August 18, 2006

The woes of Wal-Mart

It has been a tough week for Wal-Mart, the retailer everyone loves to hate.First, their revenue growth dropped for the first time in 10 years.Then, it comes out that Democrats are taking aim at Wal-Mart. Why? Well, Wal-Mart's has a poor public image and what smart politician wouldn't exploit that. (How about the Democratic party focuses less on changing Wal-Mart and a little more on changing itself. Populist crap like this makes me feel like I have no party.)Last, a prominent civil rights activist (and former Mayor of Atlanta and a UN ambassador), Andrew Young, hired by Wal-Mart to do something about their public image resigned after a controversial outburst:

"Well, I think they should; they ran the 'mom and pop' stores out of my neighborhood," the paper quoted Mr. Young as saying. "But you see, those are the people who have been overcharging us, selling us stale bread and bad meat and wilted vegetables. And they sold out and moved to Florida. I think they've ripped off our communities enough. First it was Jews, then it was Koreans and now it's Arabs; very few black people own these stores."
Obviously Wal-Mart has a PR problem, which isn't helped by the fact that one of their PR guys is making comments that just piss people off, but is Young wrong?Not really. He could have done without pointing to specific ethnic groups, but essentially he is saying that Wal-Mart is the same as all these nonexistent "Mom and Pops." "Mom and pops," which for many of America's poor are either nonexistent or overpriced corner stores are just targeting buyer's wallets. They are no different than Wal-Mart.Anyways, it might be difficult to feel sorry for Wal-Mart, but they've had a rough week so go easy on them.