Blogger Candidate #2 – Is Wal-Mart Good or Bad?

Alright here is Candidate #2, again the same applies as yesterday.  If the candidate wants to respond to questions please use a name like Candidate #2.  Thanks – Tim

The world’s largest retailer just seems to be getting bigger and bigger.

This month, Canoe Money reported that the giant discounter would begin flexing its muscle while carrying out its new e-commerce strategy in the form of a price war and in an attempt to effectively compete in the online book business against Amazon and other book retailers.

Regarding the article’s discussion of Wal-Mart slashing prices for over 200 current best sellers and books in general, a senior analyst with Simba Information is quoted as saying, “They can’t bring (prices) that low. As a whole, it’s very hard for traditional bookstores, large or small, to compete with this kind of nonsense.”

The above-mentioned highlights what many would consider to be a reoccurring theme regarding Wal-Mart’s prowess and ability to penetrate new markets and locations, while at the same time, smaller-sized businesses become casualties in the business world.

An in depth article of Wal-Mart by the CBC in 2005 stated that there were 256 stores located in Canada at that time. A more recent Financial Post article titled, “Wal-Mart plans supercenters for Western Canada” from this past summer, indicates that there are now 312 stores in Canada. In addition to the increase, we realize that in just a few short years, the giant retailer has waged a price war on our turf, competing with Canadian enterprises such as Loblaw and Metro Inc in the grocery store market.

As we witness this corporate giant expand into new markets and locations, the question we often ask ourselves is the following: “Is Wal-Mart Good or Bad?”

From a consumer standpoint, the notion of being able to buy goods at a store and at reduced prices can certainly be appealing; however, it can also be reasonably assumed that many of these same consumers also know what kind of a negative ramifications a new Wal-Mart store entering a community can have on many of the small businesses. This in turn, can arguably affect the culture, and unique aspects to a community’s economic environment.

From an employee standpoint, things are often seen in another light.  Many of you may have read or heard about Wal-Mart’s apparent history of having to get the lowest prices at whatever cost-even at the expense of local employees. For example, an article written by Charles Fishman for Fast Company in 2007 mentions, “To survive in the face of its pricing demands, makers of everything from bras to bicycles to blue jeans have had to lay off employees and close U.S. plants in favor of outsourcing products from overseas.”

Furthermore, many of you may have heard stories in the news regarding struggles to unionize some of the Canadian stores. A CBC article from April 2009 discusses the success employees in Quebec attained by forging the first collective agreement in North America.  On top of that, there now exists a Union for Walmart Workers in Canada, and their website appears to be under the threat of censorship as the site indicates that Wal-Mart is taking the organization to court.

Unquestionably, it is obvious that Wal-Mart has become a massive organization that affects the activities and lives of businesses, consumers, and employees.

What are your thoughts regarding Wal-Mart? Are you indifferent to the various opinions of the company’s corporate activities? Do you feel that Wal-Mart instills a “David & Goliath” presence wherever it goes? Or, do you simply think they are running a great business and are deserving of the successes they have attained?

18 thoughts on “Blogger Candidate #2 – Is Wal-Mart Good or Bad?”

  1. Walmart is a great company. They are the super-competitor that brings prices down until until the profits near zero, which means that the consumer saves and it is the whole point of the free market.

    Some people think that small businesses go under, but small retail businesses often gauge the consumer either through waste or greed. How much does a $150 designer sweater cost to make? About the same as Walmart’s $20 sweater. So why pay so much more? The money goes either to the store owner, or more likely much of it goes to the designer which is just another big business.

    Small businesses can offer things called “services”. Canadians cannot compete on manufacturing for the most part. We can compete in service. I don’t feel the need to support a local business just because; that’s charity so let’s call it charity. If they can provide something useful then that is another story.

    At the same time, Walmart ought to treat employees properly. Canada is a great place for Walmart because Walmart doesn’t have to feel bad about not providing medical benefits. In the US I imagine that Walmart workers are probably in quite bad shape.

  2. Although well written this post is not for me. I find the more personal approach of yesterday’s candidate more intriguing. The general Wal-Mart debate has been on-going for some time now. I understand that this specific issue is current and may be a “hot-topic” but I read blogs for individuals’ ideas, practices, successes and failures – not facts on issues that are easily found on the internet and written as if it were for a newspaper opinion piece.

    I would be more interested on an on-going basis to read about the individual approach to personal finance from a DINK household and be able to compare their ability to save, invest and strive for “Freedom 45” against those who have chosen to have children. With Tim having a family it would be a good contrast for this particular blog.

    I like that candidate #1 put himself out there and discussed what made him happy in his own life. It did not seem to be what made some of the readers happy in their lives but isn’t a different point of view good every now and then? It also sparked a lot of discussion, good and bad, which means it caught people’s attention.

  3. I vote for candidate 1 as well – this post reads like a high school essay instead of gripping a blog reader. You can’t argue that Candidate 1 generated traffic! I look forward to hearing more from him.

  4. I agree with Nicole.

    While I didn’t really think yesterday’s post was all that appropriate for a PF blog, at least it was personal and not just regurgitated from everywhere else. If you want a rehashed argument, why not just have a post about H1N1 vaccination as well as Wal-Mart?

    That said, I like this candidate’s writing style a bit better, though I think both writers would improve greatly if they began public blogging regularly.

    @ Customers Revenge – I think you meant “gouge”.

  5. I too find candidate #1 more interesting, although maybe not as cleanly written as today’s post. The Wal-Mart debate is rather vanilla. now talking about DINKs in PF, well that’s provocative.

  6. Candidate #2 has the better writing style – and he’s putting me to sleep. “On the one hand. On the other hand. What do you think?”

    Well, no, what do _you_ think? Put yourself out there. Don’t just write an essay. Come up with something I haven’t read a hundred times before. I’m familiar with the arguments – put a face on it. Say you’d gone out and talked to the union being sued, gotten some good comments, and reached out to Walmart for counter-comment – that’d give me my daily dose of drama, and you may have had a shot of actually adding to the discussion, rather than just re-hashing it.

    Candidate #1 is, by default, more interesting. His writing style is painful, though.

    Can we have candidate #3? Or both #1 and #2 giving it another try after receiving feedbacks?

  7. I am definitely in no position to debate about anybody’s thoughts regarding my post. Everyone has an opinion and they are entitled to it.

    As a candidate, I was asked to submit a sample post based on the broad themes of this site, which are happiness, the environment, and early retirement.

    In fairness to both candidates, I like to think we both tried hard at representing the spirit of Tim’s blog, and I fully respect everyone’s thoughts.

    Normally, I write about my own portfolio, equities, investments and strictly PF subjects with very little movement outside those subjects, but I felt that this site asks for something a little more than that.

    It also takes time (me at least)to become more personal with the audience when its your first ever guest appearance.

    Thanks for the opportunity

  8. Nicole, I agree with you completely! Let Candidate #1 tell us how being a DINK 😉 works with the Freedom 45 plan.

  9. OK; this post was more professional, researched, I liked the Canadian perspective, and this was better written. And I think #2 did a better job of writing in a way that fits with Tim’s usual tone.

    As someone who teaches writing, though, I give another vote for #1 to try again. If this is indeed the first time this person has written in public, I think he should keep trying. I’m interested in the perspective too, if it will link back to the issues that we read Tim’s blog for. The personal perspective is more interesting, and it takes a while to get used to writing for an audience. Although I found the post clunky and it rubbed me the wrong way too (as a fellow DINK!), I really liked the response to the comments, where a genuine voice came through. Not so much with the response here, despite the more polished post.

    Try again, #1! 🙂

  10. I vote for #1 as well… great to hear perspectives from a fellow DINK. Scary how much I agreed with most of what he/she wrote.

  11. I’d love to get this many comments on my blog – criticisms and all!

    I liked both the bloggers – although I agree with the commenters that this topic (which I thought was a good one) could have used some opinion from the writer.

  12. Hands down Candidate #2. Its the most logical choice because this blogger didnt stray away from the subject requests and the writing is much better. Lets face it, blogger #1 did not talk about any of the themes being asked in my opinion. Its EASY to just throw out a contraversial subject matter…its obvious blogger #1 is just looking for traffic but thats not the point. The point is creativity and staying with the goals of the site. If anything, deep down he seemed UNHAPPY.

  13. To be honest, I enjoyed them both. Any chance we could not make a choice? If we absolutely have to, I would prefer candidate 2.

    Personally, DINKS’ financial plans do not interest me that much.

  14. Well written, but I have to say a single article just has no chance of properly discussing such a large and open topic. It doesn’t do the topic justice to wrap up large issues in just a sentence to two. In short form nothing was concretely explained, no new details discovered or opinions reached. In honesty this single topic could be the starting point of an entire blog, maybe there even are some already.

    I’d recommend people interested in learning more about Walmart should read the book “The Walmart Effect”, I think it gives a very objective and detailed look into the details.

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