13 October 2010

Walmart - The New Super Power?

In another discussion for my MBA Ethics class, we had to analyze the non-market issues of Wal Mart. I am no expert on the many issues that Wal Mart has faced and created. From my textbook there seem to be two major thoughts. First, Wal Mart inspires criticism from those who disapprove of their treatment of employees, effect on local small businesses, immense powers of negotiation with large corporations, and damages to the environment.

The second thought is that Wal Mart has to act the way they do in order to have such low prices. The class text had this quote from a Sacramento Bee columnist about Wal Mart unions and, "So for the sake of 250,000 grocery store clerks and baggers and their employers, the other 35 million people in this state are asked to agree to pay billions of dollars more than they ought to for the necessities of life and to deprive themselves of choices that could make their lives better."

Despite my lack of knowlege, I was anxious to post the issue for several reasons.

1) While we were in Costa Rica I discovered that Wal-Mart really does have tremendous power.
Look familiar? Those signs aren't in dollars, they are in Colones. This is the Hipo Mart in Costa Rica. It is owned by Wal Mart. We went there for a cultural lesson one day with the director of the program.
While we were in this expansive store, we saw that most of the products had Wal Mart tags or were made in China. In fact, even much of the store's rice (a key ingredient in many Costa Rican meals) was originally shipped from Asia through Wal Mart. There weren't many Costa Rican products to choose from in the store, though we did find some great chocolate made completely in Costa Rica.

On top of owning these mega marts, Wal Mart has even purchased many of the local grocery stores in Costa Rica. Pali is a grocery chain in Costa Rica that is owned by Wal Mart and even has Wal Mart's logo on some of the in store signs. Pali is known to have the lowest prices of grocery stores.

2) My second thought in posting is that I am curious what your opinion is of Wal Mart. I avoid shopping at Wal Mart for the most part, because I try to support local businesses. I don't want farmers to stop growing fruits and veggies (or rice, Costa Rica) because they can be produced and even shipped cheaper from somewhere else. Avoiding Wal Mart can be a hard thing to do for a penny-pincher like myself, especially in a down economy. While I'm in the confessional box, I recently purchased a most fantastic computer desk at Wal Mart, not available in it's shape or style anywhere else that I could find. And I LOVE it. There, I'm done.

Do you shop Wal Mart?