Friday, May 07, 2004

Always Low Prices has Moved! 

ALP can now be found at alp.truckandbarter.com We have moved off Blogger onto a Movable Type powered blog! That's .net, NOT .com, which is currently owned by someone trying to make a quick buck off WM.

The ALP Blogger archives will remain for posterity...

Some WM Opposition 

A letter writer in Fredericksburg,VA wants to save the small Ferry Farm WM that will close and be replaced by a Supercenter. She also wants to save a local river from runoff.

Residents in Sandy want to see a closed gravel pit become a park instead of a WM.

There's a "traffic horror show" in Pawtucket, with claims that WM will bring an extra 20,000 cars. That's some WM.

Bomb Threat Against WM 

Folks, even if you hate WM with a passion, calling up the store and telling an employee that you've planted a bomb is not a good idea.

Thursday, May 06, 2004

Micha Gertner Strikes Again 

Undaunted by strident criticism of his previous post, Micha Gertner (of Catallarchy) takes to WM's defense with vigor in Wal-Mart and its Discontents:
These successful business practices have given Wal-Mart a huge market share, and this makes the company a very visible target. When people think of big corporations, they think of Wal-Mart. When people think of cheap products made with sweatshop labor, they think of Wal-Mart. When people think of the “creative destruction” that capitalism inevitably brings, i.e. the closing of sentimental but inefficient and pricey mom-and-pop stores and their replacement with large, impersonal retail chains, they think of Wal-Mart. These are the reasons why Wal-Mart is hated, and, despite the corporate subsidies enjoyed by Wal-Mart and every other large corporation in a mixed economy, these are the reasons why Wal-Mart should be defended from its critics.

Giant Competition 

WM supercenters are a place for "one-stop-shopping", but much of the time people just want to go shopping for groceries--not everything. Giant food is trying to compete with WM by saving the customer time with more scanners and a return of baggers, years after it slashed wages, hours, and service:
The new checkout stations will reposition cashiers so that they look directly at shoppers when scanning products, Scher said. Giant calls them "side stations" and believes they will "make it easier for cashiers to interact with consumers," Scher said...

Grocery industry analysts and observers said Giant's efforts to hasten the checkout process appear designed to win over time-strapped consumers, who consistently rank long supermarket lines as their biggest complaint.

"These are definitely steps in the right direction," Jim Hertel, senior vice president of Willard Bishop Consulting Ltd., said of the self-checkout and price-scanning technology. "Nobody wants to spend a lot of time in a grocery store..."

Both Hertel and Doyle cheered the return of the baggers.

Giant began phasing out grocery baggers about 10 years ago. It asked cashiers to take their place, assuming they could easily stuff groceries into bags after scanning them at the register. But at a store's busiest shopping times, Giant officials said, bottlenecks form, creating long lines.

"People notice the registers more than any other department," Matthews said. "We want to speed people through."

Newspaper & Activist vs. WM 

The Daily Journal (NJ) runs a piece about an anti-WM activist trying to organize opposition. The reporter tries to make him sound like the lone voice of reason.:
INELAND -- William Hipkins is itching to take on the world's largest retailer and he wants to know if there are other like-minded citizens in the city.

Opposed to Wal-Mart's proposal to build a 147,000-square-foot store at Landis Avenue and Delsea Drive, Hipkins claims the company destroys small businesses, offers low wages and funnels profits out of communities.

"Wal-Mart is ruining this country," said Hipkins, 37, of Vineland. "They come in and they undercut everybody. ... The city is not looking at the big picture. They are looking at the money."

The city Planning Board will consider and possibly vote on the proposal May 12, a month after Wal-Mart submitted design plans. On Monday, a board subcommittee reviewed the application and offered no criticism or opposition....

He is trying to get people organized in time for Monday's City Council meeting and the May 12 Planning Board meeting. He plans to distribute packets of information detailing Wal-Mart's history to Mayor Perry Barse, City Council and the Planning Board.
The reporter did not ask Mr. Hipkins to substantiate his claims, nor did she ask from whom he obtained his "information".

Usual Delays in Approving Big-City WM 

Considering the years-long delays WM finds in many cities, I find nothing special in it having to wait another three weeks for a vote on a zoning change (rr).
Four council members, two African-Americans and two whites, used a parliamentary maneuver to delay action on the projects, which have strong backing from aldermen in the predominantly black wards where the stores would be located.

Wal-Mart, the world's largest retailer, has no stores in the city. But Wednesday's setback likely will be temporary, said Ald. William J.P. Banks (36th), chairman of the council's Zoning Committee. Banks said he would force final decisions at the May 26 council meeting, adding that he expects passage of the proposals.
Stephen Kinzer of The New York Times also gets in a few choice words:
The setbacks in Chicago and Inglewood reflect the increasing difficulty Wal-Mart is facing as it tries to push in to more urban markets.
But Mr. Kinzer is silent on WMs successes, even though the rest of his article is powerful and balanced. He even talks to knowledgeable and nonpartisan sources.
Some retail experts doubt, however, that Wal-Mart would make concessions in Chicago that it has refused to make elsewhere.

"Wal-Mart has a lot of power," said Kenneth Thompson, a professor of management at DePaul University. "It would be very hard for a few aldermen or community figures to negotiate with a company that's this tough. And what do they do if Wal-Mart says no? Once the store is open, they can hardly close it down."
He also notes that big labor us ready to put all its resources on WM.
Wal-Mart's uniquely powerful role in the American retail economy and its reputation for vigorously fighting unions, has attracted increasing attention from labor leaders. One of them, John Wilhelm, a member of the A.F.L.-C.I.O. Executive Council, said on a visit to Chicago this week that he had asked John Sweeney, the A.F.L.-C.I.O. president, to make Wal-Mart the central focus of the American labor movement.

"After the 2004 elections are over, we should make this our main project," Mr. Wilhelm said. "No one union can organize Wal-Mart. We need to face this in a comprehensive way."
This should be quite a spectacle.

Wednesday, May 05, 2004

Bryn Mawr College Peace Action 

Over 40 faculty members of Bryn Mawr opposed the war in Iraq, and thought that Richard Perle's vision of a post-Baathist Iraq looked something like this:

Failed Challenge to Goodyear WM 

The group threatening to sue WM for its plans to build a Supercenter had to give up, after local businessmen reneged on their promise to bankroll legal action:
Diane Burnett, chairman of Goodyear Residents for Responsible Economic Growth, said lack of financial resources and legal assistance left her no choice.

"Until the middle of April, I had verbal commitments from local businesses and organizations for financial help with legal fees, but those commitments were withdrawn at the last moment," Burnett wrote in a one-page statement announcing the end of the battle. "I had contemplated representing the case myself but lack the legal expertise and ability required for a complicated legal battle."

Burnett sued the city in February after Goodyear officials rejected petition signatures seeking to force the Wal-Mart issue onto the ballot this fall. City Attorney James Oeser said that the council's approval of a site plan and development agreement for Wal-Mart were not legislative actions and thus were not subject to a referendum.
Zoning rules are very powerful tools; but they seem to wind up in the hands of one's enemies as often as they wind up in the hands of one's allies.

WalMart Responds to Community Concerns 

Yet another data point showing that WM changes its plans to meet local residents' demands:
CENTERVILLE — With a 100-person crowd looking on, representatives from Wal-Mart presented their case for the proposed Wal-Mart Supercenter before the Centerville Planning Commission at Centerville Elementary School Wednesday night.

Robin Salvagio, vice president of CLC associates, the engineering firm for the proposed Wal-Mart, said they had been reviewing the many public comments the city has received — two two-inch binders full — and would modify the site plan based on the comments.

The public comment period had ended the night before.

“We anticipate changes,” Salvagio said, “but we won’t submit them until all revisions are complete...”

In addition, Salvagio noted changes made to the site — based on public comment — to mitigate impacts to the nearby Country Cottages. These include a greater-than-necessary setback, an 8-foot decorative wall and special lighting that won’t shine into the nearby property.

“We have not provided the minimum,” she argued, “we have provided more.”
Then there's the traffic issue:
Presenting with Salvagio was Dr. Joseph Perrin, a traffic engineer with A-Trans Engineering. Perrin argued that many of the streets likely to be impacted are operating below capacity, and that the proposed Wal-Mart would not push traffic into a dangerous condition.

“Many say Parrish Lane is too busy,” Perrin said. “Parrish Lane does have more traffic than most Centerville residents are accustomed to because of the recent Market Place development. But from a traffic engineering aspect, the roadway is operating at acceptable levels of service.”

He said data show the road is operating at 60 percent capacity, and that the Wal-Mart would use an additional 6 percent of that capacity. Perrin also said that numbers given during the public comment period about extra traffic — an extra 15,000 cars daily — were greatly exaggerated.

“The actual store will bring in an additional 4,300 cars per day,” he said. And with the restaurants and gas station on the site operating, he said the numbers show a total of 5,500 extra cars per day.
There are some people who want WM to demonstrate the impossible:

Centerville Citizens First’s George Fisher said Wal-Mart never argued that their development was necessary.

“She (Salvagio) conveniently skipped that part,” Fisher said.
How are they supposed to meet that burden?

WM Money Transfers 

According to a new press release, WM is lowering the price of wiring money to Mexico to $10:
Wal-Mart just made it more affordable for customers to send money to Mexico to honor their mothers and loved ones this Mother's Day...

Through our relationship with MoneyGram®, customers in the United States can send funds to Mexico for a flat fee of $9.46 for all amounts up to $500 with a competitive exchange rate. This new every day low price will save customers more than 40% in transfer fees compared to the previous Wal-Mart price just in time for Mother's Day.

Customers visiting their local Wal-Mart in preparation for Mother's Day will see just how easy, convenient and affordable it is to show their Moms how much they care. With a visit to the Service Desk, money can be sent to Mexico in just a few minutes, and family members can pick it up in Mexico at their local Wal-Mart, Bodega Aurrera, Superama, Suburbia, or at many other convenient MoneyGram® locations. Additionally, senders will receive a complimentary three-minute phone call to notify family members that the money is on the way. Family members who pick up their money at Wal-Mart, Bodega Aurrera, Superama and Suburbia locations in Mexico from now through June 3 will also receive a 40-peso in-store certificate.

Almost one-third of the Hispanics living in the U.S. send money to their families residing in their country of origin. The most important time for sending money to Mexico is around Mother's Day. MoneyGram® money transfers are also available for Latin America and the Caribbean. Transfer fees for these countries vary, but are also available at the Service Desk at an every day low price.
I have no idea if these rates are competitive with other wire services, but I'm glad to see WM using its global reach in this way.

Tuesday, May 04, 2004

Dan Drezner on WM in Chicago 

Reflecting on the latest Jesse Jackson vs. WM story in the Chicago Tribune, Dan offers his personal opinion:
As a fellow South Sider, let me just second Krystal's sentiments there. This is not a case where Wal-Mart would put "mom & pop stores" out of business, since there are appallingly few retail options in these neighborhoods.

Protest WM on Memorial Day 

Anti-WM activists are planning to use Memorial Day for their own purposes:
National Wal-Mart Protest & Boycott Kick-Off
Memorial Day 2004 - May 31st
All Day, Across America

More than 200 organizations will be kicking off a Wal-Mart boycott with a national protest at Wal-Mart across all 50 states on Memorial Day 2004, (Monday, May 31st). We would like to invite you and/or your organization to participate in this collaborative effort.
I must note that Memorial Day is meant to honor those who have died in military service defending the United States (and the Confederacy), not to protest commercial activities.

Hillary on WM Board 

From 1986 to 1992, while her husband was Governor of Arkansas, Hillary Clinton was on the Wal-Mart Board of Directors. Note that this factoid is on the wiki for Wal-Mart, but not on the wiki for HRC.

Now you may read the post below.

Cheneys Visits WM HQ 

Let's be clear about this. WM sides with Bush in the coming election, which makes it no surprise that Vice President Dick Cheney and his wife would vist Bentonville, Arkansas:
While lashing out at Bush's likely Democratic opponent, Sen. John Kerry, Cheney urged 1,000 cheering Wal-Mart employees to vote in November for "the confident, steady, disciplined leadership of George W. Bush....

[Gov. Mike] Huckabee said Wal-Mart employees who were bused in to hear the speech appreciated Cheney's message because Kerry had been criticizing Wal-Mart for underpricing smaller retailers and suppliers.

"It's unprecedented for a candidate to attack — by name — a company that brings hundreds of thousands of jobs to Americans, high-quality products to working-class consumers and an unmatched charitable spirit," Huckabee said. "It's an elitist, snobbish attitude."
What did Cheney say about Kerry?
Speaking to Wal-Mart employees at a Bentonville distribution center, Vice President Dick Cheney spent five minutes of a 15-minute speech Monday calling U.S. Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., one of the Senate's most consistent pro-tax votes.

Kerry, the Democratic presidential candidate, in March called Wal-Mart Stores Inc.'s health benefits to employees "disgraceful."...

Cheney praised the Bentonville-based retail chain, saying that "the only employer of a bigger size is the one I work for," referring to the federal government.

"This is one of our nation's best companies," Cheney told a cheering crowd of about 700 employees. He reminded the crowd that former President Bush, the president's father, had given company founder Sam Walton the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest decoration awarded to civilians by the federal government.

"Free enterprise, lower taxes and fiscal discipline from Washington" is what the American economy needs, the vice president said.
As a personal matter, I'm all for lower taxes and fiscal discipline. Anybody know of a Presidential candidate that is serious about both?

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?