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Watching the Growth of Walmart Across America
July 31, 2008 2:59 PM   Subscribe

I am Walmarticus!

--Watch me grow....
posted by y2karl (62 comments total) 10 users marked this as a favorite

 
I don't get it... Where's the awesome music y2karl? :)
posted by einer at 3:01 PM on July 31, 2008


It's like a population density map by the end of it. Jesus.
posted by mdonley at 3:03 PM on July 31, 2008


Strange thing is they seem to have put the two Walmarts in my town in the wrong place.
posted by nola at 3:04 PM on July 31, 2008


wow, montana has never looked finer.
posted by Peter H at 3:06 PM on July 31, 2008


Would you like to play a game?
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 3:07 PM on July 31, 2008 [7 favorites]


Spooky. Nice post!
posted by languagehat at 3:13 PM on July 31, 2008


Am I the only person that immediately thought of the zombie infection simulator?
posted by Shepherd at 3:14 PM on July 31, 2008 [3 favorites]


They should have used little yellow smiley faces instead of green blips.
posted by netbros at 3:17 PM on July 31, 2008 [2 favorites]


I just noticed that you can zoom and drag the map. I got to watch my city slowly get attacked from the perimeter, then gradually the pustules start to fester the inner freeway loops.
posted by Burhanistan at 3:20 PM on July 31, 2008


I'm not clear whether there's something wrong with the app or the data just stops after 2006 and the rollover to the year "undefined" is just poor cosmetic handling.

It's kind of stunning just how unbalanced the distribution is across the country, though. I know the cornbelt has a lot less of a population, but it seems like everything east of Oklahoma City is saturated. Is there a market segmentation at work here too (Costco or Sams Club with a stronger presence, etc) or something?

Also, no Alaska data? Or did they decline to map it (I zoomed out to watch)? Or is the one in Juneau just newer than that?
posted by cortex at 3:22 PM on July 31, 2008


Walmart's strategy was to penetrate the rural South while Kmart was spreading from its Detroit base through the urban North.
posted by evilcolonel at 3:27 PM on July 31, 2008


wow, montana has never looked finer.

Yeah, it's a nice state. But even we can't fight Walmarticus. Then again, the alternative in a lot of small Montana towns is Pamida. The website doesn't actually look bad, but yeesh. Call me crazy, but I'd rather have Walmart.

Even my hometown (pop < 8000) in North Dakota has a Walmart now, so I don't think any place is safe.
posted by amarie at 3:29 PM on July 31, 2008


So what you're saying is: Move to Wyoming.
posted by shakespeherian at 3:30 PM on July 31, 2008


Interesting to see how the growth is oriented toward keeping supply chains smooth. They grew outward like a fungus from a central base, gradually, in order to keep all the stores marching to the same drummer. They didn't, say, open up a far-flung store in California early in their lifetime simply to place a store next to a high population base.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 3:31 PM on July 31, 2008


It's kind of stunning just how unbalanced the distribution is across the country, though.

Check this satellite photo. There's just not many people between Oklahoma City and the West Coast.
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 3:31 PM on July 31, 2008 [1 favorite]


Yeah, I guess that lines up pretty damned well, TOCT. My brain wants to thin things out in the Central timezone, I guess, which is I guess just plain bad data.

So, I can indirectly thank Wal*Mart for helping me revise my understanding of the population distribution of the US. I think I should call it a day.
posted by cortex at 3:36 PM on July 31, 2008


If this helps China out, I am all for it.
posted by Postroad at 3:38 PM on July 31, 2008


Neat stuff, but the map is a little inaccurate. All it does is plot the penetration of Walmart into new regions. So you get this dramatic, spreading infection aesthetic. The data would be impossible to coordinate, but a more accurate map would show the corresponding decline of locally owned businesses in areas that Walmart moves into. The end result would look not so much like a spreading plague as the collapse of a diverse ecology in favor of a monoculture.
posted by felix betachat at 3:43 PM on July 31, 2008 [6 favorites]


Hey, I can see my Walmart from here!
posted by ND¢ at 3:49 PM on July 31, 2008 [1 favorite]


Is there a particular geographic feature that aligns with that boundary down the center?
posted by StickyCarpet at 4:36 PM on July 31, 2008


StickyCarpet, that's basically the beginning of the REALLY flat, dry, empty parts of the Great Plains. Just nothin' out there, hence the boundary.
posted by Knicke at 4:42 PM on July 31, 2008


The data for this site is from my previous gig, Freebase.

Here's the Freebase entry for Wal-Mart, and here's the list of stores.
posted by zippy at 4:59 PM on July 31, 2008 [1 favorite]


Soon there will be a Wal-Mart inside every Starbucks. Inside the Wal-Mart will be a McDonalds containing a Starbucks. That Starbucks will in turn contain itself, and the circle will be complete.
posted by blue_beetle at 5:08 PM on July 31, 2008 [3 favorites]


...and still none within Seattle city limits! Suck it, Dallas.
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 5:08 PM on July 31, 2008


StickyCarpet: It pretty much follows the amount of rainfall. Las Vegas aside, human settlement of North America is kind of limited by climate.
posted by hattifattener at 5:33 PM on July 31, 2008


That brought back memories. In the 70s I thought Wal-Mart was a phenomenon of podunk hick towns. I was shocked when I came home from DC in the 80s to visit my parents in San Antonio and discovered a Wal-Mart a couple miles from their house. Then a few years later one popped up in Suburban Maryland, and suddenly they seemed almost everywhere.
posted by Robert Angelo at 5:34 PM on July 31, 2008


Am I the only person that immediately thought of the zombie infection simulator?

Ha! I thought exactly the same thing. The only difference is that zombies are awesome. Wal-Mart is not.
posted by brundlefly at 5:48 PM on July 31, 2008


Global Thermonuclear Walmart
posted by ...possums at 5:52 PM on July 31, 2008


Whenever I accidentally break wind in an embarrassing situation, all of my friends stand up in solidarity and insist:

"I am Farticus!"
"No, I am Farticus!"
"I too, am Farticus!"

Now that's what I call Gas Consciousness.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 6:07 PM on July 31, 2008 [1 favorite]


I don't think this is entirely right. There's at least three Walmarts in Columbia, MO, but this only lists one.
posted by Rangeboy at 6:07 PM on July 31, 2008


That made me want to fucking cry.
posted by The Straightener at 6:09 PM on July 31, 2008


aka Watch the Decline of Locally-Owned Businesses and Downtown.
posted by MiltonRandKalman at 6:09 PM on July 31, 2008


Didn't read the link, but gotta commend you for the awesome mouse-over text that explained the link. Told me all I needed to know to decide whether to click. Thanks, y2karl!
posted by five fresh fish at 6:24 PM on July 31, 2008


I say we take off and nuke the entire site from orbit. It's the only way to be sure.
posted by wfrgms at 6:47 PM on July 31, 2008 [2 favorites]


Throughout the Seventies and Eighties the center of the US by population distribution was at the intersection of Kearney and Kansas Expressway in a Wal-Mart parking lot in Springfield, MO, right near where I grew up--a fact that, even as a child, made me go "huh, figures."
posted by sourwookie at 6:48 PM on July 31, 2008


Now let's see the jobs move from the US to China.
posted by tommasz at 7:14 PM on July 31, 2008


Can someone explain what it means when some dots are bigger than the others? or is that an artifact of the animation?
posted by NikitaNikita at 8:29 PM on July 31, 2008


"I am Walmarticus
Look on my empire and despair oh ye unions"

Ok, the first line doesn't scan, but that's what I thought of.
posted by Hactar at 8:44 PM on July 31, 2008


Screw locally owned businesses. What have they ever done for me, except charged higher prices and had a worse selection?
posted by Mr. President Dr. Steve Elvis America at 8:44 PM on July 31, 2008


the west coast marts pretty clearly display interstate 5.
posted by dogwelder at 8:45 PM on July 31, 2008


What have they ever done for me, except charged higher prices and had a worse selection?

Generated community wealth, which in turn enriches you, or at least your community environment?

I suppose in these days where one lives in one community but works in another, there's little incentive to care about anything beyond the exterior walls of one's gated community abode.
posted by five fresh fish at 9:06 PM on July 31, 2008


Screw locally owned businesses. What have they ever done for me, except charged higher prices and had a worse selection?

Well, one might argue that a locally owned business could add an element of personal engagement and humanity to its commerce, fostering bonds of mutual regard and enriching a notion of common purpose and shared citizenship. That sort of environment would be less likely to produce smug sociopaths who place self-interest before any other concern.

Oh. Right. So, I guess, nothing.
posted by felix betachat at 9:22 PM on July 31, 2008


I don't know if you're aware of this y2karl, but when you use the title attribute like that, some people (like me) only get the first few words on mouseover. For this one, I get to the middle of the word "mapped". I don't know about others but I'd definitely prefer you just use the [more inside].
posted by loiseau at 9:29 PM on July 31, 2008


Well, one might argue that a locally owned business could add an element of personal engagement and humanity to its commerce, fostering bonds of mutual regard and enriching a notion of common purpose and shared citizenship.

And then one might actually go into a locally owned business. I'm surrounded by them, and the customer service is abysmal. Plus, I spend ages wandering from store to store looking for the stuff I used to just pick up at Kmart.
posted by Mr. President Dr. Steve Elvis America at 9:36 PM on July 31, 2008


Well, one might argue that a locally owned business could add an element of personal engagement and humanity to its commerce, fostering bonds of mutual regard and enriching a notion of common purpose and shared citizenship.

One might argue that, but speaking as someone who actually shopped in the pre-WalMart semi-rural south, one would then be wrong. The rural south was not a happy land of independent shopkeepers who cared about their customers and offered fantastic service. It was not a land of funky boutiques. It was a land of poor selections, high prices, and generally indifferent service. It was a land of drab, dreary anti-boutiques.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 9:43 PM on July 31, 2008 [1 favorite]


Just like Canada's marketplace, before WalMart came around! At least in the West, large retailers had the shittiest attitudes before American competition showed up.

Not Walmart's arrival so much as, say, Home Depot. Home Depot has quality brands, reasonable prices, and excellent staff. Walmart has terrific selection of cheap crap and indifferent service. Hell, even Zellers is better.

Didja know Walmart purchases the Z-grade quality-rated brand names? The reason the Phillips clock radio in Walmart is a few bucks cheaper than the one at Sears is that although they both have the same product name and code, the WalMart edition is lower-quality. Perhaps a few screws could be left out, or the PCBs were made with old resin, or a cheap batch of crystal "seconds" came along at a good price.

I prefer to own less stuff, but have higher quality for what I do have. I believe that cheap shit will ultimately make me unhappier, not happier. Less is more.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:00 PM on July 31, 2008


I once tried to do a similar thing for starbucks, but I ran out of green.
posted by qvantamon at 10:04 PM on July 31, 2008


Am I the only person that immediately thought of the zombie infection simulator?

Just what I came here to post.

If this helps China out, I am all for it.

Interestingly, perhaps, Walmart pulled out of Korea a couple of years back, along with Carrefour. They couldn't meet the expectations of the local market in terms of slavish service and customer-fellation.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 11:51 PM on July 31, 2008


I don't know if you're aware of this y2karl, but when you use the title attribute like that, some people (like me) only get the first few words on mouseover. For this one, I get to the middle of the word "mapped".

Turn on the nicetitles feature in your profile, if you use a browser that supports 'em.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 11:52 PM on July 31, 2008


"Fools", said I, "You do not know
Wal-Mart like a cancer grows...

posted by trip and a half at 1:01 AM on August 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


Screw locally owned businesses. What have they ever done for me, except charged higher prices and had a worse selection?

Perhaps you're a social outcast. Someone with no friends or family trying to raise kids or pay mortgage on their local business dream.

More to the point you never bothered to compare--aw, just fuck it, Mr. President Dr. Steve Elvis America, You are are a consumer, first and foremost, and fuck all that get in the way of your convenient consumption.

I hazard to guess you don't give a shit about your friends that try to run their own local businesses because why give a shit when you have no friends?

Every time I could choose to shop at Wal Mart instead of at a place owned by a brother, neighbor, cousin, friend while they are trying to raise kids and pay for a house I might as well be saying "Fuck you. I knee you in the groin."

I know nothing about you Steven, but your posting history implies that you love no one and no one loves you.

So, by all means: Get the best "deal" and die alone. Asshole.
posted by sourwookie at 1:45 AM on August 1, 2008


Also, no Alaska data? Or did they decline to map it (I zoomed out to watch)? Or is the one in Juneau just newer than that?

A web search reveals that there are at least six in Alaska. The one in Juneau opened August 2007; perhaps their data stopped just short of that. I know other ones are older so it appears they didn't bother to include Alaska.

Also, I'm finding eight in Hawaii, which aren't mapped either.
posted by D.C. at 1:56 AM on August 1, 2008


And then one might actually go into a locally owned business. I'm surrounded by them, and the customer service is abysmal. Plus, I spend ages wandering from store to store looking for the stuff I used to just pick up at Kmart.--Mr. President Dr. Steve Elvis America

Wow. Just wow. What kind of consumerist loser are you? I could say "The worst kind" but, seriously; have you any friends? Any buds or relatives trying to make a go of it? You must be the asshole that has a project in mind, goes to chain stores and gets bad advice, and blames everyone but you when it doesn't work.

There is scads of wisdom in local businesses that can't be gleaned from chains with employees staring down the barrel of a 3 month turnover.
posted by sourwookie at 1:59 AM on August 1, 2008


Home Depot has quality brands, reasonable prices, and excellent staff.

Maybe in Canada. Down here, Home Depot has invisible staff: I can hardly ever find someone to help me. And when I do find someone to ask where the widgets are, they don't know. Then I wander around, find the location, and they're out of stock. Lowe's, any day, instead.
posted by Robert Angelo at 5:58 AM on August 1, 2008


Sitting on a cornflake, waiting for the van to come.
Corporation tee-shirt, stupid bloody tuesday.
Man, you been a naughty boy, you let your face grow long.
I am the eggman, they are the eggmen.
I am the walmart, goo goo g'joob.


jeez, sourwookie, chill out...
posted by Debaser626 at 6:00 AM on August 1, 2008


It's like a chain reaction or crystallization or bacterial growth. Trippy. Thanks.
posted by fiercecupcake at 6:38 AM on August 1, 2008


Ok, the first line doesn't scan, but that's what I thought of.

Here's my try:

I met a traveler from a rural clime
Who said: "These vast and empty shops of stone
Stand by the highway... Near them, on a sign,
Decayed a fading logo lies, whose town,
And shopping malls, and empty saving shrines,
Tell of cultures where much was acquired
Which yet survives, printed on coupons torn,
Though the deals that drew them have all expired;
And on each circular, these words appear;
My name is Walmartandeus, Store of Stores,
Look on my wares, ye Shopper, and buy here!
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that abandoned store, parking lots clear
The dark and empty malls stretch far away.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 6:39 AM on August 1, 2008 [3 favorites]


Turn on the nicetitles feature in your profile, if you use a browser that supports 'em.

Were you being serious? Because I can't find such an option. I think I would like Walmart more if they treated their employees better. But I guess that's the only way they can sell things so cheaply. I do like a super Walmart though. It's scary and overwhelmingly large, but I feel like it has a flea market aspect in that you can just wander around the junk looking for something of value. I still shop there; I don't make that much money, so I put up with the no-frills, no-service experience.
posted by bluefly at 8:01 AM on August 1, 2008


Also that Modest Maps thing they used to make it looks cool.
posted by bluefly at 8:03 AM on August 1, 2008


Mrs. nushustu was watching this. Our 4yo son came up and saw it and said "oh no, the world is dirty."

From the mouths of babes...
posted by nushustu at 9:45 AM on August 1, 2008


"...and still none within Seattle city limits! Suck it, Dallas."

But we do have a Sam's Club, so we're not exactly Wal-Mart-free. (Though the Sam's Club is mainly there because they bought out the warehouse chain that was previously located there.) Personally, I preferred the drive-in theatre that was previously on the site.
posted by litlnemo at 12:47 PM on August 1, 2008


You really have to zoom to get a more horrifying picture, because areas that look black and vacant of Wal-marts actually do have a few stores once you zoom in. They're just spread out more because the population isn't as dense. For instance, the Northern border of New York looks Wal-Mart free, but there's one every 60 miles or so, with another due to open on Aug 13. Imagine my joy at having to see that put up in what was once forest and fields.
posted by saffry at 3:49 PM on August 1, 2008


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