WalMart: Hey Jessica, Won’t it Hurt When You Fall Off That High Horse?

12.1.08


Ooh, WalMart, I went to college and bought all my trash bins and cleaning supplies for about fifty cents. I appreciated that you offered such deep discounts at the time, but I didn’t realize that it was accomplished on the backs of your workers.

Sam Walton was an amazing man who hustled like crazy to create American jobs, American millionaires and The American Dream. Sam Walton was an idealist and a hustler and a man willing to admit to his mistakes. Sam Walton allowed bake sales on his properties and provided scholarships to high school seniors within the stores’ communities. Sam Walton was trying to provide for his family, and in the process created a wave of millionaires by offering his employees a piece of the pie.

Are you having a hard time reconciling WalMart with Sam Walton? Me too. Frontline may clear some of that up for you.

After Friday’s stampede in New York that left 34 year old Jdimytai Damour dead, the WalMart store stayed closed for a few short hours and reopened in the afternoon. No, I’m not joking. I’m wondering if the Nassau County Police Department required the store to be shut down as it was a crime scene or if the store manager thought it would take them a few hours to mop up any messes.

From the New York Times:

Detective Lt. Michael Fleming, who is in charge of the investigation for the Nassau police, said the store lacked adequate security. He called the scene “utter chaos” and said the “crowd was out of control.” As for those who had run over the victim, criminal charges were possible, the lieutenant said. “I’ve heard other people call this an accident, but it is not,” he said. “Certainly it was a foreseeable act.”

I’m not against Corporate America. I believe that large corporations do need to exist. I also know that, like individuals, they need to exist in a responsible manner. WalMart hasn’t been responsible for a very long time. WalMart has ceased to be a good neighbor and should be scorned as such.

The carbon footprint of Walmart is needlessly large, entire cities in China exist only to support WalMart. Wouldn’t that be great if the items were then sold in China? Well, they aren’t, the shoes that give your children blisters are here, via China via Walmart. As of this writing typing Walmart recall into Google will give you 1,810,000 hits. I’m not a supply chain expert, but I am a consumer and my expectation is that items are inspected before they hit the shelves.

I find it remarkable that eleven women are willing to write for free for a store that will offer them $3 shampoos. Let me get really clear here, I will blog free and be an evangelist for any of the stores I shop at. Seriously, BMW, Ford, Barneys, Saks Fifth Ave, Gelsons, Whole Foods Market, Joe’s Jeans, 77 Kids, Genetech, Intuition… these are all places that get my money anyhow and treat me well. With a catch though, in order to treat me well they also have to treat us all well, the environment, their employees, their communities and their customers. I know my value, and it’s not in discount shampoo or in clothing sewn together by children younger than my own. I’d rather own one pair of shoes well made than ten for $8 each.

I know that the poor rely on Walmart and stores like it to keep their budget in check, but the rest of us? It’s tempting to buy cheap. I do think that most financial analysts would agree with me when I tell you this. We can’t afford WalMart.

There were reports of a 28 year old woman suffering a miscarriage, but she was apparently taken to the hospital and remains pregnant. Eight months to be exact.

If you’re thinking about the way you shop and that every dollar spent equals personal responsibility; here are some good places to begin:

It would take days for me to list the websites chronicling Walmart’s systematic abuse of workers (particularly women and minorities) so I’d urge you all to leave additional (vetted) links in the comments and I promise to look at them all.

The death of Jdimytai Damour should be our collective national shame.

—–

Update: the “Jessica” in the title refers to me and only to me. I know y’all are possibly sick of my antics, but I assure you that this high horse will hold me firm. I don’t/can’t/won’t pick every battle this is a no brainer.

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38 responses to “WalMart: Hey Jessica, Won’t it Hurt When You Fall Off That High Horse?”

  1. Mrs Pop says:

    It’s pretty sick… And sad, too, that the original concept has been lost in the greed of so many.

  2. MammaLoves says:

    Oh I’m just going to sit back and watch this one…

    I love you.

  3. Lori says:

    I find it sad that people have nothing better to do than bash without knowing all the facts….but I’m not going there.

    I’m extremely offended by the “poor rely on Walmart” statement. As a Walmart shopper, I shop there because I want to. It doesn’t mean I’m poor, it means that I want to save money when I can so that I can insure that my kids have what they need down the road for college or whatever else might come up in this horrid economic situation. I shop there because I like it.

    Wow……how ugly can people be these days. I think people can’t be happy unless they are making someone else miserable or talking down to them. I don’t think I’ve ever seen such a blatant display of arrogance & ignorance. Have mercy on your soul my friend.

  4. @Lori If you want to ensure a good future for your children (and I believe wholeheartedly that you do) then supporting your local economy would be the wisest maneuver. WalMart and other big box stores often strike deals with local governments so that they don’t pay the same tax rates as your Mom and Pop Shops. They also put Mom and Pop out of business over just a few cents.

    I assure you, that your neighbors Mr. and Mrs. Jones would offer your community more than WalMart, give them a chance.

    I don’t believe for a minute that you NEED everything you buy.

  5. Mrs Pop says:

    You know something? It is extremely tempting to buy cheap. I’m not poor, and I do shop at Wal-Mart. I’m greedy and I want my money in my pocket. I’m part of the problem.

    But my local grocery store has better meat and produce, so I shop there. I go where the money is most likely to stay in my account.

    I’m not poor, but I have been. I’m in no way offended by your statements as I read the ENTIRE post. Funny what happens when one does that.

    XOXO

  6. I feel terrible any time I step into a Walmart, and it’s not just because I get a case of the creeping wiggies walking through the doors. I wish I had the option to shop elsewhere, financially, and someday I will.

  7. Diana says:

    You, my friend… I suddenly feel an overwhelming urge to love. Like cupcakes with those multi-colored sprinkles. Yes, like that. Love.

    And now, I will take up a seat next to mammaloves and watch…

  8. Danielle says:

    Excellent and well said!

    We are a single income family who is suffering during these hard time but still I refuse to step foot in Wally World.

    I’ve never ever liked that store and what it represents.

    Nobody “has” to shop there it is a choice :)

  9. omnidudemeandthebean says:

    Finally! Some real opinions. I stopped buying at Wal-mart a few years ago because of how they treat their employees. Now, this just adds to my reasons for avoiding them. Take a look at my blog and you might find a humorous comment about said giant.

  10. Jessica:

    In addition to the abuses you outlined, it can’t be ignored that money is tight and people are looking for big discounts for holiday shopping. The endless hype of “sale starts at 4am” and “These prices ONLY for 1 Hour!!!” feed into the hysteria.

    People plan their whole day over what they can cram into their carts before the sun even rises over the big box parking lots… why? Because of the endless tirade of advertisements.

    I think the whole Black Friday approach is morally inexcusable. It’s like a gladiator game in a retail arena. EVERY year you see footage of people duking it out over Elmo dolls, and now we have the death of Mr. Damour. It’s a day of shame.

  11. Veep Veep says:

    I’ve never been in a Wal-mart but have shopped in a Sam’s Club during my stay in suburbia. Because there’s just something so enticing about unpacking a huge vat of extra virgin olive oil.

    I believe the current Walmart shoppers (whether poor or not) would be better served spending their household budgets at stores with well made, quality products. And there are plenty of those stores out there for everyone to shop at instead of Walmart.

    Just like you would blog wholeheartedly for Ford or Intuition, is it hard to believe those eleven moms signed up for free for shampoo and because they believe wholeheartedly in Walmart (and the publicity it would give their blogs, of course. *wink*)?

    Either way, its great that everyone can have an opinion on this brand and it be the right one for them. :)

  12. Veep Veep says:

    P.S.
    I don’t blame Walmart for their employee’s death. I blame the shoppers who act like idiots over hyped discounted products.

    Only an animal would take hinges off a door just to get inside to buy a holiday gift. Only an animal would trample someone.

    There is nothing in any store this (or any) holiday season that should make a someone consider pushing down another person or walk on them.

  13. gavin says:

    wal-mart is a best case for planned obsolescence. the crap you buy there is pretty much trash within a 6 month – 2 year period. you are better off saving, spending extra money on something sustainable. this ensures an economy that isn’t predicated on shopping.

    sarcasm: i applaud all those people who show up and stomp people every year and cause fights to make sure that the economy continues to be high and give us the safe feeling.

    an observation. this year will be no different, but the ‘recession’ (now called) will be the excuse. but have you ever heard that ‘this christmas season is the best season ever’ shopping wise. they always say its a little low. probably hoping to get those people who subconsciously know they need to shop to feed our economic foundation.

    ever see http://www.storyofstuff.com ?

  14. I don’t know you well, but I enjoy reading your twitter remarks.

    I have to say I agree with you on this topic. When I was a kid, Walmart was the store that everyone wanted their mother to avoid. No one wanted to have Walmart fashions. Now years later, I’m enjoying Twitter and there is a lot of jabber about Walmart and how great it is. Great? I’ve never heard anyone in NYC refer to Walmart as a great store. Normally people are speaking out and asking other people not to shop at non-union stores. Walmart is known for keeping employees part time and numerous other problems with wages, avoiding overtime pay and lack of health insurance.

    I did ask two of the Moms who are involved with Walmart if they were aware of Walmart’s policy. Both women seemed to be fully aware of the employee’s situation. I didn’t push it with either Mom but I knew they understood how I felt and I was hoping that at some point maybe these Eleven Moms or Twelve Moms or Twenty Moms (Walmart can’t count because there are more than Eleven) will speak up and make a difference. When we know better, we have to do better! Since there are Moms who want to promote the store, shouldn’t they be speaking up for Mom’s who work at the store or even Walmart’s future employees who might even be one of their own children?

    One of the Moms wrote that the employees at the store they visited were happy. I doubt that an employee who is glad to be employed would be complaining to a customer about their part time wages or lack of union organization. I’m sure that the Walmart Moms are Internet savvy enough to google the store and find out the situation. So since none of them have really spoken up about the real issues of the store, I assumed that although they weren’t getting cash, they had to be getting a kickback (merchandise, etc) because no one exerts that much energy or works for free.

    BTW, I also don’t understand the reason why a whole group of Mothers were given the same hairstyle? That’s another post all together.

    More importantly than Walmart: Rest in peace Jdimytai Damour. I can’t imagine a group of people (even NY’ers) being so animalistic that they would trample another person to death. Damour was a temporary employee working at Walmart at 5:00 am. He was devoted enough to show up, but Walmart’s management was not devoted enough to protect their employees. I do think Walmart management could have prevented Damour’s death if they had better organization and security at the store . Walmart is fully aware what type of traffic their store has on Black Friday.

  15. Babybloomr says:

    Well said.
    I grew up in Arkansas, and my very first job ever was at the service desk at Walmart. Yeah, I wore one of those smocks. You are one of the very few Walmart critics I have ever read that realizes how very far the current corporate powers-that-be have strayed from Sam Walton’s original vision. I agree with every point you made, and the death of Jdimytai Damour is inexcusable. I suspect there is plenty of blame to go around on that one.

  16. @Babybloomr, I literally devoured Sam Walton’s autobiography which incidentally is titled “Sam Walton: Made in America”. I won’t even comment.

    The company’s policies today appear diametrically opposed to the founder’s vision. WalMart was to strengthen communities and generate wealth, not to trample people and communities, literally and figuratively.

    Had the store in New York stayed closed for the day, I wouldn’t have been moved to write. It would have been a sad event, this is just disgusting, it spits in the face of everything decent and human.

  17. ctd3 says:

    Hello Jessica just wanted to mention that Amy Goodman did a piece on this on today’s show (Cyber Monday) December first and I trimmed the audio to feature just that part of her program, the only one in America to give this story the “due time/coverage” it so deserves.
    The audio is down-loadable or you can just listen here;
    http://ctd3.posterous.com/death-by-stampede-wally-world
    Thank you for your post. in making this post the link has been viewed 333 times in 2 hours this story resonates with a lot of people. That they did not respectfully close for the day is the corporate indicator that “they have strayed far from the path”.

  18. Your fair trade activist cousin says:

    “Seriously…77 Kids,… these are all places that get my money anyhow and treat me well. With a catch though, in order to treat me well they also have to treat us all well, the environment, their employees, their communities and their customers. I know my value, and it’s not in discount shampoo or in clothing sewn together by children younger than my own. I’d rather own one pair of shoes well made than ten for $8 each.”

    77 kids is owned by American Eagle, which is a sweatshop organization. They do not treat their employees well if you include the thousands of workers who produce the clothes they sell. I think of them as employees. Almost all of the major clothing companies engage in sweatshop practices, but there are alternatives.

    http://www.sweatfree.org/hallofshame

    http://www.coopamerica.org/programs/sweatshops/sweatfreeproducts.cfm
    You can see individual profiles on this site (Gap Co as an example): http://www.coopamerica.org/programs/responsibleshopper/company.cfm?id=229

    And of course, this all ties into your ecoactivism (green activism? environmental friendliness? I don’t know the right word…)
    http://www.coopamerica.org/greenbusiness/whatis.cfm

  19. Ali says:

    There is no reason for people to be worried about who is at fault. A MAN IS DEAD. Everyone is to blame. As for the shoppers, they are pure disgusting mob mentality greed ridden freaks, but HELLO all you fools out there that think Walmart is not to blame?!?!?!?!…. They set this up. Every year they offer these stupid deals to people at outrageous prices that last “an hour” or whatever so that they can get you inside their store to but s***!!! DUH, if they are going to have a deal, why not put it on the internet, so that nobody is hurt? I’ll tell you why because then you wouldn’t be IN the store to but MORE S***!!!!! I do not for one second believe that anyone who shops at that s***hole “needs” anything they offer, or are trying to “save money so they can provide for their kids!” Think about it. Nothing that is for sale can change your life. When is the last time you heard about someone at Walmart stomping someone to death over an apple from hunger! That is need. Don’t be ignorant. Nobody needs a TV, or computer for that matter. Any money you “save” at Walmart you are actually paying double in the price of oppression of workers and disregard for the environment. How much are trees for your kids worth? Or health insurance for employees? It will be interesting to see if Walmart even pays for the medical bills or funeral costs or puts Mr. Damour’s children through school (if he had any?), or plays catch with them, because he can’t ever again!!!! I hope all those idiots with new TVs can watch Walmart be sued to pieces. I have cancelled Christmas at my house. NOBODY IS GETTING ANYTHING. And you know what? We will all be FINE and HAPPY without it. Get some self-awareness people. No wonder this younger generation is going to s***. Sad. If someone knows of a website or fund that is set up for him or his family can they please share it. that is where my “christmas shopping” money will be going. Hopefully to provide a “decent” funeral. Think about it.

  20. Virgin says:

    Oh come on, Gottlieb. The real reason you and I don’t shop at Walmart is that we’ve never lived in places where a Walmart was close by and we’d never move to places where they were.

    Also, I’m told that Walmart does not sell booze, so I couldn’t even be drunk enough to buy into to their shitty merchandise sold from slave labor.

  21. Polkadotmommy says:

    We do not give our money to Wal-mart.

    We are a single income family with five kids.

    We are on a tight budget.

    We shop locally, sustainably, responsibly.

    We would rather buy quality things secondhand than junk brand new.

    We budget year around to set aside holiday/birthday/special occasion money to buy gifts that come from responsible corporations.

    We believe supporting Wal-mart is to support destruction of human life and lack of respect for all we hold dear.

    No one *needs* to shop at Wal-mart. There are resale shops and inexpensive grocery options all over. People choose to shop at Wal-mart, it’s cheap, readily available and carries massive amounts of junk.

  22. PunditMom says:

    I couldn’t have said it any better. Maybe, though, the change doesn’t just need to come from corporate America. Maybe we need to examine our collective greed and attitudes about every man for himself.

  23. […] Vote WalMart: Hey Jessica, Won’t it Hurt When You Fall Off That High Horse? […]

  24. Soupdiva says:

    I here ya Jess. There was a time in my life that I could only shop at Walmart because of finances. I can afford to spend a little more now for products and we live in a very small town with very real small town customer service and the shops are adorable. I prefer paying more for an item if it means that it helps out my neighbor and brings in tax revenue for my town. If fact, our town is so against box stores, it refuses to allow most in. We have mom and pop shops for everything. I don’t go to Aaron Brothers to get custom framing, I go see Lori at Lori’s Framing. She did an amazing job on my daughter’s graduation picture frame. I choose local and small with intent. It costs my community their jobs if we all choose the big box stores. The town just 10 minutes away chose to embrace box stores. They have the hugest shopping centers, rivaling those of larger cities. Their population is less than 20,000 people. Their community has a higher crime rate, their streets are strewn with fast food restaurants and liquor stores. The town is generally dirty. Most homes are run down, or they aren’t maintained with as much pride as they should be. People there generally don’t seem to give much of a crap as long as they can save a buck and it shows. They lack the small town charm that drew us to this town of ours. I will admit I’ve strolled over to Target for some items here and there, but mostly I shop small, local businesses. I support them so much that I agreed to organize the carolers at our hometown holiday event this weekend. The local shops are struggling financially and so the community is organizing a holiday open house for the downtown small businesses. Hay rides around downtown via a horse drawn wagon, hot cocoa and/or cider and candy at each participating business, free in store give aways to customers. There will be a Santa, and us…. the off key but very friendly group of singers wanting to spread a little joy around and help out our neighbors. I like that the woman at the pharmacy knows my name, my husband, sister, mother and daughter’s name by memory also. She has always smiled, I can’t figure out when she is having a bad day, because she never ever has let it show. I am so impressed with her customer service, I sent her flowers for her bday. Not cheap flowers, we spared no expense at a LOCAL flower shop. It wasn’t a small token of thanks, we wanted to make it loud and clear to her coworkers that customer service matters and she deserved far more thanks than she gets. She is just one of my neighbors trying to keep their mortgages paid, kids fed and businesses open. I dislike the genericness (new word I created) of Walmart.
    The fact that I think China is trying to poison us all in an attempt at world domination…….. HAHAHAHA (only slightly kidding). I think that China just doesn’t care about the quality standards because frankly, most people don’t give a crap as long as it’s cheap. Lead poisoning, small amounts of poison in baby formula, dead dogs due to contaminated food. Who cares, you saved 50 cents, right? It’s out of control. I’m helping to take a stand by supporting local every day, it’s not new to me. There are far too few mom and pop stores around, partly because of box stores and partly because real customer service is an antique concept. If small stores can’t or won’t go the extra mile to provide quality products with friendly service, they will go extinct.
    Gas prices did not decrease in California when gas stations stopped paying employees to clean your windshield while pumping gas for you. I enjoy traveling to Oregon and feeling like royalty as I sit and enjoy my free window cleaning and gas pumping. I miss the good ole days. Everything is going self service. Grocery stores, gas stations, home improvement stores, etc. They are getting lazier and we are allowing it. I want to chit chat with the checker at the grocery store. It’s pleasant conversation about the weather, or whatever. I like buying groceries and having them put in bags by local high school/college kids who are trying to earn a few extra bucks. With the self checkout option, I notice they aren’t there to bag for me. I do all the work of scanning and bagging, and pay the same price as when I go through the human operated checkstand with the cashier and bagger working as a team to make my shopping trip a little easier.
    Shop local, support your community, refuse to use the self checkout at the grocery store and tell them why customer service matters.
    I haven’t had coffee yet. How did I get so preachy and climb up on my soap box without caffeine? I could probably write more, but I really would like some coffee.

  25. Donna says:

    Possibly my favorite of your posts.

  26. Ginny says:

    I haven’t started my Christmas shopping yet. And Wal-Mart gets me every year, with their 24-Hour locations, and cheap-ass wrapping paper.

    But not this year. Thanks for writing this.

  27. Ali says:

    I still haven’t forgotten about this, even though the news has! That family is just beginning to deal with this loss, while the media forgets. sad! Any news on a fund or something to be of service? Thanks again for your great blog! Ali

  28. Ali says:

    Or any more news on Walmart stores stalking your blog? haha

  29. […] Yes, I’m still on my high horse, because Walmart needs to tell the 11 moms to shut the fuck up and issue a proper apology. […]

  30. […] Yes, I’m still on my high horse, because Walmart needs to tell the 11 moms to shut the fuck up and issue a proper apology. […]

  31. Myrinda says:

    I shake my head all the time over how BELOW Sam’s vision today’s WM has become.

    I have not shopped in one for at least 3 years and before that mostly only went in at a friend’s insistance (and lack of other places to shop) when I was visiting her.

    I will make my own shoes from recycled tires before I let that WM junk on my kids feet. I can go without a few other luxuries to pay a couple cents more for my toilet paper.

    For those who say there aren’t other shopping options, hello? it’s called the INTERNET! you’re here, aren’t you?

    BTW-my MOM works at WM, because she has to. Because her second marriage failed and she had to declare bankruptcy and is on disability retirement from the post office and can’t get any other job. Thankfully she has been able to retrain to do medical transcription over the computer, but I could just cry for everytime she told me about how they shafted her-short shifting and hardly ever getting two days off in a row (they won’t even let the employees trade shifts). She’s a greeter and OSHA says she should have an anti fatique mat to stand on, but she doesn’t and is afraid to say anything because she thinks she will get fired.

    I hate WM. I think it’s a bad bad bad place. If you want to shop there, I won’t judge you, but I might feel sorry for you. WM is a perfect example of that is wrong with AMerica these days!

  32. Myrinda says:

    I shake my head all the time over how BELOW Sam’s vision today’s WM has become.

    I have not shopped in one for at least 3 years and before that mostly only went in at a friend’s insistance (and lack of other places to shop) when I was visiting her.

    I will make my own shoes from recycled tires before I let that WM junk on my kids feet. I can go without a few other luxuries to pay a couple cents more for my toilet paper.

    For those who say there aren’t other shopping options, hello? it’s called the INTERNET! you’re here, aren’t you?

    BTW-my MOM works at WM, because she has to. Because her second marriage failed and she had to declare bankruptcy and is on disability retirement from the post office and can’t get any other job. Thankfully she has been able to retrain to do medical transcription over the computer, but I could just cry for everytime she told me about how they shafted her-short shifting and hardly ever getting two days off in a row (they won’t even let the employees trade shifts). She’s a greeter and OSHA says she should have an anti fatique mat to stand on, but she doesn’t and is afraid to say anything because she thinks she will get fired.

    I hate WM. I think it’s a bad bad bad place. If you want to shop there, I won’t judge you, but I might feel sorry for you. WM is a perfect example of that is wrong with AMerica these days!

  33. Ever see the South Park where they made fun of Walmart? That’s what just came to mind. I live in a foo foo town and we have a ySuper Walmart. It’s really beautiful and I love shopping there but for groceries, my grocery store is cheaper. People think getting their food at Walmart is saving you money, but they don’t double coupons or have BOGO sales. I shop at Harris Teeter (which everyone calls expensive) and I actually compared prices. For 3 months I only shopped at Walmart for groceries and I saved 60% more by shopping at a real grocery store by reading the weekly ads and getting my coupons doubled.

  34. […] The show promoters didn’t stop the show. Sound familiar? […]

  35. […] cuss I point fingers I start boycotts I abhor WalMart and make a hobby of taunting the Eleven idiots […]

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