Frontline: Is Wal-Mart Good For America?

Just a heads up for those interested in either side of one of our longer-running debates here:

PBS’s Frontline episode Is Wal-Mart good for America? that aired last night will be available to view from their website on friday.

Watched most of it last night. Pretty good, though it didn’t really explore the benefits of low cost goods to the average consumer. Not a lot of surprises, though. Anybody who reads the business page will find nothing new. It was nice to see how cultlike Walmart’s corporate culture is.

It did convince me that if we ever get in a war with China, Walmart’s proft margins may be screwed for a while.


Short answer: no. Longer answer: if they were like Costco there wouldn’t be a problem.


This debate also popped up on local radio. People are split on it. A lot think that capitalism should NOT have any limits. Can you believe anyone would think that? It makes me wish you could send them back to the 1800s (pre-anti-trust acts) and have them try to start a business in oil or steel. I am not anti-capitalism. I think it is the best system around, but every economic system needs limits. None of them work in their “pure” form. Wal-Mart will have to be stopped at some point. Target is doing a good job competing with them though. I like Target…I luv me some Targe’

Wal-mart actually doesn’t compete with Target very much. Target’s the upper end of the middle class, Walmart the lower end and poor.

I like Target because they have slightly higher quality goods, and it feels less like a giant warehouse.

Wish I’d seen the show. Despite being a left-wing pinko, I don’t really hate Wal-Mart. They are a representative slice of what is good and bad about America…

You’ve lost me.

BTW, Target’s prices are not higher than Wal-Mart’s, at least not in Huntsville, AL. I go to both places and they are quite comparable. If anything, I feel like I get better deals at Target, and they have a wider selection. However, I have to agree that I see more low income people at Wal-Mart (at least based on appearance and attitude).

Heh, fixed.

I keep getting the feeling that Wal-mart is trying to begin competing with Target her in CA.

They’ll need more orange.

I’ve really grown to like the Super Target that opened up near my home. For one, the store is always cleaner than any of the Walmarts. They also have lots of neat items instead of just staples. This goes from their eletronics to their bedding down to their groceries. They carry Archer Farms products and everything I have tried from them is both extremely tasty and about a buck cheaper than equivalent products. Especially their frozen pizzas and their potato chips.

The great thing about Target is that we can buy chicken babyfood for like $0.78 / jar. Compared to the $0.80-90 we’ll get at the grocery store.

Its funny walking up to the counter with their entire stock in your basket and have to explain to them that its for your ferrets and not a fat monster baby.

sick ferrets?

Fat monster ferrets apparently.

I keep getting the feeling that Wal-mart is trying to begin competing with Target her in CA.[/quote]
I think this is one battle that WM will lose. Both stores have pretty well defined customers (not necessarly demographics or income levels), and I don’t think that WM could compete with Target for the lost customers, or vice versa.

That wasa GREAT episode of Frontline. In the consumer goods business (like I am), we deal with Walmart all-the-time. It is very true that they dictate almost EVERYTHING. They are a problem, and something needs to be done to help with the China trade imbalance.

However, the the real problem is that no one has stepped up to compete with Walmart. A consolidation of competiors would help. Today’s news of the Kmart/Sears merger was well-timed (I wonder if it was TOO well timed)…

Fat monster ferrets apparently.[/quote]

Well we found out they weren’t getting enough nutrition from the soft kitten food we were feeding them, so the vet suggested we try baby food. Works like a charm. We adopted a sickly 11 year old from one of my coworkers who was on the brink of death because she refused to eat. Finding that as long as we feed it to her directly, she’s perked up quite a bit.

Has the bowel control of an 11 year old ferret, but man if she isn’t bouncing around like a 3 year old.

I’m taking a big “wait and see” attitude regarding Kmart/Sears. They’d be something of a powerhouse, but Kmart’s got its own issues to work out.

It’s not like Sears has been doing that any better. Since the death of the days of the Sears catalog, they’ve been doing nothing more than barely hanging on in the onslaught of Wal-Mart, K-Mart and the like.

Remember when the first true sign that summer was over involved being dragged down to Sears to buy school clothes, especially those brown corduroy pants everyone seemed to have in the 70s? Now the threat of school involves the first sightings of those kiosks at the local Wal-Mart with lists of the required supplies the local schools are recomending.