Activist Mommy

I was trying to watch the news last night, I know a terrible habit, but my boys were bouncing off the walls (and each other). So most of what I heard was a few muffled words as they paused to breath before the roaring screams began again. Somewhere in all of that I heard mention of Wal-Mart Neighborhood Market. It instantly caught my attention, but I was unable to hear the rest of the story. Showing how out of the loop I am I got angry that Wal-Mart was coming up with another way to kill off small businesses andmake more moeny for themselves. But a quick search online revealed that this scheme has been in operation since 1998 and already operates in several countries. OK, so there isn’t one under this rock I keep hiding beneath. There’s my excuse for not knowing about these.

Reed Warbler feeding baby CuckcooBut I’m still angry. Wal-Mart creates huge super-centers that offer everything you could imagine in one giant store for a fraction of the cost. This wipes out most of the small businesses trying to make it. So then, once these small Mom&Pop stores are closed Wal-Mart swoops in to stick their own “neighborhood markets” in their place. Much like the Common Cuckcoo who lays their eggs in another bird’s nest. See the mother Cuckcoo flies down, kicks out an egg, and lays her own. Once the baby hatches it begs for food from the new adopted mother, growing at a rate much faster than the bird’s real babies. Thus they starve and die while the cuckcoo lives on to steal another’s nest. Wal-Mart is like a huge mother cuckcoo, and these Neighborhood Markets are the seemingly inocent eggs lying in the wrong nest. Pretty soon those eggs are going to hatch and begin demanding food, and it’s the few remaining real neighborhood shops who are going to pay.

Already the stores are being revamped to appeal to more people. This older article (from Jan. ’07) from says so much. Wal-Mart Enhances Neighborhood Market Design They are trying out new tricks such as “an increased selections in organics and produce” and “earth-toned colors with natural woods that define each store department that creates a ‘store within a store’ feel”. These Neighborhood Markets are supposed to “creates a more personal experience for the shopper”. Unlike the personal experience one could get by, say, shopping at a family store that has been open your entire life and run by people you grew up with. I suppose the same could almost be said here, except with Wal-Mart those people work behind the counter for less pay, less benefits, and they have to wear those ugly vests.

Wal-Mart Neighborhood MarketIt certainly does seem  as if Wal-Mart is trying to edge in on a friendlier image. A new green logo, earth toned colors, a softer look. I mean, that’s not at all like laying eggs that match the eggs in the nest you are invading. Is it?

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I, unfortunately, live in a pretty small area. One where shopping choices are not very plentiful, and the few we have have been forced to raise their prices through the roof to make ends meet. Why? Because we have a super Wal-Mart. The huge, open all-night shopping meca complete with a fresh deli, bakery, food court, nail and hair salon, arcade, and photo center. Almost everyone you know works there or has at one time or another. The pay stinks, the hours are terrible, and the chance for promotion is virtually nonexistant. Yet that does not stop people from crowding into the store at all hours of the day and night to shop, shop, shop.

I read this blog post yesterday, The big bite of Wal-Mart, and felt a little more queasy than I normally do at the mention of Wal-Mart. She mentions that one of the reason that Wal-Mart stands to gain is that they can afford to chas paychecks for $3, rather than the larger percentage that some other businesses charge. They will also be offering a reloadable Wal-Mart Visa card that you can put your precious paycheck into.

“Wal-Mart MoneyCenters will assist customers who are outside mainstream banking with convenient, nationwide access to low-cost money services, including check cashing, money orders, bill payment and money transfers.” – “Wal-Mart Rapidly Expands Access to Low-Cost Money Services For Millions of Customers Nationwide,” Wal-Mart Facts, June 20, 2007.

Of course we should all know by now that you can’t get anything for free, or for a seemingly low price. So besides offering this great new service which will no doubt make them lots of money (I mean, who is going to Wal-Mart just to cash their check when you could get all your shopping done at the same time?) and offering these snazzy new reloadable Visa cards, what else does Wal-amrt have up its sleeve? Oh, you mean the hidden fees. You know, suddenly $3 seems a lot bigger.

The WalmartWatch blog has a great selection of posts with more about this in their Friday Blog Round-Up. But there is a little more than just new banking plans posted there. According to the news Wal-Mart is all about screwing people, but only if they are the opposite gender. Apparently after a bit of arm twisting (likely, none at all) from the Conservative Right Wal-Mart has pulled out what little GLTB support they were offering. They stopped donations to support groups though it seems that Wal-Mart is so huge that even some gay activists can’t turn their backs.

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