations, even when there is a price premium is the best way to go Jeff Hess: Have Coffee Will Write.
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On Saturday, Robert Turner says he transferred hundreds of dollars from his bank account to his Walmart Prepaid Moneycard. "It's convenient. I can run in at the checkout, or when I'm doing a little grocery shopping. I want to put this on my card as well. They swipe it. It's rapid reload”, Turner said about the card. Only, for the last three days his money card has been anything but convenient. Sunday, Turner explained he got a notification that there would be a system update overnight. Since then, he hasn't been able to access his account information or his moneyOh those pesky software updates. Well, I've never been a fan of Walmart's cards anyway. Jeff Hess: Have Coffee Will Write.
Dear All Knowing and Extremely Wise Answer Man, I have it on very good authority that the greeters at both Wal-Mart stores in Rochester are being told that they're being replaced by security officers. Their last day of work should be July 8 or thereabouts. Many of them are disabled and/or elderly and certainly need these jobs. Please check into this for me. Thank you. ---Sharon Schultz I consider myself the Post-Bulletin greeter — may I help you find something? — so it's painful for me to report that yes, it appears changes are ahead for greeters at the local Wal-Marts. A reliable source tells me that employees have been informed that greeters will be replaced by security personnel to control "shrinkage," also known as shoplifting. According to some reports, Wal-Mart loses about 1 percent of U.S. revenue, or about $3 billion a year, to employee and customer theft. This source also tells me that greeters may be offered jobs elsewhere in the stores, but as Sharon notes, many greeters are elderly or have disabilities that may limit their ability to take other jobs.Hmmm...? So, which is the real story? Are greeters coming back or going away. Inquiring minds want to know. Jeff Hess: Have Coffee Will Write.
Wal-Mart has been increasing its number of distribution and fulfillment centers while closing retail locations [Emphasis mine, JH] across Florida, along with the rest of the United States, as the retail giant evolves its brick-and-mortar business model to more online shopping and shipping.How many of these centers will the Sunshine State (yes, the irony is intended) get? As we repeat at Pesach, that would have been enough, but a second bit also made me sit up:
Wal-Mart's distribution center is expected to create 239 jobs over the next three years with an average annual wage of $42,421.I suspect that Walmart is playing the mean vs. the median game here, but either the top end has to be really up there or the drones on the warehouse floor are getting paid a lot more than their counterparts in other warehouses. Even working 40 hours a week at $15 an hour, the paychecks would only show a gross of a little more than $30,000 and I find that very unlikely. Jeff Hess: Have Coffee Will Write.
A Connecticut woman with short hair says she was mistaken for a transgender woman and told to leave a Wal-Mart bathroom. Aimee Toms, 22, posted a video to Facebook on Friday recounting the incident, saying a woman confronted her in the restroom and told her to leave. “She said, ‘You are not supposed to be here. You need to leave,’” Ms. Toms said. “So at first I was like, ‘Does she think I work at a different store, and I shouldn’t be in this bathroom?’ So I said, ‘Yes I do,’ and then she flipped me off, and she was like, ‘You’re disgusting,’ and stormed out. “She just thought I was somebody who was transgender, and she thought I was a dude who was hiding in the women’s bathroom,” she said. Ms. Toms, who has glasses and short brown hair, also said she was wearing a baseball cap at the time. The nation is in the middle of a heated debate about transgender access to restrooms. In response to a Charlotte city ordinance, North Carolina enacted a law regulating public facilities on the basis of biological sex.So, are people going to need to give blood or hair sample before being directed to the appropriate bathrooms?
Retailing giant Wal-Mart Stores and U.S. drug distributor McKesson said on Monday they would expand an alliance for jointly procuring generic medicines in an attempt to lower costs. Walmart, which has been sourcing generics with McKesson for several years, has been looking to strengthen its health-related business as well as cut costs in its pharmacy operations, which emerged as a significant drag on earnings last year. The deal is aimed at “using our combined size and scale to drive efficiencies,” George Riedl, senior vice president and president of the health and wellness division at Walmart in the U.S., said in a statement.As long as the Food and Drug Administration keeps a close eye (and that may be a lot to ask in today's environment of regulatory budget slashing) this could be good for consumers. What I find fascinating here is that this use of size and scale to drive efficiencies is precisely why many have been urging congress to repeal laws specifically preventing the government from doing just than and drastically bring down the cost of drugs for all Americans. That would be federal overreach, of course. Jeff Hess: Have Coffee Will Write.
Police officers and sheriff deputies risk their lives every day, responding to calls from burglaries to domestic abuse. But many of them are also responding to bay area Walmarts, called to investigate thefts for items as inexpensive as a bottle of soda. Those calls end up costing taxpayers in the long run. 10 News Investigate's Noah Pransky recently talked to Tampa Bay Times reporter Laura Morel about the Times' search through thousands of police calls at local Walmart art stores---to find out just how much those calls are costing all of us.Look for other newspapers to start looking into police calls at their local Walmarts.
"Don't take anything that happens to you there personally," the woman at the local chamber of commerce says when I tell her that tomorrow I start working at "Amalgamated Product Giant Shipping Worldwide Inc." She winks at me. I stare at her for a second. "What?" I ask. "Why, is somebody going to be mean to me or something?" She smiles. "Oh, yeah." This town somewhere west of the Mississippi is not big; everyone knows someone or is someone who's worked for Amalgamated. "But look at it from their perspective. They need you to work as fast as possible to push out as much as they can as fast as they can. So they're gonna give you goals, and then you know what? If you make those goals, they're gonna increase the goals. But they'll be yelling at you all the time. It's like the military. They have to break you down so they can turn you into what they want you to be. So they're going to tell you, 'You're not good enough, you're not good enough, you're not good enough,' to make you work harder. Don't say, 'This is the best I can do.' Say, 'I'll try,' even if you know you can't do it. Because if you say, 'This is the best I can do,' they'll let you go. They hire and fire constantly, every day. You'll see people dropping all around you. But don't take it personally and break down or start crying when they yell at you." Several months prior, I'd reported on an Ohio warehouse where workers shipped products for online retailers under conditions that were surprisingly demoralizing and dehumanizing, even to someone who's spent a lot of time working in warehouses, which I have. And then my editors sat me down. "We want you to go work for Amalgamated Product Giant Shipping Worldwide Inc.," they said. I'd have to give my real name and job history when I applied, and I couldn't lie if asked for any specifics. (I wasn't.) But I'd smudge identifying details of people and the company itself. Anyway, to do otherwise might give people the impression that these conditions apply only to one warehouse or one company. Which they don't.The work goes downhill from there. There are lots of links to related stories in Mac's piece. Follow them around and maybe you're come to the same conclusion I have: you shouldn't feel so good about the money you save buying on the Internet. If Walmart workers feel put down when they're working out in public, imagine the experience when they're hidden away in some massive warehouse. This will not end well. Jeff Hess: Have Coffee Will Write.
[Walmart CEO Doug] McMillon's efforts seem squarely aimed at one company---Amazon---and the flailing about demonstrates just how difficult his task is. It comes down to breaking bulk. Wal-Mart's technique for doing this was state of the art 20 years ago. Using bar codes and cash register data, the company could know when a store was getting low on an item and re-order it directly from the manufacturer, cutting warehouse costs. The boxes were opened and stocked by low-wage "associates" overseen by career-oriented managers. The hope was that some associates would grow to make the leap. McMillon did. He began on the shop floor in college, getting onto the management track after graduation. What Amazon has done, over the last 10 years, is invest billions of dollars in warehouses that can break bulk directly. Workers use technology on the warehouse floor to prepare individual items for shipment. Amazon automated selection through its Web site, automated the warehouses, and is constantly working to cut delivery costs.Blankenhorn continues:
The "Walmart Express" concept has been shelved, and many Neighborhood Markets closed, while some others have been announced for opening. The changes at the SuperCenters have been subtler - there are more efforts to keep shelves clean, floor employees are making a little more, in-store pick-up has improved. But there has been no revolution, and it seems there won't be. Meanwhile the e-commerce effort is being re-focused on opening more warehouses around the country, copying Amazon. This has been met by hosannas from a business press that fails to understand that Wal-Mart is merely copying Amazon's back-end, and is missing what makes Amazon great. What makes Amazon great is Amazon Prime. Customers with Prime accounts, 54 million by last count, already get free shipping, along with other benefits, and Amazon has moved to make the video component stand alone. Because of Prime, an advantage of a few dollars in price on an order placed at Walmart.com isn't going to make much difference to these shoppers.Walmart needs a difference that makes a difference. McMillon needs to discover how to make Walmart better enough or accept the slow death of the almost good as. Jeff Hess: Have Coffee Will Write.
The litigation stemmed from a 2012 New York Times investigation that found Wal-Mart had engaged in a multi-year bribery campaign to build its Wal-Mart de Mexico business. According to the newspaper, Wal-Mart sent investigators to Mexico City and found a paper trail of suspect payments totaling more than $24 million. However, top executives shut down the internal probe and did not notify U.S. or Mexican law enforcement until after the newspaper had informed Wal-Mart that it was looking into the issue. The Delaware lawsuit sought to hold Wal-Mart directors liable for damages they caused the Bentonville, Arkansas-based retailer, in what is known as a derivative lawsuit. Successful derivative cases usually result in corporate governance changes. While the Delaware shareholders were fighting for company documents to bolster their case, a federal judge dismissed a parallel derivative case in Arkansas for failing to prove the board was too conflicted to investigate itself. That ruling has been appealed. In his 60-page decision, Bouchard said the Arkansas plaintiffs' strategy "does not rise to the level of litigation management that was so grossly deficient as to render them inadequate representatives" of Wal-Mart shareholders.So, Walmart executives were bad boys, just not bad enough. (I don't usually comment on the choice of art with stories, but this case has to be among the strangest I've come across, particularly for an organization like Reuters. Is there a hidden message here, or was no one simply paying attention?) Jeff Hess: Have Coffee Will Write.
Police come to shoo away panhandlers, referee parking disputes and check on foul-mouthed teenagers. They are called to arrest the man who drinks a 98-cent iced tea without paying and capture the customer who joyrides on a motorized shopping cart. The calls eat up hours of officers’ time. They all start at one place: Walmart. Law enforcement logged nearly 16,800 calls in one year to Walmarts in Pinellas, Hillsborough, Pasco and Hernando counties, according to a Tampa Bay Times analysis. That’s two calls an hour, every hour, every day. Local Walmarts, on average, generated four times as many calls as nearby Targets, the Times found. Many individual supercenters attracted more calls than the much larger WestShore Plaza mall. When it comes to calling the cops, Walmart is such an outlier compared with its competitors that experts criticized the corporate giant for shifting too much of its security burden onto taxpayers. Several local law enforcement officers also emphasized that all the hours spent at Walmart cut into how often they can patrol other neighborhoods and prevent other crimes. “They’re a huge problem in terms of the amount of time that’s spent there,” said Tampa police Officer James Smith, who specializes in retail crime. “We are, as a department, at the mercy of what they want to do.”Police, facing budget cuts, are fighting back.
Some overworked agencies have demanded that Walmart make changes. The police chief in Beech Grove, Ind., once deemed the local Walmart a nuisance and threatened it with fines of up to $2,500 for every small shoplifting call. About three months later, calls had fallen by almost two-thirds. [Emphasis mine, JH] “At what point do you say, this one individual is taking enough resources that it is interfering with other functions?” said Seth Stoughton, a University of South Carolina law professor and former Tallahassee police officer. “There are other jobs that we could be doing, and we need to change the way that we respond.” In Port Richey, population 2,700, the department’s handful of patrol officers fielded more than 450 calls in a year from the one Walmart in its jurisdiction, nearly three times as many as their next busiest commercial location, a WaWa gas station. Those calls led to about 200 arrests. In August, a Walmart employee called the department after a 33-year-old man stole a $6.39 electric toothbrush. The officer arrived in three minutes, talked to a Walmart employee, arrested the man, and then made the 19-mile trip to the Land O’Lakes jail. After finishing the paperwork, the officer was free to take another call. Total elapsed time: 2 ½ hours. Port Richey Assistant Chief William Ferguson calculated that the arrests chewed up nearly 500 hours of officer time, at a department that sometimes has only two officers on patrol. That doesn’t include all the other calls that didn’t lead to arrests.Maybe if Walmart stopped making all those tax-deductible donations and channeled the funds toward making stores less dependent upon tax-payer funded security, the police could focus on serious crime instead of fiddling time away over $3 thefts. Jeff Hess: Have Coffee Will Write.
At some point last year, Walmart’s senior director Chad Mitchell noticed that the only way the world’s biggest company spoke to its customers was through a stale website that was only updated once or twice a year. That’s a problem for anyone, but doubly for Walmart as it deals with persistent brand problems: Walmart routinely ranks at the bottom of the retail sector when it comes to reputation, mostly due to reports of underpaying its workers, relying on goods from China and driving mom-and-pop stores out of business. “A static corporate website doesn’t do much to foster a conversation,” said Mitchell. What was required was a full-on messaging blitz.Now there's an image that I bet Mitchell is going to want to roll back real fast. Can anyone think of a positive image associated with the word blitz? Too historical? How about this take on blitz? Still not local enough? Then there's this... Back to the wordsmiths, and while you're there, think about the fall out from this episode in public relations. Good luck with that. Jeff Hess: Have Coffee Will Write.Walmart, Wal-Mart
Back in the days of the Great Recession — back when Pagosa governments were laying off employees, and local businesses were wondering if they’d be able to remain in business — the world’s largest retail corporation, Wal-Mart Inc., filed a building permit application with the Town of Pagosa Springs, in hopes of opening a 93,000 square foot store in the Aspen Village subdivision, across the highway from Pinon Lake. The application was approved, after considerable public debate and controversy, on August 21, 2012. The store opened officially on April 22, 2015, and many of us have been running our credit cards through the Wal-Mart scanners ever since — while remaining blissfully unaware that something might be amiss with Wal-Mart’s exterior lighting. Before the store had even opened its doors, however, residential neighbors living to the south of the new store had begun to complain about (possibly illegal) lighting glare emanating from numerous light fixtures mounted on and around the building. Petitions and letters were submitted to the Town, suggesting that Wal-Mart Inc. had failed to meet Land Use and Development Code “dark sky” and “light trespass” requirements.Pagosa Springs town council has taken up the challenge:
Due to the challenges with the recently completed Tractor Supply Company Store parking lot lights, prior to the issuance of the WM building permit, the Town Planning Director [James Dickhoff] discussed the proposed LED lighting Fixtures for the parking lot with Mr. Ryan James of Galloway, expressing concern over the visible light source issues the Town experienced at Tractor Supply. Mr. Ryan James expressed that the parking lot light fixtures designated would meet the Town’s standards because of the new lighting technologies being used and the back shields that are used in the actual fixture. The Town Planning Director reminded Mr. Ryan James that the Town would inspect the lights for compliance with the LUDC visible light source regulations once installed. In January 2015, The Planning Director conducted three physical site inspections, specifically to inspect the installed exterior parking lot lights. The Director inspected the installed lighting in accordance with the approved illumination plan, as to location number of pole/fixtures, height of poles and visible light source. During these inspections, the visible light source was determined to be non-complying with the Town’s [Land Use and Development Code] regarding visible light source.Hudson has been covering Walmart in his home much better than most. There's a lot to read there. Jeff Hess: Have Coffee Will Write.
Eric Howerton has a good understanding of what Wal-Mart Stores Inc. wants to accomplish with its call for suppliers to provide data and website content on all items sold in its stores for use at Walmart.com. Howerton, the chief executive officer of retail-marketing firm WhyteSpyder, is hopeful that suppliers for the Bentonville-based retailer can understand it as well. "Wal-Mart is tearing down the Berlin Wall---so to speak---between the store and dot-com," Howerton said. "This is serious business." It's a message Howerton tried to emphasize as his Fayetteville-based company hosted an April 27 conference in Bentonville, less than a week after Wal-Mart informed noncompliant suppliers that they had until the end of this month to provide the retailer with material like pictures, videos and product descriptions. The "Store Assortment Online" initiative is part of Wal-Mart's ongoing efforts to create a seamless shopping experience for customers and, according to Howerton and others, represents a big opportunity for suppliers as the retail landscape changes. No longer should they think of Walmart.com as a separate entity reflecting only a small percentage of their sales, according to Howerton.Go back and reread that sentence. Did a shiver run down your back? That advice, along with the earlier create a seamless shopping experience for customers; seamless like the boundary between an amoeba and a bit of food, do have a certain someone just stepped on my grave quality, no? Make no mistake, becoming a supplier of Walmart can make a company successful. That success, however, comes with Faustian costs. Jeff Hess: Have Coffee Will Write.