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.