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(Note:  I need to clarify my point, since I clearly didn't before:  I personally do not like WalMart.  What this post objects to, however unclearly, is the snobbish attacks on the people that shop at WalMart as if they're somehow lesser beings because they use WM to stretch their money (I'm not saying any of you do this, so if it's not about you, it's not about you[tm]).  People shop and don't shop there for many reasons, and I respect them all.  I am not trying to tell anyone what to believe, I'm trying to point out that there's a nasty streak of classism in the way that many people talk about WalMart shoppers, which is not necessary in order to object to WalMart's business practices.  This post is an attempt to explain what it's like being on the other side of the coin.)

Well, it's been a rough couple of days, let me tell you.  No bad things happened, I've just been physically messed up.  I spent yesterday asleep on the sofa.

Which put me in the perfect prone position for watching Penn and Teller's Bullshit, which I do love, even though they are unrepentant white male libertarians, because even though they manage to get some things wrong, they are smart enough to admit when they're wrong (such as their episode on Global Warming).  Last night, they showed a repeat of their pro-WalMart show.  The part that stood out for me was when a pair of anti-WalMart people held up a blatantly mean t-shirt they had made depicting what they saw as the "typical" WallyWorld shopper.  It was classist.  It's this attitude I want to address today, not whether WalMart is good or not, because I can't make that call for anyone.

Now personally, I'm of two minds about WalMart.  I won't shop there if I can possibly help it, and I don't like their business practices.  However, the effect of WM differs depending on where you are.  They can destroy a town's business, but they can also revitalize parts of a city that have no commercial infrastructure, such as the part of Chicago they showed.  Most large grocery stores are located in suburbs, causing food deserts in the inner parts of a city, where you have a choice of going to a very overpriced store in a fancy part of town, or, if you don't have a car and rely on public transportation and walking, you can go to the corner bodega or 7-11 and pay $1 for a banana.  In those case, WalMart is a valued part of the community, bringing local jobs, low-priced food, and money to the area.

Or, for instance, the WalMart that has been built in the rural area half an hour up the road from the farm - there was nothing there to put out of business - until about ten years ago, there wasn't even much in the way of houses, but the increasing suburbs along the main road into Richmond and Charlottesville brought massive housing development to the area, and those houses need a grocery store. 

In both these cases, WalMart is clearly not the enemy, no more than any other large box store.  However, their low prices can kill smaller businesses that can't compete, and they have some questionable business practices.  But I find the focus on WalMart illogical, since all large box stores follow the same practices - yes, Sam Wal had the idea, but it's not like the other stores didn't immediately jump on the bandwagon.  Worried about sweat shop workers?  Don't buy from Target, Sears, K Mart, and Abercrombie & Fitch, among others.  All large stores that do not buy exclusively from Europe, the US, and Canada employ sweat shop workers to produce their clothing.  Until the world governments get serious about improving the quality of life for the poorest of the poor, putting your children to work in a sweat shop will be far preferable to selling them into prostitution and sex slavery.  It's Hobson's choice - do you refuse to buy from sweat shops and collapse the economy of several very poor countries, or do you give up cheap prices so that the workers in those countries can be paid by the dollar instead of the penny?

If you're well-off, you can make those choices without any real great harm to yourself, but for the poor in the US, it's not that simple.  Sure, you can tell people to eat healthy and organic, to patronize farmer's markets and not eat processed foods, but the single parent on welfare isn't going to pay any attention.  When your budget is so tight it screams every time you open your wallet, the 79-cent box of off-brand Macn'Cheese is going to feed your family dinner, whereas one organic banana isn't - which would you choose?  Do you even really have a choice?  And where the hell are the farmer's markets?  They're not in the poor parts of the city, that's for sure.

A lot of the "Eat Healthy!  Fight Teh Obeeeeesity Epidemic!!!" rhetoric flying around is profoundly classist, as is a lot of the anti-WalMart bluster.  It becomes very obvious why people focus on WallyWorld rather than, say, Target when the gloves come off, and the insults begin.  WalMart is a target (heh) because poor people shop there.  And poor people are so tacky, amirite? They buy cheap furniture and tacky decorator stuff, they all wear cheap t-shirts, and the Dads are buck-toothed and skinny, and the Moms are fattty fat fat, with a ton of welfare-suckling kids, and they have the nerve - the sheer, stinkin' nerve! - to be buying things that only nice people are supposed to have, because WalMart sells them cheap.  Hell, where are they even going to fit that 56" flat screen in their tacky tacky single-wide trailer?!

So much of the prevailing attitudes against the poor seem to want to punish them further for being poor.  They're stupid for buying houses they can't afford, they're sucking welfare dry, they're a burden, they're criminals, they're...

What a lot of people are not saying but thinking, is this:  Poor people are unattractive.

The assumptions made about poor people, and the classism (and let's not forget racism) inherent in those assumptions are incredibly damaging - they're ignorant, they're fat, they're stupid, they "breed too much"*, they take more than their fair share - and they result in the elimination of social programs that are the very least we owe the people who do all the low-paid jobs that keep our country going.

I've long been of the opinion that any job has honour - any job, no matter how much is is looked down upon, is important, and the lowest paid jobs are some of the most important.  I can live without any vice presidents of management, but I can't live without the people that pick my food, the people that clean my office, the people that pick up the trash, sweep the streets, work the cash registers, stock the shelves, clean the toilets, and maintain the sewers.  Without them, our whole standard of living falls apart.

We demand so much of the low paid members of our society, and yet we balk at supporting them so that we can continue to pay them the low wages that make our society one of the cheapest to live in.  We talk about welfare like it's a hand out to people who don't do anything (the image of the inner-city welfare queen with ten kids by ten different men is a racist Republican lie) instead of a vital part of a capitalist society that encourages great wealth at the top and poverty at the bottom**.

And we sneer at WalMart.  Because we can afford to shop at Trader Joe's and Whole Foods***.  We can afford to buy our clothes at nice places, and only a quarter or less of our income goes on the food we eat.  But there are a lot of people who can't, and for them, WalMart isn't a destroyer of Small Town America[TM], it's a life-line.

And honestly, why should poor people suffer more?  They already live in a society that will keep them poor all their lives, why begrudge them a flat-screen TV and cheap food? 

Once we solve the problems of poverty in our own country, we can start worrying about the changing face of world business.  But until then, attempting to block the one business that focuses on the needs of the poorer members of our society (as opposed to other businesses that take advantage of third-world labour), smacks of a dislike of our own poor, and the kind of activism that doesn't inconvenience the middle class. 

Which seems, oh I don't know... tacky.

*The spectre of the poor having more children than anyone else is brought up, like in the movie Idocracy, as proof that the US is going downhill, as if poor people have less intelligent genes.  It's a sneaky eugenics argument that has no basis in reality, as intelligence is not that easy to predict.  The fact that many of our greatest inventors and thinkers have come from humble beginnings does seem to refute this classist line of thinking.

**I'm not a huge fan of unbridled capitalism, since humans are fallible, and tend to ignore the damage their quest for riches can create.

***Not me.  The guy that owns Whole Foods is an ableist, classist, anti-fat jerk, and I feel no need to give him any of my hard-earned cash.


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Mar. 4th, 2010 11:58 am (UTC)
I find myself agreeing with everything you say.

Except for one nitpick, about what may almost be a throwaway comment; the welfare queen. I taught high school for two years in a town in Mississippi. In homeroom, which was sorted by last name, I had - over two years - 5 seniors who were mothers, one of whom was pregnant again, and two of whom had multiple kids. (I had 30 students, total, in homeroom over those two years. Homeroom was really small, so we could get to know the students.)

As one exercise, we were supposed to develop plans for the future with the students. (I.e. "what would you like to be when you grow up? Where do you expect to be when you're 50? etc.) The students who were parents with multiple kids all told me that they would be happily on welfare since, with kids, they didn't have to work. Moreover, they expected this to last for a long time, because after all, their momma was on welfare, and so was their grandma.

I'm not saying an anecdote is data; I was frankly flabbergasted when the students told me this. They were, however, serious. One even brought in the check she'd gotten the day before to show to me, because she was proud of it.

I am beginning to wonder, though, if the story of the inner city welfare queen is an exaggeration, rather than an outright lie.
Mar. 4th, 2010 12:34 pm (UTC)
The problem here is not the young girl with welfare dreams, she doesn't know any better and has been taught a standard of living that anyone with the privilege of not having to live that way balks at. The welfare girls in your class were in a cycle, most likely caused by class-ism and/or racism.

When your parents are uneducated for whatever reason, then they usually do not have the tools to teach you to live as a transitional character, if your mom's mom had a low paying job for whatever reason, and your mom had a low paying job, then you are not very likely to even have the ambition to go to law school, let alone the means. (and frequently through repeated disappointments in a very young life, even if the ambition did exist it is quickly squashed as impossible, so the standards get set lower until something sticks.)
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Mar. 4th, 2010 12:53 pm (UTC)

While I have concerns about some of Walmart's business practices, they are not unique. I shop at Walmart in part because it's the only place that I've been able to reliably find trousers (jeans and not-jeans) that properly contain my fat ass. And not just one or two pairs, but genuine choices. Walmart charges the same price for everyone. No privileged class with their "Club Card". One price for everyone. That's why most grocery chains are on my "will no voluntarily patronize" list, along with CVS. I'm fortunate that I have options that are acceptable in this town.

Unbridled capitalism is perhaps personified by the continuing behavior of the firms that precipitated the most recent financial crisis. No external controls leads to unbridled greed and "I got mine; tough on you".
Mar. 4th, 2010 02:09 pm (UTC)
Hmmm...In order to get "club cards" at grocery stores, I have always just had to sign up. Never had to pay a fee, or anything, and they just give you the card right there.

Have you had a different experience? Or are you referencing "warehouse stores" like, BJs and Sam's Club?
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Mar. 4th, 2010 01:35 pm (UTC)
My biggest issue with Wal-Mart (and many other low-paying employers) is that they don't provide affordable heath insurance for their workers. Wal-Mart offers insurance, but not affordable insurance. I read somewhere that one of the driving factors behind the changes that the state of MA has made with requiring health care coverage was because there were so many working people, specifically Wal-Mart employees, who were draining the state's programs.

Had to do a quick Google fact check to make sure I wasn't just imagining or misremembering...

40% of Wal-Mart's total Massachusetts work force is on some type of public assistance. (Source - http://walmartwatch.com/blog/archives/wal_mart_top_user_of_massachusetts_state_health_care_for_second_year_in_a_r/)

If an average full-time Wal-Mart employee chooses the least expensive family coverage plan, they would have to spend over 20% of their income before the health insurance provided any reimbursement. (Source - http://wakeupwalmart.com/facts/)

It's a sticky wicket. I shop at Wal-Mart, but I don't like the fact that I shop at Wal-Mart. The quality of their goods is often poor, especially the clothes. Often they have supply train issues, and an item will be out of stock at multiple stores. But they're everywhere. And their prices are often much cheaper than their competitors. And if I need say, 40 yards of cheap silver trim for a Three Musketeers costume project, I can hit four or five Wal-Marts within a half hour of my house and buy up all the trim at each one of them.
Mar. 4th, 2010 01:42 pm (UTC)

The Big*Box stores not only treat their employees like crap, they treat their suppliers like crap and they treat their customers like crap.

Why on earth would anyone support such a business?
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Mar. 4th, 2010 01:37 pm (UTC)
We talk about welfare like it's a hand out to people who don't do anything (the image of the inner-city welfare queen with ten kids by ten different men is a racist Republican lie) instead of a vital part of a capitalist society that encourages great wealth at the top and poverty at the bottom.

Wait - what exactly are you railing against? The encouragement of great wealth at the top and poverty at the bottom? Or that welfare is a handout to people who don't do anything? I'm confused.

WalMart isn't a destroyer of Small Town America[TM], it's a life-line.

While I understand the sentiment underlying this statement, in many ways it's demonstrably untrue. Shuttered storefronts all across America prove it. Call it racist, classist, Republican propaganda if you will - because it's easy to thus dismiss that which cannot be objectively disproved - the simple fact remains that when Wal*Mart (or, yes, any other Big Box discount chain) opens a Super*Center on the outskirts of town, boarded-up storefronts on Main Street follow within months.

I cannot deny examples exist of large chain stores actually improving some areas. It is a simple fact, however, that their arrival in a small-town area heralds the doom of smaller, privately-held companies which, until the arrival of the big box store, served the community quite well. That Big*Mart in 5% of cases improves the area in which they build does not, practically, morally or ethically, make up for the other 95%. To argue otherwise is laughable.

For that matter, small local companies keep their money in the local community, generally speaking. The small grocery where I buy most of my food supplies* buys the vast majority of their perishables - produce, dairy, breads, etc - from other local, small companies. The company is locally-owned, so the profits generated stay local. They didn't bring in a layer of management from outside to run the store. And they didn't cause any other stores to close.



* I know, Classist, Racist Bob Is Classist for gasp supporting a local organic-foods business. I'd rather keep it local and eat healthily than use my health and economic impact to make a feeble protest at something my feeble protest can't possibly change.
Mar. 4th, 2010 02:03 pm (UTC)
The problem is that, honestly, when you're making the decision to keep the lights on and buy cheap food, Wal-mart really can the best option to stretch your dollars.

I've been so flat broke I couldn't afford WalMart, and stole MREs from a connex in the motorpool to eat for a week. When I wasn't so broke, I sure as hell shopped at Wally World because that's where I could get the most cheap, craptacular food for the buck. It wasn't that I *didn't* care about organic, free-range mushrooms or whatever, it's that I *couldn't* care because I had a very simple choice. Spend the money at WalMart and eat for a week, or go to Whole Foods (an hour away) and eat for a couple of days. (In Tennessee fourteen years ago, farmer's markets were unheard of in winter, and I'm not sure if Clarksville, just outside of Ft. Campbell actually has one. Nashville did, but that was an hour away. Oddly enough, Nashville, when I lived there, did not have any WM Supercenters.)

I know you and your lady aren't rolling in the money, and I'm not saying you've not had that experience, but I think what AL is railing against more is the unhesitating panic reaction that seems to start whenever *anyone* mentions the evil WM. She's not saying don't patronize your local FM or your local store, but don't just automatically slam those people who shop at WalMart for being so *STUPID.*

People are demonized for shopping where they feel like they can get the most for their money, and our society isn't great for teaching the concept of waiting and getting a better product for your money.

Yes, WM has some bad business practices, and I really do try to patronize the local shops here, instead of going to WM for things like oil changes and tires and what not, and I shop at WM for food more rarely now that there is HEB closer, but I certainly understand why people choose to shop at WalMart and try really hard not to look down my nose at them.
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Mar. 4th, 2010 01:48 pm (UTC)
Forgot: I spotted a double standard you may wish to address.

It's okay for you to boycott Whole Foods because of your personal reasons, but it's not okay for me to boycott Wal*Mart for mine.


Tell me, what puts you on the ethical, moral high ground? Is it that your claims (and varying definitions) of classist, racist, etc. are more important than my concern over terribly predatory business practices, ill treatment of workers, customers and suppliers and destructive economic impact on local communities?

(It's a good thing we like each other; that means vibrant debates like this can happen without acrimony.)
Mar. 4th, 2010 02:35 pm (UTC)
(This is Laura - I can't log in at work.)

Whoa, whoa! I didn't say you can't boycott WalMart - I'm conflicted about it myself, and prefer not to shop there for many reasons. I'm pointing out the knee-jerk reactions to WalMart in specific people, and how they do not have that reaction to the other box stores that do the same thing.

*All* box stores destroy small town main street - putting in a mall in the suburbs does the same thing, unless the town can re-invent itself as a tourist destination, like Annapolis (Main Street went through a very bad period when the mall opened). This is one ofthe reasons I prefer that Wally's open in areas that do not have a thriving economy to destry - inner city Detroit, which is a food desert, or out in the boondocks where suburban tracts are going in where only farmland used to be, not a town.

I don't have any high ground; I'm highlighting the knee-jerk reaction many people have to Wally's because it's downmarket, like K Mart before it (though KM never managed to conquer the box stores the way WM did). It's a reaction based on the same classism that creates the "People of WalMart" site - that only rubes and yokels shop there, and they have no taste.

Personally, I prefer my local, home-grown organic food store, because it has a much better selection of GF foods. I have the income and the ability to shop there, but in my previous marriage, the cost of food there would have been way beyond my budget.

I don't liek any predatory business practices - and I don't think WM is alone in it's abuse of the part-time workers, it's just a convenient target of the middle classes because it's no skin off their nose if they refuse to shop there, since they consider WallyWorld beneath them anyway. For those people, it's not a stand against the poor business practices of WM, it's a convenient snobbery justified by some vague notion of protest.

I honour anyone's convictions for social justice, I really do, and won't ever presume to tell people what to believe in. All I want to do is point out the underlying motives that some people pull out specifically against WM, and not against other box stores that do the same thing (Lowes, Home Depot, Target, Sears, etc.). The point was well illustrated in Penn & Teller by the classist t-shirt the antis made that depicted a stereotypical rural family with utter contempt, which is not neccessary to protest the business practices of WM, of which there are many that I do not like (resulting in a deeply felt desire not to shop there).

But the flip side is that for many people, WM is the only place they can get cheap fresh good food, and I find that I need to think of that too, since being poor is tough.

(Oh, and your previous question - I'm a socialist, having grown up in a socialist country, and I'm a pragmatist, so I understand that capitalism can be a good thing, but I think the two can be partially combined with a certain amount of success, to keep prices low but at the same time ensure that we do not create an underclass with no resources who work themselves to death just to get by. This may be unrealistic, but I have hope.)
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Mar. 4th, 2010 01:58 pm (UTC)
It's not a classist thing, it's an economic thing. The big box stores, Walmart in particular, are responsible for huge job losses in this country, as they buy most of their stuff from China and other cheap labour countries. Every one of those cheap items made abroad puts an American worker on the dole. I'd rather pay more to shop at a local store that has local workers and suppliers. Sure, I might be able to buy less, but at least I'm supporting my own community, instead of buying into the one world corporate economy garbage.

Oh, BTW, there are many variations on libertarians. We don't all believe in the libertarian economic platform. Some of us just believe that the government has no right to restrict what we wear (or don't); what we read, watch, or see; what our love lives should be; what goes on in our bedrooms; or any other aspect of our private lives.
Mar. 4th, 2010 02:04 pm (UTC)
Wow. There is so much in this entry. Some of which I agree with and some with which I do not and can not agree. Bottom line is that I do believe that WalMart is evil and will not willingly spend my money there.

WalMart isn't a destroyer of Small Town America[TM], it's a life-line.
I think this is the crux of the issue with me. I have watched in my own community in NC as WalMart came in and destroyed the local businesses. Every competitor from food to auto to fabric to furniture and everything in between died. Not over priced boutiques, but small family owned businesses that had served the community for generations. So, for me, to call WalMart a life line is at best a form of Stockholm Syndrome.
Mar. 4th, 2010 02:38 pm (UTC)
(This is Laura; I can't log in at work.)

Could people please read that statement in context? For people who live in inner city area that are economically depressed and have no business anyway, WalMart is a life line.

Please, read in context.
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Mar. 4th, 2010 02:06 pm (UTC)
I've gotta say, I normally agree with a lot of what you write, but not now. For one huge reason "Made in China".

I have made a concerted effort in my life and home to avoid China-made goods. The put lead in children's toys, cadmium in children's jewelry, TOXIC WASTE in drywall used in homes rebuilt for Katrina victims. The Chinese government continues to sabotage efforts to reduce carbon emissions, and they lied about their gymnasts' ages at the last Olympics. Walmart is a huge importer of products made in China, and their "cheaply made, not built to last" products are one reason why we have the amount of waste we do as a society.

And as the granddaughter of immigrants (factory and farm workers) and the daughter of blue-collar workers, and someone who had to take out student loans to get through college, I reserve the right to spend my hard-earned dollars where ever I so choose.
Mar. 4th, 2010 02:12 pm (UTC)
And I have shopped at Walmart, and their food prices don't compare spectactularly to my local Shop-Rite.

But, I do recognize that that is not always the case, and sometimes Walmart is the 'only game in town'. But how did it get to that point?
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Mar. 4th, 2010 02:17 pm (UTC)
Thank you!

I grew up below the poverty line. I never met any #$%! welfare queens. I just saw people working their hands to the bone and being called lazy every step of the way by people who make a living sitting at a desk gossiping.

That said, we always knew "Walmart is bad" because Dad's union said so. Not that there were any Walmarts near us, but we knew we'd boycot one if they built it. Because their policies are anti-labor.

And don't get me started on people who are all "Oh those evil greedy labor unions hurting the poor sweet old companies!" Grrrrrrrr. Without labor unions, your kids would be in sweat shops, too.

Mar. 4th, 2010 03:38 pm (UTC)
And don't get me started on people who are all "Oh those evil greedy labor unions hurting the poor sweet old companies!" Grrrrrrrr. Without labor unions, your kids would be in sweat shops, too.

So to give them the thanks which they richly deserve for what they've done in the past we must allow them to drive modern businesses into the ground?

On what planet does THAT make sense?
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(no subject) - reasie - Mar. 4th, 2010 04:56 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - nq3x - Mar. 4th, 2010 06:38 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - attack_laurel - Mar. 4th, 2010 07:23 pm (UTC) - Expand
Mar. 4th, 2010 02:26 pm (UTC)
I am involved in my community. When Wall Mart put the Mom & Pop stores out of business, the community support is there only enough for them to boast in their advertising about it.
If a kid wants to sell ads for the yearbook, Mom & Pop stores bought them, Wall Mart doesn't. If the Community is trying to raise money for medical costs for someone with a severe illness Wall Mart will not offer goods for silent auction the way Mom & Pop stores did.
Mom & Pop stores used some of their profits to shop at other local Mom & Pop stores, and personally go to benefits to raise money to plant trees etc. Wall Mart doesn't and they now have all the bucks which, mostly, leave the community.
Mar. 4th, 2010 03:39 pm (UTC)
Mar. 4th, 2010 02:38 pm (UTC)
Mostly I agree, except....the choice is not between a box of MacnCheese and an organic banana. A huge bag of plain pasta, some real cheese and milk will feed your family cheaper, longer, with more variety without carcinogens and, bonus, it's all food stamp approved.

Also, the produce department at WalMart is not bad at all. Not consistent, for sure, because if something isn't a bargain they just don't sell it, but you can get reasonably priced good produce there most of the time.

I'm not a fan of Whole Foods, although I have had fun shopping there. It's a foodie toy store, not a grocery store. I consider it entertainment, not a source of food. Just try to shop there if you have gluten intolerance and you will find that the health food section at a Giant or Kroger has more choices.
Mar. 4th, 2010 03:57 pm (UTC)
We go to Whole foods for their set-price milk-- 2.99 is very good, and the only place else that has it in the area is Trader Joes (which also has 80/20 burger meat at 1.99 a pound). Whole foods also is the only place in the area that has a plastic bag recycling box, and because we aren't completely successful in fending off plastic shopping bags, we need that.

We buy very very cheap boxed mac'n'cheese at the discount stores (aldi's, price rite, food basics, or the food outlets in Lancaster) because it doesn't require making a roux, but mostly because it compares *very* favorably to buying cheddar at 3.99 a pound plus buying pasta at .79- 1.29 a pound... 1 lb of mac'n' cheese will run me 1.29-1.59 a pound.

But we have real groceries and grocery off pricers in our area, so wal-mart groceries aren't worth it to us except at Pennsic.
(no subject) - snailstichr - Mar. 4th, 2010 06:28 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - swwoodsy - Mar. 4th, 2010 04:11 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - attack_laurel - Mar. 4th, 2010 07:25 pm (UTC) - Expand
Mar. 4th, 2010 03:00 pm (UTC)
Given what I know about Wal-mart's employee management-- like how much it cost the state of California more in benefits to Walmart employees for Walmart to operate in California... that's one of the reasons I don't shop in wal-mart.
The other is that I very seldom can make it through the lines, because when the line in a store is long, I keep putting things down-- the longer you make me wait to pay, the less I'll buy.
Mar. 4th, 2010 07:26 pm (UTC)
Both good reasons not to shop there. I don't like it because it's crowded, and whenever I go, people are surly and angry.

But I bought my new Shuffle there, so I'm not one to talk.
Mar. 4th, 2010 03:12 pm (UTC)
For the record, I loathe Whole Foods, and its owner, and quite frankly, his prices. I wish we had an equivalent of Chattanooga's wonderful Greenlife Grocery in Nashville, but we do not. Part of the reality is that to get the best, greenest stores, they generally have to be created by devoted business people who don't want to eventually create a chain. As a journalist, I refuse to promote them, and I write and edit a lifestyles/city magazine.

If you haven't read it already, I highly recommend scoping out Washington Post fashion critic Dana Thomas' wonderful book "Deluxe: How Luxury Lost Its Luster," which is a stinging indictment of how artificial *luxury* culture it. I had a chance to interview her when the book came out, and it was amazing. I think you'd love this book, frankly - it really rips apart at the seams a culture that encourages 12 year olds to covet Kate Spade handbags.

For Wal-Mart, I'm right there with you. I really wish they didn't insist on building on historic sites, as they tried to push to do, needlessly, here in Tennessee. I also really wish they were more concerned with making things of quality that lasted ( see the Thomas book) - but completely agree you can't slam them without taking out K Mart, Sears, and 75% of the stores in the mall (that's generous, it's probably 95%).
Mar. 4th, 2010 03:13 pm (UTC)
Er, by "them" in the first paragraph, last sentence, I meant Whole Foods.
(no subject) - helblonde - Mar. 4th, 2010 04:44 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - attack_laurel - Mar. 4th, 2010 07:29 pm (UTC) - Expand
Mar. 4th, 2010 03:16 pm (UTC)
Preach it, Sistah! I have never understood the "WalMart is Evil" mentality" either. Give any business the opportunity to undercut their competition and they'll do it in a heartbeat!

I'm with you lumped up on the couch -- except I'm in the bed -- it's too cold in the living room. I'm out of propane for the winter.
Mar. 4th, 2010 03:52 pm (UTC)
About once a month, I hit the Wally World, because I know I can save a buck or two on toiletries and cosmetics, but I also catch some pretty nice deals in the grocery, especially in produce. And that helps out a bunch, with how tight money has been lately... But once a month is about all I can stand, not because it's WalMart, but from the sheer volume of humanity that is always in the store. However, shopping at my local Greenlife or Earth Fare is even more annoying, as those folks are even _more_ clueless to common courtesy and sharing of space. Plus, the prices are astronomical (as are often the prices at our farmer's market; and we have a BIG one). (I think I'm getting off target here.)

The thing I did want to direct your attention to, however, was this article I read the other day. While I do my own eyebrow-raising at the box stores, this was a pleasant surprise. Perhaps, there is an attempt to seriously improve: http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2010/03/the-great-grocery-smackdown/7904/
Mar. 4th, 2010 04:40 pm (UTC)
I'm so glad I read through the responses - I have that link on my system's clipboard, because *I* was about to post it! Thank you for beating me to the punch :)
(no subject) - attack_laurel - Mar. 4th, 2010 07:32 pm (UTC) - Expand
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