Big Box Bellowing


New at Reason: Wal-Mart is threatening to destroy the close-knit, small-town community of Los Angeles. Can the superstore be kept out of L.A., even though it's already there? Can the anti-big-box arguments get any cheesier? RiShawn Biddle shops for answers.

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  1. In Goleta, the neighboring area of Santa Barbara, there’s a shopping mall with some Big Box stores: Home Depot, Borders, Staples, etc. (No WalMart) A guy I know is all incensed about the existence of this place. The fact that people drive there makes it even worse in his eyes. The fact that they shop there instead of some of the “mom and pop” stores is just the final straw.

    (He’s an engineer with a small company that markets products around the world, and which has undoubtedly squashed some competitors, but let’s not let hypocrisy get in the way of a good rant.)

  2. Aside from hardware stores, competitors to the big-box stores generally suck. High prices, low selection, and moderate-to-lousy service. I know you can point to thousands of exceptions, but there are tens or hundreds of thousands of non-exceptions.

    I think what critics really miss is not having to compete with the poor people for parking spaces.

  3. Wal-Mart is the perfect, final result of decades of bigger-is-better, drive-in shopping. Lots of people don’t like their town’s entire commerce being taken over by one giant store, so it’s understandable that Wal-Mart is going to be the target of their anger.

  4. I haven’t driven down Crenshaw in a few years, but I’d hardly characterize that area as stereotypically South-Central. SC is, as a matter of fact, now called South L.A., but I digress. Crenshaw is more black middle-class, and there is or was a large, fairly modern shopping center there, together with miles of shops on Crenshaw itself.

    Remember that Urkel show? Remember how his girlfriend or whatever was named Susie Crenshaw or something? That was, I believe, a joke.

    The Panorama City store and the Porter Ranch store are within driving distance of much of the Valley. And, I believe Paramount has – or claims to have had – a bit of urban renewal.

    All of this leaves me wondering, is RiShawn affiliated with the so-called Friends of Silver Lake?

  5. If Wal-Mart does destroy L.A., it’ll be the first truly good thing they’ve done.

  6. I perfer Carrefour. 🙂

  7. [i]Lots of people don’t like their town’s entire commerce being taken over by one giant store, so it’s understandable that Wal-Mart is going to be the target of their anger.[/i]

    I have yet to see the two Super Wal Marts “take over the entire commerce” in my small town.

    And even our other big stores are thriving.

    The small stores have their loyal customer base.

    Their main problem isn’t the big stores but…..location, location, location.

    They’re downtown.

  8. I live in the Bay Area and there was a recent Contra Costa County ballot measure to ban “big box” stores. The opposing ads were paid for by Walmart (to save their hide). The supporting ads were paid for by Safeway (who quietly sponsored the measure). The small print of the measure was carefully worded to NOT outlaw ALL big box stores, just those that sell fresh food groceries (exclusing bulk food). Thus, Costco, Staples, Home Depot, and CompUSA would be OK, but Walmart would outlawed because it would compete with Safeway. Fortunately, the measure failed. 🙂

    When people complain about Walmart’s hyper-competition against the “little guys” (like Safeway?!), they are really saying poor people should have to pay extra for food. Preventing poor people from buying cheaper groceries at Walmart means that their families cannot afford as much food. 🙁

  9. As it is, Wal-Mart is already here, with four stores in L.A. and fifteen more in surrounding cities. These stores aren’t in the nicer or easier-to-reach parts of town.

    Huh? What about the Wal-Marts in the tony San Fernando Valley neighborhoods of Porter Ranch (median home price: $510,000) and West Hills (median home price: $442,000); or the nearby suburbs of Stevenson Ranch (median home price: $586,000), and Simi Valley?

    The UCFW (sic) alone gave $9,500 over the last three years to city officials including Mayor James Hahn.

    OK. So what did Wal-Mart give during the same period? Quick search of online contribution reports suggests it was about the same… $7,250 from Wal-Mart and another $600 from employees.

  10. Jean Bart

    Je prefere les Galeries Lafayette. 🙂

  11. Isaac Bertram,

    I’m not quite sure why Carrefour does not enter the U.S. market; they dramatically expanded everywhere else (fifty new stores in China alone last year), but they continue to remain outside the U.S. market.

  12. That’s “associates,” Sam, not employees. You’ll smoke a turd in hell for that.

  13. There used to be a Carrefour in Philadelphia.

  14. Jean Bart

    Are you sure they have not, while keeping the name of the existing US entities? I recently heard that our local “Kash ‘n’ Karry” is owned by a Belgian conglomerate.

    I must confess that I shop at Wal-Mart for my ammunition, camping supplies and beer (you know, the necessities of life), I’m not sure that Les Galeries Lafayette would satisfy all those needs (all I’ve ever bought there is a tablecloth and some household gizmos [what’s ‘gizmos’ in french?]).


    “There used to be a Carrefour in Philadelphia”

    It may have been a “take off”. Perhaps the real thing challenged them legally.

  15. Walmart is one of the greatest things for a poor graduate student. I’m spending a lot less for much better food than I was when I was living in the city where my options were two organic food stores, a rundown grocery store, and a bunch of convenience stores.

    Of course the professors do whatever they can to keep Walmart from expanding, but competition between municipalities (“race to the bottom”) assures that commerce prevails.

  16. >When people complain about Walmart’s hyper-
    >competition against the “little guys” (like
    >Safeway?!), they are really saying poor people
    >should have to pay extra for food.

    No, actually we are saying that poor people shouldn’t need to buy a car and drive ten or fifteen miles to find a supermarket.

    >The small stores have their loyal customer base.
    >Their main problem isn’t the big stores
    >but…..location, location, location.
    >They’re downtown.

    I think the problem is actually… parking, parking, parking.

  17. How do you think Wal-Mart gets such low prices?? magical smiley faces that fly around and bump price tags??

    No, they buy cheaper, forcing the supplier companys to find ways to cut costs. Easiest way to cut costs?? Outsource as much of the manufacturing costs as you can, reduce the work force in the US.
    Forbes had an interesting article a few months ago on this issue.

    What happens to that work force?? They enter the unemployment lines. Are there any jobs for them? No. What do you have, poor people. Poor people who must shop at Wal-Mart.. but those unemployment checks only go so far….

    Thats the problem with only looking at this issue from one direction, its much deeper then anyone seems to be looking.

  18. joe: As one who has not taken more than an introductory course in planning, I am able to recognize that people are smart enough to solve their own problems without a couple of graduates and a politician telling them what they “really” want.

    You mimic late’s argument that lower-priced retail creates poverty. This is only true when workers refuse to become more skilled and find the opportunities created by the increased efficiency. From Scott’s story, he’s spending the same cash, but not all on shelf-stockers and cashiers. There’s an increased potential demand for massage therapists, if the former shoe clerks wanted to better themselves.

    As we’ve covered a couple of days ago, the clerks can afford only slum housing because the unholy axis of planners and snobs create zoning regs which elevate the price of land and houses. City Beautiful has no room for Wal-Mart or those who work and shop there.

  19. As to non-semitic ownership, I expect the Jewish banking houses own a huge chunk of WMT. They may not sit obviously on the board, but they’re still in control. *Don’t tell anybody, o.k.?*


  20. Isaac Bertram,

    That is possible. If it is legal to sell in a country, Carrefour will sell it.

  21. Crafty devils. 😉

    “I am able to recognize that people are smart enough to solve their own problems without a couple of graduates and a politician telling them what they “really” want.” Yes, and one of the ways they do this is by electing representatives who shape the law to their will. You’re not arguing against institutions denying people choices; you’re just arguing against such behavior by institutions (governments) that have legal and electoral checks over their behavior. Some billionaire’s willing to lose a few bucks in the short term to alter the retail economy the way he sees fit, and that’s fine with you – regardless of what people want their city to be like.

    You’re very presumptuous to assume what options are open to retail employees. My spidey sense tells me you don’t think unemployed shoe salesmen should have access to subsidized massage schooling, or tax-funded financial aid while he’s in school, so what are you actually talking about?

    And even in libertopia, $380/week isn’t going to keep your kids fed and housed in Los Angeles.

  22. There are a few things about Walmart et al. that might give even the most extreme libertarian pause.

    This article from the Washington Post suggests that China’s government is at least partly responsible for the economic advantages gained from outsourcing.

    This opinion piece and the facts it reports outrages me — and I subscribe to some pretty significant libertarian views. Government mandated slave labor?

    I suspect free trade works well only between free nations. China does not fit that description today.

    If Walmart et al. were doing better by reliance on the free market and a free labor force, there would be much to admire in their business. I suspect, however, that they are not adhering to at least my standards in either regard.

  23. Hey Joe,

    I’ll tell what options ARE open to the shelf stocker at Walmart. Our society provides free medical care. (I know that is a secret. Don’t let it out or all Americans will stop paying their insurance premiums and just go on the public dole like poor people do.) We also provide assistance in housing, food, and public transportation. We provide public parks, and we pay for the police, the firemen, the armed forces, OSHA inspectors, FDA regulators etc. to keep poor people safe (even though poor people cannot afford to pay their fair share for these sevices.) The REAL income calculated in benefits is far above the hard-dollar income of someone living in poverty based solely on employment income. If calculated in real terms, the vast majority of those “living in poverty” are not in poverty at all.

    Are they stressed out? Sure. Do they resent having to rely on the rest of us to provide for them what they have proven incapable of providing for themselves? Some do. Last year, I paid over $50,000.00 in taxes on an income of $120,000.00. Did I spend more than I get back? Probably. (The year before I only made $15,000.00 so I guess I was poor that year.)

    And we do provide education assistance to those who seek it out. I have two brothers in Texas who took advantage of education programs to get their careers on track and rise out of “poverty” wages. My other brother lost his $100,000 plus job 18 months ago and last year made $0. He also took advantage of a government subsidized retraining program in Illinois. In all three cases, they had to work to get approved to be part of these programs. But the programs do exist for those willing to make the effort.

    Results of these three programs: One brother makes $45,000.00 instead of $16,000.00. Another brother, who was effectively a bum for 10 years, drives a city bus and, if he sticks with it, can be making $40,000.00 in three years. The other has been offered a job for $75,000.00 but the catch is he has to sell his $250,000.00 ($100,000.00 equity) condo on Lake Michigan in Chicago, and move to Cleveland.

    So don’t tell me the programs don’t exist. They do. It is simply a matter of spending the time and effort to find them and take advantage of them. By the way, the brother that was a bum didn’t get off his ass until my sister stopped taking care of him – something I had been begging her to do for the entire 10 years.

    Finally, you CAN work two jobs, you know. And you can make a responsible decision to stay with the other parent of your children. Something like 75-80% of all children in poverty would be raised out of poverty by the simple choice of their parents to stay together and work ANY job. So choices have a lot to do with it.

  24. Way too many forks in the road. I wanna talk about big boxes and zoning laws.

  25. joe: Clearly, LA ain’t Libertopia. 🙂

    The people elect the politicians who hire planners. Once elected and hired, those pols and planners work to create their personal vision, not the people’s. They might even decide to compete for a big box with another town, as KentinDC described. Once a code is enacted, it becomes, well, law, and is significantly difficult to change when the people realize the pols lied and the planners were wrong. Government casts mistakes into concrete.

    A citizen is bound by law (except the Mayor of SF), but can give his business freely to the billionaire, a different billionaire, or mom&pop. No referendum is required.

    Your spidey sense is dead on. Let the former shoe clerk get a roommate and eat Wal-Mart ramen while in massage school. Or just work the corporate system to become a manager at the big box. Individual standards of living are not, to me, part of the state’s guarantee to the people. Next thing you know, I’ll be paying loan subsidies for Urban Planning students at State (supported) universities.

    One can achieve preferred statistics by changing the scope of the study. Looking only at main street shopkeepers’ income, the big box is evil. To a student, WMT’s low prices are wonderful. To a neighborhood, the big box may have net negative effect. But to a meta-neighborhood, where the price effects reach further than the wage-and-ugliness effects, it swings positive. At the State level, an individual big box has negligible effect. But if the State scores a distribution center or factory or headquaters, positive again.

    What I’m really talking about is living by principle rather than outcome. I prefer the state out of the market, and will suffer temporarily the shifting sands of commerce as I believe, over my life, I’ll do better without Big Brother meddling. I believe we can all do better, if we take responsibility for ourselves rather than delegating to the nanny state.

  26. No problem. Here’s a few pitches. Swing at your favorite.

    How does a fully-accredited planner assess the impact of zoning laws between municipalities and regions?

    Is planning necessarily activist, or can we hire you to give us your opinon then make our own choices?

    Is there a model suggesting big boxes can coexist with main streets? If so, at what level of state intervention and cost-shifting?

  27. joe:
    “I think the problem is actually… parking, parking, parking.”

    Yep, and the city planners of my town are going to make it worse by putting landscaped medians down the enitire stretch of the downtown boulevard. This will take about a YEAR.

    The merchants down there are furious, but they’re stuck.

    Meanwhile, the two Wal marts thrive on the opposite ends of town in the newer areas where the planners lack a downtown to impose their vision upon.

  28. Chuck,

    I have no problem taking advantage of slave labor. In fact, by offshoring slavery, I don’t even have to beat them myself.

    If your morals are different, you pay the higher price.

  29. Joe,
    To add to Mark’s comments, one obstacle to poor people learning new skills is minimum wage laws and other regulation of the labor markets. I don’t know about you, but I’d rather make $3/hour learning a new trade than paying $20,000/year in tuition to learn the same thing. Unfortunately, the State does not allow me that option.

    Also, my hometown in the US has plenty of people feeding and housing the kids on $380/week. Those people wouldn’t be making much more no matter where they lived because they either don’t have very marketable skills and/or they are not particularly ambitious. However, they have the advantage of living somewhere without a lot of snobs trying to keep out Walmart and the riff-raff.

    Every time I visit my hometown I note that people with a fraction of my income live in much larger and nicer homes than I do. It might have something to do with the restrictions DC area governments put on building driving prices up. Most people in my hometown have this quaint idea that people should be able to do what they want with their own property as long as they aren’t hurting someone else. In fact, I think that was the original idea behind private property.

  30. late: So if we look at it from the other direction, a Nordstrom in every neighborhood will make us all filthy rich?

    Sam: You’re in luck. Wal-Mart just rolled back Turd Lighters to 79? each!

  31. Of course you can’t live in LA on $380/wk. Do you have any idea how much in taxes the poor pay?

    – Josh

  32. That guy Biddle just posted some of his responses at his Web site:

  33. “Once elected and hired, those pols and planners work to create their personal vision, not the people’s.” And if they don’t like the vision, they vote the bastards out in two years. Private parties cast mistakes in cocrete, too, the difference being they don’t even try to do what’s right for anyone else.

    “What I’m really talking about is living by principle rather than outcome.” Concern for the well being of others is a principle, a pretty admirable one to people with a conscience.

    “How does a fully-accredited planner assess the impact of zoning laws between municipalities and regions?” Lots of ways. I’m not sure what you’re asking here.

    “Is planning necessarily activist, or can we hire you to give us your opinon then make our own choices?” That’s most of the job, actually. Planners are experts at a certain subject, and public and private parties hire us to analyze, draw conclusions, and make recommendations.

    “Is there a model suggesting big boxes can coexist with main streets? If so, at what level of state intervention and cost-shifting?” There are many such models. Some economic transactions provide maximum benefit in a model that maximizes efficiency, others specialization, others convenience (defined in various ways). And, of course, different models are better at maximizing different values. I can 20 gallons of mayonnaise cheaper at Cosco, but I can get a carton of milk a lot easier by walking two blocks, and I think it’s good to spend my money at the local Thai place, because it gets cycled through the low-income community that really needs it.

  34. OK, a better answer to Mark’s “Can downtowns and big boxes coexist” question – and also to shaneps comment about the planting strip downtown, and the “parking parking parking” comment someone (not me) made:

    It’s good that the downtown is sacrificing parking convenience for character and quality of life. In the late 1950s, cities began to notice that they were losing their retail sector to the malls. So they implemented all sorts of programs, from highways through neighborhoods to street widening to building parking garages to demolishing buildings for parking lots, in the hope of competing with the malls in the areas where the malls had the advantage – convenience of access from the highway, and ease of parking. There was also a deliberate effort to change the aesthetic of downtowns to make them more like malls, “Nobody wants to see that old stone and brick! Cover it up with vinyl and alumininum! Put the door off the parking lot, sidewalks are bad.”

    But there was a something missing, that got sort of half expressed in the quest for “authenticity” the hippies were always talking about. And what’s more, a downtown can never hope to even come close to competing with a mall by an offramp on automobile convenience. So now, downtowns are going the other way, and concentrating their efforts on what they have that malls don’t – character, convenient access for people walking from nearby (who don’t, generally, like to dash across four lanes of traffic), access to parks and culture and libraries – that type of thing.

    Now, sometimes similar businesses do just as well in both settings – coffee shops come to mind. But in general, the types of stores that do well downtown don’t do well in the mall, and vice-versa (except when the downtown becomes so successful that mall-type stores want to locate there as well – M Street in Georgetown).

    So what’s the future? Malls and big boxes out by the highway – places people go because they have to in order to do what they need to do – and cool “third places” downtown, where people go in the evenings and weekends because they want to. Even places like Vegas and Florida are now working to retrofit their centerless suburbs with a downtown (sometimes by redeveloping a dead mall and building densely on its parking lots). If you notice, very few of these try to make the downtown a Central Business District (center of office space) anymore, and concentrate on retail, funky housing, and entertainment.

    So shanep, it’s a good thing that your downtown is not trying to be as convenient for drivers as the Wal Marts. It can’t, and it shouldn’t.

  35. joe: Gee, I wasn’t expecting a swing at every pitch…

    The locals can vote the pols out in 2 years, or 4 or 6, depending on the place. But the codes enacted have the mass of concrete. Pols, in my experience, are very reluctant to question the wisdom of their predecessors, and after election, they only offer lip service to the people. I’m thinking local politics, where self-serving and corruption are more direct. One project can secure the union endorsement, for example.

    Concern for others is nice. Coercion in the name of concern, not so much. My liberty trumps my compassion.

    more later…I like your “third place” discussion…

  36. Joe,

    Good zoning law reduces visual dissonance. But a city as big as LA should not be in the practice of exclusionary zoning. The population is just too large. Perhaps LA should consider neighborhood zoning restrictions as valid. But banning Walmart big box stores in the entire city is unjustified and discriminates against those who might desire a nice Walmart nearby. I have no problem with exclusionary zoning practiced on a small scale. That is part of our rights of self-government.

    But the entire city of LA is another whole scale of magnitude. Surely a large city with malls, department stores, big box hardware and home improvement stores, etc. cannot morally justify excluding Walmart on the basis of combining houseware and clothing sales with groceries. Small cities that have excluded Walmart to “preserve” the integrity of their communities have been destroyed anyway my migration. The only way to “preserve” the integrity of the community is to outlaw media – newspaper, internet, TV and movies.

    This is being tried somewhere in the world. I think they call it the Middle East. There, they are trying to hold the evolution of society at bay to “preserve” their 14th century ideal. It’s not a good model.

    I believe in good zoning. If you’ve ever visited Houston, Texas, you can see first hand what a catastrophy bad zoning is. But good zoning should be about defining commercial zones, industrial zones, residential zones, etc., not micro-managing the individual content of those zones.

  37. We have to do _something_ to save mom & pop retailers like… um… JCPenney, Sears, Macy’s, Saks and, oh yes, Safeway.

    I just moved to Silicon Valley and have yet to figure out which grocery chain competes with Safeway. The sooner Wal-mart can move into the grocery business here, the better for competition.

    (Anytime there’s a fuss about Wal-mart, if you dig deep enough or wait long enough, someone eventually displays his elitism by saying, “just look at the _people_ who shop there!” )

  38. Years ago, I lived in a small Southern town (town A) the local businessmen of which opposed the building of a Super Walmart. Instead, Walmart built about twenty miles down the road (at town B) where the locals were more hospitable. Soon afterward, most people of town A were making the twenty mile trip for virtually ALL their shopping and businesses were springing up in town B while those who opposed Walmart in town A suffered. Seemed like poetic justice to me.

  39. Wal-Mart’s advantage to me is convenience more than price. At every stop I’ve got to drag the baby out of her car seat, negotiate which stuffed animals and books are coming along, shop, wait at the checkout line while she yells “no lady!” (recently she hates checkout workers), unload the cart, strap her back in, get rid of the cart, negotiate through the parking lot to the next stop… Nobody shopping with a toddler could possibly romanticize separate stops at the hardware store, bakery, butcher shop, etc. In fact, this is probably why Europeans have stopped having children.

  40. Yup.
    Everyone hates Walmart except the millions and millions of individuals who willingly shop there.
    I suggest that its opponents pool their resources to subsidize its Mom ‘n’ Pop competitors. Then the stores can coexist, with lefties paying more, and the rest of us getting more for less.
    Everyone wins!

  41. F Walmart.

    The public who wants Walmart can shop there, and the public who doesn’t want Walmart can use the tools at their disposal to stop them.

    What I’m hearing here is everyone saying “Walmart can go wherever they want, the people’s desires be damned!” Which is, obviously, stupid. People ought to have the right to band together in a community to make things happen. Preventing Walmarts from opening is a fine thing, if that’s what they want.

    As to “why” you wouldn’t want a Walmart, you dopes obviously have never been involved with them directly. Their modus operandi seems to be: Open 4 stores in an area, wipe out the competition, then close 2 or 3 of their own stores that are not doing “well enough”. End result: Many empty big boxes and everyone has to haul their asses to the one that’s left.

    In small, historic towns, Walmart is evil. Let the people there decide what kind of community they want to live in.

    I’m not comparing Walmart to Safeway, but none of you can say that a Main St filled with small one-of-a-kind shops is somehow worse than a sanitized Walmart. Shit, let’s all homogenize! Wheeeee!

  42. Walmart Sucks,
    It could be that one of us should get his hearing checked. What I’m hearing is that the reason Walmart is thriving is because they are offering what millions of people want. Of course, not one of those millions is as enlightened as you are.

    Have you ever been to Lexington, VA? It is a small historical town that just happens to have a Super Walmart AND “a Main Street with small one-of-a-kind shops”. I would suggest that you move there, but I don’t think they need one more person willing to sacrifice property rights for the sake of an organized mob’s vision of small town USA. Like most towns, it already has its share of people with such attitudes.

  43. There were indeed 2 Carrefours in the Philly region. One in the city and another in South Jersey (perhaps Vorhees or Cherry Hill). The unions were out in force from day one. And they are a force to be reckoned with in Philadelphia, just ask MTV. Carrefours never really quite cuaght on. I don’t think people were ready yet fot a hyper-market and the stores eventually closed

  44. “I like your “third place” discussion…” I totally stole that. But it’s a useful concept.

    Scott, don’t blame zoning for Houston – Houston is famous for being the zoning-free city. Blame capitalism, blame covenants, blame good old boys deciding how things are going to be, but don’t blame zoning.

    You almost had me at “exclusionary zoning” and “entire city of Los Angeles.” I tend to err on the side of letting the enterprise go forward and worrying about conditions, absent a compelling argument beyond speculation about abstract social benefit theories, no matter how compelling. Zoning should be about regulating land use impacts, after all.

    Except for the fact that a 197,000 square foot store – over four and a half acres of store – can be built all over the city, and there is a zoning district in which stores over 200,000 square feet are allowed. A store that size has a catchment area large enough that going on one side of town or the other isn’t a big deal.

    Just in case there’s some misunderstanding in Reasonland, Wal Mart is going to be just fine, and Angelenos are going be able to buy their cheap plastic crap from Sam even if the ordinance passes.

    You people get compassionate over the oddest things.

  45. Opponents of Walmart are just snobs. I don’t normally shop at Walmart. But…

    I have a big freezer. Guess where I shop to fill my freezer.

    Example: Bag of Frozen corn; Albertson’s $1.09, Walmart $0.78 – 28% savings. So should I spend $250.00 at Albertsons to fill my freezer with frozen vegetables, or $180.00 at Walmart. Hey, that $70.00 buys me a full body massage, or a nice date with my wife, or a birthday party for the kids. I still spend the money, but I get a little more for it. Also, instead of spending all my money in one place, it goes to several places.

    Also, check out bulk prices for meat at Sam’s Wholesale Warehouse. I never ate this well when I was a kid. My kids regularly eat 95% lean ground meat, salmon, mahi mahi, pork tenderloin, boneless skinless chicken breast, turkey breast, sirloin steak, sirloin tips, etc. I remember draining the grease off the ground meat and eating lots of tuna growing up. The price of meat bought in bulk at Sam’s is less than 1/2 the cost of meat bought in the grocery store. Of course I have to be my own butcher for about 4 hours every 5 months, and have purchased a vacuum packer, but the cost savings and the increased quality of diet in great.

    Also, wine… Forget about it. Buy it by the case. Brazed breast of turkey fillets in a white wine sauce with purple onions. Mmmmmm, Mmmmmm. Serve with White Zinfandel $3.50 per bottle.

    Albertson’s still get’s a few grand a year from me for produce, milk, bread, etc. But should I apologize for saving money by making the Sam Walton clan just a little richer when I fill my freezer and wine cabinet. No way buddy.

  46. When an author has to contradict himself and demonstrably lie in a forum designed to allow him to make his case in the strongest way possible, it’s a pretty good bet he’s holding a bum hand. Mr. Biddle, I call.

    First off, in order to defend auto-oriented, big box stores out by the highway that cater to people driving in from all over, Biddle sings the praises of small, multi-level Wal-Marts that locate in inner city commercial districts to serve those in the surrounding neighborhood. “These stores (the existing Wal-Marts) aren’t in the nicer or easier-to-reach parts of town. The Baldwin Hills store for example, is located within South Central L.A., which is better-known for poverty and gang violence than for its array of shopping amenities.” So, is this what the opposition is protesting, or what the ordinance would prevent? Well, from the column: “Wal-Mart is already here, with four stores in L.A. and fifteen more in surrounding cities. While these aren’t the 200,000 square-foot stores with delis and bakeries that L.A. officials want to banish…”

    And if neighborhood retailing is such a obsolete phenomenon and a result of the popularity of the automobile, as the author insists we all assume, then why is Wal-Mart having such success locating in those areas, and retaling so successfully to the underserved people there?

    And BTW, 500 jobs, most near the bottom of the wage scale, on 25 urban acres is shit, as anyone who’d bothered to take even a semester of introductory planning would know.

    “the average pay is more than $9.50 according to Kanelos, just above the $8.71 average wages earned by unionized workers in a typical Vons or Safeway.” Read that statement carefully. All it really says is that when you include the salaries of management in one sample, and exclude them from the other, the one with managers’ salaries included comes out higher! Gee whiz, I’ll go put on a happy face right now.

    “Wal-Mart employees allegedly won’t be able to afford health insurance and other benefits on their incomes.” “allegedly?” Show me how to buy my own health insurane on $380/week without starving or living in a box, smart guy.

    “Much of the opposition likely comes from the image of Wal-Mart shoppers as hicks without enough style or taste to shop at a hipper spot such as Target.” Yes, likely, along with our enjoyment of strangling kittens and knife raping nuns. You know, the support for shopping at Wal Mart is “likely” because, unlike many other department stores, it isn’t owned by Jews. Or is only one side of this debate allowed to do that?

    Finally, paying your workers a slum-housing/barely enough to eat salary, and firing anyone who uses the word “union,” isn’t exactly an “innovation.”

    Weak, dude.

  47. And I write this someone who has a Cosco membership and shops regularly and Target, Kohls, and B&N. I believe big boxes have their place, both economically and geographically. I’m just pissed off by 1)Wal Mart’s hiring, contracting, and management practices, and 2) transparently dishonest political advocacy.

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