January 27, 2005

The 'Walmartization' of the US.

It's hitting small Christian-supply retailers, an increasing number of whom are throwing in the towel because they can't compete with Walmart and other retail giants.

Across the country, 271 merchants specializing in religious products closed shop in 2003, according to the Christian Booksellers Association. Figures are not in for 2004, but association spokeswoman Nancy Guthrie said "we expect to stay on that same track.''

It's not for lack of interest in Christian products, a $4.2 billion industry on the upswing.

Mass-market retailers such as Wal-Mart and Best Buy have discovered Veggie Tales videos, the "Left Behind'' blockbuster novel series and Christian rock group Third Day, just to name a few. The spirituality section at Barnes & Noble Booksellers has grown from a few shelves to several racks; stop in at Sam's Club and see a wide selection of Bibles.

The competition isn't just from the secular market. Chains such as Lifeway Christian Stores, with 122 shops, including two in the Tampa Bay area, and Family Christian Stores, with 320 locations - four local ones - are taking a big chunk of the profits once claimed by the independents. They also carry exclusive products that aren't available to the smaller retailers.

"It's not a level playing field anymore,'' [store owner] Bobby Tebo said.

This magpie wonders how many owners of stores that have been forced out of business will connect the dots to realize that the same people who are trying to turn the US into a theocracy are also responsible for laws that have made the economic playing field so 'uneven.'

Via LISNews.

Posted by Magpie at January 27, 2005 05:50 PM | Economy | Technorati links |

LOL, ...LOLOLOLOLOL!!! Wow, get your mind right. Do you really think that putting small merchants out of business is why Wal-Mart is in business? Don't you know anyone that really needs the Wal-Marts? Maybe that's your problem.
Wal-Mart provides a real service that many need. Most people live pay check to pay check not to mention those that live on a fixed income, and are thankful when they are able to save a buck when they can.
Small business owners like Bobby Tebo needs to think of new and defferent ways to bring in the customer if they are not willing or able to offer the products they sell at a better price. How many people does Bobby Tebo employ? How much does he pay his employees?
Yup, Wal-Mart is evil, hell bent on putting christian supply retailers out of business. LOL! I'm sure Wal-Mart will do just fine without your business and the boneheads that think like you. I sure wish I had so much money that saving a buck didn't mean that much to me and others in my church and neighborhood.

Posted by: Ron at January 27, 2005 06:57 PM

Yet another example of why rightwing argumentation leaves so many people believing republicans are egocentric, antagonistic, self-righteous, beer-swilling buttheads. LOL at Ron's piffle.

Maggie, let's not educate christians on their economic plight. They'd rather die Clueless for Jesus.

Posted by: Artie at January 27, 2005 07:33 PM

wal-mart offers a devil's bargain: customers can save money today by giving wal-mart money that will be used to drive down the wages of US workers and keep the wages of foreign workers low. and the really good part is that the reason why US workers so badly need to stretch their dollars is because their own wages (and benefits) have been driven down as wal-mart (and similar companies) force their competitors to cut wages and benefits in a race to the bottom.

clever, huh? (if you're wal-mart, that is)

Posted by: Magpie at January 27, 2005 08:18 PM

Hey, can I have my comment back? Or do you guys practice censorship here? I don't recall saying anything obscene or abusive...

Posted by: Alois at January 28, 2005 09:10 AM

Celebrate Diversity in all things, except thought.

Posted by: Klaus at January 28, 2005 09:22 AM

Alois stepped out of line. He's not following the party line. HE MUST BE CENSORED!

Posted by: Klaus at January 28, 2005 09:24 AM

I am one of those small biz religious business people and yes Walmart has been brutal to the industry as has been Sams, which is in the Walmart family.


Yeah, it is true that Walmart hires tons of people, but I currently have three employees. Small business like mine account for a significant percentage of the workforce. I know a lot of other small businesses that have two or three employees here and there and in a small town like ours, that adds up to a heck of a lot of people.

Posted by: Ono at January 28, 2005 09:37 AM

no, alois, you can't have your comment back. all you did was spout the same right-wing talking points that ron did, without advancing the discussion. or, in fact, showing that you were interested in discussion.

there are plenty of places online where you can propagandize. this isn't one of them. if you want to engage in debate, you're more than welcome. if you want to use right-wing talking points to try to shut down debate, don't bother coming around. and this goes for you, too, karl ...

have a nice day.

Posted by: Magpie at January 28, 2005 09:41 AM

I will not use right-wing talking points.
I will not use right-wing talking points.
I will not use right-wing talking points.

I WILL link to your wonderful censorship, however, so other people can laugh at your insecurity.

Have a nice day.

Posted by: Alois at January 28, 2005 09:47 AM

go right on ahead. i think you've proven what i've said about your purpose in posting here far more eloquently than i could have.

and yes, i'm having a *really* nice day now, thank you ...

Posted by: Magpie at January 28, 2005 09:53 AM

One day "Ron" will wake up unemployed and wanting a handout and a hand up and will come crawling to the evil lib-ruls for the assistance because he knows that his beloved Republicon party won't lend him a hand, as they are the ones that helped put him in his down-and-out situation. Then, when "Ron" is back on his feet again, he'll say that he helped himself and he will blame the lib-ruls for everything that goes wrong in his life.

Ron, the idea of capitalism is to be the one that ends up with all of the money at the end of the game. Did you ever play monopoly? Same thing here. Wal-Mart wants all of the business. They get their business because they sell things cheaply enough, and in some cases have more variety (lookee here a 46 pack of double roll teflon toilet paper -- horray!) that people are willing to overlook the fact that their service generally sucks that the local businesses are driven out. Walmart's effect of driving down wages in a locality also perpetrates the living paycheck-to-paycheck that you so eloquently speak of.

Posted by: LionelEHutz at January 28, 2005 11:22 AM

My "right-wing talking points" don't seem to be too popular around here, so perhaps it's okay if I aks a simple question:

Lionel, I think we all know that the idea of capitalism is to be "the one who ends up with all the money at the end of the game" (and that Sam Walton's original genius was the notion that, if he was to buy in bulk and sell things to poor rural people at prices they could afford, he and they were bound to mutually benefit).


What is your proposal? And don't be shy. I like to read (and, unlike the vast majority of my Republicon brethren, I actually know how!).

Posted by: Alois at January 28, 2005 12:02 PM

Alois, here is another piece on Walmart you can read and then decide if what they are doing is good for the country, the people of the US or even the people of China. Who benefits in this race to the bottom?

Posted by: Mary at January 28, 2005 12:13 PM

alois, sam walton's idea was actually to buy in bulk *from US suppliers* and sell cheaply to rural customers. after he died in 1992, his successors began buying from foreign suppliers, to the detriment of US workers.

and you might want to make your question clearer. i'm not certain what you're asking lionel to respond to.

also, i don't buy your definition of capitalism, although i suspect it's shared by some big capitalists. my understanding of capitalism is that it's a system in which property is owned privately, by individual. and in which goods and services are bought and sold by individuals, abd prices and distribution based on transactions by private individuals. while it's arguable that state intervention in the economy has led to a situation in which a small number of corporations and individuals have the bulk of the wealth, it can be argued that this result isn't inherent to the nature of capitalism itself. i think this difference between your definition and mine makes a big difference in whether one thinks that companies like wal-mart are a good thing or a bad thing.

finally, your remark about whether we think republicans know how to read wasn't needed. of course all of us on the left think y'all can read -- we only wonder whether you ever *comprehend* what you read. :)

Posted by: Magpie at January 28, 2005 12:24 PM


Okay, I read your piece, and I'll lay my cards on the table:

I personally believe that the best of all possible worlds is for corporations (especially the big ones that can afford it) to look after their people and not treat them as disposable pawns, as Wal-Mart apparently does these days. There are plenty of examples of large corporations in America that do just that (think of the business magazines that run "The 50 Greatest Places to Work in America"-type articles). However there is no requirement that they do this, and if a more cutthroat competitor comes along, they will be placing themselves at a bottom-line disadvantage.

That's the thing about capitalism: At heart, it is cutthroat. But you either believe, or disbelieve, that when all is said and done, it's still the best system we've got. If you've studied the Scandinavian countries, you know all about the problems inherent in democratic socialism. And communism? Let's not even get started with communism. So what's left? Totalitarianism? Uh, right.

My point is that a capitalist system can encourage benevolence on the part of corporations. But ultimately, this cannot be enforced. Still IMHO it does not justify throwing the baby out with the bath water.

Posted by: Alois at January 28, 2005 12:27 PM


That wasn't my definition of capitalism, it was Lionel's (post above mine). I find it a little simplistic and lacking, so I was being a wee bit ironic there. However, there's no doubt that any dyed-in-the-wool capitalist is going to feel pretty good if he drives a big competitor out of business. Even I would, as much as I might try to hide my glee...

Posted by: Alois at January 28, 2005 12:34 PM

Mostly, I follow transportation, land-use and development issues. I'm disappointed that Seattle's light rail and monorail mega-projects are not designed to reach their highest potential. Link should have been routed directly through South Center, with 1 or 2 stations there, as the City of Tukwila originally demanded. A no-brainer, IMO. And, the 'East Alternative' monorail route to Ballard has far more ridership and development potential than via Interbay. Most people have no idea because SMP hamstrung public debate.

WalMart makes a good example of the critical importance of this connection between land-use and transportation. The amount of fuel Walmart customers expend is greater than if Walmart distributed the same goods to local markets. The Walmart system displaces the costs of distribution onto the customer. Walmart saves distribution costs, but the customer spends more money and time on cars, fuel, insurance, maintenance and driving and Oil Wars and globalization infrastructure for shipping and trucking and media advertizing; monies which then cannot be spent on human rights.

Posted by: Artie at January 28, 2005 12:38 PM

Um, Artie?

I don't know about y'all out there, but I don't think there is anyone in the entire Midwest who has to drive more than 20 miles to get to Wal-Mart. Hell, I live out in the sticks and there are three within twenty miles of me. So where do you get this "the customer spends more money and time on cars, fuel, insurance, maintenance and driving and Oil Wars..." stuff?

Posted by: Alois at January 28, 2005 12:44 PM

sorry for the misattribution. for some reason, your post appeared at my computer before lionel's. or i just missed lionel's. your question to lionel makes more sense to me now -- the post i thought you were responding to is actually from ono.

yes, the definition was definitely overly simple. but given how capitalism has played out in the US, you could easily argue that lionel's definition is a good description of how capitalism in this country works out in practice.

as to whether capitalism is the best system we've got, i dunno. i'd have to see a captialist system function totally without government intervention before i could agree or disagree. given that this hasn't happened anywhere in the world yet, i think the jury's still out.

and yes, there are problems with democratic socialism, but even with those problems countries such as those in scandinavia have a much more even distribution of income than does, say, the US. and if you think that a fair distribution of the economy's benefits is a good thing, the record of democratic socialist countries is arguably better than those of countries operating under US-style capitalism. (a good case in point is australia, where economic inequality has increased as the country's economy moves more toward the US model)

Posted by: Magpie at January 28, 2005 12:45 PM


Okay, well and good and I'm glad you're not completely blinkered about democratic socialism. But it seems to me that a little fear (which is part and parcel of any capitalist system, i.e. "what happens if I lose my job?") is not necessarily a bad thing. The Scandinavians are bored to death with their cradle-to-grave-everything-is-nice society, and their suicide rates reflect it.

Posted by: Alois at January 28, 2005 12:56 PM

Well, I see you've deleted one of my posts. I also see that a lot of the post since have somehow spun my reply to this topic into a 'right vs left' thing.
My point in my first and second post (the one that was 'censored') is that there are some here where we all live needs the Wal-Marts and other big box retailers. I guess that's somehow a 'right-wing talking point'
You also say we are welcome to post here if we want to engage in debate but thats not really the case, is it? I post a view that's counter to yours and you delete it as well as making it out to be some kind of right-wing talking point. I'm sorry I don't bother to stop by and post how your so right and that you couldn't be wrong in any way. Oh, did I forget how insightful you are too!
I guess you'll 'Censor' this post also so do it fast so only a few will read and then call it what you will.

Posted by: Ron at January 28, 2005 01:03 PM

Didja read the whole thread, Ron? Just promise to stay away from right-wing talking points and you won't get bitch-slapped (with a spoon).

Posted by: Alois at January 28, 2005 01:10 PM

Speaking of the devil... well I'll be dipped.

Posted by: Alois at January 28, 2005 01:28 PM

Sorry, let's try that again: well I'll be dipped. PIMF.

Posted by: Alois at January 28, 2005 01:31 PM

first of all, ron, i'll thank you not to use the word 'bitch-slap' here. that language might be okay at other sites where you hang out, but not here. and watch your abusive tone in general, ok?

the reason why i deleted your earlier post was because it essentially repeated the right-wing party line on wal-mart that you in your first post, while continuing to direct nasty comments in my direction. (by the way, i don't drive an SUV. my current car is the biggest one i've had in my life -- a toyota corolla.) trashing one of the people who makes this forum possible isn't going to win you any friends, or get most people to take your arguments seriously.

and no, i'm not deleting your post -- even though it continues the snotty tone of the one i deleted -- because you actually explained your argument better than you did in the one that's gone. and even though you're acting like a jerk, you deserve to be heard.

alois, i saw the wal-mart story, too. while it's definitely a good thing that they're expanding their definition of family to include same-sex partners, it's probably not of huge help to wal-mart employees -- most of them can't afford the benefits that the company offers. the timing of the announcement is also somewhat suspect, given that it comes in a period where wal-mart is under heavy attack from several quarters. call me cynical, but i suspect the change in wal-mart's policy is aimed more at trying to find political allies in the lesbian/gay community than in any real concern for fairness.

Posted by: Magpie at January 28, 2005 02:04 PM

Well, Magpie, Ron was only parroting me. I initially used the phrase "bitch-slapped (with a spoon)". I think that we 'Publicons like to have a little fun with language from time to time--I know I do. The "with a spoon" part, though, was purely my invention. I really hope in my black heart of hearts that you don't think all of us in the VRWC wanna get spanked (or slapped) with spoons--?

I don't drive an SUV either and was a champion of auto fuel-efficiency long before it was popular. And I continue to take beatings from SUV-lovers to this day as a result. With large, heavy cudgels--not with a spoon.

Posted by: Alois at January 28, 2005 02:13 PM

Studying the transportation demand that big box retail outlets create, my initial worst-case example was Costco. But, Walmart now has super-centers similar to Costco.

One of our local Costco stores was averaging 5000 cars a day, an average of 20 miles round-trip. Keep in mind this Costco is on the fringe of a major metropolis, about 10 miles from city center, competing with innumerable neighborhood stores and shopping centers within 2 miles of the same customers.

So, if this Costco became a warehouse distribution center, a fleet of vans delivering the same goods to the local markets would burn less than 1/5 the amount of fuel than would the customers driving the 20 miles.

In rural areas, traffic is not as much a problem as in urban areas where most Americans live. Surburban and exurban areas have the greatest automobile dependency and generate most urban traffic. The Walmart-Costco Big Box-style retailers contribute to metropolis's chaotic motorized environment. For the urban dweller, alarming costs of living are related to the costs of transportation. Walmart stores increase the costs of transportation.

Posted by: Artie at January 28, 2005 07:07 PM

this is a company that gave 100% of political contributions to the GOP. This is a company that will not sell Jon Stewart's book. This a company that discriminates against female employees. This is a company that exploits borderline slave labor. This a company that sells merchandise at a very cheap price, but merchandise that is also the cheapest, most inferior crap this side of your neighborhood dollar store. When Henry Ford founded his automobile company, he insisted on paying his workers enough that they could afford to buy one of the cars that they helped build. WalMart, on the other hand, insists on paying their workers so little that they can't afford to shop anywhere else.

Posted by: mikefromtexas at January 28, 2005 10:41 PM

You're such a ridiculous tool Alois. Do you expect anyone of us to think you are real with your inane, just-so, mood calming anecdotes interspersed amongst your mindless trolleries?

Nobody who is honest or decent writes like this:

Well, Magpie, Ron was only parroting me. I initially used the phrase "bitch-slapped (with a spoon)". I think that we 'Publicons like to have a little fun with language from time to time--I know I do. The "with a spoon" part, though, was purely my invention. I really hope in my black heart of hearts that you don't think all of us in the VRWC wanna get spanked (or slapped) with spoons--?

I don't drive an SUV either and was a champion of auto fuel-efficiency long before it was popular. And I continue to take beatings from SUV-lovers to this day as a result. With large, heavy cudgels--not with a spoon.

I know it may sound fangless, but fuck off. You're not fooling anyone. Like all "informed" and conditioned wingers, you know how to wield the wand (cudgel) of smartassness but fail miserably in your presentation of empathy. That is where you fucktards will ultimately lose. You sytematically miss every point made, every potential question posed by the discussion magpie brings up. You do not have a soul and nor do the leaders of your cult.

This will eventually bear itself out. But of course, by then, I fear it will be too late to right this sinking ship. It's worth noting that your children are now enslaved for the rest of their lives by your ignorance.

Think about it. But I doubt you will. As my comment will call for further priapic responses from you about how right you are. Except you're not. This is easy to tell through your arrogance in presenting your partyline inanities. You exhibit no heart and no sign of individualism.

Again, think about it. Though of course you won't.

Posted by: crasspastor at January 29, 2005 01:27 AM

WHAT! Hours later and No admonishment or censorship over the last thread! Guess foul language, party line rhetoric, "nasty commits", "trashing people" and "abusive tone in general" is only allowed from those that support your point of view (or echo your talking points).
Tell me, How did 'CrassPastor' post further the debate on the topic of Wal-Mart? Looks to me as if it was nothing short of a mean sprited, personal attack on Alois that has nothing to do with Wal-Mart yet you allow it to stay up.
oops! I guess I'm being a 'butthead' and being a 'jerk' again and I'm not going to 'win any friends' around here.

Posted by: Ron at January 29, 2005 11:35 AM

it looks to me, ron, that when it comes to abuse, you can dish it out but you really don't like to take it. i've let some other abuse stand in this thread -- i think one such post from a lefty can be allowed to stand ... besides, if i deleted it, it would be censorship, wouldn't it???

Posted by: Magpie at January 29, 2005 04:01 PM

Magpie. I'm sorry that my response to Ron only put more stress on the tensions between Left and Right. I can never tell when acerbic posts are honest opinion or only meant to cause a stir.

My political position is Moderate, especially on transportation projects.

Most people, Left and Right, either cannot admit (or have not seen unbiased analysis exposing) the shortcomings of Seattle's light rail and monorail projects. Nor do most know how those shortcomings can be repaired. So, I have to bare resentments from both Left and Right.

I place transportation, land-use and development high on the national priority list. Any city that goes through the lengthy process of building a modern transit should not be shortchanged. But, that is what I fear is happening to Seattle.

Walmart is not a larger corporation than General Motors because Walmart depends upon car-dependent customers.

Posted by: Artie at January 29, 2005 05:33 PM

Wal-Mart costs taxpayers over $400,000 per store per year.

COMMITTEE ON EDUCATION AND THE WORKFORCE The Democratic Staff of the Committee on Education and the Workforce estimates that one 200-person Wal-Mart store may result in a cost to federal taxpayers of $427,450 per year – about $2,103 per employee. Specifically, the low wages result in the following additional public costs being passed along to taxpayers:
  • $36,000 a year for free and reduced lunches for just 50 qualifying Wal-Mart families.
  • $42,000 a year for Section 8 housing assistance, assuming 3 percent of the store employees qualify for such assistance, at $6,700 per family
  • $125,000 a year for federal tax credits and deductions for low-income families, assuming 50 employees are heads of household with a child and 50 are married with two children.
  • $100,000 a year for the additional Title I expenses, assuming 50 Wal-Mart families qualify with an average of 2 children.
  • $108,000 a year for the additional federal health care costs of moving into state children’s health insurance programs (S-CHIP), assuming 30 employees with an average of two children qualify.
  • $9,750 a year for the additional costs for low income energy assistance.
Among Wal-Mart employees, some single workers may be able to make ends meet. Others may be forced to take on two or three jobs. Others may have a spouse with a better job. And others simply cannot make ends meet. Because Wal-Mart fails to pay sufficient wages, U.S. taxpayers are forced to pick up the tab. In this sense, Wal-Mart’s profits are not made only on the backs of its employees – but on the backs of every U.S. taxpayer.

The ultimate costs are not limited to subsidies for underpaid Wal-Mart workers. When a Wal-Mart comes to town, the new competition has a ripple effect throughout the community. Other stores are forced out of business or forced to cut employees’ wages and benefits in order to compete with Wal-Mart. The Los Angeles City Council commissioned a report in 2003 on the effects of allowing Wal-Mart Supercenters into their communities. The report, prepared by consulting firm Rodino and Associates, found that Supercenters drive down wages in the local retail industry, place a strain on public services, and damage small businesses. It recommended that the City Council refuse to allow any Supercenters to be built in Los Angeles without a promise from Wal-Mart to increase wages and benefits for its employees.

The full report can be found here.

With over 2500 Wal-Mart stores nation wide that rounds out to $1,068,625,000 per year in employee subsidies that come from your pockets to keep Wal-Mart up and running with those great low prices.

Here's a simplified explanation that I wrote nearly a year ago of why Wal-mart is bad for a local economy:

Imagine you live in Cathedral City, CA. many years ago, before there was a Wal-Mart (or pick any small town anywhere in the country). If you wanted a baseball, you went to the local sporting goods store, Tom's Big Hit and were helped by Pete, who worked for Tom. If you wanted a shirt, you went to a little clothing store, The Desert Dress, and Mary helped you. If you wanted a new float for your toilet, you went to the local Ace hardware store that was owned by the Scott brothers. Each of these businesses had employees, owners, and most importantly, predominantly local ties.

In comes Wal-Mart. Their prices are lower than the sporting goods store, so Pete the stock boy at Tom's Big hit gets the ax because Tom can't afford to keep an employee any more. Pete has to go to work at Walmart where he starts at $6.50 per hour instead of the $9 per hour he used to make. To make matters worse he can only get 30 hours of work per week, so his weekly wage has gone from $360 down to $195. His yearly wage from $18,720 to $10,140.

Eventually Tom, Mary, and the Scotts all go out of business, and the profits from the money that used to stay in town at all of those stores now leaves town and goes to Arkansas making 5 of the richest men in the world even richer.

This is not good for Cathedral City, CA. It's not good for any other town that it happens to. It's good only for those five rich bastards.

Yes, Skippy the golf pro from neighboring Palm Springs can now buy his underwear for slightly less, but his yearly savings are pennies compared to the millions leaving town on the Wal-Mart express. To make matters worse, Skippy's taxes are now supporting Pete because he's living below the poverty line and needs housing assistance, etc. where before he made enough to fully support himself.

On a local level, Wal-Mart is an economic disaster in almost every case. If any of you are bored, looking for a crap job, and a chance to make the national news, may I suggest getting a job at Wal-Mart, being a good employee, working very hard, and trying to unionize the shop.

Posted by: Chris Mahnken at January 31, 2005 06:35 PM


I have digested your commentary, and quite a bit of your extremely erudite blog as well.

Now I'd like to issue a challenge to you: See if you can say one good thing about the United States of America. And no sarcasm, please.

I guess a fool like me's just got to wonder why you'd even want to stick around, being as we suck so bad n' all.

Priapic enuff for ya?

Posted by: Alois at February 1, 2005 10:49 AM

Magpie. The photos are increasing the download time, really slow. Could you make them thumbnails?

America is a great place for free speech. Oh wait. Kids (Bushler Youth Groups?) are being taught that the 1st Amendment goes too far.

Posted by: Artie at February 1, 2005 11:07 AM

Yeah, right. Next?

Posted by: Alois at February 1, 2005 11:20 AM

DATE: 01/28/2005 01:35:53 PM
Yes, I did read the whole thread.
My replies were not ment to be political. It was ment to be a reply baised on social observations.
In my post that was deleted one point that I made was the Wal-Marts and Super Wal-Marts here help seniors living on a fixed income eat ground beef rather than Alpo. How is that a 'right-wing talking point'?
If Wal-Mart and other big box retailers are able to sell us goods and services and is willing and able to do so for only a nickle instead of a dollar isn't that just one of the reasons that make this country so great?
...And before you break out your spoon and 'bitch-slap' me over talking points, take a look at the threads on this post, take a look at the the other topics on this site, now lets talk about talking points! ...or dosn't left-wing, barking moonbat talking points count?

Posted by: Ron at March 3, 2011 12:06 AM