The Walmartization of America


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“But it’s so cheap!” That’s the rationalization used by millions of consumers for spending a good chunk of their time wandering aimlessly around the lifeless aisles full of plastic goods at the country’s largest retailer, Walmart.

Whether for food (yuck), bathroom towels, clothing, or lawn ornaments, Walmart is the giant catchall for cheaply made products shipped from around the world and sold to American shoppers. When price is the bottom line, you can’t expect to get quality; instead, you get what you pay for. And what you are paying for is sweatshop labor, underage factory workers, poor treatment of product manufacturers, toxic materials, and a general lack of concern about anything other than massive profits.

Shoppers can pretend there is nothing bad behind the blue and yellow shiny-faced facade that Walmart has so carefully constructed, yet it’s what they don’t see in the well-stocked megastores that should frighten them. Earlier this year, The New York Times reported that Walmart was involved in bribery and a coverup in Mexico regarding the construction and operation of their stores. And that’s only the most recent story; there has been no shortage of negative news coming out about Walmart over the years. A small sampling, if you will:

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  1. Right on! I haven’t shopped at Walmart for years, for all the reasons you list above.

    However…I can’t help but notice that right below your post about avoiding Walmart in the RSS version of the post is your Amazon affiliate link.

    Amazon has been accused of many of the same atrocities as Walmart, including

    sweatshops (literal ones!) and terrible working conditions

    (edited for way too many links)

    Amazon is frequently called the “Walmart of online retailers”. I do not mean this as a criticism – but I’m sincerely wondering how you can support one and condemn the other? Would you be less critical of Walmart if they offered an affiliate program so you could earn money from them?

    I’d really like to see you address this.

    1. A few things:

      1. Walmart does offer an affiliate program. I don’t use it.
      2. As I mentioned in the article, many (if not most) companies do bad things. The reason Walmart gets the most attention is that they are the biggest, the most people shop there, and they have the largest impact on working conditions both here and abroad.

      Amazon has been bad, Target has been bad, Apple has been bad. No one disputes this. But people do have to do shopping somewhere, and by avoiding the biggest offender we can make a difference and change the behavior of the other ones.

      1. I agree that we all need to shop somewhere, and that it’s not practical to only shop local, family-owned businesses in today’s world. Still, buying from a behemoth corporation with a bad track record is not remotely the same as actively encouraging others to do their shopping there, especially when one is criticizing another corporation for mostly the same tactics.

        I don’t like seeing affiliate solicitations on any blogs, but I was particularly disappointed to see it after such a well-reasoned argument against Walmart – for which many of the arguments apply to Amazon as well.

        1. Thanks for the comment. While I can appreciate your thoughts, advertising is what pays for this site to be published and keeps the lights on at my house. It is free for the reader because of advertising and affiliates. I am sure you can understand not working for free, as I am positive you don’t do that at your day job.

          As we both said, everyone has to shop somewhere and we can’t change the world in a day. But we can make a small difference in choosing where we shop, and Walmart is the worst offender.

          Have a great day!

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