I’ve been feeling quite a bit of disdain for the likes of Wal-Mart lately. They seem to be the “takers” of the industrial revolution. They promote themselves as being good for a town, a province and bigger yet, good for a Country such as Canada, but they aren’t. On the surface, that we are allowed to see, they make local jobs, in building the stores and even employing them with local people. They say that they support local businesses, manufacturers and other local suppliers but that is all short lived.
I’ve personally seem two local Wal-Marts roll into two different “towns”, set up shop in a local mall. They undoubtedly are able to draw people to their store as well as any surrounding businesses/malls, etc. They seem to abide by any local rules or other constraints applied to them just so they can setup shop. Once they are settled in, then the entire community is now on their turf, having to abide by their rules. If they don’t get their way then they simply do it their own way, by themselves. Approx. five years after both Wal-Marts opened, they no longer liked the idea of having to pay rent in a mall. What did they do? They moved out. They built their own store in a location of their own choosing, no longer dictated to by anyone. What is left in their wake is pure and utter devastation. Both of the malls where they were originally located have all but closed up shop. The retailers all left when Wal-Mart did. The malls are having to struggle just to keep alive, trying to lure new businesses into their fold. Entire communities depends on those malls. Now they are a small shell of what they used to be, even compared to what they were before Wal-Mart. Oh and all of those “local businesses” that were all happy to be selling products to Wal-Mart? Well, alot of them likely don’t even exist anymore. And when was the last time you were in a Wal-Mart and noticed ANYTHING Canadian? I remember at first just about everything was Canadian. Not any more.
That’s what I see Wal-Mart as. A raper. A pillager. A taker.
Not only do they physically take from the land, and the businesses where they locate, but they also destroy choice. Because they are so big and so powerful, it is them that dictate what products are available to you, through their stores. If they don’t agree with a company putting a certain sugar substitute into their soda pop, then they either force that company to comply with them or they get someone else to make them their own soda and directly compete with the company that didn’t comply. Some of the worlds largest producers of home related products, Proctor & Gamble for example, were seen to bend to the whims of Wal-Mart.
Every time I set foot in a Wal-Mart I am always disappointed. Not able to find what I’m looking for being the number one reason. Oh they have huge amounts of stuff in their stores, but so much of it is all crap. And if you goto any other big-box retailer (Zellers for example) seem to be forced in to not only working the same way that Wal-Mart does but also sell the same crap. So now instead of having one store that doesn’t carry what I’m looking for now there is two. So what happens to these products that Wal-Marts refuses to sell? Can you find them somewhere else? Likely no. Likely because they have been forced out of business because of Wal-Mart.
I read this fascinating article put out in Harpers Magazine, back in July of 2006 (http://www.harpers.org/archive/2006/07/0081115), I just read it. Its a long read but really opened my eyes and really seemed to confirm the feelings I have been having lately regarding not only Wal-Mart, but other huge retailers too like Home Depot. Unless I need something specific regarding DIY like lumber or nails or screws I’m going to go somewhere else because there is no variety in these stores anymore. Lighting fixtures for example, all seem the same to me. No Home Depot, or Wal-Mart offers anything different than any other one. Where’s the variety? Where’s the unique items that everyone wants for their house? Where are the Canadian products? Not at Wal-Mart. Not at Home Depot.
To me, Wal-Mart and their ilk, are nothing but a huge disappointment. Having them “Drive down” their costs of things just isn’t worth the turmoil and devastation that they leave in their wake. Canada for one, would be way better without them. I would love to see the Eatons and Hudson’s Bay stores return to their former glory. For gods sake, HBC has historical roots dating back 300 years here in Canada and now they have a few retail stores and is partnered with/owned by Zellers. It just isn’t the same.
Wal-Mart has not proven their worth to me to be allowed here in Canada. They should just leave.
(On a side note)
I was in a Home Depot buying woods screws to build a deck. Of course being Canadian I owned and more often than not used Robertson-head screws and screw drivers for everything that I could. They just worked better. You could stick a screw onto your driver and it would be held there allowing you to position where you wanted it to start driving it in. I started noticing that the “square-head” screws that I bought at Home Depot weren’t being held in place as I expected and I noticed that I was “stripping” them quite frequently. I looked into why. That was when I found out that the idea of Robertson screws (etc) were a Canadian invention. They were made for Canadian manufacturing. I remember working in a chair factory. You put a screw on the bit and it stayed there until it was driven in. That’s because not only is Robertson square, but the hole in the screws are also tapered. So are the bits. That’s what makes the screws stay on the bits. The square tapered bits. Home Depot doesn’t sell Robertson anything. They sell “square” bits and screws and believe me when I say, there is a difference. So whats the big deal you ask? I say, well, where’s Robertson screws and bits now? Do they even sell their products retail anymore? I doubt it and I bet its because of the likes of Home Depot and Wal-Mart. Once you’ve used something like a Robertson screw and bit, its hard to use the crap that Home Depot sells. There is a difference.