Friday, December 08, 2006

The Fight to Reclaim America from Retail Giants

Stacy Mitchell at Alternet has a few words to say to consumers:
A growing number of communities are fighting back against the rising power of large retail stores like Wal-Mart. But real change won't come until we stop thinking of ourselves as consumers and start thinking of ourselves as engaged citizens.
The article is a bit long but she is spot on! This point is key:
Despite differences in circumstances and demographics, all of these successful campaigns -- and there have been dozens in the last two years -- have one striking commonality: a core part of their strategy involves getting people to see themselves not just as consumers, but as workers, producers, business owners, citizens, and stewards of their community. When people walk into a voting booth or city council meeting with this vastly expanded sense of their own economic and political identity, they are far more likely to reject big-box development projects and to endorse measures that force these companies to adhere to higher standards. This is a crucial lesson as we work to knit these local efforts together into a broader movement to counter the power of global corporations. [My emphasis]
For decades we have been trained to think of ourselves as consumers first and as responsible citizens second. Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis wrote: "the chain store, by furthering the concentration of wealth and of power and by promoting absentee ownership, is thwarting American ideals; that it is making impossible equality of opportunity; that it is converting independent tradesmen into clerks; and that it is sapping the resources, the vigor and the hope of the smaller cities and towns."

The article is definitly food for thought.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Rob Frankel on Wal-Mart's Sinking Brand

Wal-Mart has no grand strategy, no future direction they are always reacting.

Wal-Mart is always telling you that you HAVE to shop there because you can't afford to shop anywhere else. I couldn't agree with these guys more. Lee Scott should listen.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Read How Wal-Mart Treats Women Employees

Read this pdf file. Yes, I know it's from Wal-Mart Watch but the information is based on facts obtained from the "Dukes vs Wal-Mart" class action lawsuit. If that report isn't enough you can read testimony from the experts here (pdf file).

Wal-Mart employees fewer women as supervisors and managers

At Wal-Mart women are paid less than men (see table on pg 8)

It takes longer for women to be promoted at Wal-Mart

Conclusions (mine): Wal-Mart uses illegal sex-discrimination policies in its employment practices

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

A Conundrum?

WNBZ radio and the Adirondack Daily Enterprise report that Aldi, Inc. wants to purchase the defunct Stanley Chevrolet property. Stanley Chevrolet was one of the parcels that Wal-Mart had intended to purchase as part of their proposed building site.

So this is complex. Residents have been saying for years that SL needs another grocery store as well as a retail store. If Aldi, Inc. purchases the Stanley property, will that leave room to build a Wal-Mart Supercenter? Some people do not want an Aldi because they do not sell the variety of groceries that a non-discount supermarket sells. Other people want an Aldi because it sells discount groceries as well as other non-grocery items. For others, this reopens the Wal-Mart issue because a Wal-Mart Supercenter would have sold retail as well as groceries.

I doubt there will be much opposition to Aldi, Inc. purchasing the Stanley Cheverolet property, at least from people who opposed Wal-Mart building on that property. But there may be opposition from Wal-Mart supporters who see hopes of a Wal-Mart on that property slipping away. But Wal-Mart supporters who do not support an Aldi store are going to have to explain themselves to people who do want an Aldi.

Like I said....a conundrum.

Friday, November 03, 2006


I've been lured over to The Writing on the Wal. Until Wal-Mart raises its ugly head in the area, I'll probably be posting only occasionally. If you want to see how Wal-Mart pretends to sleep after a defeat, read this post. It's a very persistent company.

Friday, October 20, 2006

What A Surprise!!!

This should not surprise most people. Wal-Mart has to pay people to write good comments about them. More here.

A public relations firm has revealed that it is behind two blogs that previously appeared to be created by independent supporters of Wal-Mart.

The blogs Working Families for Wal-mart and subsidiary site Paid Critics are written by three employees of PR firm Edelman, for whom Wal-Mart is a paid client, according to information posted on the sites Thursday.

Recent entries on Paid Critics, a site dedicated to drawing links between Wal-mart critics and groups, such as unions, with vested interests are written by Brian and Kate. These are Edelman employees Brian McNeill and Kate Marshall.

Last week a blog called "Wal-Marting Across America," which appeared to be created by a man and a woman traveling the country in an RV and staying in Wal-Mart parking lots, also turned out to be underwritten by Working Families for Wal-Mart.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

A Nobel Prize for Wal-Mart

I cross posted this in The Writing on the Wal this morning.

Robert has already commented on John Tierney's editorial "Shopping For A Nobel" in yesterdays NYT in this post. Moron? Probably. He does admit he is a libertarian. Personally, I think he is really into receiving hate mail. Afterall, he does hold the NYT record for hate mail.

As a scientist, many people have been asking me what I think about Tierney's column. Tierney asks "Has any organization in the world lifted more people out of poverty than Wal-Mart?" I have no idea, but it's worth an experiment.

Tierney quotes Michael Strong :

The best way for third world villagers to tap "the vast pipeline of wealth from the developed world," he argued in a recent article, is to sell their products to the world's largest retailer, Wal-Mart.

Tierney also cites Strong as saying "..that villagers can lift themselves out of poverty much faster by getting a job in a factory." Strong certainly knows far more about this issue than I do.

So, let's challenge Wal-Mart to build supercenters in two places; Khayelitsha, Cape Town's largest township and Kibera slum in Kenya. Let's actually see what effects Wal-Mart supercenters have in those slums.

Then we'll talk about a Nobel Prize.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Guess Where the Southside Chicago Wal-Marts Will be Built

Read about it here.

The sites are in the wards of Aldermen Howard Brookins Jr. (21st), Anthony Beale (9th), Dorothy Tillman (3rd), Shirley Coleman (16th) and Arenda Troutman (20th,) respectively. All but Ms. Coleman voted against an ordinance approved by the City Council to require Wal-Mart and other big-box retailers to pay a minimum wage of at least $10 an hour, plus $3 in fringe benefits. Ms. Coleman switched sides after Mayor Daley vetoed the bill, giving him the support he needed to sustain his veto.
Does anyone besides me think this looks like a payoff by Wal-Mart for votes?

Thursday, October 12, 2006

More on Ron Galloway's Resignation From WFFW

A statement by Chris Kofinis of is reproduced below.

"As reported today in the Los Angeles Times, Ron Galloway, one of Wal-Mart's chief spokespeople, has resigned over concerns about Wal-Mart’s first-ever salary cap which has caused a tremendous amount of pain and suffering for all of Wal-Mart’s 1.39 million hard-working employees.

The fact that Wal-Mart ignored Mr. Galloway’s concerns, despite his high-profile role in defending the company, speaks volumes as to how disingenuous Wal-Mart’s entire public relations operation has become. As Mr. Galloway learned, Wal-Mart is not interested in improving its business practices, instead, Wal-Mart wants to try and fool the American people with a Karl Rove-style public relations campaign riddled with misleading statements and corporate double speak.

We hope other Wal-Mart defenders will begin to understand the negative impact Wal-Mart's business practices can have on their own credibility and reputation and will stop allowing Wal-Mart to use themselves in defense of a company that mistreats its employees, fails to provide company health care to over half of its employees, ships American jobs overseas and negatively impacts our communities.

Once again, we renew our call for Wal-Mart to stop playing games with the American people, save the millions of dollars it spends on overpaid right-wing, Edelman PR hacks, and embrace the fact that real substantive change is the best way for Wal-Mart to address its collapsing public image.”

My emphasis added.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

The Diffusion of Wal-Mart and Economies of Density

Kinda scary isn't it?

Pro-Wal-Mart Film

I got this from my friend Jonathan at The Writing on the Wal:

Why Wal-Mart Works and Why That Drives Some People C-R-A-Z-Y is an independent film by Ron Galloway. Because Galloway loves Wal-Mart so much he was put on the Board of "Working Families for Wal-Mart".

Mr. Galloway resigned from that Board last week.
"I understand Wal-Mart has to find a way to grow earnings and increase shareholder value, but I don't believe they should do it on the backs of their long-term employees."
Read more about this and many other Wal-Mart related subjects at "The Writing on the Wal".

Wednesday TOTT Comments

No, not the divisive comment by our friendly member of CARD but the comment concerning closed Wal-Mart stores. The caller advised people to do some internet research before making anti-Wal-Mart statements - statements such as "Wal-Mart has many closed stores."

Unfortunately the caller did not take his own advice. Of course Wal-Mart has many closed stores - about 350 of them at any given time. They have their own damn realty website for heavens sake. How hard is it to find that on the internet?

There are also newspaper articles such as this one, or this one or this one. The last article is really important. Wal-Mart closed a store in Jonquière, Quebec because:
The store "has struggled from the beginning..."
Jonquière, QU has a population 10 times that of Saranac Lake.

The problem here is that Wal-Mart supporters have only a few websites that can provide them with favorable "facts" about Wal-Mart. Unfortunately, those sites are all owned by Wal-Mart or by Edelman PR.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

2006 Change Wal-Mart, Change America Tour

Ok, the bus tour is over but Wal-Mart has instituted their own "bus tour" of America.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Wal-Mart Marketing Ruse

Go and visit Jimbo and Laura at "Wal-Marting Across America"! You can't comment on their website, but you can email them! See more commentary on Jimbo, Laura and other Edelman PR employees at "The Writing on the Wal"

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

New Yorkers Resist Wal-Mart

Wal-Mart is not having the easiest time building stores in NY.
"We're facing a lot of opposition and a lot of organized opposition," said Philip Serghini, senior public affairs manager for Wal-Mart. "We're trying to leverage our allies."
Lima Citizens for Responsible Development would like the Town Board to declare a moratorium on development larger than 20,000 square feet until the town's comprehensive master plan is approved and related zoning regulations take effect.
Wouldn't it be nice if Saranac Lake decided on retail store size limits?

Thursday, September 28, 2006

One Thing Wal-Mart Could Do

Our favorite Edelman PR Wal-Mart blogger and Better Paid Critic Mike Krempasky is in the Wal-Mart-osphere again via "the Bivings Report"

Mike wants to know what he can do to get "The Consumerist" to stop writing about his (Edelman's) companies (clients I presume).

I have one recommendation that he can convey to Wal-Mart, Inc. It won't cost Wal-Mart a single penny except for maybe a bit of time. Here it is:

Start respecting our communities!

You want to build a SuperCenter in a tiny Adirondack Park community? How about discussing your plans openly with the residents of the community rather than working to split the community apart? How about talking with the residents that have reasons to oppose building a Wal-Mart rather than just those that support it. Maybe you can change their minds. Maybe they will convince you to compromise. But no matter what it would at least show some respect for the entire community.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

"FACTS" About Wal-Mart

Rick Gonyea (member of CARD of course) announced this morning on TOTT that area residents have the opportunity to hear the "real facts" about Wal-Mart. Where else to get reliable "facts" on Wal-Mart than from Lee Scott, CEO of Wal-Mart. You can tune in on channel 2 on Thursday to hear Lee Scott being interviewed by Charlie Rose.

Or, you can simply go HERE to listen and watch the interview on your computer. Beat the rush so to speak.

Watch the program and count the number of tough questions Mr. Rose asks Lee Scott. Hear the answers Lee Scott gives when asked about Wal-Mart labor violations. Wait....Rose doesn't ask that question.

Much has been made of Lee Scott's statement on the show about how business will solve the US healthcare problems and not government. Today, Lee Scott shows how his business is solving the healthcare crisis by shrinking health-care insurance options for new hires.
As of Jan. 1, the company will offer new hires only two health benefits packages in which the monthly premium can be as low as $11 but the deductible can reach $6,000, according to documents provided to The Washington Post by Wake-Up Wal-Mart, a union-backed group.
If you don't feel like watching the interview to get "facts" about Wal-Mart, just go to and you will get the same information.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Big Box Tool Kit

The Institute for Local Self-Reliance is sponsoring a website called The website provides step-by-step information to fight the creeping 'Boxisation' of the USA.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Behind the Counter

If you haven't added 'Behind the Counter' to your must read Wal-Mart websites, please do so now. This is a well-written, amusing blog that talks, mostly, about the customers that shop at Wal-Mart. That's because the blogger is a two year employee that works behind the service desk.

Todays entry is a bit different, a few excerpts:

It is my opinion, especially after working in the store for two years now, that Wal-Mart as a whole is a soulless evil entity. The long-term AND short-term goals of the company involve only the acquisition of cash ad infinitum. There is not one single goal of the company that is about anything other than making money, no matter how many sides of their mouth they talk out of.

For about six months, we actually had an associate whose only job on Saturdays was to buy the newspaper as soon as it was delivered to the newspaper box outside, go through the sale papers and then mark all of our comparable merchandise down to a few pennies below whatever Target, Kmart, Kroger, et al. was selling it for.

Well, that never did work. Because Wal-mart is unable or unwilling to hire enough help, the two girls on the modular team were put to work stocking. One told me that she never actually did any price changes before she quit two weeks later after nearly breaking her leg on a pallet of cosmetics.

So you see, the solution is there. Wal-Mart just won't utilize it - because it believes that it can have cake, ice cream and a soda - and get double helpings too. It is the same logic that has the fitting room attendant serving as the telephone operator. Fewer people doing more work.
But the post is actually about the technical aspects of how prices are actually changed in a Wal-Mart store. And, why sometimes the lower price does not show up at the cash register.

Friday, September 15, 2006

How Much is a Living Wage?

To answer the question go here to the 'Poverty in America' website' and click on the 'living wage' calculator. Using the calculator you can determine the living wage for a specific town, city, township, in any state in the USA. Here is the link to the calculation of the 'living wage' necessary if you live in Harrietstown township in Franklin County NY. The calculator will show you living expenses for the area, hourly wages needed to meet those expenses and wages paid for different trades and professions.

Here are the per hour 'living wages' necessary for Saranac Lake, NY:

One adult - $7.72
Two adults - $11.27
One adult, one child - $14.69
Two adults, one child - $16.72
Two adults, two children - $21.05

And, for Bentonville, Ak:

One adult - $6.72
Two adults - $9.45
One adult, one child - $11.76
Two adults, one child -$13.68
Two adults, two children - $16.90

Note: The above figures are in 2004 dollars. Also, the calculator gets the minimum wage for NYS wrong. It provides the Federal minimum hourly wage. The minimum hourly wage for NY is $6.75 and will increase to $7.15 in 2007. I doubt this affects the calculation of living wage.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Comments About Wal-Mart

Find a plethora of comments about Wal-Mart here.

Wal-Mart Store Managers Steal Minutes - Get Bonuses

The testimony of this person is certainly an eye opener.

``If we have a manager who is able to capture one minute a week, 52 minutes a year, from 300 associates in his or her store, he would add to his bonus something around $1,300," Landy told jurors in state court. ``If he was able to capture one hour a week, his bonus would be enhanced by $82,000 for the average manager."
At least someone at Wal-Mart is making a good salary. Too bad it's done by stealing unpaid time from employees.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Congratulations Chris Knight - WNBZ Radio

Do you agree with the letter below:

In an on-air speech Friday I heard Chris Knight talk about the changes that he was going to make on “Talk of the Town.” There were a lot of opinions about where the show was going, but what I found hysterical was relating “Talk of the Town” to the Jerry Springer show. I guess whoever made that comment never watched the Jerry Springer show because Chris Knight is not giving out “Chrissy Beads.”

I also find it amusing that now you can NOT mention local businesses by name. Hum, could it be that those businesses being mentioned are paid advertisers for the radio station?

For the people who complain about the same callers every day, why don’t you call then? Kudos to the people who call and give their comments and names. Keep up the good work.

Finally, Wal-Mart is a big issue!! And people are letting off steam and want it heard, even if it is every day. Maybe Chris Knight is anti-Wal-Mart?

To people of the Saranac Lake area, we need to stand up and be heard about Wal-Mart.

By the way, where are my “Chrissy Beads”?

Joy Gonyea

Personally, I think the "Talk of the Town Radio" show has actually been worth listening to the last couple of weeks. There are new voices on the show and they actually have opinions backed up with facts in many cases. The negativity on the show seems to be history. The rule of not complaining about local businesses by name has been re-emphesized. No where have I heard Mr. Knight say you can't talk about Wal-Mart or any other business. But how many times do we need to hear "go Wal-Mart"?

Sunday, September 10, 2006

My Trip to Wal-Mart - Ticonderoga

Yes indeed, I went. The parking lot was less than 1/3 full. I went into the store to check things out and to buy a black belt. I found the belts, a very small, picked over selection of very cheap leather belts. I bought one for $11.95 that probably cost $2 to make. Luckly I won't be using it much because it probably wouldn't last more than a few months with daily use. My everyday $20 solidly made belt is on it's 5th year. While there I checked out a few other things. I noticed they had 1 gigabyte SanDisk microcruz memory sticks on sale for $44.95. Not bad. But I got mine for $34.00 online. A no name 20" color TV for $88.95. I bought an RCA 20" last year for $94.00 but I bought it at Sears in SL, gladly supporting a downtown business. I really don't see the appeal.

Downtown Ticonderoga isn't even close to being as busy or vibrant as downtown Saranac Lake. And yes, they have several unused storefronts.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Big Box Store Size Restrictions?

Will the Village of Saranac Lake, like the Town of N. Elba, ever institute big box store size restrictions? And, if they do, will this happen.
Citizens for Economic Opportunity, a group started by the conservative activist Dallas Erickson of Stevensville, collected $41,752.41 in its effort to defeat the resolution that would limit big-box stores to 60,000 square feet, documents show. Wal-Mart, which is seeking to build a supercenter in Hamilton, gave $41,000 of that amount in a check written in late May, just as the petition drive was getting under way.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Who's Incorrect - Or Do You Believe Your Own Eyes?

Depending on who you speak with, the village of Ticonderoga is either booming or dying. Which is it?

From a letter to the editor in todays ADE:
But as I said, a town with nothing but bars would be pretty pathetic. As it happened, I drove through such a town yesterday. My spouse and I actually kept count as we drove through the town’s main street. Sixteen boarded-up stores in a stretch about as long as our downtown Main Street. Four bars. One tattoo parlor. One tanning salon. OK, there was an Aubuchon, and it seemed to be open. And a Rite-Aid on the edge of town, at least for now. And one of the bars served food, so make it three bars and a restaurant. No apparent tourist stores, even though the town has a major tourist attraction. To be fair, we didn’t check the side streets. Maybe they are full of bustling businesses.

The town is, of course, Ticonderoga. A town with a Wal-Mart! I suggest you folks who are certain that Saranac Lake is dying pay a goodwill call on Ticonderoga and report back on what we’re missing. Then report back in a letter or guest column in the Enterprise. Take some video and put it on Channel 2 to show us what a real “live” village is like. Maybe the rest of us will then come to our senses about what we’re missing.

From the Ticonderoga Chamber of Commerce website:
Ticonderoga has been experiencing a resurgence of business growth with expansions of existing companies and new business openings. International Paper Company, Interlakes Health Facility, TOP’s Market, have all completed multi-million dollar expansion and Fort Ticonderoga’s growth is a works in progress. Hugely successful Wal-Mart continues to draw volumes of customers and attract new chain store/big-box interest in Ticonderoga. Approximately 30 additional retail/service businesses have opened in the last3 years; 1/3 of which are chain stores.

As it happens, I asked the Ticonderoga Chamber of Commerce for the list of the 30 stores that opened in the last 3 years. I'm still waiting for an answer.

Big Box Construction is a useful site to see what construction projects are being proposed for a specific area. Using advanced search you can type in a zip code and a radius in miles to see what contracts are being let. For example, if you type in 12983 and a radius of 50 miles you get THIS. You can see the Malone Wal-Mart and the Potsdam Wal-Mart projects. You can even see maps and aerial photos of the building site. I assume this means the Ticonderoga Wal-Mart is going to be remodeled. was recently showing bids for a Wal-Mart in Damariscotta, Maine, which turned out to be inaccurate and have been removed.
A solicitation for construction bids on a Wal-Mart supercenter in Damariscotta posted online Aug. 7 has raised some eyebrows, but is totally inaccurate, according to a spokesman for Wal-Mart.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Labor Day Post

Whether you are pro- or anti- Union, read this article in the New York Times Magazine about Andy Stern, the S.E.I.U. and union in-fighting.
The implications of Stern's crusade stretch well beyond the narrow world of organized labor and into the heart of the nation's politics. The stale and paralyzed political dialogue in Washington right now is a direct result of the deterioration of industrial America, followed by the rise of the Wal-Mart economy.
Even if big labor eventually does come to be made up of bigger unions, Stern sees a larger challenge: can you build a multinational labor movement to counter the leverage of multinational giants whose tentacles reach across oceans and continents? The emblem of this new kind of behemoth, of course, is Wal-Mart, the nation's largest employer. Wal-Mart has, in a sense, turned the American retail model inside out. It used to be that a manufacturer made, say, a clock radio, determined its price and the wages of the employees who made it and then sold the radio to a retail outlet at a profit. Wal-Mart's power is such that the process now works in reverse: in practice, Wal-Mart sets the price for that clock radio, and the manufacturer, very likely located overseas, figures out how low wages will have to be in order to make it profitable to produce it. In this way, Wal-Mart not only resists unions in its stores with unwavering ferocity but also drives down the wages of its manufacturers -- all in the service of bringing consumers the lowest possible price.

''What was good for G.M. ended up being good for the country,'' Stern says. ''What's good for Wal-Mart ends up being good for five families'' -- the heirs to the Walton fortune. Stern's reform plan for the A.F.L.-C.I.O. includes a $25 million fund to organize Wal-Mart's workers. But as a retail outlet, Wal-Mart doesn't really fall within the S.E.I.U.'s purview. What Stern says he is deeply worried about is what he sees as the next generation of Wal-Marts, which are on his turf: French, British and Scandinavian companies whose entry into the American market threatens to drive down wages in service industries, which are often less visible than retail. ''While we were invading Iraq, the Europeans invaded us,'' Stern says. Most of these companies have no objection to unionizing in Europe, where organized labor is the norm. But when they come to the United States, they immediately follow the Wal-Mart model, undercutting their competitors by shutting out unions and squeezing paychecks.

Thursday, August 31, 2006

What are your economic values?

Everyone deserves a basic standard of living. I would question the morality of anyone who didn't agree with that statement, but believe it or not, there are those who do not believe it.

The degree of inequality should be constrained. This is a bit harder to defend, but if you don't want riots in your country one could argue that you should take care of the least of your citizens.

Most improvements in technological and material prosperity are a good thing. Who would really want to go back to living in the 1930's?

We should value the preservation of non-market institutions. This is a bit harder to defend based on your definition of non-market institutions. Also, libertarians will take issue with interfering with the so called "free market". But, one example; many SL residents believe that removing homes, businesses and the beach from River St. was a huge mistake.

Now look at Wal-Mart.

Basic standard of living. Wal-Mart, the wealthiest company in the world, has low wages and benefits. Not only that, it pulls down wages and benefits of other companies. Wal-Mart's low prices are dependent on low prices and low benefits.

Inequality. Wal-Mart has placed 1.3 million persons in the USA into low paying, low benefit jobs. Recent census reports show more people in poverty and decreases in real income.

Improvements in technological and material prosperity. Wal-Mart takes business from existing firms by offering the same merchandise cheaper. Good competitive capitalism. Wal-Mart arguably lets you buy more with your money, but wouldn't a 1.50/hr wage increase provide the same savings and allow one to shop places other than Wal-Mart if they so wished? I guess the question here might be, should Wal-Mart spend $3 billion of it's $11 billion in profits to increase employee wages. Or maybe raise your prices by 1-2% and do the same thing. Or a combination of the two.

Non-Market institutions. Maybe you can argue that a Wal-Mart located in SL will not effect us socially somehow. How likely is it that a woman will be trampled by a crowd trying to grab $29 DVD players or that there will be an increase in crime. If there was a Wal-Mart will people be calling TOTT 30 years from now asking "What were those people thinking"?

Shopping at Wal-Mart is a no brainer for the 'consumer' in most of us. But what about the 'worker' or 'citizen' part of us?

NOTE: I stole most of this material from Bob Brownstein HERE.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Is There Enough Blame Left Over to Share With Wal-Mart?

Wal-Mart has supposedly "given up" on Saranac Lake and as a result the blame game has been going on for weeks on TOTT and in letters and guest columns in the ADE. So who actually is to blame for Wal-Mart "giving up" on us?

The largest share of the blame has been cast upon the three Democrat village board members. The three new board members soundly defeated the Republican competition who campaigned on getting Wal-Mart to build as soon as possible. They are directly responsible for not allowing the rezoning of the village sandpit area. But to adequately prepare a SEQR they need answers to real questions about the effects of the rezoning.

There is no blame being cast on the SL residents who overwhelmingly voted for the three Democrats. Afterall, the Democrats lied to them about supporting Wal-Mart.

Next to be blamed is SAGA and it's rich, non-native members. But SAGA said it would not oppose Wal-Mart if the company built a reasonably sized store in the downtown area.

The Save Saranac Lake Coalition gets blamed as they are very upfront about being opposed to Wal-Mart. This is another small group that consists of rich, non-native residents of the area. It must be a very powerful group of people to back down the largest company in the universe.

Then there is CARD, a mysterious local group made up of the vast majority of area residents. These are salt of the earth, born and brought up in SL, 5th and 6th generation natives that have been caretakers of the Adirondacks for generations. They certainly don't share in any blame. Afterall, they supported anthing Wal-Mart told them to support. I wonder if any CARD member wanted Wal-Mart so badly that they suggested to Wal-Mart that they might want to consider compromise?

But what about Wal-Mart? The largest, wealthiest company in the entire universe (as far as we know). Wal-Mart doesn't compromise, they don't want community input (unless it favors them), they always win and no one on earth can tell them what to do. They are the experts afterall. They have obviously decided that they are incapable of profitably operating a 68,000 sq ft store which likely would have been supported by a majority of local residents.

Is there any blame left over for Wal-Mart?

Greensboro, NC Wal-Mart - One Stop Shopping

A nice new store (sent by the power of prayer), what does it have besides groceries and 36 departments of general merchandise?

tire and lube
portrait studio
one hour photo
beer and wine sales
vision center
SmartStyle hair salon
nail salon
gas station
wireless phone sales

On top of all that, it's open 24 hrs, 7 days a week. Not much reason or need to shop anywhere else, unless you want to visit the other two Wal-Marts in Greensboro.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

SAGA , Wikipedia and Lying Libelous Liars

Wal-Mart supporters are so in love with Wal-Mart that they resort to publishing libelous statements about SAGA on Wikipedia.
SAGA was firmly anti-Wal-Mart, opposing the mega-retailer because of the havoc the organization thought it would wreak on local business. The local businesses were weak, ineffective, and generally ignored the needs of the local resident, preferring instead to cater to wishes of a small group of affluent summer visitors.
And this:
The community, due to the criminal meddling of SAGA, now lacks any kind of retail resources, no clean grocery store:
How can you be anything other than speechless about this?

This is actually a standard Wal-Mart supporter ploy. Wal-Mart supporters have been been waging a war on a fair point of view on the Wikipedia Wal-Mart entry. One place you can read more about it is here or google Wal-Mart + Wikipedia + war.

UPDATE: The Wikipedia entry for Sound Adirondack Growth has been edited to reflect the true purpose of the organization and its stance on Wal-Mart. We'll see how long it lasts.

Proclamation - Community Store Will Fail

Well you community store supporters should just pack up your bags and go...ummm home. The community store will fail - so says letter to the editor writer Ed Trathen.

One reason it will fail is because shares in the corporation will be available to all residents of New York State and not just SL area residents. It's too bad the Community Store organizers have to follow the law (unlike some major corporations).

Another reason the Community Store will fail is because they link to news stories about Wal-Mart on their website. There should be more news about the community store. Well, there are 3 links to news stories about the community store and I'm guessing there will be more stories when there is something new to be reported.

The Community Store may succeed or may fail, but I doubt it will be because of what is or isn't posted on their website.

PS: Note to Mr. Andersen. Yeah, Yeah, the town is slowly dying. People have been saying that ever since the discovery of streptomycin put the sanitarium out of business. Personally, I thought the town started dying when the Altamont Dairy Bar ceased to exist.

"Waging a Living" on PBS Tonight

Tonight at 10 PM on channel 18 (PBS). P.O.V. is presenting a documentary that follows the lives of 4 people who are trying to support families on wages of $8-11 an hour. More about the program here.
Roger Weisberg's alarming and heart-wrenching new documentary, "Waging a Living," puts a human face on the growing economic squeeze that is forcing millions of workers into the ranks of the poor. Shot in the Northeast and California, the film profiles four very different Americans who work full-time but still can't make ends meet. Despite their hard work and determination, these four find themselves, as one of them observes, "hustling backwards."

Monday, August 28, 2006

Is It Just About Wal-Mart? Yes and No.

More comments about Wal-Mart and a possible employment future from Ezra Klein (thanks again Jonathan).
Again, this isn't about Wal-Mart. Rather, it's about every company that competes with them, and every producer who sells through them. In the first case, Wal-Mart is driving down worker salaries and benefits by so resolutely grinding their own associates into the dirt. So rather than watching the service economy mature into a middle class conveyor as the manufacturing industry did, it's moving in the opposite direction -- and given the decline of manufacturing and the softness of worker salaries, what choice have workers than to accept their lot? Something is better than nothing, but something remains inadequate.
So as Wal-Mart chases manufacturing jobs out of the country we have service jobs as replacement jobs. Service jobs that are being defined by Wal-Mart wages and benefits. On the other hand, maybe some people think a package of underwear for $2.93 is worth it. Read the entire article.

Wal-Mart Leads the Race to the Bottem

I don't think the word monopsony is tossed around enough for people to really understand the implications. A monopsony as defined by the Economist is below:

A market dominated by a single buyer. A monopsonist has the MARKET POWER to set the PRICE of whatever it is buying (from raw materials to LABOUR). Under PERFECT COMPETITION, by contrast, no individual buyer is big enough to affect the market price of anything.
Many Wal-Mart supporters claim that the supremacy of Wal-Mart is what the so-called 'free market' is all about. It's all about competition. But how can the small business person compete when they have no power to dictate price to suppliers? Explain how this is fair competition? Monopsonies eventually lead to lower wages and benefits, outsourcing of jobs and outright failure of suppliers.

Barry C. Lynn, author of "The Case for Breaking Up Wal-Mart", gives two examples to explain the effects of a monopsony:

The effects of monopsony also can be difficult to pin down. But again we have easy illustrations ready to hand, in the surprising recent tribulations of two iconic American firms -- Coca-Cola and Kraft. Coca-Cola is the quintessential seller of a product based on a "secret formula." Recently, though, Wal-Mart decided that it did not approve of the artificial sweetener Coca-Cola planned to use in a new line of diet colas. In a response that would have been unthinkable just a few years ago, Coca-Cola yielded to the will of an outside firm and designed a second product to meet Wal-Mart's decree. Kraft, meanwhile, is a producer that only four years ago was celebrated by Forbes for "leading the charge" in a "brutal industry." Yet since 2004, Kraft has announced plans to shut thirty-nine plants, to let go 13,500 workers, and to eliminate a quarter of its products. Most reports blame soaring prices of energy and raw materials, but in a truly free market Kraft could have pushed at least some of these higher costs on to the consumer. This, however, is no longer possible. Even as costs rise, Wal-Mart and other discounters continue to demand that Kraft lower its prices further. Kraft has found itself with no other choice than to swallow the costs, and hence to tear itself to pieces. (My emphasis)

Monopsonies used to be illegal. The Great Atlantic and Pacific Tea Company (A&P) was a monopsony. It used it's in-house brands to force suppliers to do the companies bidding. Back then (1930's) the Federal government took a dim view of this practice. In fact, they created the Robinson-Patman law (known as the Anti-A&P Act) which ...forbade any person or firm engaged in interstate commerce to discriminate in price to different purchasers of the same commodity when the effect would be to lessen competition... President Reagan changed all that by gutting the enforcement of anti-trust laws.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Wal-Mart Prices - Are they the lowest?

From PBS interview with John Lehman [Jon Lehman worked for Wal-Mart for 17 years, managing six stores in four different states before he left the company in 2001 to work for a union trying to organize Wal-Mart employees]

What is the opening price point? Why is it so key to Wal-Mart's strategy?

OK, it's lawn-and-garden time. Your grass is getting high. Your lawn mower is broken from last year, or you need a new lawn mower. You're going to go to Wal-Mart. So you go to Wal-Mart, and you're looking for a lawn mower, and to your delight, you walk in, and you see this $99 lawn mower. You may not want a cheap, basic lawn mower, but you see that price point on an end cap or a big display stack base, and you say, "Wow, what a great price." And it draws you in. It lures you into the department, and you form the perception immediately that "Hey, Wal-Mart's got the lowest prices in town. Look at this item right here. How could they sell it for $99?" ...

But as you walk into the department and look for that $269 power-drive lawn mower that you really are after, they're not losing money on that item. And it may not be the lowest price in town. Wal-Mart used to advertise "Always the low price." They don't do that anymore.

So are you saying that the opening price is the lowest price and actually will beat the competition, but maybe other items in the same category aren't necessarily the lowest price?

Oh, absolutely not. It's just like fishing: You want to entice that fish to that lure. ... Once you walk past that opening price point, they've got you, because you've already formed the perception that everything in that department is the lowest price in town.

And maybe it's not.

No, it's not. No, I can tell you it's not. I can tell you from experience it's not. ...

Saturday, August 26, 2006

"Fault Lines" in Saranac Lake

Todays editorial in the Adirondack Daily Enterprise finally defines a problem that we have all been aware of, but have ignored, for decades. It's a problem that has been ignored for good reason. It's a political problem and may actually be unsolvable. Many of us realize that the Village of Saranac Lake is divided between two counties (Franklin and Essex) and three townships (Harrietstown, St. Armand and North Elba). But get this:
Worse still, the village is split between two U.S. congressional districts (McHuge and Sweeney), two state Assembly districts, two state Department of Transportation regions and two Blue Cross/Blue Shield health insurance companies.
The village of Saranac Lake is split so many ways it's not surprising consensus on many issues is hard to come by. Here is one obvious solution posed by the ADE:
Get Essex County and the towns of North Elba and St. Armand to pull back out of the village.
What are the chances of this happening? Who knows, but the ADE suggests:
Essex County, North Elba and St. Armand may not like losing all that sales and property tax revenue, but they could be convinced since, from a regional standpoint, redrawing the lines makes so much more sense than the current system. Plus, maybe they could get something in return. In the meantime, they’re really dealing Saranac Lake an injustice with its lack of Essex County representation and services. Getting them to pull out will take some wheeling and dealing, and perhaps some kicking and screaming, but it can be done.
Kicking and screaming, no doubt. What could they possibly get in return? Whether you are anti-Wal-Mart, pro-Wal-Mart or somewhere in between, it is definitely time to redraw the "Fault Lines".

Friday, August 25, 2006

Shopping at Wal-Mart - Is it good for our country?

Thanks to Jonathan at Writing on the Wal for putting me on to these comments by Ezra Kline.
What's worrisome about Wal-Mart is that, like GM and Ford once did, they are setting the norms for the coming (or current?) economy. One in every five retail sales is done at their cash registers; they're larger than the next five retailers combined. Indeed, for major producers, Wal-Mart is just about the only market that matters, which allows them to dictate the production methods, employee relations, and business strategies all the way up the food chain. In action and effect, Wal-Mart is an active monopsony -- a seller able to dictate the price to its producers. They've forced Coke to change their secret recipe, Kraft to lay off thousands of employees, and Vlasic to declare bankruptcy. And because Wal-Mart so obsessively pursues the lowest possible prices, they're not only depriving their own workers of generous benefits and compensation, they're making it literally impossible for their producers to do so, as Wal-Mart won't abide by the minor cost differences that on-shore production and respectable benefits demand.
Unfortunately, kinda like the Iraq War, the attitude seems to be "let the other guy worry about it."

Thursday, August 24, 2006

A Memorable Line by Mark Morford

From an article in the San Francisco Chronicle last May.

Take Wal-Mart, the most famously offensive, town-destroying, junk-purveying, labor-abusing, sweatshop-supporting, American-job-killing, soul-numbing, hope-curdling retailer in the known universe, moving upward of $300 billion in cheap mass-produced slurm every year via more than 5,000 landscape-mauling eyesore stores stretching all the way from Texas to China and Argentina and South Korea and Mexico and your backyard.

And Another Thing.....Or Two

Wal-Mart is or is not interested in Saranc Lake? Why does Edelman PR continue to visit this website almost everyday if Wal-Mart is no longer interested in SL?

Any truth to the rumor that Wal-Mart has an option on land outside of SL?

CARD is being awfully quiet lately.

Paul Sands - Idiot in Charge of WPTZ

Here is what Paul has to say about Saranac Lake and Wal-Mart:
They'll huff and they'll puff, and they'll blow your house down.

They're the big, bad NIMBYS...the folks who always yell "Not in My Back Yard." And they've just blown Wal-Mart out of Saranac Lake.

They seem to think Wal-Mart's the big bad wolf.....but the truth is the NIMBYs are worse.

They destroy progress, they hurt the economy, they cost jobs, and they make it impossible for communities to grow.

Wal-Mart wanted to build in Saranac Lake. The company simply got tired of all the conditions, all the whining, and all the opposition from a small group of loud and short-sighted objectionists.

The giant retailer finally said "enough is enough," and walked away.

We don't blame Wal-Mart. But we are sorry to see Saranac Lake lose this opportunity. The Tri-Lakes region needs decent, affordable shopping. It needs jobs. It needs business development.

But, of course, the NIMBYs don't want any of that.

They'd rather blow it.

That's our opinion. What's yours?
Well Paul, allow me to respond:

1. It wasn't a small group that opposed Wal-Mart. Maybe your news team didn't cover the recent village elections. The guys that wanted Wal-Mart got soundly defeated.

2. So you think Wal-Mart is progress? Actually, I thought Upstate Biologicals was progress, but that's just me. I guess you think so little of small communities like Saranac Lake, that we just have to settle for Wal-Mart jobs.

3. Having a Wal-Mart is your standard for community growth? That is about the most stupid thing I have ever heard.

4. Please tell us more about Wal-Mart and their great jobs Paul. Tell us how they have created jobs, good jobs. Did you get that from

Go here to tell Paul your opinion I've already sent mine (I know it will be hard, but be nice).

Flash - Wal-Mart Has First Communist Party Branch

A staffer in the communications department of a Wal-Mart in Shenyang confirms that Wal-Mart has a Communist Youth League Branch at its Shenyang outlet.
It wasn't immediately clear whether the party branch had an office in the store.
Is Wal-Mart leading an effort to merge capitalism and communism into some new super-vile economic model? Imagine what the worst parts of capitalism and communism would look like. Or maybe Wal-Mart will teach the Chinese the Wal-Mart economic model. Question is, who will the Chinese exploit? Another question, if we get a Wal-Mart in Saranac Lake, will we have to start calling each other comrade?

Short article here at at the NYT, "Wal-Mart Opens Communist Branch in China". It's short because the only group more secretive than Wal-Mart is the Chinese communist government.

More (I really like the headlines)

Wal-Mart welcomes Chinese communists No. 1 retailer allows Communist Party to set up branch in China store.

Communists join Wal-Mart's ranks Retail giant Wal-Mart, regarded by many as an icon of global capitalism, has become host to a branch of the Chinese Communist Party, according to reports.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Community Store & Adirondack Daily Enterprise

An editorial in todays ADE is titled "Community Store May Well Succeed". Last week, in one of the preachy editorials attempting to describe what is wrong with Saranac Lake, the ADE wrote:
“If a 121,000-square-foot store was too big for you, is a 5,000-square-foot, community-owned, politically aligned store going to make up for the loss of the 40,000-square-foot Ames? Maybe for some, but not for most.”
It seems the ADE doesn't really know the committee that is organizing the Community Store because Ms. Gail Brill showed up to challenge the ADE editorial.

Later in the editorial the ADE writes:
Ms. Brill is a fighter, and we were impressed with how she stuck up for her cause when faced with our skepticism. She passionately wants to improve Saranac Lake’s shopping options — she’s also challenged Grand Union to improve its supermarkets — but she also wants to stick to what she says makes this village different.
The ADE editorial board then goes on to congratulate itself on coming up with the idea of a community store in 2004.
Many people have already said they’ll buy shares at $500 each, and we think this thing may very well succeed.

We hope it does; we’ve been promoting the idea in editorials since before there was a local effort. We urged people to consider Powell, Wyoming’s model in October 2004, and we reiterated it this June, just before an organizational meeting that drew more than 200 people
The ADE may have promoted the idea, but Ms. Brill is the inspirational leader who is helping to make it happen. Bravo for Ms. Gail Brill. SL could use more 'transplants' like her.

There is also an article in todays ADE concerning last evenings Community Store informational meeting. The Community Store committee consists of Ms. Gail Brill, Ms. Melinda Little, Ms. Gay Relyea and Ms. Wendy Foley.

I suggest we have 4 Winter Carnival Queens next February.

Wal-Mart Still Interested in Saranac Lake

Wal-Mart just cannot make up it's mind. Now, according to an article in todays ADE, Wal-Mart still wants to locate in SL.
On Tuesday, Wal-Mart spokesman Philip Serghini reiterated that the retailer has nothing planned for Tupper Lake, as some have suggested, and nothing on the table in Saranac Lake.

“I never heard any kind of proposals going (to Tupper Lake),” Serghini said. “We’re definitely interested in Saranac Lake. We just don’t have any potential properties right now.”

But if Wal-Mart does have interest in another property, it may not be until late in the process that the public knows, if it follows the same pattern as with the recent proposal in Saranac Lake.

Wal-Mart as an Employer

I came across this article by Selena Maranjian at the Motley Fool's website. Marajian, like most investors, really admires Wal-Mart as an investment. The article was written in 2003 but it raises some important questions concerning Wal-Mart's treatment of it's employees. Here is her question.
But even if companies abide by the law, is there a point at which their actions are, simply, bad? By bad, I mean bad for society, bad for employees, unfair in the vague but grand scheme of things, and maybe even bad for business?
She goes on to point out that treating employees may not be the best thing for a company. You end up with:
Grouchy, resentful employees at best, and perhaps poor performance and even sabotage, at worst. From a company's point of view, unionization is probably the worst-case scenario here.

Negative media coverage, leading to a less lustrous reputation, an increase in customers' desire to shop elsewhere, and possibly even boycotts.

Society and government are drained, picking up the company's slack. If employees are uninsured or underinsured, then they put pressure on the health-care system. If they're having trouble making ends meet and living near or below the poverty line, they'll require more government services.
Many of us realize that those things are all currently happening due to Wal-Mart's poor treatment of its employees. She goes on to ask whether shareholders or employees should come first. Her answer is that both should be treated well and what's good for the employees will probably be good for the shareholders.
Right now, many communities fight to keep Wal-Marts away. Perhaps if the company were even more admired in America, if it were known not only for low prices and shareholder rewards but also for employing an enormous number of people and compensating them with somewhat generous pay and benefits, more communities would welcome it with open arms. Perhaps those better-paid employees would have more discretionary income to spend in their communities, boosting other businesses. Happy employees will take more genuine pride in their employer, and customers will see that. Satisfied employees generally don't need unions. They'll be less likely to sue, too, perhaps reducing the company's legal expenses.
She ends the article by saying:
I think that maybe Wal-Mart and even its shareholders could benefit if the company shares a little more of its wealth with employees.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Working Families for Wal-Mart - An Email

I am a paid-in-full member of Working Families for Wal-Mart. Today I got an email from them:
Dear friend,

As you may have heard, Ambassador Andrew Young resigned recently as Chairman of our national steering committee.

I am writing to let you know that Working Families for Wal-Mart continues to move forward.

As Ambassador Young said on Thursday, “I urge [our leaders and members] to continue to speak out and stay active. The good that Wal-Mart does for America's working families is worth fighting for.”

We’re committed to continuing that fight. We’re going to keep talking about how Wal-Mart makes a positive difference for working families. And we’re going to continue to stand up for Wal-Mart in the face of daily attacks from union-funded critics.

As my friend and fellow steering committee member, Courtney Lynch, said on Friday, “Our organization consists of over 140,000 members across the country. We have several local advisory boards made up of community leaders and activists committed to our cause. We all believe that Wal-Mart makes significant contributions to America’s working families. Our organization will continue to grow and make a difference in this national debate.”

Our aggressive efforts will continue next week as we launch a national opportunity for Working Families for Wal-Mart members like you and other Americans who support Wal-Mart to make their voices heard.

Working Families for Wal-Mart is only as effective as its members. And as a valued member, you can have an impact by speaking out and by talking to your friends, family and neighbors about how Wal-Mart makes a difference for working families.

Thanks in advance for your continued support.


Catherine Smith
National Steering Committee Member

I can't wait to hear about their national opportunity for Working Families for Wal-Mart members like you and other Americans who support Wal-Mart to make their voices heard.

I wonder if they will allow the voices of those people who don't support Wal-Mart to be heard?

Community Store Bashing on TOTT

You really have to wonder about people. Sure there are a lot of people that are upset that Wal-Mart appears to have given up on locating in Saranac Lake. But is that a reason to bash the supporters of creating a community store? Here are a group of people that are actually attempting to help the retail store situation in Saranac Lake and the 'fighting, Wal-Mart supporting, TOTT phone callers' have nothing good to say about them. That is just very sad.

Monday, August 21, 2006

The Secret to Beating Wal-Mart!!!

The secret to small businesses beating Wal-Mart has finally been released in a Letter to the Editor of the ADE from Marc Joseph.

Actually it's really a quite simple two step process:

1) Buy (and presumably read) CEO Joseph's book - “The Secrets of Retailing … or How to Beat Wal-Mart.”

2) Purchase your products from CEO Josephs online wholesaler

Writing a letter is certainly cheaper than purchasing an ad I guess.

Movie - Talking to the Wall

Wednesday, August 23 at Bluseed Studios ($1 donation for use of Bluseed Studios)

See the movie, Talking to the Wall

See comments about this move HERE.

Community Store Meeting

Tuesday, August 22 at 7 PM in the Harrietstown Hall.
Much more at Saranac Lake Community Store.

Friday, August 18, 2006


There are different kinds of activism. You can call 'Talk of the Town' and complain, you can pound a 'Wal-Mart YES' sign into your lawn or you can actually do something. Yesterday, the Adirondack Daily Enterprise editorial board bemoaned the fact that Saranac Lake has no leaders. Today they publish an article about two leaders; Gloria Volz (member of Save Saranac Lake Coalition) and Gail Brill.
But Brill is apparently doing more than just leading the charge for the community-owned store; she taking steps to make sure that the local grocery stores are up to par.

Recently, Brill helped initiate a meeting with the district manager and a customer service representative of Grand Union to give the corporation a message: The local stores just aren’t cutting it.

“We told them what they were doing now wasn’t working for us,” Brill said.

But Brill cautioned that she doesn’t want Grand Union to go away. She wants them to improve.
Thankfully, tomorrow will be the last lecture to the community by the editorial board of the ADE.

Meet John Dicker

The author of "The United States of Wal-Mart" (4 out of 5 stars at Amazon), John Dicker, will be in Saranac Lake today. He will be signing books at Two Horse Trade Co. this afternoon.

This evening, at 7 PM, there will be a discussion of the book with Mr. Dicker at Blueseed Studios located at 24 Cedar St.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Costco vs Wal-Mart - Business Models

Reading about Costco and Jim Sinegal makes one question the Wal-Mart business model even more. Here is an article from the Seattle Weekly that I came across about Costco. It proves that all retailers are not the same.
The company is proving Wall Street wrong by adhering to a radical idea: Treating customers and employees right is good business.

A few excerpts from the article:

"Why shouldn't employees have the right to good wages and the right to good careers?" asks Sinegal one day last month, sitting in his strikingly unpretentious office, more like an alcove really, devoid even of a door separating him from his employees. Costco has told Wall Street again and again that it believes the key to its success rests with taking care of employees and customers.

Given the overpowering influence of Wal-Mart, the nation's largest private employer and the world's largest retailer, at times there has seemed no way out from the downward competitive pressure it exerts. Which is why Costco's defiantly different approach has grabbed the attention of the folks who study these things.

In politics, of course, Wal-Mart's team trumped Costco's. But in business, well, that's another story.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

ADE Editorial and Letter

Realism and reason needed in Wal-Mart's wake. Today we get a lecture on reason from the Adirondack Daily Enterprise editorial board.
Those who were railing against Wal-Mart need to deal squarely and realistically with the question, "If not Wal-Mart, what?"
Now by 'railing' do you mean when you (ADE Editorial Brd) called for the firing of Cliff Donaldson for underhanded dealings with Wal-Mart or do you mean the majority of people that would welcome a smaller Wal-Mart located downtown? They end with:
If everyone is willing to work together and give a little for the common good, then we're confident everything will be alright.
Who exactly wasn't willing to work with the so-called 'opposition'? Was CARD willing to negotiate their stance (basically the Wal-Mart stance) on the issue, was Wal-Mart willing to meet with anyone other than their supporters. In case you've forgotten, the answer is NO.


Then we have a letter (probably the first of many) explaining how the arguments against Wal-Mart are flawed.

Some of the opponents of Wal-Mart talked of them competing with local businesses. I didn't hear any of this when one local was allowed to build a car wash right next door to an existing one."
So two car washes competing with each other is the same as Wal-Mart competing with Coakleys Hardware?

We all want responsible growth. Price Chopper worked with the area and built a very attractive store that blends in well.
So responsible growth is defined by making a store that 'blends in'?
I believe that if all the opponents of Wal-Mart would have sat down with them and our village board and approached this in an positive way, Wal-Mart would have been happy to work out the details.
Wake-up! It was Wal-Mart that did not want to sit down and work out the details! Wal-Mart does not 'work out details', they tell you how it's going to be.

Flawed arguments?

Walmartopia - The Musical

A musical about Wal-Mart. It's playing in NYC soon but may be coming to Vermont. Go here to listen to some of the songs.

TOTT Quips

Lot's of one line quips on TOTT this morning. Lot's of wailing and gnashing of teeth. The blame for Wal-Mart 'giving up' on Saranac Lake is being placed squarely on the three Democrats on the Village Board. But you have to wonder....if you were in favor of Wal-Mart building in SL why the hell didn't you vote for the Republicans who flat out said they supported Wal-Mart?

One really good idea put forth on TOTT was to form a coalition to save Saranac Lake from the Save Saranac Lake Coalition. It's unlikely to happen however, because it would mean actually having to do something besides making a phone call to the local radio station and giving a one line quip.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Upcoming Fun Events

Public Interest Meeting - Do you have concerns about Wal-Mart coming to Saranac Lake? If so, you are invited to join us at the Lake Placid Beach House for an informational meeting on Thursday, August 17 th at 630pm. Meet people who share your concerns and learn how you can be involved in an organized way. Discussion on recent events in Saranac Lake pertaining to Wal-Mart. Please come and bring a friend. This event is sponsored by the Save Saranac Lake Coalition. For more information contact email or call 518-418-9479.

Book Signing and Discussion - The author of The United States of Wal-Mart, John Dicker, will be in Saranac Lake on August 18. A book signing will be held from 12:00 to 4:00PM in front of Two Horse Trade located on Broadway in Saranac Lake. Discussion and dessert will be that same evening at Bluseed Studio starting at 7:00PM. A $1 donation for the use of Bluseed would be appreciated. For more information you may contact the Save Saranac Lake Coalition via email or phone 518-418-9479.

Movie Showing - Talking to the Wall examines the proliferation of big box chain stores. This is an interesting documentary which is relevant to the current Big-Box/Wal-Mart issue facing our communities. The movie will be shown at 7pm on Wednesday, August 23rd at Bluseed Studios in Saranac Lake. $1 donation for use of Bluseed. Please come and bring a friend. This event is sponsored by the Save Saranac Lake Coalition. For more information contact email or call 518-418-9479.

Concert - Butterfly Sky - This duo tours extensively in the US and have repeatedly witnessed how Wal-marts adversely affect small towns all over the country. This year they have heard what was going on with the Wal-mart issue locally, and decided to join with SSLC to create a larger event in support of the Coalition's efforts. Showtime is 7:30pm on Saturday, August 26 @ Bluseed Studios. Tickets can be purchased for $15 Major Plowshares, Mountain Gift and Powder or contact SSLC @ or call 518-418-9479.

Paid Critics are Paid Liars for Wal-Mart

Paidcritics always make me chuckle. They love to pull the wool over the eyes of Wal-Mart supporters. The paid Edelman PR liars over at sound like GW Bush. You are either for Wal-Mart Associates and Wal-Mart,Inc or you are against them both. Well maybe someone could think of a few ways you could be for the 'associates' in ways that Wal-Mart might not think is good for the company.

The Edelman PR paid liars today are telling the heart throbbing story of how Wal-Mart is rebuilding Waveland, MS. Go to the independe Wal-Mart supported life at wal-mart blog or just go to and click on 'blog' to hear Wal-Mart associate Jerry tell his story (I bet his salary doesn't get capped).

Wal-Mart got some badly needed PR when they went to the aid of hurricane Katrina victims. Why the Waltons themselves, good people that they are, donated $8 million dollars to hurricane relief. That's about 0.01% of their yearly dividend income, estimated to be about $800 million a year.

However, some people know that the Waltons and Wal-Mart Inc. got 100% tax deductions for their donations?
H.R.3768 Suspends limitations on individual and corporate tax deductions for cash contributions to charitable organizations made between August 28 and December 31, 2005.
Yes, you can get your facts at Walmartfacts or paidcritics or workingfamiliesforwalmart. But if you do, you are not getting the whole story.

Read an evaluation of Wal-Mart charity here.
Like the flowers and other tokens of courtship from a suitor who later becomes a wife-beater, such gifts are often followed by demands for public subsidies and tax breaks. In this way Wal-Mart is repeating the strategy that has served it so well in Arkansas, where Wal-Mart and the Waltons' charitable gifts are many and company critics are relatively few. Says Lindsay Brown, president of the Central Arkansas Labor Council, "It's a hell of a plan, and it works."

The Cost of Wal-Mart

From a PBS interview of John Lehman, a manager at Wal-Mart for 17 years.
Is Wal-Mart good for America?

... I don't think Wal-Mart is good for America because what's happening is, yeah, you can get maybe a bag of groceries more, or you might spend $50 at Wal-Mart and spend $50 at Target or Kmart and you might get a few more items at Wal-Mart because of the prices.

But there's a cost to low prices. And the cost is [that] good, American jobs are being shipped overseas. … Many times union jobs are going away, and those same people are having to go to work at Wal-Mart, making a fraction of what they made there and not getting good health care; not getting a good company-paid pension, company-paid health care.

So no, I would say Wal-Mart is not good for America. I think the average person out there that you run into in a Wal-Mart store may say: "Yeah, I love this place, because look at the stuff I can get. Look at the cheap prices." But there's a cost for these low prices, and many people don't realize that.
But many people don't look behind that big, yellow smiley face that they show on TV and see the reality of what's happening to our economy here, what's happening to good, American jobs in the United States here. ... Workers are being worked off the clock many times. There's lawsuits, class-action lawsuits, in over 30 states right now of workers saying: "Enough is enough. I'm being worked off the clock, not paid for my overtime." ...

And look behind that yellow smiley face and see what's really happening to workers. Good, American jobs like at Thomson Electronics in Circleville, Ohio -- that poor guy making $15, $16 an hour, now he's [going to be] making a fraction of that, $7, $8 an hour, working 32 hours a week; a meager health care plan that he's got to pay for now, token health care plan; no pension; no future. There's a revolving door at Wal-Mart -- workers coming in, seeing the reality of it. They've been duped by the yellow smiley face many times. Then they go right back out the same door they came in a week later, a month later, a year later, whatever, however long they choose to stay. That's what's happening behind closed doors. That's what's happening [behind] that big, yellow smiley face. ...
On the other hand, who really cares about that other guy's job? I mean I got to save $0.38 on my underwear. Being a consumer is what it's all about.

Wal-Mart's Profits Drop

Wal-Mart's quarterly profit dropped 26%. There may be lots of reasons; gas prices, remodeling stores, trying to sell upscale products, loss of customers. But mainly, because they couldn't compete in Germany and had to sell out to Metro AG at an $863 million loss. Why don't Germans and Koreans love Wal-Mart? Is it because Wal-Mart is not good at adapting?

Monday, August 14, 2006

Exporting Our Jobs

Want to play "Avoid the Wal-Mart Manager"? Then go to ExportingOurJobs and click on the Wal-Mart game in the lower left corner of the page. Have fun and learn about Wal-Mart at the same time.

Does Wal-Mart Have Government Influence?

I completely missed this little gem from Sirotablog.

Maryland Gov. Bob Ehrlich (R) just after vetoing legislation that would require Wal-Mart to provide its workers with more adequate benefits.

Who's that shady looking character behind Gov. Ehrlich? None other than Wal-Mart VP Mr. Eduardo Castro-Wright.

Surely, Gov. Bob didn't get anything from Wal-Mart!

How about the Wal-Mart sweetheart deal with the federal Labor Department over child labor allegations?
...the agreement granted Wal-Mart privileged treatment by giving it 15 days’ notice of future investigations of any wage-and- hour complaints applied only to complaints alleging child labor violations.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Has Wal-Mart Really Given Up?

Wal-Mart, Inc. does not have a very good record on being upfront with people, whether they be employees, supporters or anyone for that matter. A company that routinely flouts the law, with a certain level of impunity, cannot be trusted no matter what assurances they give. Rumors are rampant that this talk of giving up on locating in or around Saranac Lake and/or the Adirondacks is nothing more than some sort of PR ploy. It is a shame that Wal-Mart was not even willing to discuss locating downtown in a downsized store. Unfortunately, Wal-Mart has only one way of doing things and because of that they are losing customers all around the USA. They fact that the company cannot adapt was proven when they failed in Germany. Only time will tell that they have truly given up in the Tri-Lakes area.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Wal-Mart Bids Saranac Lake Adieu

Wal-Mart pulls out. At least that is what the Adirondack Daily Enterprise is reporting. Wal-Mart has ended the property purchase agreements with Carcuzzi Auto Car Care Center and Tri-Lakes Auto Mall.
“We got a letter the other day saying they were terminating the agreement,” said Carcuzzi Car Care Center Bob Bevilacqua said Friday. “As far as I know, it’s off completely. They said they are cancelling their contract with us.”

Wal-Mart representatives told Bevilacqua in June that “unless the public interest changed and political climate changed, they would be terminating it,” he said.
Of course, Wal-Mart has 'left' before, let's not forget that. Bevilacqua also said
“Doug Jerum told me that if they couldn’t get into Saranac Lake that they were going to write off the Adirondacks,” he said. “He told me flat out, ‘We’re not considering going to Tupper Lake.’”'s our way or the highway.

Ever visit It's an experience! Here is one of their 'community commitments':
We will adopt a store siting and construction policy that addresses environmental, social, cultural and historical considerations.
Well, I guess that would just be opened to interpretation, right?

How about this one:

"We believe that one of the keys to our success is our people and how we treat them. Simply put, we treat our associates and suppliers with respect."

Does that statement make you want to laugh or cry?

Or the Wal-Mart cheer! Do you know how it originated?
The cheer originated after our founder, Sam Walton, visited a tennis ball factory in Korea where the workers did a company cheer and calisthenics together every morning. He liked the idea and couldn't wait to get back home to try it with his associates.
I'm kinda surprised ole Sam didn't force the calisthenics on his 'associates' too.

How about the 'Sundown Rule'? Basically, ole Sam believed you shouldn't put off til tomorrow what you can do today. I bet that is the basis for Wal-Mart's policy of unpaid work and lock-ins.

Want to know how Wal-Mart gets everyday low prices? It's right there.
The key to our ability to maintain Every Day Low Prices (EDLP) has been our commitment to forge common ground among the hundreds of thousands of people in our company. Our dedication to provide the best possible service to our customers helps drive the Every Day Low Price philosophy. Going beyond the buyers who negotiate lower prices with our suppliers, we all can affect EDLP by controlling our expenses and being cost-conscious in our day-to-day business.
Does this include the company Directors and executives? I wonder how much the Directors are compensated? Oh wait, it's public knowledge, right there on page 9.

$60,000 compensation, 2957 shares of stock worth about $133,000 and 'other compensation'. Not too bad for someone that is already filthy wealthy huh? But they probably have to attend one or two meetings a year.

But that's chump change compared with what the Directors give the 'execs'. Salaries of anywhere from $642,056 to $1,292,308 (click on public knowledge above and see page 23). Of course that doesn't include millions in stock, other annual compensation, other compensation and LTIP payouts. Oh yeah, Wal-Mart is definitely 'cost conscious' where it counts.

Wal-Mart Follows the Law

Wal-Mart has recently been forced to recognize the Chinese 'labor union' (actually an arm of the communist government). Wal-Mart explains why they did this:
"Our policy is to comply with the laws of every country in which we operate, and in China it is required by law that if even one associate asks to join a union, then you have to install the union in the store."
There may be some disagreement with this statement that Wal-Mart complies with the laws of every country. Maybe the Saskatchewan Labor board disagrees or the fact that Wal-Mart is sued once every two hours may be an indication that the Wal-Mart statement is not completely factual. Maybe this article might suggest that the claim may not be true.
Because the consequences are so minimal, Wal-Mart does not hesitate to break the law in order to stay union-free. Indeed, as the Greencastle handbook to managers notes frankly, during a union drive, "You...are expected to support the company's position.... This may mean walking a tightrope between legitimate campaigning and improper conduct." Wal-Mart has been found guilty of many violations of workers' right to organize, even firing union sympathizers. But paying fines--or in some cases, merely hanging a sign in the break room that states that the company violated workers' rights--is for Wal-Mart simply part of the cost of doing business, a small price to pay for keeping unions out. Until labor laws are reformed to make violating workers' rights a criminal offense--punishable by sending managers and CEOs to prison--running Wal-Mart campaigns based on National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) challenges may be fruitless.
Did they comply with the law in the State of Connecticut? Let's see:
HARTFORD — Wal-Mart has agreed to pay a $1.15 million fine and correct a slew of environmental violations at 22 of its Connecticut stores, violations that state officials said showed a systematic disregard for the law.
Maybe the 'comply with the law' statement should be re-written to say:

"Our policy is to comply with the laws of every country in which we are trying to establish a foothold for our business".


Thursday, August 10, 2006

Community Store Website

Announced today in a Letter to the ADE Editor.

Click HERE for the website.

Click here for answers to all your questions about a Community Store.


Wal-Mart Shoppers Complain

They shopped at Wal-Mart for the low price and got what they paid for. I'm pretty sure it's just the odd case though.

Does anyone remember Wal-Mart 'Black Friday'?

Customer service at Wal-Mart.

Tioga, PA
When the Walmart store in this area first opened it was a real blessing. Eventually, other businesses in the area started to fail and finally, closed. Now that there is nowhere else to shop Walmart has gone downhill as well. The selection is terrible, and the quality of items has turned sour.
Don't get your prescription for Tamiflu filled at Wal-Mart!
The reason the doctor called in the rx was because it was already 5pm as we were leaving his office and this med needs to be started within a 24 hr period of the first flu symptoms.

Although this was explained to them they had no interest in our urgency and were very unsympathetic.
How much money did she save on the Wal-Mart bike after the doctor bills were paid? Remember, Wal-Mart forces suppliers to cut costs.
On August 12th, my daughter was riding this bike down a hill when the crank and pedal came off. The bolt came right out of the crank and you could see where the threads were stripped or crossed over. This caused her to flip over the handle bars.

She received a broken left arm, a sprained right wrist and 3 stitches in her chin. On August 13, I returned this bike to Wal-Mart and they gave us a new bike. They said that once the bike leaves their store, they are not responsible for accidents, even if they assembled the bike.
This guy got a great buy on some tires at Wal-Mart. He's lucky to be alive.
On the 30th, My family and I were returning home from dinner. On the interstate, the van started to sway abit. My wife asked me what was I doing, and I told her it wasn't me, that it must be the highway, where they had just re-paved. Upon exiting the interstate the van started to swerve again. The next thing we knew, we heard what we thought was something that hit the van and the left rear of the van dropped down. We thought we had blown a tire.
How about vision care at Wal-Mart, want to save money?

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

News Ten Now Reports

Go to the website and view the video.

Beaverton, OR Says No to Wal-Mart

Announced in the The Times.
Beaverton’s City Council Monday night unanimously rejected plans to build a new Wal-Mart store in Cedar Mill.

More on the Wage Increase

When Wal-Mart reported that they were 'capping' wages in all of their job categories I naively assumed they would still give 'cost of living increases'. But, it's more like long-time employees are being forced to give up wage increases (unless they change positions) so that money can go to starting employees.

Go here and read some of the comments from real Wal-Mart employees (although they are probably just disaffected union stooges). I guess Wal-Mart employees just don't get the 'Free Market'.

Does the wage cap apply to Wal-Mart executives?

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Wal-Mart Public Relations

It would be interesting to know how much Wal-Mart pays for Public Relations advice. They sure aren't getting much bang for their buck. Look at '', Wal-Mart's gunslinger critics that are paid to criticize Wal-Mart's critics (boyoboy that is complicated). They are having a ball criticizing WakeUpWalMart's bus tour of the country and some of the Democrats that show up at each stop.
"It’s time for the Paid Critics and their candidates to stop playing politics and start offering real solutions to the challenges facing working men and women across this country."
I agree. It's time for someone to start offering real solutions to the challenges facing working men and women in this country. Where are the Republicans? They hold all the power. They control the government. They were elected with dollars provided by Wal-Mart. They have been in power for over 5 years. When will they start offering real solutions?

Isn't there some Wal-Mart VP in charge of overseeing these guys? Maybe Wal-Mart could get better PR if they outsourced their PR overseas. They could save money at the same time.

The Writing On The Wal

One of my favorite Wal-Mart information websites is "The Writing On The Wal". I like it because it is written by independent, intelligent, unpaid bloggers and because they always have the most up-to-date info on all things Wal-Mart. I encourage visits to that website for anyone that wants to read well written commentary on Wal-Mart.

I read Walmart Watch and WakeUpWalmart too, which are union supported websites. But I tend not to cite them too much for the same reasons that I discount what I read on Walmartfacts, Working families for WalMart and Paidcritics (all paid by Wal-Mart).

Wal-Mart Raises Wages

Wal-Mart has announced that starting employees deserve a pay increase "based entirely on wage surveys in every market where we do business".
The nation's largest private employer is rolling out an average pay increase of 6% for new hires at 1,200 Wal-Mart and Sam's Club warehouse stores nationwide, including some of its nearly 200 stores in California.
This is in spite of the fact that Wal-Mart has long claimed that it cannot afford higher wages for its employees. However, you do not want to remain a shelf stocker, greeter or cashier forever. The new policy also means move up in the ranks or your salary remains stagnant.
Wal-Mart is instituting the salary caps to encourage workers to move up through the ranks rather than remain in the same job for years. Employees who earn more than the maximum amount for their job won't see a salary decrease but will no longer be entitled to raises unless they change positions.

The announcement by Wal-Mart comes as the company continues its battles against legislative oversight of how it treats workers.
Heavy criticism of Wal-Mart and loss of 8% of its customers may actually be making Wal-Mart re-think its business strategy.

2005 Data

Wal-Mart profit margin 3.6%

Costco profit margin 1.9%

BusinessWeek ran through the numbers from each company to compare Costco and Sam's Club, the Wal-Mart warehouse unit that competes directly with Costco. We found that by compensating employees generously to motivate and retain good workers, one-fifth of whom are unionized, Costco gets lower turnover and higher productivity. Combined with a smart business strategy that sells a mix of higher-margin products to more affluent customers, Costco actually keeps its labor costs lower than Wal-Mart's as a percentage of sales, and its 68,000 hourly workers in the U.S. sell more per square foot. Put another way, the 102,000 Sam's employees in the U.S. generated some $35 billion in sales last year, while Costco did $34 billion with one-third fewer employees.

Yet the cheap-labor model turns out to be costly in many ways. It can fuel poverty and related social ills and dump costs on other companies and taxpayers, who indirectly pick up the health-care tab for all the workers not insured by their parsimonious employers. What's more, the low-wage approach cuts into consumer spending and, potentially, economic growth. "You can't have every company adopt a Wal-Mart strategy. It isn't sustainable," says Rutgers University management professor Eileen Appelbaum

Monday, August 07, 2006

Advice to the Poor

"it's not Wal-Mart's fault that its associates are poor. "
You see these people are poor because:
1) They charged too much on their credit cards.
2) Had kids and now can't support them.
3) Didn't get an education.
4) Failed to save for the future.
5) Made unnecessary purchases.

Can anyone think of other reasons why people are poor and should be punished or abandoned? Maybe you add some more good advice for the poor.

con't. "If they had made the correct choices in life, the wages they receive would be sufficient to sustain them and they would be on their way to better lives".
Yes, you can easily live on the wage Wal-Mart pays you if:

1) Tear up all those credit cards
2) Give the kids up for adoption and get sterilized
3) Go to medical school or law school
4) Save up at least 50% of all the money your poor relatives give you
5) Don't buy unnecessary stuff. Wait, forget that last one, Wal-Mart wants you to buy unecessary stuff.

Then just live on the $320 (minus taxes and health insurance) you take home everyweek.
(No this isn't from me, it came from a pro-Wal-Mart blog. With friends like that, Wal-Mart really doesn't need any enemies.)

Does Criticism of Wal-Mart Effect Anything?

Today at the Washington Post:

Or consider the environmental behavior of U.S. companies at home. This used to be the classic case of politics leading business: For most of the past generation, regulators have forced environmental rules on grumbling corporations. But in the current debate on climate change, this order has reversed itself. Impatient companies are capping their own carbon emissions: Wal-Mart has promised to double the efficiency of its vehicle fleet and achieve a 30 percent cut in its stores' energy usage. Its motive is not complicated. Internet-enabled critics have assaulted Wal-Mart, and the firm's polling has suggested that 8 percent of shoppers have quit visiting its outlets because of its stance on social issues. An environmental makeover was essential to the brand.