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Walmart news of the week
March 29, 2013 3:50 PM   Subscribe

Wal-Mart doesn’t have enough bodies to restock the shelves, and in not-unrelated news, is considering a radical plan to have store customers deliver packages to online buyers.
posted by latkes (181 comments total) 21 users marked this as a favorite

 
Wal-Mart bodies must be selling like hotcakes.
posted by evidenceofabsence at 3:57 PM on March 29, 2013 [13 favorites]


I thought they solved the "Last Mile" problem...
posted by sexyrobot at 3:58 PM on March 29, 2013


Boo fucking hoo.

What's the unemployment rate right now? How is this anyone's problem but Walmart's? And how do you let your business get to the point where you don't have enough employees to run it?

That said, it wouldn't surprise me if Walmart had a metric of how many products can be understocked without losing the average customer.
posted by Sara C. at 3:59 PM on March 29, 2013 [60 favorites]


Wal-Mart would offer a discount on the customers' shopping bill, effectively covering the cost of their gas in return for the delivery of packages, he added.

So, basically, you're volunteering your time to Wal-Mart, for free.

Oh gee, where can I sign up? /s
posted by cosmic.osmo at 4:02 PM on March 29, 2013 [36 favorites]


What really drew my attention to the first article is that if you live in a poor neighborhood, you find that big chain stores: grocery stores, K-Marts, Wal-Marts, etc, are often like this. They look post-apocolyptic. Half the shelves empty. Garbage on the floors. Few staff members. Long lines.

I thought this was an inner city phenomenon but my understanding is Wal Mart serves a lot of more rural and suburban people, so I was interested to see how leaving stores that primarily serve poor people in this state is happening in those places too. I'm not really sure how to interpret it. I've always assumed its just because poor people have few other options, so why provide customer service when you can get away with not doing so?
posted by latkes at 4:04 PM on March 29, 2013 [29 favorites]


Wal-Mart pays it's people so poorly that most of them are still on food stamps - heck, they help them fill out the forms. Not surprising that it's developed a reputation as a job not worth having. Too bad they can't outsource these roles to the same places that supply their merchandise.
posted by ceribus peribus at 4:05 PM on March 29, 2013 [9 favorites]


is considering a radical plan to have store customers deliver packages to online buyers.

If only there were some nationwide, decentralized standard-priced local distribution system for packages.

That would solve this problem tout suite.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 4:05 PM on March 29, 2013 [101 favorites]


Is this an April Fools' Day story that got released too early?
posted by Sweetie Darling at 4:05 PM on March 29, 2013 [11 favorites]


I think Walmart just has to face up to the fact that perpetual growth is not a realistic goal. There are enough Walmart stores -- perhaps even far too many. (There are 5 of them within a 10km radius of me right now, and I don't exactly live in a high-density urban centre.) Being as big as it is feasibly possible to be is big enough.
posted by Sys Rq at 4:06 PM on March 29, 2013 [9 favorites]


Well, they let me go over bullshit, so fuck 'em and fuck 'em hard, I say.
posted by Samizdata at 4:07 PM on March 29, 2013 [9 favorites]


Well honestly, it's an interesting idea. A big-box store like that is probably a regional hub, and people come from scores of miles around to go to it. If you could check the store page and see if someone in your one-horse town was looking for a delivery and then get 10% off your bill or store credit or whatever, that makes your trip more worthwhile and you might save a couple bucks.

If a startup were doing this for local businesses, wouldn't we be calling it revolutionary? You have cars going to a place and back to where they came from, why shouldn't they perform a service for a fee on the way? Monetizing this sort of thing is what a lot of 'real world' startups these days are trying to do. Not that it's always a good idea, but I'm not going to say it isn't an interesting one.
posted by BlackLeotardFront at 4:07 PM on March 29, 2013 [8 favorites]


Sigh. There's no point to writing fiction, is there?
posted by The Whelk at 4:08 PM on March 29, 2013 [27 favorites]


I bet if they unionized and offered decent wages and benefits more people would want to work there.

Although I'm sure it's not a matter of people not wanting to work there but Walmart just being too cheap to want to pay anyone anything, as demonstrated by this idea.

Sometimes it just seems like this world is going crazy. Yes, businesses, you need to pay employees to do jobs. Then, when you do that, they have money to spend at your business. When people feel happy and prosperous they spend their money. But you need to put up the capital first. There's just no getting around this, capitalism, these are the laws of physics.
posted by bleep at 4:08 PM on March 29, 2013 [62 favorites]


If a startup were doing this for local businesses, wouldn't we be calling it revolutionary?

Maybe, but it'd still be fucking stupid.
posted by Sys Rq at 4:09 PM on March 29, 2013 [11 favorites]


Hey, we hire contract drivers at our store on floral holidays....let's just say I know of all the ways this can go wrong.....boy howdy.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 4:10 PM on March 29, 2013 [15 favorites]


I suspect that this is highly variable by location as it does not reflect my experience the last time I was at the local Wal-Mart.

That said, hahaha, fuck 'em. Wal-Mart hates its employees so fucking much that even with horrible unemployment and wages dropping like a stone in an empty well they can't hire enough people to stock the shelves? Contrary to what a lot of people seem to believe, businesses aren't entitled to buy labor at whatever cost they like.
posted by Pope Guilty at 4:12 PM on March 29, 2013 [50 favorites]


I think that if a startup was doing this, they would have to offer better incentive than subsidizing the cost of gas home (which is what a dollar or so per trip?).
posted by Sara C. at 4:13 PM on March 29, 2013 [3 favorites]


Although I'm sure it's not a matter of people not wanting to work there but Walmart just being too cheap to want to pay anyone anything, as demonstrated by this idea.

Exactly, from the first article:

Wal-Mart doesn’t have enough bodies to restock the shelves, according to interviews with store workers. In the past five years, the world’s largest retailer added 455 U.S. Wal-Mart stores, a 13 percent increase, according to filings and the company’s website. In the same period, its total U.S. workforce, which includes Sam’s Club employees, dropped by about 20,000, or 1.4 percent. Wal-Mart employs about 1.4 million U.S. workers.

You know what happened in the US during the last 5 years? Massive unemployment. It's not like "bodies" are unavailable to stock the shelves, Wal-Mart is just uninterested in employing them, even when it's opening lots of new stores.
posted by cosmic.osmo at 4:17 PM on March 29, 2013 [14 favorites]


Wal-Mart would offer a discount on the customers' shopping bill, effectively covering the cost of their gas in return for the delivery of packages, he added.

Wonderful. Now imagine an accident involving injury or death whilst Joe Average is delivering for WalMart.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 4:18 PM on March 29, 2013 [13 favorites]


So instead of picking up something extra for your neighbor down the street and having him pay you back, you can...do the exact same thing while Wal-Mart charges the neighbor a delivery fee? And assume all of the risk should anything be damaged, spoiled, or undeliverable to the address?

Well, I can see why Wal-Mart likes the idea. Why even have stores? The entire global supply chain could work that way. Customers can fly to overseas warehouses themselves and arrange their own shipping to the States. All it's missing is an MLM kickback for signing up your neighbors to be regional distributors also.
posted by ceribus peribus at 4:20 PM on March 29, 2013 [14 favorites]


Couldn't happen to a more deserving retailer. Their labour malpractice is on record. Time for them to smell the coffee.
posted by arcticseal at 4:20 PM on March 29, 2013 [3 favorites]


I don't know where you guys are getting that Walmart can't find enough applicants to staff open jobs from. The reason their stores are so understaffed is because they aren't budgeted to hire any more workers, or to schedule the ones they have for more hours. Outside of a few places with unusual conditions like North Dakota, the market is still supplying an infinite supply of immiserated unskilled workers for whatever number of minimum wage jobs they would actually want to pay people for. This is purely a product of Walmart wanting as few people on the payroll, for as few hours, as humanly possible.
posted by strangely stunted trees at 4:26 PM on March 29, 2013 [53 favorites]


And how do you let your business get to the point where you don't have enough employees to run it?

Oh, let us count the ways:

* #6: Christy Walton & family, $27.9B
* #7: Jim Walton, $26.8B
* #8: Alice Walton, $26.3B
* #9: S. Robson Walton, $26.1B

With these folks just scraping by, hiring some delivery drivers just ain't happenin'.
posted by dhartung at 4:27 PM on March 29, 2013 [56 favorites]


"Wonderful. Now imagine an accident involving injury or death whilst Joe Average is delivering for WalMart."

I'm sure that WalMart is entirely willing to fob those costs off on the public too.
posted by klangklangston at 4:31 PM on March 29, 2013 [16 favorites]


Maybe they'll pay people with Whuffie or some other sort of gift economy [Bruce Sterling short story] will emerge.
posted by mecran01 at 4:44 PM on March 29, 2013 [2 favorites]


This is purely a product of Walmart wanting as few people on the payroll, for as few hours, as humanly possible.

This. I live really close to the only Walmart in Cleveland. When it opened in 2007, 6000 people applied for the 300 jobs available.

Like any good liberal, I avoid Walmart and shop at the locally-owned grocery store. But I'm not perfect. Every few months I end up at Walmart because it's the only place nearby that has what I need (and Walmart's the only place around open 24 hours). I dread it. Not because of liberal guilt, but because I know I'll have to spend at least 10 minutes waiting in line to checkout, oftentimes more.

I know I'm not entitled to a speedy checkout. But I know that no matter what time of day you visit the Cleveland Walmart, you're always going to have to wait in line. And the really long lines at the Cleveland Walmart always get me thinking about their business model. I just assume that Walmart employs managerial and logistical superstars and that they know they have exactly as many people working the checkouts at the Cleveland Walmart as their models recommend.

I know that there are a ton of people in Cleveland that would love to work the checkouts at Walmart, and I know that the Walmart shoppers would love shorter lines. But Walmart's not hiring. I don't know what else to say about that. The Walmart in Cleveland is literally on top of land where a steel mill used to be. A steel mill that used to employ 1000s of people, instead of just 300.
posted by mcmile at 4:47 PM on March 29, 2013 [86 favorites]


"Wonderful. Now imagine an accident involving injury or death whilst Joe Average is delivering for WalMart."
I'm sure that WalMart is entirely willing to fob those costs off on the public too.


Coincidentally, I'm listening to the latest This American Life about disability payments as our only social safety net.
posted by latkes at 4:49 PM on March 29, 2013 [8 favorites]


From the article:
*Adding 5 FT employees to 455 stores=2275
*Wal-Mart stated gross cost for minimum wage and industry-standard health benefits: $448,000,000
* Doing the division, cost per employee ~= $197,000
*40 hours x 52 weeks x $10/hr = $20,800
* ???
Accepting their numbers for the moment: $17B profit - $0.448B = $16.552B profit.

I have a suspicion there's something else going on here. Not even to get into the bizarre idea of customers delivering packages??!!
posted by Twang at 4:52 PM on March 29, 2013 [7 favorites]


i'm not a fan of the 'people of walmart' blog. but i'm also not a fan of those people being given my address.
posted by fallacy of the beard at 4:54 PM on March 29, 2013 [27 favorites]


covering the cost of their gas in return for the delivery of packages

I'm almost reluctant to comment on this because I don't believe this is a thing. April Fools come early, or some executive spitballing an idea that has not and could not possibly be vetted. And to even say this is sorta like critiquing the science in "Lost in Space," but...

You would need to cover a lot more than the cost of my gas to get me to deliver packages for someone. The IRS allows $.565 a mile, for starters.

You simply cannot beat the efficiency of using UPS, Fedex, or even USPS, unless you do in fact con people into running your errands for you at less than their cost.
posted by randomkeystrike at 5:04 PM on March 29, 2013 [3 favorites]


I'm pretty well done with Wal-Mart. If it's not a SuperCenter, it's essentially impossible to find what I'm looking for. The last few times I dipped in for something quick, they had barely any toilet paper (which is, for instance, the best-selling item at CostCo, so I imagine they'd stay on top of that) exactly ONE of the non-select-a-size Bounty paper towel 12 packs, and were missing all sorts of other stuff.

Doesn't matter the day or time, and now I know why. If you're unwilling to hire "$448M" which, as Twang points out, is dubious, worth of people to keep your shit stocked, you're going to lose a lot more than that in revenue as I completely stop even trying to shop there.

I know I can at least find the shit I need at Target and Safeway.
posted by disillusioned at 5:11 PM on March 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


I don't actually want Walmart giving my address, name, and purchased products to some random stranger.
posted by Area Man at 5:11 PM on March 29, 2013 [12 favorites]


Too bad they can't outsource these roles

Rethinking Robots has a $22,000 plan for that. All they need is some Chrome and red LEDs that go back and forth.
posted by rough ashlar at 5:15 PM on March 29, 2013


Twang, 455 is just the number of stores they added this year. The article says that's a 13% increase, so they actually have about 3500 stores total. (I think that's just in the U.S.; Wikipedia says there are another ~4200 in other countries.) With that number of stores it works out to $25,600 per new employee.

Interesting that "the number of hours available to schedule employees corresponds to sales performance: The worse the sales number, the fewer hours available." That's a recipe for a death spiral if I ever saw one.
posted by fermion at 5:17 PM on March 29, 2013 [4 favorites]


"Not because of liberal guilt, but because I know I'll have to spend at least 10 minutes waiting in line to checkout, oftentimes more. "

Just fucking shoplift it then. It's called shrinkage, it's part of their model.
posted by klangklangston at 5:19 PM on March 29, 2013 [11 favorites]


The customers-as-deliverymen is a non-starter, somebody at Walmart screwing with a reporter or something. Just the liability issue alone would kill that idea.

Re out of stocks, the ones around here are no better or worse than usual. I'm also pretty close to their corporate office so maybe those stores tend to be run better...

Re their wages, I've made this point here before but it's worth making again: Aldi has ~ 20% lower prices, pays ~ 50% higher wages, and everybody gets health insurance. You can treat workers decently and stay competitive.
posted by aerotive at 5:21 PM on March 29, 2013 [17 favorites]


" There were empty spaces on shelves large enough for a grown man to lie down, and a woman wandered around vainly seeking a frying pan."


I wish I had been there to see that.
posted by HuronBob at 5:23 PM on March 29, 2013 [4 favorites]


Twang: "From the article:
*Adding 5 FT employees to 455 stores=2275
*Wal-Mart stated gross cost for minimum wage and industry-standard health benefits: $448,000,000
* Doing the division, cost per employee ~= $197,000
*40 hours x 52 weeks x $10/hr = $20,800
* ???
Accepting their numbers for the moment: $17B profit - $0.448B = $16.552B profit.

I have a suspicion there's something else going on here. Not even to get into the bizarre idea of customers delivering packages??!!
"

As an ex-WalMart employee, I think it is completely adorable you think the employees at WalMart get 40 hours a week.

No, seriously.

They give you just enough to keep you from being "full time" and, barring catastrophe, that doesn't change.
posted by Samizdata at 5:25 PM on March 29, 2013 [46 favorites]


That said, it wouldn't surprise me if Walmart had a metric of how many products can be understocked without losing the average customer.

I went into a Walmart recently, for what I think is the first time in about 1.5 decades and no more than the second time ever. I actually got a dirty look from the greeter -- which I had never heard was possible -- I'm guessing because I was walking quickly and purposefully and looking up at the signs trying to get my bearings, all of which presumably marked me as an alien because it was 100% unlike what anyone else was doing. I made my way to the distant shelf where the product I was looking for was supposedly to be found. It wasn't there. Neither was much else. Turned around and left.
posted by George_Spiggott at 5:27 PM on March 29, 2013 [2 favorites]


Never move the merchandise off the trucks ... make people meet the trucks on the freeway. No more stores, drastic reductions in the amount of employees. Get rid of the trucks along the coasts, just tell people what port your containers are at.
posted by user92371 at 5:29 PM on March 29, 2013 [16 favorites]


Just want to highlight this bit:

Ton’s research has centered on retailers that include discount club Costco, whose chief executive officer, Craig Jelinek, offered his support publicly earlier this month for legislation to raise the federal minimum wage.

I honestly couldn't love Costco and Craig Jelinek any harder.

Costco, which offers a starting hourly wage of $11.50 in all states and employee schedules that are generally predictable, has higher worker productivity and a lower rate of turnover than its competitors, Ton found.
posted by triggerfinger at 5:30 PM on March 29, 2013 [53 favorites]


"April Fools come early, or some executive spitballing an idea that has not and could not possibly be vetted."

Well, don't forget, this is Wal-Mart. Wal-Mart is a remarkably evil corporation. I mean, straight-up evil, they barely even pretend not to be evil. If they can think of a new way to screw their employees, screw their competition and/or screw their customers, it will be done. They are cartoon-ishly, Charles Montgomery Burns-edly evil.

If you have to shop at any of these places, shop at Costco. Seriously, fuck Wal-Mart.
posted by Ursula Hitler at 5:32 PM on March 29, 2013 [7 favorites]


I was just talking the other day about how Wal-Mart would be in trouble once Amazon got their same day delivery infrastructure up and running. Guess Wal-Mart was thinking the same thing.
posted by sendai sleep master at 5:34 PM on March 29, 2013 [2 favorites]


Burn Baby Burn.
posted by crazylegs at 5:36 PM on March 29, 2013 [5 favorites]


Seriously, how fucked up does a company have to be for you to find yourself rooting for Amazon?
posted by George_Spiggott at 5:38 PM on March 29, 2013 [42 favorites]


Never move the merchandise off the trucks ... make people meet the trucks on the freeway.

Everyone gets a box cutter and a pallet jack. Watch your toes!
posted by mcoo at 5:46 PM on March 29, 2013 [8 favorites]


Just fucking shoplift it then. It's called shrinkage, it's part of their model.

There's a reason Wal-Mart corporate policy is to call the police for every single incident of shoplifting, to the point where some PDs have assigned people to Wal-Mart specifically and others have said "fuck off, we're not your fucking loss prevention department."
posted by Pope Guilty at 5:46 PM on March 29, 2013 [11 favorites]


I've always been skeptical of the walmart hate that predictably makes the rounds on MeFi. Over the last few years, I've found that my skepticism hasn't wavered in the least. And in fact, I've grown more fond of Walmart. I have three Targets closer than the nearest Walmart. And they often fail me, ending up going to Walmart. Where I've ended up just going in the first place these days.

I don't shop as some kind of moral crusade. If I did, Target and Kmart would hardly make any difference. And as nice as Costco is, it simply doesn't provide the same stuff that Walmart does. My local (Culver City) Costco is a fucking madhouse, anyhow.

The People Of Walmart don't bother me in the least. Service isn't particularly bad, nor are the stores. I can't jump on the snob bandwagon here, because I'd have no justification.

The customer delivery stuff sounds kind of bullshitty, too. Though it's certainly a bizarre idea. Walmart's online sales seem to have crazy low shipping costs already.
posted by 2N2222 at 5:48 PM on March 29, 2013 [3 favorites]


The People Of Walmart don't bother me in the least.

"LOL POOR PEOPLE SUCK AMIRITE" isn't bothersome to you?
posted by Pope Guilty at 5:51 PM on March 29, 2013 [5 favorites]


Yep. And it's not just Wal Mart, they all (except, I guess, Costco, we don't have one anywhere near here) do the same thing. Pay the workers as little as humanly possible (Twang, it is also adorable that you think Wal Mart employees get $10 an hour. Make that $7.25, maybe $8 if they've been there a long time and haven't been fired for making more than $7.25 yet - yes, this is also a thing.) and work them just as few hours as you possibly can while having the store be almost staffed. Half staffed. They don't tell you until the week before what your hours are, either. They can cut your hours at any damn minute; just cut you on a slow day when you're already there or change the schedule without warning. That's what Home Depot used to do to us all the time.

Just keep right on downsizing, Wal Mart! What could possibly go wrong? Wow I hope so much they go under. I shop there too, now and then, hate myself for doing it, but I also work retail and when you're poor you're poor.
posted by mygothlaundry at 5:55 PM on March 29, 2013 [9 favorites]


"LOL POOR PEOPLE SUCK AMIRITE" isn't bothersome to you?

No. The actual People of Walmart don't bother me in the least. That reason to justify not shopping at Walmart, doesn't apply.

Sure seems to bother a lot of people enough in that it's often the justification for not shopping there. All those filthy poors and their matching store. I think MeFites have been more careful to only judge the "filthy stores", which I also have found to be well overstated. But in online gripes about Walmart, the filthy people seem to accompany the filthy store justification for not shopping there.
posted by 2N2222 at 5:58 PM on March 29, 2013 [5 favorites]


In other news of Walmart, in a filing with the SEC, it "is now "probable" it will incur losses related to allegations that company representatives had bribed officials in Mexico to speed up expansion there."

Now, I'm not much one to shop for a moral purpose, but a company that permitted and covered up rampant bribery in its thirst for expansion? Not going to shop there if I don't have to.
posted by BungaDunga at 6:02 PM on March 29, 2013 [2 favorites]


2n222 that's one mighty strawman you've got there.
posted by oddman at 6:03 PM on March 29, 2013 [9 favorites]


Actually there's another website called "peoplenotofwalmart.com" which has hysterical pictures of fully dressed people buying unpackaged food in main street shops that aren't boarded up. Seriously, it's gotta be photoshopped, there are no people or places like that.
posted by George_Spiggott at 6:04 PM on March 29, 2013 [2 favorites]


2n222 that's one mighty strawman you've got there.

Explain.
posted by 2N2222 at 6:04 PM on March 29, 2013


The last thing I want is some Walmart shopper, trying to wrangle a few bucks off their gun purchase, coming to my house and knowing what I just bought. At least with UPS or FedEx I get a little accountability from the company and the fact the delivery person probably wants to keep their job. With this WalMart idea, it sounds like any goon who wants a discount gets access to not only what I bought, but where I live and who knows what else.

I do not particularly care for WalMart shopper culture, but if it stays at the store, that is their business. However, I certainly do not want the type of nutcase that store attracts coming to my home.

(yes, I know those are Black Friday vids, but pretty strange crap happens there all the time)
posted by lampshade at 6:04 PM on March 29, 2013 [2 favorites]


Ursula Hitler: ""April Fools come early, or some executive spitballing an idea that has not and could not possibly be vetted."

Well, don't forget, this is Wal-Mart. Wal-Mart is a remarkably evil corporation. I mean, straight-up evil, they barely even pretend not to be evil. If they can think of a new way to screw their employees, screw their competition and/or screw their customers, it will be done. They are cartoon-ishly, Charles Montgomery Burns-edly evil.

If you have to shop at any of these places, shop at Costco. Seriously, fuck Wal-Mart.
"

You are, of course, assuming that is an option. The only megastores in this area are WalMart and Sam's Club.

Yeah.
posted by Samizdata at 6:07 PM on March 29, 2013 [2 favorites]


2N2222 you're basically calling people who don't like Wal-Mart classist assholes, and not with any actual evidence or whatever.
posted by Pope Guilty at 6:07 PM on March 29, 2013 [10 favorites]


I can't jump on the snob bandwagon here, because I'd have no justification.

Honestly, that you think that the reason people don't like Walmart is because they're snobs makes me think you haven't been paying any attention.
posted by triggerfinger at 6:07 PM on March 29, 2013 [14 favorites]


2N2222 you're basically calling people who don't like Wal-Mart classist assholes, and not with any actual evidence or whatever.

I'll call them classist assholes when they express classist asshole views.


Honestly, that you think that the reason people don't like Walmart is because they're snobs makes me think you haven't been paying any attention.


If you think it isn't a reason people don't like Walmart, I think you really haven't been paying attention.
posted by 2N2222 at 6:08 PM on March 29, 2013 [6 favorites]


My local grocery store chain also runs a chain of gasoline/convenience stores.

The chain runs a customer rewards program. For every $X you spend on groceries, you earn a credit that entitles you to a 1/500th $X per-gallon discount on gasoline. It is not actually a very beneficial program for the customers. The groceries are higher-priced and lower-quality than they are at other nearby stores, the discount credits expire in 90 days so they can't be saved up, the starting price of the fuel is often a little higher than at other filling stations to you really have to save them up to make the whole thing worthwhile, etc.

But people go apeshit over this program. The gas stations are always mobbed. People will actually spend the money to buy a trunk-full of red plastic gas jugs, just so they can save $0.20 per gallon on 20 gallons instead of the 15 that fit in the tank.

I wouldn't want to deliver things for Wal-Mart for virtually no pay, and I wouldn't want a random Wal-Mart shopper showing up at my doorstep with a package, either.

But this sort of gamification - where you tell your customers they're earning a real-world discount on whatever - seems to really click with some people. I wouldn't write off Wal-Mart's scheme quite so quickly solely on the grounds that participating wouldn't make rational economic sense. Airline miles are a similar deal - who hasn't met someone who was obsessed with those?
posted by Western Infidels at 6:08 PM on March 29, 2013 [5 favorites]


"But in online gripes about Walmart, the filthy people seem to accompany the filthy store justification for not shopping there."

My hatred of Wal-Mart has nothing to do with snobbery. I'm pretty poor myself, and I'll gladly shop at the local 99 cents store, which is full of other poor folks and has sticky floors. Wal-Mart is evil, and this "LOL poor folks" stuff is a total strawman.

Wal-Mart isn't just just a shitty shopping experience, although it is that too. They exploit their employees horribly, beyond the dreams of Ebenezer Scrooge. They make money being sleazy and sinister, and as they drive their competition out of business, workers have fewer employment options, shoppers have fewer places to shop, and the surviving competition becomes more sleazy and sinister, just to compete.

Dick Cheney is a fan. And history has taught us that if Cheney says something is good, we should run screaming in the other direction.

"The only megastores in this area are WalMart and Sam's Club."

Then I'd suggest you find some other business in the area that has what you need. Or shop online, if you have to. Wal-Mart is evil.
posted by Ursula Hitler at 6:10 PM on March 29, 2013 [26 favorites]


the number of hours available to schedule employees corresponds to sales performance

How does this work, exactly? I don't shop at Walmart, but any time I go to any other big box store, it's rare that I interact with an employee in any way aside from the checkout.

I worked retail in college, so I know the usual sales performance stats. I just have no idea how they would be compiled for a business model where staff are explicitly not expected to have contact with the customers in a hands-on sales type of way.
posted by Sara C. at 6:11 PM on March 29, 2013


I think they mean the sales performance of the store, not of the individual employee. Store sales go down 10%, then the hours go down 10%.
posted by desjardins at 6:13 PM on March 29, 2013 [3 favorites]


Retail stores are generally expected to show a profit on their week-to-week operations. If you don't sell as much stuff as you were expecting, you give your employees fewer hours (and order less stuff) to make up the difference.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 6:14 PM on March 29, 2013


Walmart employed a disabled relative at a time when no one else would. So while I don't approve of many of its practices, I have mixed feelings.

I once lived in a small town with a Walmart and not a lot of other retail. I've spent plenty of time shopping there and it just is a bit less pleasant than Target. Also, Target gives a lot to charity, unlike Walmart.
posted by Area Man at 6:16 PM on March 29, 2013 [3 favorites]


Still, he said the issues are not insurmountable, citing pizza restaurants, which have used part-time drivers to deliver pies for years.

Pizza delivery and other food delivery is only possible with contractors because of the large untaxed flow of tips. I can't see anyone tipping the amateur wal-mart delivery guy.

bleep: "I bet if they unionized and offered decent wages and benefits more people would want to work there."

We have the same problem here with a mine. Management is crying crocodile tears that they can't get equipment operators and therefor need to bring in low paid foreign workers. But they are investing no money in training and they are paying shit wages for work away from a population center. No hard at all to figure out the problem.
posted by Mitheral at 6:17 PM on March 29, 2013 [6 favorites]


My hatred of Wal-Mart has nothing to do with snobbery. I'm pretty poor myself, and I'll gladly shop at the local 99 cents store, which is full of other poor folks and has sticky floors. Wal-Mart is evil, and this "LOL poor folks" stuff is a total strawman.

I beg to differ. Outside the world of MeFi, where shopping is often made into a moral exercise (while the local 99 cent store is somehow exempt), Walmart is is dealt with via all kinds of snobbery. But even here, we get comments about how scary it would be to have a Walmart customer know where you live.
posted by 2N2222 at 6:17 PM on March 29, 2013 [6 favorites]


I once lived in a small town with a Walmart and not a lot of other retail.

Out of curiousity, do you remember how much other retail it had before the Walmart came in?
posted by George_Spiggott at 6:17 PM on March 29, 2013 [6 favorites]


Walmart employed a disabled relative at a time when no one else would. Do while I don't approve of many of its practices, I have mixed feelings.

I wonder if they got some kind of government subsidy for so doing.
posted by Pope Guilty at 6:17 PM on March 29, 2013 [6 favorites]


But even here, we get comments about how scary it would be to have a Walmart customer know where you live.

FWIW I'm even more scared of a Whole Foods customer knowing where I live. I don't need some goddamn Sandalista on my porch haranguing me about the non-native species he spotted in my front garden.
posted by George_Spiggott at 6:22 PM on March 29, 2013 [22 favorites]


Re the sales numbers thing -- ah. I thought the quote meant that if a particular employee had low performance stats, that particular employee would have their hours cut. Not the store as a whole.
posted by Sara C. at 6:23 PM on March 29, 2013


Sure seems to bother a lot of people enough in that it's often the justification for not shopping there. All those filthy poors and their matching store.

I doubt that the reason people in here are snubbing Wal*Mart is "oh mercy we don't want to mingle with the hoipolloi".
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:24 PM on March 29, 2013 [2 favorites]


But even here, we get comments about how scary it would be to have a Walmart customer know where you live.

I've been a Walmart customer and my mom shops there all the time. I wasn't being snobby. I don't want store customers having my name and address be they Target, Walmart, or Saks customers. I just don't like the idea.

I once lived in a small town with a Walmart and not a lot of other retail.

Out of curiousity, do you remember how much other retail it had before the Walmart came in?


I didn't live there before the Walmart came, so I can't say.
posted by Area Man at 6:25 PM on March 29, 2013


WalMart could also take a few tips from Trader Joes and other big box retailers. But that might mean that the Waltons might slip from #9, #10, #11 & #12 on the Bloomie Billionaire list to what?.....maybe #14, #15, #16 & #17?

Oh the horror.

The Trader Joe's Lesson: How to Pay a Living Wage and Still Make Money in Retail
The Atlantic
by Sophie Quinton
March 25 2013

Why Trader Joe's Stands Out From All the Rest in the Grocery Business
Forbes
by Glenn Llopis
Sept 5 2011
posted by lampshade at 6:28 PM on March 29, 2013 [7 favorites]


Oh, no. The employees have their hours cut for entirely logical reasons, like being too close to getting health insurance, or the influence of the third moon of Venus.

(That last one is what I blamed for my 8:30pm-10:30pm shift when I worked at Target)
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 6:29 PM on March 29, 2013 [3 favorites]


I don't want store customers having my name and address be they Target, Walmart, or Saks customers. I just don't like the idea.

Especially considering that I imagine people would be asked to opt in, and for very little reward

Think of the creepers taking the opportunity to opt into this program, in hopes that their porno dreams will come true.

Think of the cheap obnoxious college kids opting in and raiding your groceries, or just kinda sorta never getting around to bringing your stuff by.

Think of the sheer amounts of con games and petty crime this would create an opportunity for.

The article cites TaskRabbit as a precedent. TaskRabbit involves a background check. I doubt the Walmart version would.
posted by Sara C. at 6:29 PM on March 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


" There were empty spaces on shelves large enough for a grown man to lie down, and a woman wandered around vainly seeking a frying pan."


I wish I had been there to see that.


Come on down to visit Phoenix. This is my experience every time I shop. I'm poor and liberal. I feel the guilt of shopping at a place that doesn't pay their employees well enough to keep off public assistance yet I'm compelled to shop at the one place I can afford. The empty spaces, lack of customer service, and 2 check-outs open while customer lines are snaking into the product aisles are quite the norm. At least I mostly shop at 4 a.m., the lines are a lot smaller.
posted by _paegan_ at 6:31 PM on March 29, 2013 [2 favorites]


I wouldn't want to deliver things for Wal-Mart for virtually no pay, and I wouldn't want a random Wal-Mart shopper showing up at my doorstep with a package, either.

This is true for me. It's also how I feel about this for any other store. The pizza delivery dude knows I ordered pizza and has some job-related accountability, I don't prepay for pizza, and my loss is limited to having to wait an extra thirty minutes for dinner.
posted by jeather at 6:33 PM on March 29, 2013 [2 favorites]


Just fucking shoplift it then. It's called shrinkage, it's part of their model.

I was in Puerto Rico in a Wal-mart, a year ago today, getting flashing migraine hallucinations from that intoxicating melange of dehydration, sleep deprivation and flickering sodium lights while I waited (in a 4 person line) for 50 minutes to check out. Giant new store, one check out line open at 10PM.

After 40 minutes or so, the guy who had been right behind me muttered to himself "Well fuck this, and fuck them" and wheeled out his cart containing a 50 inch TV... right in front of the two dejected and apathetic security guards, who literally turned their heads to watch him go by, without even considering lifting a finger to stop him.

I would have followed him, but I was forced to arrive at the bittersweet conclusion that there was no way I could carry all the stuff in my cart five miles home without getting it bagged up first.
posted by hobo gitano de queretaro at 6:51 PM on March 29, 2013 [59 favorites]


We have the same problem here with a mine. Management is crying crocodile tears that they can't get equipment operators and therefor need to bring in low paid foreign workers. But they are investing no money in training and they are paying shit wages for work away from a population center.

There was an article on the blue a few months back with a factory owner going all a-bloo-bloo-bloo because the damn kids today don't want to work blue collar jobs and they don't come out of school knowing how to run a lathe and didn't know math and he just couldn't find workers and it turned out that among various other things, said kids could actually make more money then he was paying if they worked at McDonald's, which sounded to me like his problem was that the kids actually could do math.
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 6:52 PM on March 29, 2013 [67 favorites]


but because I know I'll have to spend at least 10 minutes waiting in line to checkout, oftentimes more.

I'm always baffled by the dozen or more checkout lines in every Walmart of which no more than one or two ever seems to be open.

It isn't classicism that keeps me from shopping at Walmart, it's that I've rarely been in one that's worth the effort.
posted by octobersurprise at 7:06 PM on March 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


If you think it isn't a reason people don't like Walmart, I think you really haven't been paying attention.

Of course I know that, anyone who has seen People of Wal-Mart knows that. I was responding to your comment where you were talking about the walmart hate on metafilter. This site stands out from the rest of the internet in that people for the most part do not use class issues as a reason for hating Wal-Mart. You try to make the claim that people here are just as bad about Wal-Mart as the rest of the internet and seemingly ignore the vast, vast majority of comments that people make here about the shitty way that Wal-Mart treats their workers, their customers and their communities being the real problem. It's incredibly uncharitable and disengenuous.
posted by triggerfinger at 7:08 PM on March 29, 2013 [16 favorites]


I've actually never been in a Walmart. Not due to any sort of snobbishness or having enough money to shop at more expensive places (I used to get their flyer every so often and would bemoan the fact that their prices were so much less than my local grocery) but because as soon as I joined the job market, they were listed on various union boycott lists. And I followed those to the letter. Still do.

Everything I read or watch about them convinces me that, as Ursula Hitler says, fuck Walmart. They truly embody the Evil Corporation concept. Costco 4 lyfe, baby!
posted by Purposeful Grimace at 7:10 PM on March 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


Should've just kept the cart as well hobo.

Walmart have remarkably shitty business practices, I mean enough to stand out as crappy even in our ridiculous anti-labor environment. Unless I'm in the middle of BFE and absolutely need to get into a store for something I won't shop there because let's be honest they are a horrible company making a profit on human misery (both overseas and here in the US).

God forbid they pay their employees a working wage or give them enough hours to actually support their families.

I love that alternative models like the Costco model are appear that indicate you don't have to sink to the lowest common denominator in order to have a successful business model. You can actually treat your employees and customers like human beings and still make a profit.
posted by vuron at 7:11 PM on March 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


I like some of the things WalMart does. The $4 prescription was shockingly good when it first came out, a real game-changer for Target et al. There's the glory of being able to buy my milk, tires, and a sweatshirt all from the same store, and all at AM if I wish. But there are lots of other things too. (And I sometimes see classism here like I sometimes see it almost anywhere. Even so, it's a good thing that Metafilter isn't just an echo chamber -- even when I don't agree with everything that's said.)

Walmart to hire vets, buy American. "The plan includes hiring more than 100,000 veterans in the next five years, spending $50 billion to buy more American-made merchandise in the next 10 years and helping its part-time workers move into full-time positions."

Peter Suderman drops a truth-bomb on Walmart critics. "the benefits of Walmart’s substantially lower prices to the lowest earning cohort are huge, especially on food.... Walmart’s wages are about average for retail. Not amazing. But not the worst either.... Walmart’s average customer earns roughly $35k. Costco’s average customer earns about $75k...."

Should Walmart Write America's Energy Plan? "Earlier this month, Walmart unveiled a 20-story wind turbine in Red Bluff, California, to provide energy to its distribution center there. It has nearly two hundred other renewable energy projects already in operation, including a 90-megawatt wind farm in West Texas that powers portions of over 300 Walmart stores and Sam's Clubs; two dozen fuel cells and 100 solar installations supplying energy to stores in California; 348 stores in Mexico partially supplied by wind power and 14 more in Northern Ireland supplied entirely by wind power."

How to Order Walmart Talking Prescription Containers. "On June 8, Walmart announced that it is now providing ScripTalk Talking Prescription Containers free of charge to people with vision loss as part of a pilot program.... The device is called the ScripTalk reader (or the ScripTalk machine) and is available free of charge to Walmart customers who are blind."
posted by Houstonian at 7:13 PM on March 29, 2013 [5 favorites]


@Samizdata et al:

I was just doing a quick back-of-the-envelope estimation of the size of WalMart paychecks based on the information in the article. (Which as Fermion pointed out, I messed up when I scanned for the right numbers.)

I often do similar estimations and am no longer surprised when people misunderstand that process. The estimation called for being as generous as possible with the numbers given to demonstrate that, even giving them the benefit of the doubt, the dent of adding 5 FT employees wouldn't cut seriously into their profits.
posted by Twang at 7:22 PM on March 29, 2013


Walmart to hire vets, buy American. "The plan includes hiring more than 100,000 veterans in the next five years, spending $50 billion to buy more American-made merchandise in the next 10 years and helping its part-time workers move into full-time positions."


Given Wal*Mart's role in driving manufacturing offshore and creating part-time positions when they could hire full-time, this reads remarkably like "Local arsonist promises cut back to starting only five fires a month, down from seven".
posted by Homeboy Trouble at 7:23 PM on March 29, 2013 [31 favorites]


Think of the creepers taking the opportunity to opt into this program, in hopes that their porno dreams will come true.

Yep.
posted by liketitanic at 7:27 PM on March 29, 2013


The DC City Council is working on legislation that will require big-box retailers to pay their employees a living wage of $11.75/hr. This is primarily aimed at Wal-Mart who plans to open six DC stores in the next few years.
posted by peeedro at 7:31 PM on March 29, 2013 [8 favorites]


As usual, the reporter got it completely wrong. Here's how it's supposed to work:


We pull our longboats up at Cleveland, and perform a haka. Then we give them coffee makers, and take their daughters as brides.

Then they sail their longboats to Milwaukee, and give them lawn furniture, and take their daughters as brides.

And then they sail their longboats to Lincoln, and give them blu-ray players, and take their daughters as brides, and so on...
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 7:35 PM on March 29, 2013 [13 favorites]


But even here, we get comments about how scary it would be to have a Walmart customer know where you live.


I don't know about you, but when I get strangers coming to my house, I much prefer that they be paid for the task, and paid well enough that they want to keep their jobs. That's my baseline level of suspicion.
posted by ocschwar at 7:36 PM on March 29, 2013 [12 favorites]


"bodies" don't stock shelves. Awake, alert human beings do.

With items not individually priced and available in multifarious versions (do we really need both tablet and caplet ibuprofen in 100 count bottles) with near-identical package design, but crazily different prices, stocking shelves matters to the customer experience.
posted by morganw at 7:39 PM on March 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


the benefits of Walmart’s substantially lower prices to the lowest earning cohort are huge, especially on food.... Walmart’s wages are about average for retail. Not amazing. But not the worst either.

This is true, and this is the difficulty I have with Wal-Mart. Because while I criticize it for all the stuff it does, I know that I am in a privileged position in that I have lots of other choices and I can afford to pay more at a place that pays a living wage. Some of my relatives live in rural areas and even if they could afford to shop at Costco or some mom and pop place, they couldn't because Wal-Mart is the only thing around for miles. I would never dream of criticizing them or anyone else in similar positions for shopping there, because easy for me to say, right?

Also, Target regularly gets a free pass from the anti-Wal-Mart crowd and they shouldn't. It's a race to the bottom for these big box retailers and it seems like costco is the only alternative and costco isn't really a good substitute for a lot of things. Awhile back I tried to find a chain store that had a halfway decent reputation, where I could do one stop shopping for my basics and I came up empty handed. I try to shop at local places for things, but it's not always easy and can be time intensive to drive from the hardware store, to the butcher, to the farmer's market, to costco.....and I sometimes throw up my hands and say "fuck it". There's a Target within walking distance from my work and I know I can go there at lunch and get everything I need in a half hour. I hate it, because I know that supporting them just feeds into the cycle of them pushing down labor, environmental and every other standard, which makes it hard for genuinely good businesses to even get a foothold to compete. I wish there was a better solution.
posted by triggerfinger at 7:40 PM on March 29, 2013 [4 favorites]


Remember Woolworth's? Of course you don't. Your spell checker does, tho. This is because it was the single largest retailer for much of the 20th century. Do you remember when there was a huge Sears store in your town, and not attached to a mall? Of course you don't. How about Bradlees? Zales? Ames? Do you remember when K-Mart had Blue Light Specials? Of course you don't, K-Marts are hard to find these days, and called "Super K's."

Somewhere along the line, retail companies staffed by elite and intelligent businesspeople fucked up a winning formula to the point of no return. They went from retail giants to ghosts who appear in ancient pop culture.

You can, sometimes, pin down when and how they fucked up - Sears ignored the internet until too late, and the Sears Catalog, which subsidized the local franchises, was abruptly and irrevoccably obsolete. (Amazon is now offering drop-off boxes at convenience stores. Next step is an Amazon store in your neighborhood, so you can check out the coolest new merchandise and walk home with it right there and then! The verse is new but the chorus remains the same.)

Reducing your workforce while expanding your operation is pretty much textbook. FAIL waiting to happen. This came about, almost assuredly, because someone in Bentonville was borrowing from Peter to pay Paul, and now the bill is due... funny money from accounting tricks can only take you so far.
posted by Slap*Happy at 8:06 PM on March 29, 2013 [24 favorites]


I know I'll have to spend at least 10 minutes waiting in line to checkout, oftentimes more.

Walmart protip: Check out at the sporting goods counter. There's rarely a line.
posted by Kadin2048 at 8:17 PM on March 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


Kadin2048: "I know I'll have to spend at least 10 minutes waiting in line to checkout, oftentimes more.

Walmart protip: Check out at the sporting goods counter. There's rarely a line.
"

Ex-employeeTip - Our store was terrible with having that counter manned. You were better off going to electronics. Scout first before getting around to checking out.
posted by Samizdata at 8:21 PM on March 29, 2013 [3 favorites]


See, I don't see this as a dramatic difference from most companies in the past few years, and definitely (apparently, shockingly) not a "textbook FAIL waiting to happen."

I work in the energy industry. I guess everyone has seen that gas at the pump is greater than $3/gallon for the past few years ($96/barrel this week!), and other prices related to petroleum haven't exactly plummeted. And yet, here in one of the Energy capitals, Energy companies were not hiring. In fact, they were laying off workers left and right. Just like WalMart with their pitiful half-stocked shelves.

Now things are picking up. Everyone has sold the very last of their stores of goods, has wrung the last bit of unpaid overtime out of every worker, basically they have nowhere else to turn. They must hire people. In Houston (and I know it's not like this everywhere, yet), the Energy companies are all hiring. Some, like in days past, have signs hung from their buildings asking people to apply for jobs. The local Kroger has a sign out asking people to Tweet them if they are interested in work. Seriously!

And WalMart, too, has wrung the last bit of advantage out of this recession. They need to hire labor again, but here's where I differ with the original statement -- I think they can, and they will. Businesses have made a pretty penny over the last few years, bewailing the economy while the S&P recovered handily. I've got some admittedly tinfoil-hat theories about why this has happened, but companies failing is not part of the theories at all. When it becomes advantageous for WalMart to hire shelf stockers, they will. And people will work for them. The WalMart empire will not crumble because Headquarters forgot to hire stockers.
posted by Houstonian at 8:25 PM on March 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


"Some of my relatives live in rural areas and even if they could afford to shop at Costco or some mom and pop place, they couldn't because Wal-Mart is the only thing around for miles."

Which is exactly how Wal-Mart wants it. They wanted all of the other options to go away, and they did everything they could to crush the competition. They didn't care about being your favorite store. They didn't want to actually earn the #1 spot. They wanted the other stores to die, so you would be forced to shop there. Because Wal-Mart is evil.

I'm not such a hardline lefty that I'm going to spit in your eye if circumstances force you to shop at Wal-Mart sometimes. And I'm not going to pretend that Target is such a great option either. But Wal-Mart is the worst, and if there is any way to shop someplace else instead, do it.
posted by Ursula Hitler at 8:49 PM on March 29, 2013 [20 favorites]


Now planning a classic 1990s This American Life radio story about delivering Wal-Mart orders.
posted by scose at 8:54 PM on March 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


Walmart has some stuff that Target doesn't carry. I can get a better deal on certain things at HEB. Sometimes Walgreen's has great coupons. I'm a cheap bitch - I'll shop anywhere I can get a deal. That being said, I have noticed that Walmart's stocking issues are beginning to affect my ability to find what I want. And there's always 10 or so baskets of returned merchandise at customer service because nobody knows what to do with it all.

People by and large want to work and earn a decent living and not have to chew on their own souls in the process. People also want to enter a store, find what they need and get out quick. Too bad there's a corporation in the way of both those reasonable goals when it comes to Walmart. Me personally though, I just want to reach in and throttle that bitch in the self check-out machine when she starts spouting about UNEXPECTED ITEM IN BAGGING AREA. Yes - yes that would be ME. I am the unexpected item in the bagging area. Maybe the fine folks in that pretty building in Bentonville need a few unexpected items in their bagging area. Call it a little perspective...
posted by PuppyCat at 8:57 PM on March 29, 2013 [2 favorites]


I wonder how long a program like this would last without becoming part of out tipping culture--in a really bad way. In my rural southwest MO region it isn't hard for me to imagine hard up scammers agreeing to run delivery to you only to get vaguely threatening about actually delivering your package unharmed without expecting some extortion gratuity from you.
posted by sourwookie at 8:59 PM on March 29, 2013 [3 favorites]


You can, sometimes, pin down when and how they fucked up - Sears ignored the internet until too late

I am reminded of Pastabagel's 2007 comment on how Sears could have been Amazon.com and more but went in the wrong direction.
posted by fings at 9:00 PM on March 29, 2013 [8 favorites]


Walmart is getting stomped by Fred Meyer in my region. Stomped.
posted by chainlinkspiral at 12:12 AM on March 30, 2013 [3 favorites]


I find this a really interesting thread, because the Walmart in Peachtree City, GA (where I lived last year) is a really excellent Walmart; everything stocked out with lots of variety, quick lines, and friendly workers-- even the grocery section was great. The guy who runs that place must be really on the ball. Now, by way of comparison, the Walmart here in LA (Panorama City, to be exact) is dingy, with sullen workers and not much of anything.

It's hard to believe that the customer home delivery thing is actually something they'd consider, because it sounds like a bad joke. (My first thought was: "They've got to be kidding, right?!") But I guess stranger things have happened...

(And honestly I'd much rather go to Fred Meyer-- but that, alas, in not an option.)
posted by suburbanbeatnik at 1:13 AM on March 30, 2013


I find this a really interesting thread, because the Walmart in Peachtree City, GA (where I lived last year) is a really excellent Walmart;

That probably has something to do with the fact that Peachtree City is very wealthly area. Big box retailers and grocery stores do huge amounts of research on the areas around their stores and use this research to adapt the stores to the area. Stores in fancier areas will carry higher quality and higher priced goods, and tend to be assigned the most competent managers.
posted by arcolz at 2:20 AM on March 30, 2013 [6 favorites]


Hm.

Imagine: gas prices have spiked. Unemployment is still high. Millions of rural and exurban residents face a sudden drop in disposable income. The cost of driving to Walmart, or anywhere else, has become a hurdle-- but professional delivery services have also raised their prices, for the same reason, and so Amazon is in a similar bind.

I could see this being effective. Add in a social networking component--have your deliveries done by and for your friends and neighbors--and people might be more than happy to do it.

You wouldn't expect people to be happy to jump into a taxi driven by a random person with a smartphone app, either, but here we are...
posted by alexei at 2:43 AM on March 30, 2013 [2 favorites]


People have always hitch hiked; the smartphone just gives them an electronic thumb.
posted by Mitheral at 2:56 AM on March 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


> You simply cannot beat the efficiency of using UPS, Fedex, or even USPS, unless you do in fact con people
> into running your errands for you at less than their cost.
> posted by randomkeystrike at 8:04 PM on March 29 [2 favorites +] [!]

I often wonder if folks who do any kind of delivery for tips (such as pizza) where you have to use your own car are getting conned into working for less than their cost, if you factor in wear and tear on the car. The more deliveries you do the closer you are to the sudden $600 repair that you can't cover, and lots of these are ragged edge cars already for which the sudden $600 repair isn't far away. But you can't trade a piece of your car for food or rent directly, it's illiquid, got to take a detour through cash somehow even if it's a bad bargain.

Is that a con, or are delivery guys aware of the gamble and just praying they find something better before they run the remaining 20% of their cars down to 0%?

What Walmart's (rumored to be) going to offer sounds like even less of a temptation than tips.
posted by jfuller at 3:11 AM on March 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


I don't shop at WalMart, just because the one in Saint Paul is kind of unsafe. But I do think the WalMart hate is mostly classism. When one of my relatives got her first white collar job in her 40s, she immediately switched from driving a used Buick to a used Toyota, from drinking Coke to drinking Starbucks, and from shopping at WalMart to shopping at Target. So much of how we define our place in society is by the brands of stuff we buy, rather than anything we actually do or produce ourselves.

Don't get me wrong, I don't like their business practices at all. But other big box stores are no better, with the notable exception of Costco, which really does cater to wealthy and socially conscious customers.

I think the DIY delivery could maybe actually work. A lot of the cost of delivery is in packaging, which wouldn't be as necessary. There are people who roam the streets at night in pickup trucks collecting metal to sell to the scrap yard at ten bucks per TON. You're telling me those people wouldn't rather be making a buck or two per WalMart delivery? Of course, the legal issues would be substantial... If every driver has to have a CDL that would kill the plan.
posted by miyabo at 3:31 AM on March 30, 2013


(UPS and FedEx driver DO have to have a CDL, because they are regulated by federal transportation law. So the drivers get paid reasonably well. But pizza drivers don't. WalMart would have to prove that they're more like pizza delivery than interstate shipping.)
posted by miyabo at 3:48 AM on March 30, 2013


I think MeFites have been more careful to only judge the "filthy stores", which I also have found to be well overstated.

Here's a data point for you - when a new WalMart was built near my house I went in for something and distinctly remember asking my wife, "How is it this store is only two weeks old and already looks this dingy?"

Realistically, it wasn't so much that the store was dirty, it hadn't really had time to get that dirty. What it was is that everything about their color palette could have been named something like "hand print beige" or "mop water brown." I'm not sure what the thought process was behind those choices but having heard Wal Mart brag about how scientific everything it does is, it was pretty obvious to me that this was by design.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 3:57 AM on March 30, 2013


I don't shop at WalMart, just because the one in Saint Paul is kind of unsafe.

I believe you, miyabo, and I also know that how we think about safety is no "just because," but is also deeply entrenched in class.
posted by liketitanic at 4:17 AM on March 30, 2013 [6 favorites]


Kid Charlemagne -- the dingy Wal-Mart look is generically created by cheap lightbulbs which are deliberately underpowered to save on electricity. A new Wal-Mart cold look even dingier than usual because initial stock is a very messy process and the store manager, wanting to show good initial profit, didn't want to invest wage-hours in a heavy duty clean up.
posted by MattD at 4:55 AM on March 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


Not enough workers? Obviously, this calls for expanding the H1b program...
posted by Thorzdad at 4:58 AM on March 30, 2013 [3 favorites]


One thing I find fascinating is how Wal Mart's image is so different from place to place. McDonalds is the same everywhere, and yet Wal-Mart varies from necessity for everyone (much of rural America) to place for people too poor or insomniac to shop elsewhere (suburbia) to thoughtcrime (New York City). Must be the world's most interesting client for their branding consultant.
posted by MattD at 5:00 AM on March 30, 2013 [2 favorites]


I don't shop at WalMart, just because the one in Saint Paul is kind of unsafe. But I do think the WalMart hate is mostly classism.

Isn't the perception of that Wal-Mart as unsafe perhaps classist? It's certainly the Wal-Mart most easily accessible by bus. (If you ride the 5 most of the way to the Mall of America, you pass another. There isn't one in the city of Minneapolis.)
posted by hoyland at 5:15 AM on March 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


"I find this a really interesting thread, because the Walmart in Peachtree City, GA (where I lived last year) is a really excellent Walmart; everything stocked out with lots of variety, quick lines, and friendly workers..."

People like to talk about how friendly employees are at their local Walmarts. A new one opened up near us, but it's the "neighborhood market" version. It's tiny and people are super 1950-Disney-movie friendly.

Which gives me the chills, because I have worked retail before. And I have been told to smile or go home. I have been coached to be friendly even though I was making 7.25 an hour and being treated like shit and people were walking all over my beautifully mopped floor (totally understandable, but it still hurt) and got disdainful looks from my manager and the customers for being a retail worker, even though I have an engineering degree and even if I hadn't hey, I am still a respectable person doing respectable work! But I had to smile! And use my eyes in my smile, so it looks real! And be friendly even though someone just got fired for taking outdated stuff from the trash can home! We love our low paying, benefit less jobs!, how can we serve you?

So I can tell this is the policy they have for the "neighborhood market" version of their shops. Seeing freakishly happy Walmart workers always makes me uncomfortable because of this. I kind of hate my new shop, and the fact that my smallish town has 3 Walmarts on our main avenue, the newest one two blocks away from the farmer's market. But their smiling slaves is what really pisses me off. No vacation, no breaks, no insurance. Workers at Walmart were actually told to piss on themselves because they weren't allowed unplanned bathroom breaks. And Walmart wants me to believe it's a happy place? There is nothing as humiliating as being told to smile when one is being abused. It's like the cherry on top of the power play pie.
posted by Tarumba at 5:21 AM on March 30, 2013 [44 favorites]


Isn't the perception of Wal-Mart as unsafe perhaps classist?

We've had parking lot rapes, gang fights and random shootings outside most of the Walmart stores in my city, except the new ones. Never in the parking lot of another shop in the area.

Walmart parking lots are pretty dark and huge, which makes the walk to the shop long and unsafe, particularly so at night.
posted by Tarumba at 5:27 AM on March 30, 2013 [4 favorites]


Walmart parking lots are pretty dark and huge, which makes the walk to the shop long and unsafe, particularly so at night.

Exactly - and when you pay your loss prevention officers next to nothing with no benefits, they're demonstrably not available for situations where bodily harm may be involved. I've been at two Wal-Mart parking lots where assaults and/or robberies have occurred and you don't see anyone on staff before the police, except for the manager after it's over. How could you, given that they don't even put staff on to stock the shelves?

Small businesses tend to congregate in groups in well-lit areas (see also: malls) where plenty of people mull about - drastically increasing the risk in stealing the TV that you just bought. Wal-Mart at night is essentially a ghost town and often located far enough away from other things that the only people who could witness would be other people at Wal-Mart or their skeleton staff.

It is not classist to find large expanses of darkly lit parking lot a little scary - it's like something out of every episode of Criminal Minds ever.
posted by Rodrigo Lamaitre at 5:51 AM on March 30, 2013 [2 favorites]


Buried in the first link is this:
Falletta and others interviewed for this story said management bonuses are based partly on minimizing store payroll.
I assume that means moreso than is normal at any business. So the people who decide whether or not to hire more workers are paid to decide not to.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 5:58 AM on March 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


My only experience with the ins and outs of retail management is at Walgreens, but they give their managers bonuses based on sales and how much customers like shopping at the store (those surveys you can fill out? They actually matter, at least in the aggregate). You get penalized if your payroll goes over the target upper management handed you, but there's no reward for cutting your hours below that number. So yeah, I'd consider that unusual.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 6:11 AM on March 30, 2013


Springfield, Mo is the worst for retail. A town of under a quarter million with 12(?--I lose count) Walmarts within or just outside our city limits. For comparison, only one (smallish) Target. We will NEVER get a Costco or Trader Joe's.

As if we weren't already experiencing the highest Walmart density on the planet, Walmart just decided to build another one right in the middle of our downtown historic district. Our city council and mayor couldn't redraw the zoning quick enough to please them. I think they even included a free handy in the deal.

There will be no need for a delivery service here as everyone lives within plastic-smiley-face-bag-on-the-wind distance of a store already.

there are 119 in Missouri and counting
posted by sourwookie at 6:52 AM on March 30, 2013 [2 favorites]


Not enough workers? Obviously, this calls for expanding the H1b program...

Hasn't anyone suggested using prison labor to stock shelves yet?
posted by acb at 6:55 AM on March 30, 2013


Stores in fancier areas will carry higher quality and higher priced goods, and tend to be assigned the most competent managers

That's what I thought, too. Do you sometimes read the "How Much is Inside" website (the Cockeyed website)? A while back, he compared three WalMarts in his area of California -- one in wealthier area, and one in a poorer area. It's not terribly scientific (just one person, three stores) but I was surprised by his findings:

"Of seventeen choices, nine grocery items had a different price depending on the store. The price difference favored the Folsom store, an affluent suburb, over the Rancho Cordova and South Sacramento stores, non-affluent sections of Sacramento county. That is, the stores in poor neighborhoods had higher prices, not the other way around."
posted by Houstonian at 7:01 AM on March 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


That is, the stores in poor neighborhoods had higher prices, not the other way around.

Which makes sense, if you think about it. More affluent areas will tend to have more options for grocery shopping. Thus, the Wal-Mart will have to compete on price and quality. Poorer areas will tend to have fewer, if any, choices. Thus, there will be less of an imperative to compete on price, especially if you are a large store like Wal-Mart.
posted by Thorzdad at 7:22 AM on March 30, 2013 [3 favorites]


When one of my relatives got her first white collar job in her 40s, she immediately switched from driving a used Buick to a used Toyota, from drinking Coke to drinking Starbucks, and from shopping at WalMart to shopping at Target. So much of how we define our place in society is by the brands of stuff we buy, rather than anything we actually do or produce ourselves.

In an interesting variation on that concept, I recently overheard someone at work saying "I don't need to go to Target, Wal Mart's where it's at." This individual is a local Georgia native, and was making his statement as some form of "keeping it real" versus his perception of Target as too snooty and upscale for his "regular joe" image.
posted by Fleebnork at 7:22 AM on March 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


That is, the stores in poor neighborhoods had higher prices, not the other way around.

That's not surprising - in affluent markets, they would sell more volume (a product of people having more money to spend) which would reduce sunk operational costs per unit sold. This also happens in grocery stores and other large retail outlets who don't operate as one big conglomerate, but instead as individual stores with individual profit targets they need to get to.
posted by Rodrigo Lamaitre at 7:26 AM on March 30, 2013


One day and even same-day delivery services along with an easy-to-use user interface and comprehensive selection offered by Amazon (I almost sound like an ad) has to be doing major damage to stores like Wal-Mart.

This sounds like a desperation response by Wal-Mart (and I don't think it is a joke. It is also in Forbes).

Other stores are making similar moves. Google is starting a same day delivery service in California for Target and Walgreen stores.
posted by eye of newt at 7:26 AM on March 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


One day and even same-day delivery services along with an easy-to-use user interface and comprehensive selection offered by Amazon (I almost sound like an ad) has to be doing major damage to stores like Wal-Mart.

LOL. The idea that same-day service is doing major damage to Wal-Mart is a geek fever-dream. While I'm sure such services are a blip on Wal-Mart's radar, it's likely such a small faint blip as to be confused for a dust speck on the screen.

The areas actually served by these services is tiny, compared to the entirety of the US consumer market. Then, there's the cost factor. Same-day service has yet to prove itself as a cost-effective service, to either the consumer or the retailer. Right now, it's a limited test thing, at best.

Plus, if you note in the Forbes article you link to, Wal-Mart is testing same-day delivery already in five markets. It's certainly a possible option for the future, but to say its doing "major damage" today is just wishful fantasy.
posted by Thorzdad at 7:39 AM on March 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


> Not because of liberal guilt, but because I know I'll have to spend at least 10 minutes waiting in line to checkout, oftentimes more.

The last time I went camping in Michigan we had to hit Wal-Mart (because it was The Only Place In Town) for groceries, and I was in line for almost an hour on a weekday afternoon. It was a combination of very few checkouts being open, most of the customers buying what looked like a month's worth of groceries and people paying with a combination of cash, cheques and what I assume were food stamps (the lady in front of me used all three). It was equal parts depressing and infuriating.

Anyway, fuck Wal-Mart.
posted by The Card Cheat at 8:07 AM on March 30, 2013


Thorzdad, I admit it was just my guess that Amazon is hurting Wal-Mart, but here's another Forbes article that mentions Amazon's world-wide e-sales of $21 billion vs Wal-Mart's $9 billion. But, to your point, Wal-Mart's total sales were $443 billion last year.

A lot of sales are impulsive. You want something, drive to the store, and get it. People don't want to wait a week or even a day. The whole idea of same-day-delivery is to eliminate the need to get in your car and drive to a store. If you can get it in the same day, why bother going out? Just order it online and it will be there later in the day. It is Amazon's direct attack on brick-and-mortar stores. This will work especially well if the Wal-Mart shopping experience gets worse than it already is.
posted by eye of newt at 8:10 AM on March 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


Ursula Hitler: ""But in online gripes about Walmart, the filthy people seem to accompany the filthy store justification for not shopping there."

My hatred of Wal-Mart has nothing to do with snobbery. I'm pretty poor myself, and I'll gladly shop at the local 99 cents store, which is full of other poor folks and has sticky floors. Wal-Mart is evil, and this "LOL poor folks" stuff is a total strawman.

Wal-Mart isn't just just a shitty shopping experience, although it is that too. They exploit their employees horribly, beyond the dreams of Ebenezer Scrooge. They make money being sleazy and sinister, and as they drive their competition out of business, workers have fewer employment options, shoppers have fewer places to shop, and the surviving competition becomes more sleazy and sinister, just to compete.

Dick Cheney is a fan. And history has taught us that if Cheney says something is good, we should run screaming in the other direction.

"The only megastores in this area are WalMart and Sam's Club."

Then I'd suggest you find some other business in the area that has what you need. Or shop online, if you have to. Wal-Mart is evil.
"

Nah, I shop as locally as I can. Wal-Mart can burn in HELL after some of the shit I have seen them put people through. Besides, their produce SUCKS.
posted by Samizdata at 8:11 AM on March 30, 2013


Area Man: "Walmart employed a disabled relative at a time when no one else would. So while I don't approve of many of its practices, I have mixed feelings.

I once lived in a small town with a Walmart and not a lot of other retail. I've spent plenty of time shopping there and it just is a bit less pleasant than Target. Also, Target gives a lot to charity, unlike Walmart.
"

And I watched a co-worker get fired for attendance issues due to his epilepsy and he was a seriously hard worker.
posted by Samizdata at 8:13 AM on March 30, 2013 [2 favorites]


EmpressCallipygos: "Sure seems to bother a lot of people enough in that it's often the justification for not shopping there. All those filthy poors and their matching store.

I doubt that the reason people in here are snubbing Wal*Mart is "oh mercy we don't want to mingle with the hoipolloi".
"

No, I don't shop at WalMart, because they are abusive, ex-employer assholes.

That is all.
posted by Samizdata at 8:14 AM on March 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


vuron: "Should've just kept the cart as well hobo.

Walmart have remarkably shitty business practices, I mean enough to stand out as crappy even in our ridiculous anti-labor environment. Unless I'm in the middle of BFE and absolutely need to get into a store for something I won't shop there because let's be honest they are a horrible company making a profit on human misery (both overseas and here in the US).

God forbid they pay their employees a working wage or give them enough hours to actually support their families.

I love that alternative models like the Costco model are appear that indicate you don't have to sink to the lowest common denominator in order to have a successful business model. You can actually treat your employees and customers like human beings and still make a profit.
"

But, what you neglect to see here, is, yes, you make a profit, but not as much of a profit. I mean, seriously, you expect me to survive on a small bottom line here? Those extra millions are important.
posted by Samizdata at 8:18 AM on March 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


Twang: "@Samizdata et al:

I was just doing a quick back-of-the-envelope estimation of the size of WalMart paychecks based on the information in the article. (Which as Fermion pointed out, I messed up when I scanned for the right numbers.)

I often do similar estimations and am no longer surprised when people misunderstand that process. The estimation called for being as generous as possible with the numbers given to demonstrate that, even giving them the benefit of the doubt, the dent of adding 5 FT employees wouldn't cut seriously into their profits.
"

I know, I know. But I was semi-humorously (and, apparently VERY semi-) an important fallacy which is that WalMart doesn't hire FT employees if they can avoid it.
posted by Samizdata at 8:20 AM on March 30, 2013


It is not classist to find large expanses of darkly lit parking lot a little scary - it's like something out of every episode of Criminal Minds ever.

To be clear, I was responding to a comment about a specific Wal-Mart being unsafe. This Wal-Mart shares a parking lot with a grocery store, a department store and some random shops. It's not one of those Wal-Marts off on its own away from everything. People take the bus to the Wal-Mart and grocery store, so there's foot traffic. If its parking lot is more dangerous than that of the Target across the street it'd be because it's busier.

(What's mildly interesting is that I don't think I've ever heard anyone say classist (or racist, even) things about that Target, when they do about a Target closer to me and about that Wal-Mart, so it's not perceptions of Target v perceptions of Wal-Mart.)
posted by hoyland at 8:34 AM on March 30, 2013


On the CDL thing I can say that the people who bring you your package from FedEx/UPS do not need to have CDL's. I have my CDL because of work and that is because we need some people to be able to carry placarded dangerous goods. None of the trucks couriers drive that I know of are not big enough (26,000 lbs), don't have air brakes and aren't carrying 16 or more passengers. There are many more CDL requirements but none that apply to the trucks couriers drive. CDL's don't apply to driving professionally, they apply to what you are driving and what your cargo is.
posted by Phantomx at 8:52 AM on March 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


(What's mildly interesting is that I don't think I've ever heard anyone say classist (or racist, even) things about that Target, when they do about a Target closer to me and about that Wal-Mart, so it's not perceptions of Target v perceptions of Wal-Mart.)

Are you talking about the Lake Street Target in Minneapolis? Some people call it Targhetto, which I hate. For most of my life, that was my family's Target (I now live a bit further south and have a Super Target nearby). I've never felt unsafe shopping there, but there is a real danger of seeing someone dark skinned or poor.
posted by Area Man at 9:02 AM on March 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


There've been a lot of comparisons to Costco here, how much better the experience is for both the customer and the staff, but some things need to be reiterated -- they've been sort of stated above but it's a little buried:

They serve totally different customers. Costco is for people able and willing to invest at least $55 a year that buys them absolutely nothing but the right to walk in the door, and can afford to do bulk buying: getting more than you need and stocking up. This does not begin to describe poor people. it certainly doesn't describe people who ride the bus, since at Costco, the packaged quantity of a single item is often about as much as you can carry by hand.

As Houstonian mentions above, they serve completely different demographic and economic brackets.

Also, something I once overheard a customer say to his friend in a Costco: "I'll say one thing for this place. Ain't a lot of n*****s in here." I swear to god. i spent the next hour amazed that that thought would even come into someone's head. But as contemptible and revolting as the sentiment is, it is a significant observation.
posted by George_Spiggott at 9:17 AM on March 30, 2013 [3 favorites]


EmpressCallipygos: "I doubt that the reason people in here are snubbing Wal*Mart is "oh mercy we don't want to mingle with the hoipolloi"."

No, I don't shop at WalMart, because they are abusive, ex-employer assholes.


No, I know, Samizdata. I was talking to someone else.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:18 AM on March 30, 2013


That probably has something to do with the fact that Peachtree City is very wealthly area. Big box retailers and grocery stores do huge amounts of research on the areas around their stores and use this research to adapt the stores to the area. Stores in fancier areas will carry higher quality and higher priced goods, and tend to be assigned the most competent managers.

Apart from the good points everyone has added to this, it is also a big blocker for real political action. Politicians tend to live in fancy areas, and if their (families') shopping experience is pleasant, because the local chain stores are far better than those in the rest of the country, it is easier for them to write off complaints of worker exploitation as leftist rubbish.
posted by mumimor at 9:18 AM on March 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


EmpressCallipygos: "EmpressCallipygos: "I doubt that the reason people in here are snubbing Wal*Mart is "oh mercy we don't want to mingle with the hoipolloi"."

No, I don't shop at WalMart, because they are abusive, ex-employer assholes.


No, I know, Samizdata. I was talking to someone else.
"

Sorry about jumping in there, Empress. Nothing worse than annoying almighty royalty.

chuckling
posted by Samizdata at 9:31 AM on March 30, 2013


jfuller: "Is that a con, or are delivery guys aware of the gamble and just praying they find something better before they run the remaining 20% of their cars down to 0%?
"

Revenue Canada allows 54 cents per kilometre for the first 5000 kilometres and 47 cents after that. However you can operate a car much cheaper than that if you do your own servicing work. My last car was fully depreciated (IE: I sold it for approximately what I paid for it a year earlier and with an additional 10K kilometres on it). I had to change the head gasket but that is a $150 and 5 hour job (which even at minimum wage is only another $50). I had the tools but even if I had needed to buy them the outlay would have been less than $200 (most of that torque wrench) and then I would have had them going forward so not really fair to assess the total to this job. When I bought that car I intentionally purchased something with a sewing machine of a motor. Mixed city/highway I get ~7l/100km; delivery driving would obviously be much worse but I can't see it exceeding 10l/100km. So gas is costing 12c/kilometre or average I'd guess of $1.50 per delivery. Tires; windshield washer fluid; oil change; etc. is maybe 5-10 cents per kilometre. Let's say 75 cents per delivery. And your fixed cost for insurance and parking (in my case anyways) is less than $100/per month including the delivery rider ICBC requires for doing this work. Even if you assess the whole cost to the delivery (unfair as delivery guys will be using their car regardless) and you make only 200 deliveries in a month (that's less than 25 per day working 2 days a week) that adds another 50 cents per delivery. So we're up to 1.50+.7+.5 = 2.75 per delivery which is about what they pay here (honestly it's been a long while but a friend of mine was getting $2.50 per ten years ago). IE: your costs are covered so your labour is payed by your tips. Most people are tipping at least a couple bucks and usually more than that so you are making at least 8 bucks an hour (that four deliveries per hour). However you are also going to get people who pay a crazy tip (like 100% or 150% is not unusual) for difficult deliveries or because they are intoxicated. Which will significantly effect your bottom line.

It's not great work and your car ends up with a permanent pizza smell but if you like driving, don't mind working Friday nights, and you can do your own work it's probably better than most retail and certainly better than working at a hell hole of a job like WalMart. And you'll cover the fixed costs of your car but still get to use it for private purposes.

But if you are driving a new Lincoln pickup (no shit I saw one last week with one of those lit up signs) your parents are probably subsidizing your employment to get you out of the house.
posted by Mitheral at 10:01 AM on March 30, 2013 [4 favorites]


"But Wal-Mart is bringing jobs to the area!"

This is what happens when you're more interested in opening new stores than running the ones you have.
posted by Legomancer at 10:02 AM on March 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


Are you talking about the Lake Street Target in Minneapolis? Some people call it Targhetto, which I hate. For most of my life, that was my family's Target (I now live a bit further south and have a Super Target nearby). I've never felt unsafe shopping there, but there is a real danger of seeing someone dark skinned or poor.

Why, yes, I am. The downtown Target is much more convenient for me, so I haven't been to the one on Lake Street in a while, but I'd be hard-pressed to come up with a non-racist reason to dislike that Target. I guess it might be kind of small as Targets go. (I was going to say that if I had a car, it might be faster for me to go to St Louis Park on the highway than to fight my way down Lake Street. Then I remembered that people with cars would go on Hiawatha.)
posted by hoyland at 11:13 AM on March 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


Imagine: gas prices have spiked. Unemployment is still high. Millions of rural and exurban residents face a sudden drop in disposable income. The cost of driving to Walmart, or anywhere else, has become a hurdle-- but professional delivery services have also raised their prices, for the same reason, and so Amazon is in a similar bind.


See, the reason for this being a huge problem is that the Last Mile really is on the order of a mile or more. There's a far easier solution, and it's in place all over the world. Make the final stop before purchase a smaller store that is a lot closer to home. So instead of the products making the last 1-20 miles in a personal vehicle, they only make the last 1 mile or less. (Or zero, you know, if the store is within walking distance.)

The problem right now is that 1. the stores don't exist and 2. the stores would be illegal thanks to zoning codes. Well, when (not if) the situation gets desperate enough, stores will open, even if they literally set up shop in someone's garage. And the zoning codes will either be amended or ignored. That's a lot more plausible than this gambit from Walmart.
posted by ocschwar at 11:44 AM on March 30, 2013 [2 favorites]


I must have a strong imagination because I can think of hundreds of ways this could go wrong and only a few that it could go right.

I'm assuming that the neighbor has prepaid by credit card and you are only responsible for delivery. What happens if your car breaks down and you have to be towed? What happens if you get in a minor fender bender but the TV you are transporting gets crushed? What happens if you sign out for 5 items, deliver 5 items, but then your neighbor claims that the cookies were opened and half eaten?

What if the items are stolen from your car?

What happens if one of the items are wrong but WalMart claims the order was right when it left the store?

Will it be legal to transport prescriptions or does that have to be dealt with separately? I can't imagine your neighbor wanting you to know he uses Viagra, for example.

What about frozen things? Is it your fault if on the 20 mile drive home they defrost? Is it WalMart's for trusting you?

What if you can't find the house?

What happens if you arrive safely but your neighbor never answers the door and appears to be gone?

If they are only paying for gas then this service is useless in densely populated areas. I have 2 WalMarts near me within 5 miles and so my "fee" would be a dollar or so. I can't imagine taking this hassle on for less than $10.00 and even someone who is broke isn't going to do it for a $1.00.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 12:23 PM on March 30, 2013 [3 favorites]


2n222 that's one mighty strawman you've got there.

2n222 is right, and it's an ugly truth that reveals a lot about our current culture. It's not just conservatives who hate those who are different, we have become more divisive and less inclusive as a whole culture. The growing income and wealth division has turned us on each other.

I mean, directly after 2n222's simple response of "explain" to the strawman claim, the very next comments starts with:

The last thing I want is some Walmart shopper, trying to wrangle a few bucks off their gun purchase, coming to my house and knowing what I just bought.

This thread is full of examples like this: "but i'm also not a fan of those people being given my address.", "I do not particularly care for WalMart shopper culture, but if it stays at the store, that is their business.", etc.

If this was another thread, or if this was a comment section on a local newspaper site, we would be appalled and rightly calling out these comments as prejudiced, racist or sexist.

Think about the sentences above spoken by someone in the 1950s talking about an African American family moving into the neighborhood: "those people". Think about it if it was a Republican referring to gay marriage: "if it stays at the xxxx, that is their business".


A couple other things to note:

1. I am not a fan of Walmart. I grew up Michigan Blueish, and union busting and removing options from employees is not cool. Health care, employee pay, monopoly abuse, the list of abuses is long. I don't shop there unless it's the only store open in whatever small town I happen to be traveling through and need something when everything else is closed. Most of the people expressing the opinions above feel the same way.

2. BUT they take it a step further by attacking the customers as part of the problem. They are in part, but many have no other nearby options. As a community on the blue, we generally don't attack the poor for other problems, I don't see why we should here.

3. Like mentioned above, if this was a start-up or non-profit doing this, we would be applauding them. Think Airbnb, ridesharing or "slugging" services, and crowdsourcing in general. Getting food and resources out to a your neighbors because you're already on the way. It's environmentally friendly, it's community friendly, it should be a progressive cause, not Walmart popularizing it.

Finally, and most depressingly, all of these comments remind me that we are more isolated and alone than ever. I am reminded of themes in Putnam's "Bowling Alone", Oldenburg's "The Great Good Place", and other sociologists talking about how car culture has changed the way we socialize, congregate and interact with neighbors and strangers.

"but i'm also not a fan of those people being given my address."

There was a time when the great majority of us had our addresses and phone numbers listed in a community directory, so that others could contact us, for whatever reason. While some opted to remove their names from this directory, for the most part people didn't bother, and there was no real fear of strangers invading your home. Kids looked up friends phone numbers and rode their bike across the city and stayed out till dusk, just as long as they were home before dinner, it was fine.

It's weird, because it almost sounds like a Leave it to Beaver episode. But it was only the 80s when I remember doing this myself as a kid. So many in this thread are living in fear of people who live paycheck-to-paycheck. And in a couple days, we'll be attacking dot-com engineers who are making more than us, a comfortable amount of money to be honest, because they claim they're not rich.

Meanwhile, Cheney, and let's be honest, the Clintons have strong Walmart ties too, and other Walmart 1%'ers will be laughing.
posted by formless at 4:54 PM on March 30, 2013 [6 favorites]


This thread is full of examples like this: "but i'm also not a fan of those people being given my address.", "I do not particularly care for WalMart shopper culture, but if it stays at the store, that is their business.", etc.

Yes, there are indeed many fragments of comments you can take out of context and pretend to be appalled by.
posted by Sys Rq at 5:49 PM on March 30, 2013 [2 favorites]


If this was another thread, or if this was a comment section on a local newspaper site, we would be appalled and rightly calling out these comments as prejudiced, racist or sexist.

Think about the sentences above spoken by someone in the 1950s talking about an African American family moving into the neighborhood: "those people". Think about it if it was a Republican referring to gay marriage: "if it stays at the xxxx, that is their business".


Well, I guess you covered all the what-ifs.

As much as you seem to want to peg this into some sort of XXXX-ism issue, the reality is that I do not want a person who has no accountability to the task of delivery other than saving a couple of bucks visiting my house. Particularly from a store that sells guns. It has nothing to do with race, religion or any other examples that you cited. It is solely about a company with questionable business practices trying to save a buck with people trying to save a buck as well. I do not see that as a winning recipe for a safe transaction.

Get back to me when you have figured out a way to tie this into Islamophobia.
posted by lampshade at 6:00 PM on March 30, 2013 [3 favorites]


In the midst of all the Wal-Mart hatred, only one other person has pointed out that Google is starting up a same-day delivery service of its own to compete with local stores and Amazon.

Wal-Mart has also stated that this is just an idea that they're kicking around. FTA: ""This is at the brain-storming stage, but it's possible in a year or two," said Jeff McAllister, senior vice president of Walmart U.S. innovations."

I think it's just a warning shot at Google, if anything.
posted by drstein at 6:23 PM on March 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


"So many in this thread are living in fear of people who live paycheck-to-paycheck."

Again with the snobbery strawman. (Try and say that 3 times fast without it turning into the strawberry snowman.) You don't have to be Thurston Howell III to find Wal-Mart horrifying. Los Angeles repeatedly rejected Wal-Mart's efforts to assimilate us into their collective and add our biological and technological distinctiveness to their own, and if you're assuming that was just the efforts of a bunch of westside Limo liberals, well, no, it was not. Inglewood is a decidedly non-rich, non-snobby neighborhood, and they repeatedly rejected that Wal-Mart crap. They saw what Wal-Mart does to communities, and they wanted no part of it. (Wal-Mart kept fighting, and eventually they did build a few stores here... because what Wal-Mart wants, Wal-Mart gets.)

If this plan succeeds, and gets widely adopted by other companies, that will be yet another profession (delivery) that Wal-Mart has crushed. We are rapidly reaching a point where Americans just can't afford to buy all this cheap crap, no matter how cheap it gets. At that point Wal-Mart will presumably institute the next phase of operations, Soylent something or other...
posted by Ursula Hitler at 6:33 PM on March 30, 2013 [5 favorites]


Walmarts vary in their safety. The one closest to me? One day I was there around 2 in the afternoon, and there was blood on the floor where a homeless young man wound up stabbed with his own knife while struggling with the police. I saw them do the perp walk out with him with my own eyes. That particular Walmart had roaming security in the parking lot and awhile back started closing at midnight instead of being open 24-7.

Oddly enough I never feel unsafe there although the clientele definitely looks more "ghetto" than the Walmart further down the road. Some of them look okay-usually, the newer ones. The first one I spoke of got remodelled and looks a little better now.

I am trying really hard to wean myself from going to them at all though. It is true they wind up out of things more often, and I also have figured out that if I shop sales at Harris Teeter I do about as well and have a much more pleasant shopping experience. And to judge from appearances, seems they treat their employees much better as well, which is worth an extra sheckel or two from me, in my book.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 7:05 PM on March 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


See, the reason for this being a huge problem is that the Last Mile really is on the order of a mile or more. There's a far easier solution, and it's in place all over the world. Make the final stop before purchase a smaller store that is a lot closer to home. So instead of the products making the last 1-20 miles in a personal vehicle, they only make the last 1 mile or less. (Or zero, you know, if the store is within walking distance.)

Which is why I see Springfield as a test market. Remember those 12 locations I mentioned earlier? They are still building more here even though already we have the greatest Walmart density on the planet (1 store per 15,949 people)--but the new ones are the new Neighborhood Market format. These are essentially "Walmarts you put in between Walmarts". One of the controversial points during the (far-too-short) zoning debate was that the new Neighborhood Market was also going to be a Site-To-Store shipping center. If there's any place they're doing test runs on addressing the "Last Mile Problem" it has to be here: Very soon all Springfieldians will be within 5280 feet of one of their stores if not already (and that is likely as we have 10 stores in a city 7 miles in diameter).
posted by sourwookie at 8:05 PM on March 30, 2013


Never move the merchandise off the trucks ... make people meet the trucks on the freeway. No more stores, drastic reductions in the amount of employees. Get rid of the trucks along the coasts, just tell people what port your containers are at.

Oh...so, like Ikea, then?
posted by sexyrobot at 9:40 PM on March 30, 2013 [2 favorites]


Formless: "So many in this thread are living in fear of people who live paycheck-to-paycheck."

FWIW I am brown, poor, AND a Hispanic immigrant. So let that strawberry snowman melt, dude.
posted by Tarumba at 1:10 AM on March 31, 2013 [1 favorite]


FWIW I am brown, poor, AND a Hispanic immigrant

Well, way to scare everyone out of the thread....

But, seriously, I don't have the baggage Americans do with Walmart because we seem to be a continent free of Walmarts (for now, as this 2006 article implies, they were looking at the market), but I suspect the barrier to entry and small population makes it a difficult proposition if they are as tight with money as is claimed.

And I am glad.

I can't imagine ever wanting to shop at Walmart (and having read too many books like Tescopoly it's obvious why they have so few defenders.
posted by Mezentian at 3:44 AM on March 31, 2013


They are still building more here even though already we have the greatest Walmart density on the planet (1 store per 15,949 people)--but the new ones are the new Neighborhood Market format. These are essentially "Walmarts you put in between Walmarts".

I suspect they haven't yet managed to put all other retailers in the area out of business, so they're still in the 'saturation' phase of their business plan. When all those other businesses are gone, they'll start closing Walmarts to cut costs.

Unless they've developed a new business plan...
posted by Kirth Gerson at 4:17 AM on March 31, 2013


There was a time when the great majority of us had our addresses and phone numbers listed in a community directory, so that others could contact us, for whatever reason. While some opted to remove their names from this directory, for the most part people didn't bother, and there was no real fear of strangers invading your home.

I became one of the people who opted to remove my name from this directory after someone used it to make an obscene call in which he threatened to "rape and mutilate" me if I didn't tell him about my sexual history in graphic detail.

Am I allowed to say that I don't want people not otherwise employed by WalMart to deliver things to me now?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 4:45 AM on March 31, 2013 [2 favorites]


The thing about cutting payroll to the point where shelves are not stocked is hardly peculiar to WalMart. It's been going on with all big box stores for some time but it really got bad around five years ago, in my estimation. That was when places like Barnes & Noble and Starbucks-- here in the Chicago area at least-- stopped hiring any full time employees. Around then, I saw an article in the WSJ or NYT (which I can't find online just now) about how Starbucks was being "mean to its employees" by demanding total availability in exchange for only about 20 hours of work per week. This was disastrous for people who were making a living by opening a Starbucks and closing an Ikea, or similar, every day. Also around that time, Caitlin Kelly came out with a book called Malled, which purported to be a hard-hitting account of working in a North Face in a mall. That book was kind of unintentionally hilarious; Kelly worked only about 5 hours a week at the store. But I think her surprise at conditions there was typical of the surprise of the uninitiated at how retailers skimp on payroll. Unless you are immersed in that culture, it seems really counter-intuitive and if you work in a place like that, you will feel like you are watching management throw away sales that they could so easily have if the product was out on the floor, employees knew where it was, and people were not constantly leaving in disgust after not being able to get helped or seeing intractably long lines at the registers.

Costco really does seem to be a good employer. It basically saved the life of a friend of mine who was out of work and needed medical insurance. But one thing that makes them very different from the others is that they are a warehouse store. They don't pretend to offer a retail shopping experience. They get lots of products sporadically or temporarily. If you don't pick the right time to shop there, you will stand in line and there are no apologies for that. The setup is hard and cold and warehouse-y. Some customers don't understand this and get fractious, but most seem to realize the conditions are part of the whole package. I will say for them, they always have the product out on the floor. There's no other place for it. They have no back room to speak of.
posted by BibiRose at 6:33 AM on March 31, 2013


Am I allowed to say that I don't want people not otherwise employed by WalMart to deliver things to me now?

If we're taking a vote?
Yes.
But the answer was yes before, so, you know.... Yes.
posted by Mezentian at 7:34 AM on March 31, 2013


I know I'm not entitled to a speedy checkout. But I know that no matter what time of day you visit the Cleveland Walmart, you're always going to have to wait in line.

And I just realized that this another of those hidden costs that Walmart foists upon the public: they make their customers pay with their own time, in addition to subsidizing the underpaid employees through taxation, etc. etc.
posted by O Blitiri at 9:01 AM on March 31, 2013 [2 favorites]


I don't have the baggage Americans do with Walmart because we seem to be a continent free of Walmarts
A whole continent?! Boy, don't let Walmart know about that.
posted by Flunkie at 10:43 AM on March 31, 2013


Oh, come on. Walmart may be the ABSOLUTE worst of them but pretty much all big box stores have the same policies and crap wages. I worked at Borders for years, topping out at around $8 an hour. One of my friends had worked there 10 years and was making a whopping $11 an hour. Still another friend got brain cancer while on the company insurance (available only to full-time managers, I do believe) and of course they denied him coverage for it and he died god-knows-how- much in debt. They're all evil, it's just a lot easier to hate on Walmart because most of us don't have to and don't want to shop there. Myself included.

And I do agree that if it were, say, Trader Joe's instead of Walmart, that came up with the delivery-by-fellow-customer thing, they'd be lauded to the heavens for their forward thinking green ways and why not? Are the people who are freaked out by the idea of Walmart customers delivering packages also freaked out by stuff like Freecycle and yard sales ? If not, what's the difference?
posted by Jess the Mess at 12:42 PM on March 31, 2013 [1 favorite]


if it were, say, Trader Joe's instead of Walmart, that came up with the delivery-by-fellow-customer thing, they'd be lauded to the heavens for their forward thinking green ways and why not?

I've been hesitant to get into this, because maybe it's just me, but I would absolutely fucking not think that was OK. What on earth does it say about the economy that apparently everyone is now up for doing some shitty part-time contract work for huge-ass corporations? Anybody done any delivery driving? It's not fun- it's work, there's a reason they pay people to do it (and maybe some of them even get benefits! Though maybe not at Walmart.)

If peoples' existences are so precarious, and/or they have nothing they'd rather do with their time than run errands for multinationals, for pocket change, how does that say anything good about anything at all?
posted by hap_hazard at 2:03 PM on March 31, 2013 [4 favorites]


I don't understand, Jess. You say Walmart may be the absolute worst, but somehow it's not so bad because other corporations are evil, too? Like I said before, as a poor person, I would welcome their prices, so don't go saying we have that opinion because we "don't have to or don't want to" shop there. Poor people can have integrity and principles, too.

And you know? Every time there is a controversial issue like this people jump to say "Well, if A were B then you wouldn't feel that way" and that literally means: "If the situation were different you would feel differently!" Well...of course!

But the reality is: A isn't B. Trader Joe's isn't doing this, Walmart is. So we judge reality. Walmart has insane profits, and they are considering having their own customers giving them free labor for gas reimbursement. Walmart is obsessed with penny-pinching while they are immorally rich. If it were a mom-and-pop shop, a smaller chain, a chain that wants to focus on reducing gas consumption or whatever, then MAYBE. But not Walmart. Those people can finance their own delivery!They can also use $100 bills as napkins while exploiting the less fortunate, so fuck them.
posted by Tarumba at 2:30 PM on March 31, 2013 [2 favorites]


Pure conjecture on my part, but I wonder if approval of this idea breaks down roughly along gender lines. Something tells me that most of the people saying the delivery thing is a good and practical idea are guys, and most of the people who are totally creeped out by the idea of some weirdo dude (with zero accountability) knowing where you live are women.
posted by Ursula Hitler at 4:59 PM on March 31, 2013 [1 favorite]


(OK, on brief reflection, maybe it's not fair to say most of the people against this are women. But I bet most of the people who are for it are guys.)
posted by Ursula Hitler at 5:00 PM on March 31, 2013


2N2222: "If you think it isn't a reason people don't like Walmart, I think you really haven't been paying attention."

There's a difference between it being a reason, which is a debatable premise, and it being the reason, which is a point you keep asserting.

My experience on MetaFilter must be different than yours, because while there is in fact a small contingent of assholes here who like mocking "the poors", there is a vastly greater contingent of people who dislike Wal-Mart for deeply considered reasons. Among them: Mefites, almost to a person, sympathize very deeply with people who are getting crushed by the class war. And they sympathize to a similar extent with people who have no other choice than to work for companies like Wal-Mart.

Mefites have very little patience, tolerance, or willingness to forgive the frankly evil gymnastics that companies like Walmart engage in to avoid treating their workforce like dog shit.

Then people like you waltz in and accuse MetaFilter of harboring some sort of contempt for the working class, because Mefites are pretty vocal in saying "Walmart is doing evil shit, and it's not right that they're doing evil shit. Also, it's pretty fucked up that our government, which is supposed to prevent companies like Walmart getting away with evil shit, is in bed with Walmart".

Either you're deliberately misstating the argument for trolling purposes, or you can't read. Whichever is true, let me clue you in on something: you may perceive yourself as some sort of mighty class warrior, pointing out our privilege so that we will say "OH I HAD IT ALL WRONG THANKS FOR EDUCATING ME", but all you're doing is displaying your own goddamned ignorance.

I love the people who shop at Walmart, and I wish they had less shitty places to shop at. So, yeah, I hate Walmart. And I know for a fact most of the people here feel the same way. You baffle me, and your arguments baffle me, but it's not because I'm the stupid one.
posted by scrump at 4:28 AM on April 1, 2013 [4 favorites]


Jess the Mess: "Oh, come on. Walmart may be the ABSOLUTE worst of them but pretty much all big box stores have the same policies and crap wages. I worked at Borders for years, topping out at around $8 an hour. One of my friends had worked there 10 years and was making a whopping $11 an hour. Still another friend got brain cancer while on the company insurance (available only to full-time managers, I do believe) and of course they denied him coverage for it and he died god-knows-how- much in debt. They're all evil, it's just a lot easier to hate on Walmart because most of us don't have to and don't want to shop there. Myself included."

What is with you people?

CostCo just clocked $537M in profits, all without doing any of the things you cite. So what you just wrote is provably false.

"They" do not "all do it". Only the shitty ones do it, and, yes, the shitty ones are still a majority, but they are a shrinking majority.
posted by scrump at 4:31 AM on April 1, 2013


"They" do not "all do it". Only the shitty ones do it, and, yes, the shitty ones are still a majority, but they are a shrinking majority.

I would like this to be true, but I doubt it. Costco seems to be a shining example, as a retail employer. (We're talking the equivalent of jobs stocking shelves at Walmart.) Here in Illinois, I don't see many other retail jobs that pay a living wage with health insurance to your average worker. Working as something like a a head cashier at a place like Jewel may be an exception-- if you have built up seniority. I think that's a union job, and those are very rare. Retail jobs on the whole are disappearing too, thanks to automation and online shopping and again, cutting payroll. So even the good employers like Trader Joe's and Costco are not hiring full time where I am. Previously good employers cut hours while increasing demands for availability a long time ago.
Your chances of starting a retail job and even building up to a living wage are very poor right now.
posted by BibiRose at 7:19 AM on April 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


Something tells me that most of the people saying the delivery thing is a good and practical idea are guys, and most of the people who are totally creeped out by the idea of some weirdo dude (with zero accountability) knowing where you live are women.

I don't know if you're right or not, but another thing to consider is that shopping of this kind is lumped in with domestic labor, and tends to fall on women more than men.

So even if you leave the creeper angle behind, I think the average women who actually does these chores on a regular basis is going to think, "why would I want to deliver a bunch of other people's stuff for pennies?" Whereas I imagine that the dudes in question are thinking of it in the abstract. It's not like they're going to deliver packages for Walmart, or sit around waiting for some stranger to bring them their stuff.
posted by Sara C. at 9:41 AM on April 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


What on earth does it say about the economy that apparently everyone is now up for doing some shitty part-time contract work for huge-ass corporations?

Nothing that anyone who hasn't spent the last five years in a coma isn't already aware of?
posted by Kadin2048 at 10:29 AM on April 1, 2013


What on earth does it say about the economy that apparently everyone is now up for doing some shitty part-time contract work for huge-ass corporations?

As a former, full-time freelance journalist, I've occasional been desperate enough that I've done some jobs on Mechanical Turk and gotten paid 75 cents for the kind of writing work I used to make a living doing. This is the post-dignity era.
posted by Ursula Hitler at 3:30 PM on April 1, 2013 [5 favorites]


Your chances of starting a retail job and even building up to a living wage are very poor right now.

And, carrying on from this comment, the reason for this can be laid at the feet of......Wal-Mart! The company that is so large it sets the standard for the rest of the industry has spent the last 10+ years lowering the bar more and more each year:

As the largest U.S. employer, Walmart sets the standard not just for the retail and service industries, but for the economy as a whole. Walmart’s poor labor practices and standards put pressure on many other businesses to lower wages and benefits in order to compete. The result is a Walmart economy where our jobs, health care, and labor standards have all downgraded.

So it turns into a vicious cycle, where people shop at Wal-Mart because they can't afford other places and by doing so, they support Wal-Mart, which pushes wages and labor standards (amongst other things) down even more, paying workers less, pushing down wages in other retail shops, which means that people can't afford anything anymore and have little choice but to shop at.....taaa-dum....Wal-Mart! I don't blame people who shop at Wal-Mart if they have no other choice, geographically or financially, but people who do have a choice should try harder. It's not easy because most retail places are pretty shitty in how they treat employees, but we can never make things better if those of us who can don't stop supporting these abusive businesses.

We all suffer from these shitty practices. You're not paying the true price of products when you shop at Wal-Mart - the true cost is subsidized by taxpayers in the form of health care, nutrition (food stamps) for its poverty-level workers and corporate welfare to name a few. So now we as a nation think that if we have to pay more than $2 for a steak or whatever low prices Wal-Mart has, we're getting ripped off. When those kind of cheap prices were never enough to begin with. Not if you think that the price of an item should cover a wage that a worker can live on without being in abject poverty or a supplier should be paid a fair price for what they produce. Wal-Mart has gotten rid of any notion of doing anything above the bare legal minimum to take care of their workers so that they can rake in more profit and the taxpayer can take care of all the problems they leave behind. Privatize profit; socialize health, nutrition, you name it. It is so fucking immoral that it is absolutely staggering.
posted by triggerfinger at 6:18 PM on April 1, 2013 [3 favorites]


the true cost is subsidized by taxpayers in the form of health care, nutrition (food stamps) for its poverty-level workers and corporate welfare to name a few. So now we as a nation think that if we have to pay more than $2 for a steak or whatever low prices Wal-Mart has, we're getting ripped off. When those kind of cheap prices were never enough to begin with.

Well, they might be enough -- we don't know -- because those cheap prices cover very low wages and barely acceptable supplier payments and enormous profits -- perhaps enough profits to increase wages or health care or whatever. It is theoretically possible that we could have cheap prices and reasonable wages, but it would come at the cost of the gross profits.

I'd start talking about unions here, but Walmart is well known for anti-union practices.
posted by jeather at 6:48 PM on April 1, 2013


Here's some research on Walmart, including the effect of "warehouse club" stores on grocery store prices, and the effect of Walmarts on the obesity rate in their neighborhoods. They are behind paywalls.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 7:32 PM on April 2, 2013


Wal-Mart workers: long lines, empty shelves are systemic. Via Frank Pasquale.
posted by latkes at 8:33 PM on April 2, 2013


Walmart Continues to Deny it Has a Staffing/Stocking Problem After E-mail Deluge to Bloomberg
posted by the man of twists and turns at 9:14 PM on April 2, 2013


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