November 9, 2005

Why Wal-Mart Works -Trailer

why_smiley.jpgGo here to see a three-minute trailer for the upcoming Why Wal-Mart Works film. If the trailer is representative of the film, I think you will find that "pro-Wal-Mart" is not exactly a good phrase to describe the film. Neither is "fair and balanced"; instead, it goes in an entirely different direction...

You can pre-order on Amazon, where reviewers are already panning and praising the film, even though it hasn't yet been screened.

UPDATE: I just spoke to Ron Galloway, the producer of the film. He says the not even he has seen the final cut of the film, so all the talk on Amazon is just hot air.

Posted by Kevin at 9:19 AM

November 5, 2005

Blog Reactions to the GI Conference

It's a small world. Jack Schultz of Boomtown USA wrote this post and later sat down at my table for lunch:

But, it is in the area of productivity that Wal-Mart really shines. The two keys here are information technology and supply chain management. In the area of supply chain management, one of the factors that I have argued for the past five years is that part of their advantage is the location of their Distribution Centers (DCs) in rural markets. I’m convinced that the lower costs and more productive labor in these markets is a huge benefit to the company.
Wal-Mart Watch profiles David Neumark, who sat down next to me at the same lunch:
Today we’ve chosen Dr. David Neumark, an economist with the Public Policy Institute of California who co-authored a paper for Wal-Mart’s self-funded academic conference today in Washington, DC. Neumark dared to challenge the company on its own dime, and presented a paper that contradicts today’s other rosy presentations. His study examined Wal-Mart’s effect on employment and earnings, and concluded that “Residents of a local labor market do indeed earn less following the opening of Wal-Mart stores.” From Neumark’s paper:

The Fark tagline is amusing: "Behold! Mighty Wal-Mart hath suppressed U.S. inflation". And in the comments, a serious discussion has ensued embedded in a flame-war. The first casualty: Tracy Sefl of Wal-Mart Watch, who is being quoted and satirized pretty unfairly,, although ""Wal-Mart is only telling part of the story, which is not the same as telling the whole story" lends itself mightily to such insignificant attacks.

More Later...

Posted by Kevin at 6:32 AM

October 18, 2005

Palousitics on the Klein Group and Pullman, WA

Tom Forbes of Palousitics notes that a firm, the Klein Group of Coldwater, MI , specializes in building strip malls around Wal-Mart Supercenters. Mr. Forbes is using his blog to support a Wal-Mart Supercenter in Pullman, WA. The Pullman Alliance for Responsible Development seems a formidable foe...

(Note that their website is nearly blank, but Superpages provides contact info.)

Posted by Kevin at 4:10 PM

September 22, 2005

Wal-Mart Videos

Thanks to Wal-Mart's new PR team, the general public now has access to Wal-Mart videos at walmart.feedroom.com.

Take a look at H. Lee Scott talking about Katrina relief and impact on Wal-Mart associates for feel-good stories about associates. Also look at Wal-Mart's History. Quotable, Sam Walton taught his first associates "how important it was to talk to the customers about their chikens, their cows, their kids..." It starts out hokey, and ends even hokier, but gets the middle has interesting information. Don't miss Sam Walton doing the hula on Wall St.

And much, much more...

Posted by Kevin at 2:12 PM

September 16, 2005

Wal-Mart Space

Another new blog about Wal-Mart definitely worth your while is Wal-Mart Space. It examines Wal-Mart's business from the finance side, which turns out to be not a straightforward operation.

A rrecent post gets a better hold of the space Wal-Mart competes in, and examines ites share of retail sales in that space. Another converts WM's retail space into football fields.

Posted by Kevin at 9:44 AM

September 13, 2005

A Blog By Wal-Mart!

Stories of Hope, Wal-Mart's first corporate-run blog, looks to have been active behind the scenes for a week now, with previous posts repreating much of what was elsewhere on walmartfacts.com. However, the latest gives the blog's raison d'être:

Wal-Mart is launching this blog (Wal-Mart's first) to tell these stories and help keep the public informed of ongoing relief efforts and services. This site features the personal histories and photos behind the operations we read about each day-- real-life hurricane heroes who have stopped their daily lives to help.
Welcome to the blogosphere.

Note: ALP is in no way affiliated with Stories of Hope.

Posted by Kevin at 12:25 PM

September 9, 2005

Rejected, Again!

scott_houston.jpgALP was recently (and understandably) rejected by The NewsMarket, after I applied for journalist access to video about Wal-Mart's Katrina relief efforts -- specifically H. Lee Scott touring the Astrodome. I was ready to experiment by converting the video to web-quality and hosting some interesting snippets, but the best laid plans....

Of course, ALP is not established or mainstream journalism, and I don't begrudge the NM folks, but I would expect Wal-Mart to provide us new media folks with greater access to the information provided to broadcast stations (within reason). If we can obtain all the written press releases as the big boys, I'd argue that we should have access to photo and video archives too.

Posted by Kevin at 4:41 PM

Blogs: Cries, Memories, and Plans

Randy Reynolds is reporting first-hand from the outside of an old Wal-Mart, which has become the Pineville Red Cross Shelter. The accounts are of flood survivors are gripping.

Posted by Kevin at 10:00 AM

September 2, 2005

Noise Reduction

The Wal-Mart Employee Journal is consistently more interesting and diverse than the blogs of Wal-Mart's opponents. For instance, in a recent post, we find out that Wal-Mart has discovered how LOUD their stores are compared to, say, Target, and are instructing employees to cut down on PA usage; some employees have been given walkie-talkies to be used instead. Many employees think this won't really help, since people either have to page to get specific things done, or abusers will find a way to circumvent the limitations.

Here's a freebie tip to Wal-Mart executives: shut off the hideous televisions and/or music! It's that simple, really. I know you really like Wal-Mart TV. So just try it in half of your 10 stores nearest, say, the center of Knoxville, and send in a team to both the quiet and loud stores to survey people, and another team to check out the financials.

Posted by Kevin at 11:38 AM

August 31, 2005

Mom & Pop vs. Wal-mart

There's a flash movie making the rounds, Mom & Pop vs. Wal-Mart, that I've been meaning to post about. I don't have a sense of humor for such things, especially the raw vulgarity, but many ALP readers have no such inhibitions.

To me, the most interesting part is the end, when Pop comments about people and things entering and leaving the newly remodeled Wal-Mart. The last thing he says is "Ohy, I hate my life," and puts his head in his hands and sobs away. What slice of the North American population does such a sentiment appeal to? The defeated and angry?

Anyway, the co-creator of the flash movie, Cathie Walker, wrote to me that the impetus for the movie was first and foremost that almost everybody on the production team (who make these things for a living) knew or knows somebody who had some problem with Wal-Mart.

Posted by Kevin at 9:56 AM

August 30, 2005

Rejected

Last week, I asked Google News to include ALP, and their response was prompt, clear, concise, and negative:

Thank you for your note. We reviewed Always Low Prices but cannot add it to Google News because we currently only include sites with news articles that report on recent events. We appreciate your suggestion and will log the site for consideration should our guidelines change.
The decision not to include ALP is theirs to make, and I fully understand that ALP is not the Financial Times. But the given reasoning would seem to exclude most newspapers that perform any investigative journalism, since many political scandals are not "recent".

Posted by Kevin at 9:23 AM

August 21, 2005

Is ALP Anti-Walmart?

Some of you may get a kick out of how ALP is categorized on the right sidebar of the new Wake Up The NEA blog.

ALPantiWM.jpg

Frankly, I'm baffled, though I speculate the reader comments were the reason Agent Tim put ALP in that bucket.

UPDATE 9:40PM:That was fast; ALP is now in the pro-WM category.

Posted by Kevin at 9:07 PM

July 7, 2005

Wal-Mart Should be Emulated

That's a Lawsuit spent last summer working at Wal-mart, and has some level-headed words for WM opponents:

These days it seems that all of the "cool people" will bash Wal-Mart. It is now trendy to cry out against the "evil empire" known as Wal-Mart. The fact of the matter is, the people that are making these claims are doing so on only bits of information and false information that they have heard....

Wal-Mart is not a perfect company but then again no company is perfect. If you are going to dislike a company, dislike it after hearing all the sides. They act like a normal company would in minimizing competition, they treat their employees well, and they provide the consumer with cheap prices. Seems like all sides are made happy. Wal-Mart may or may not have had problems with their employees in the past. Even if they did, isn't there something to be said for fixing their ways and cleaning up their act? That is the act of a socially responsible company and I know for a fact there are other companies out there that should really model themselves after Wal-Mart. Ponder THAT.

Posted by Kevin at 3:34 PM

June 24, 2005

There is no Publix Blog

Josh Hallett notes that there is no corporate Publix Blog; there doesn't seem to be an anti-Publix blog either, although there is an anti-publix blogring.

With that link, will we have launched his post to top billing in "Publix" Google searches?

Posted by Kevin at 3:12 PM

May 9, 2005

The Neighborhood Retail Alliance Blog

If you're interested in how small business groups view Wal-Mart, and you want to know more about the resistance to Wal-Mart entering NYC, The Neighborhood Retail Alliance Blog is the place for you. Their latest post talks about the sales tax in NYC; it reveals what the group is about, and the nature of the arguments it uses against Wal-Mart:

Which brings us to the Staten Island Wal-Mart controversy. Before the Mayor, Congressman Foscella, or other elected officials try to convince folks that building box stores will prevent retail leakage to New Jersey they better first level the playing field by dramatically reducing the cost of doing business in NY. If they don�t and a Wal-Mart is built on the South Shore, than we predict you�ll find as many Staten Islanders still shopping in Woodbridge, NJ as you�ll find at the outlet on Richmond Valley Road... Islanders will continue to flee and instead of keeping customers in New York, the Staten Island Wal-Mart will draw people in from the other boroughs. Therefore, consumer dollars will simply be transferred from existing NY retailers to Wal-Mart while the fundamental cause of the leakage will remain ignored.
I agree that "leakage", meaning the dollars spent by NYC residents choosing to shop outside of NYC, could be lowered by competing with New Jersey's lower tax rates. But the idea that NYC businesses are somehow deserving of these retail dollars is, in my mind, not compelling at all.

If the Alliance has specific proposals to lower the cost of businesses in NYC, as opposed to just transferring costs to other types of businesses, I'd really like to hear them. But wouldn't any such proposal also lower Wal-Mart's cost?

Granted, lowering the sales tax would help neighborhood businesses compete against WM since a sales tax increases the relative cost of shopping at higher-price neighborhood stores. But the sales-tax is not the cause of higher pre-tax prices...

----

Also see their main homepage about WalMart. I'm almost amused that they accuse Wal-Mart of routinely pricing below cost, even though (from my experience) two-for-one specials and pricing below cost are routinely used by neighborhood businesses to clear out poor-selling merchandise.

And guys, if you're going to discuss lawsuits against Wal-Mart for predatory pricing, might it not also be relevant to note which cases Wal-Mart actually won.

Posted by Kevin at 7:56 AM

May 3, 2005

The Motley Fool on Wal-Mart

The Motley Fool has many interesting articles about Wal-Mart, and Serena Maranjian (rr) provides links and honest commentary:

The issues Wal-Mart faces are kind of big and can't be easily solved. It has come under attack for allegedly putting mom-and-pop businesses out of work, treating employees unfairly, and more. But the firm is trying to do some good, along with delivering low prices to consumers. It does engage in a lot of charitable giving, and it wants people to know about its good work. Learn more at www.walmartfacts.com. And type "Wal-Mart" into Amazon.com's search box to find a slew of books with strong points of view, positive and negative.

Posted by Kevin at 9:38 AM

April 24, 2005

Yet Another Anti-WM Blog

Wal-Mart really sucks has been restating the Litany of charges agaist Wal-Mart since April 9. If they keep posting, I'll add them to the sidebar, even though you probably know exactly what's posted there.

Oddly, the blog is alleged to be owned by a fake "small manufacturing company" of assembly-required pressure washers headquartered in an abandoned building in Oklahoma City?!?.

Nice spoof, but why???

Posted by Kevin at 7:23 AM

April 14, 2005

Nation vs. Economist Debate

Via Laborstart, we find out that Freespeech.org has posted a video of the Wal-Mart debate (and part II) between The Economist and The Nation, reported earlier here. It's good quality RealPlayer video.

I see that The Box Tank beat me to it.

Posted by Kevin at 2:36 PM

April 8, 2005

We've Been Hoaxed!

The owner of this site has a wonderful spoof on this site. Because I've been writing my dissertation and haven't slept in 2 days, I was taken in by an email the hoaxer sent me accusing ALP of misrepresenting WM.

Bravo! And many thanks to IP!

And here's the WHOIS:

Domain ID:D105961894-LROR
Domain Name:WALMART-FOUNDATION.ORG
Created On:26-Mar-2005 23:30:07 UTC
Last Updated On:27-Mar-2005 00:02:44 UTC
Expiration Date:26-Mar-2006 23:30:07 UTC
Sponsoring Registrar:Go Daddy Software, Inc. (R91-LROR)
Status:TRANSFER PROHIBITED
Registrant ID:GODA-010917977
Registrant Name:Daniel Peterson
Registrant Organization:
Registrant Street1:5091 Tobar Street
Registrant Street2:
Registrant Street3:
Registrant City:Philadelphia
Registrant State/Province:Pennsylvania
Registrant Postal Code:19131
Registrant Country:US
Registrant Phone:+1.4124014412
Registrant Phone Ext.:
Registrant FAX:
Registrant FAX Ext.:
Registrant Email:info@walmart-foundation.org
Admin ID:GODA-210917977
Admin Name:Daniel Peterson
Admin Organization:
Admin Street1:5091 Tobar Street
Admin Street2:
Admin Street3:
Admin City:Philadelphia
Admin State/Province:Pennsylvania
Admin Postal Code:19131
Admin Country:US
Admin Phone:+1.4124014412
Admin Phone Ext.:
Admin FAX:
Admin FAX Ext.:
Admin Email:info@walmart-foundation.org
Tech ID:GODA-110917977
Tech Name:Daniel Peterson
Tech Organization:
Tech Street1:5091 Tobar Street
Tech Street2:
Tech Street3:
Tech City:Philadelphia
Tech State/Province:Pennsylvania
Tech Postal Code:19131
Tech Country:US
Tech Phone:+1.4124014412
Tech Phone Ext.:
Tech FAX:
Tech FAX Ext.:
Tech Email:info@walmart-foundation.org
Name Server:DARKSIDE.DOD.NET
Name Server:DEATHSTAR.DOD.NET
Name Server:
Name Server:
Name Server:
Name Server:
Name Server:
Name Server:
Name Server:
Name Server:
Name Server:
Name Server:
Name Server:

The previous information has been obtained either directly from the registrant or a registrar of the domain name other than Network Solutions. Network Solutions, therefore, does not guarantee its accuracy or completeness.

Show underlying registry data for this record

IP Address: 208.185.250.11 (ARIN & RIPE IP search)
IP Location: US(UNITED STATES)
DMOZ no listings
Y! Directory: see listings
Data as of: 08-Jun-2004

Posted by Kevin at 5:23 PM

April 5, 2005

Another Big Box Blog

Big Boxes Blow:

A home for those who want to keep their hometown from becoming "Anytown, Anywhere". News about Big Box stores and how to work to keep them from taking over your community.
This adequately describes the content of the blog, except that it's mainl about WM in Iowa.

Posted by Kevin at 10:15 AM

April 3, 2005

Another Anti-WM Blog

Add another to the list -- Global Watch Wal-Mart -- whose author prefers to remain anonymous:

I hope my reflections and random thoughts will stimulate discussion and action on Wal-Mart's global conduct. By way of disclosure, my blog does not pretend to be objective or neutral. But my critiques of Wal-Mart will be accurate.
The posts are very well put together, but are very infrequent.

I found this blog by looking for the "Center for Community and Corporate Ethics". I don't know who the author is, but the domain registrant is Nicco Mele, who was Howard Dean's webmaster, and is CEO of EchoDitto.

EchoDitto put together that deceptive Purple Ocean site I debunked earlier.

Posted by Kevin at 2:05 PM

April 2, 2005

Rich Bloggy Goodness

Nicole Bross peppers her anti-WM diatribe with wonderful anti-WM links.

WM is all out: cute chubby babies.

It's against store policy to take pictures in Target. Marissa Sims does so anyway.

Out, Out Damn Spot hates Wal-Mart but had a wonderful retail experience there.

Bill Dennis puts forth an interesting way to get journalists to cover stories regular people care about:

I've just about come to the conclusion that the best training for journalists would be to require them to spend a semester or a summer working at McDonald's or Wal-Mart, and requiring them to actually survive on what they earn there, including the paying of rent, groceries and health care.

Posted by Kevin at 4:55 PM

McChronicles

A blog all about McDonalds. It has photos and evaluations of service and food delivery in McDonalds throughout the USA (including one in WM--"slow business and slow service").

That's something I never really thought of doing for Wal-Mart...

Posted by Kevin at 4:38 PM

March 27, 2005

Another Wal-Mart Blog

Here's another Wal-Mart blog, Behind the Counter written by "BBCAmerican", a customer service representative at a WM Store in Florida. The subtitle is "Tales from the Customer Service Desk Working Wal-Mart Days, Living Wal-Mart Nights." The blog isn't new -- like ALP it started in April 2004 -- but BBCAmerican only starting working there in September (read the post Wal-Mart Hates Unions for fun and profit).

Also note that the writer fears Bush/Cheney above all...

The March 16th entry has a scoop:

Here's another nugget. Wal-Mart kicked vendors out of in-store vending machines this week. ABSOLUTELY ZERO outside vendors allowed in. Only Wal-Mart products. So now, we can't get Coke, Pepsi or Dr. Pepper, or even Aquafina or anything like that -- only Wal-Mart of Sam's brand soda and juice. It was supposedly a "security decision" made at the corporate level. They said they were worried about having vendors wandering around the store and allegedly "overcharging" for sodas and stuff. HMMPFPHF! It was a straight up "profit decision."

Posted by Kevin at 7:11 AM

March 16, 2005

Prof. Bainbridge's Conservative Case Against WM

I missed this well-rounded net assessment of the economic impact of Wal-Mart, which is guided by an understanding of the importance of the small retailer in American economic life. He concludes thus:

Being a conservative is supposed to be about things like tradition, community, and, yes, aesthetics. If I'm right about that, it's hard to see why a conservative should regard Wal-Mart as a societal force for good even if Hugh's right about the job story.

So what do we do? Well, we must strike a balance between respect for private property rights (see my Kelo post) and our other values. How? On the one hand, government should not legislate against Wal-Mart and its ilk. On the other hand, government should not subsidize Wal-Mart either through zoning or tax breaks. Wal-Mart�s a big boy, so to speak, who can take care of itself. We ought to let it compete in a free market. And those of us with a bully pulpit out to use it to encourage Wal-Mart to become a better neighbor and citizen.

I'll note one thing; this is perhaps the most honest, respectful, and courteous WM-cautionary tale I have read since starting this blog. Even when dissing WM, one fails to find nastiness in Prof. Bainbridge's prose...

Posted by Kevin at 1:24 PM

January 20, 2005

WM Buys Search Ads for Walmartfacts.com

Via PR Fuel, we learned of a great article by David Berkowitz on Wal-Mart's use of web advertising to get people to walmartfacts.com:

Last week, the retail giant launched WalmartFacts.com to tell its story, backed by a massive print campaign. To help drive traffic to the site, Wal-Mart purchased paid search ads through Overture. A search on Yahoo! for "walmart" brings up a sponsor result saying: "Walmartfacts.com: What drives Wal-Mart? Want the facts? Go to walmartfacts.com."...

I called Wal-Mart to find out more about their paid search campaign. The representative couldn't answer strategic questions but shed a bit of light in her own way. "We did a media buy," she said. "We bought whatever we bought."

Then she said something more incisive. As to why they did the paid search campaign at all, she responded, "We wanted folks to be able to see the new site. When launching a site, it's just a smart tactic."

I agree that this is a smart tactic.

Posted by Kevin at 3:40 PM