Wal-Mart was founded by Sam Walton in Bentonville, Arkansas in the late 1940's as a pretty standard five and dime-type place. It expanded first across the Ozarks into Missouri and Oklahoma, then The South, then across the U.S.. Now there are Wal-Marts in Mexico, Canada, and even Europe as a result of various corporate acquisitions.

There are two common types of Wal-Marts in the U.S., standard WMs with the usual cheap-department store product assortment just like your local K-Mart and Target, and Supercenters with a grocery store tacked onto the side and a random selection of other businesses too. I've seen everything from banks to hair salons, fast food restaurants and music stores thrown into a Supercenter, and that's only in Virginia.

A large corporation distributed throughout the US (and possibly other countries) which sells just about anything any small store would sell, from guns to cds to clothes to plants to camping supplies, etc, etc, etc. Some contain banks, restaraunts, cleaners, casinos (in Nevada) and all manner of other things. The idea might not sound so bad but Wal-Mart happens to be evil.

Wal-Mart has been accused of a great deal of evils, such as selling unscrupulous items made by Indonesian slaves, censoring CDs that berate the store but selling guns abundantly, building happily on indian burial grounds, wetlands, and historical parts of old towns, reporting patrons' purchases of some items to the government, and driving all other businesses out of a town via price gouging. Apparently, Wal-Mart will offer very low prices in a town until every small business is gone. Then they will either jack up the prices or close the store. If they close the store, people are often forced to drive many miles to the nearest wal-mart, which conveniently will have jacked up prices. Many people will say this is a myth but i have actually seen a huge K-mart destroyed by Wal-Mart in a town which seemed to have no other stores (Woodland, CA). The mall in that town is also empty, the storefronts are abandoned, etc, all in the wake of the Wal-Mart. Wal-Mart, therefore is Evil. I can not attribute Wal-Mart to Satan, because frankly, Satan isnt as bad.

Also, wal-mart backwards spells 'tram law'. I was informed recently that 'TRAM' in some circles means 'The Rest Are Mine'... That associated with 'law' probably means that Wal-Mart is using pseudo-legal means to take over the world and hoard money at the expense of others. Duh.

Incidentally, some towns, such as Davis, won't even allow Wal-Mart to move in. I hope to god it stays that way although Gap is already here.

One night, I was frantically battling against a deadline for a coding project. I ran out of caffeine at the last minute. And when I say ran out, I mean.. nothing... no coffee, no anything. It being 3 AM in Pittsburgh, there was nothing in the general vicinity open besides a Wal-Mart about 20 minutes away. So I set out, hoping to lay in a goodly supply of caffeinated materials.

Arriving, I expected to see the store virtually deserted. Instead, I notice that the store is more crowded than it was during my only previous visit, at around 8 PM. It was filled with whole families doing what seemed like their weekly shopping, filling cart after cart after cart, chattering in their Appalacian patois.

Feeling rather out of place, I clutched my Mountain Dew and made for the checkout.

So this is how it feels when doves cry.

I'm on just about every liberal mailing list in existence... including the National Organization for Women (NOW) mailing list. A few weeks ago I got an interesting mailing from them.

It seems that Wal-Mart is refusing to carry the RU-486 abortion drug. This probably wouldn't happen in any other large chain store of this type, but Wal-Mart is owned privately by a family of right-wing republican conservatives who absolutely oppose the right to choose. This is very unfortunate, since in many small towns Wal-Mart may be the only place women can go for uncommon perscription drugs. For this reason, combined with their music censorship policy, I refuse to shop there.

I found out exactly how big Wal-mart is the other day.

Wal-mart employs 940,000 people. Wow. That's a heck of a lot of people. As a point of reference, that's more people than in Delaware (740K), Montana (880K), Vermont (590K), North Dakota (630K), or South Dakota (738K). It's about as many people that live in Rhode Island.

Imagine having that kind of workforce. Imagine the wealth. In his time, Sam Walton wasn't doing so bad (he was the richest man in the world). His kids aren't doing so bad either:
Keep in mind they are all in the top 12 richest people in the world. That's downright amazing. In his first job as a retail clerk in J.C. Penney's, his manager said to Sam Walton that he was not cut out for retail (and the only reason why he was kept was because he sold so much). That was perhaps one of the most wrong things ever said. Sam Walton made a name for himself by undercutting the competition; selling more at a lower price to turn a bigger profit. He was famous for it.

Even though his company is criticized for its business practices, it remains one of the largest commercial successes of the twentieth century.

Sources: US 2000 census, Forbes magazine

Wal-Mart Stores Inc.

(WMT)

Chairman: Mr. S. Robson Walton, (56)

The world's largest retailer with annual revenues of $191,329,000,000 (191 billion US dollars) and a net income of $6,295,000,000.
(2001 figures)

Employing almost 1,250,000 people, it is larger than Sears, Kmart, and J. C. Penny combined. It has almost 4200 stores around the world. Of its US operations 1,736 are its well known discount stores, while 888 are Supercenters, 475 SAM'S Clubs and 19 Neighborhood Markets.

In the UK they operate as ASDA with 241 stores, and they are the #1 retailer in both Canada and Mexico.

Contact:
702 SW Eighth St.
Bentonville, AR 72716

Phone: 501-273-4000
Fax: 501-273-1917

Web: http://www.walmartstores.com/

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _
Sources:
www.fortune.com
finance.yahoo.com

If you're considering working for Wal-Mart, read a book called Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America by Barbara Ehrenreich. She worked as a sales clerk at a Minneapolis, Minnesota Wal-Mart in the process of researching this book about what it's like to try to survive on poverty-level wages. She documents oppressive, dehumanizing surveillance from management and fellow co-workers who were teetering on the edge of homelessness.

Many others have criticized Wal-Mart's treatment of its employees, particularly for its low pay, substandard benefits, and abuse of employment laws.

The Coalition of Labor Union Women (CLUW) reports that although Wal-Mart made $191 billion in 2002 in U.S. sales alone, its employees made $2 to $3 less per hour than union employees in equivalent positions at other retailers. Furthermore, Wal-Mart's health insurance is so expensive that less than 40% of their employees participate in the plan.

A 2004 study by UC Berkeley's Labor Center revealed that the State of California paid out $86 million in welfare and other public assistance to Wal-Mart workers in 2001.

The report says:

Wal-Mart workers' reliance on public assistance due to substandard wages and benefits has become a form of indirect public subsidy to the company.

Reliance by Wal-Mart workers on public assistance programs in California comes at a cost to the taxpayers of an estimated $86 million annually; this is comprised of $32 million in health-related expenses and $54 million in other assistance.

The National Organization for Women in 2002 called the company "a Merchant of Shame", accusing them of sex discrimination in their pay scales and promotions and for violating child labor laws and the Americans with Disabilities Act.

States such as Texas and Washington have penalized the company for abuses such as underpaying and unfairly firing workers. Class-action lawsuits were recently filed in 23 states over Wal-Mart's bullying people into working overtime without pay. Other people have sued over the company refusing to pay medical bills for on-the-job injuries.


If you're considering shopping at Wal-Mart, be wary of their layaway plan. Turns out that they consider an item to have been purchased the day you make your first down payment, not the day you take your brand-new item home from the store.

Why is this a problem? Say you've had an expensive TV on layaway for six months. You take it home, and the next day the picture tube goes out. You take it back to the store, and try to exchange it. They won't take it back; according to store policy, the TV you took home the day before is 6 months old and no longer subject to their return policy.

In most cases your warranty is still intact, of course, but you're then facing a much longer turnaround time and possibly expensive shipping charges.

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