Lisenby 1

Emily Lisenby Professor Jan Rieman English 1102 April 28, 2012 To Shop or Not to Shop There are many places to shop no matter where you might live, which then means you are forced with a decision. What store are you going to put your money into? When it comes to different companies Wal-Mart is by far the fastest growing and bringing in more money than any other company like it. But what makes it different than other stores? Target offers the same exact products as Wal-Mart yet still isn’t making as much progress (Ong). So although there are a billion and one stores to shop at you have to decide which store suits you best. Are you going to be a Wal-Mart or Target shopper? To answer this question I think it would be necessary to start with what kind of environment each store offers. In my personal experience at each store I find myself heading in the direction of Target rather than Wal-Mart. I find it to be much more my style, less crowded and clean. In my opinion Target is way more organized and not so crazy. I don’t know if it’s because of the different colors each store uses but I just feel like the bright red at Target is more of an inviting environment. When I’m in Wal-Mart the dark blue and grey colors just make me feel like I am in jail, and with how much time it takes to shop because of the amount of people in the store it is hard to escape. Another important part of the environment is the customers. In an article I read it talked about how Wal-Mart stores seem more content to let Wal-Mart be Wal-Mart, rather than reach out to upscale customers. When I first read this article it immediately brought my mind to that

Lisenby 2

website called People of Wal-Mart, which is a website where users can send in funny pictures they take of people shopping at Wal-Mart. When I shop at Wal-Mart those are the kind of people I feel surrounded by, really weird people. I know not all Wal-Mart’s are like this though. But this store is generally appealing to a broad group of people, and because of its really low prices, usually lower class group. While Wal-Mart charms more of the lower class, Target is more catered to the budget- minded middle and upper class group. I do know that not everyone has the same opinion though, so I looked up some numbers. A research document, which Wal-Mart claimed to be their own, created in February, said that fifty-six percent of people loved Wal-Mart while forty-four percent of people hated it (Neff). Let’s assume that the forty-four percent of shoppers who hate Wal-Mart shop at Target. A twelve percent difference is not a big alteration, so why is Wal-Mart progressing so much faster? The low prices could definitely be a reason Wal-Mart does so well. It was found to have food prices eight to twenty seven percent lower than big super market chains, but after all they do guarantee low prices. Vlasic’s gallon jar of pickles is a good example of how Wal-Mart lives up to their promises. They sold an entire gallon of pickles, which is huge, for two dollars and ninety seven cents. You can’t usually even buy a quart of pickles for that price. Like these pickles most products prices brought in from other companies have been brought way down. This is because of the company’s large size and buying power; it can buy its products at the cost of almost nothing and exchange high purchase volumes for a low charge (Fishman). The store also provides customers with many different services that a lot of other stores don’t. There is usually a Subway or McDonalds in every store you shop at. You can register for gifts for most occasions, they offer eye examinations, in some stores they even provide a tire service. You could also have a back account through their money center, which is like a Wal-

Lisenby 3

Mart bank. They give you a Wal-Mart money card which is basically the same as a visa card and you basically have a checking account through the store. ( Although the environment and prices in a store are qualities to look at when deciding where to shop sometimes you have to look deeper than that. You have to look within the store and find out what their morals and policies are. What does Wal-Mart do to contribute to your community? Wal-Mart provides jobs to a decent amount of people. More statistically they provide jobs to over two million people globally ( In a failing economy Wal-Mart is still providing jobs for all kinds of people because almost anyone can work there. They give young people job experience because you don’t have to have a degree to work there. They provide elderly people with jobs. When you see the greeter at the door how old are they usually? It gives elderly a chance at a job that they usually couldn’t find. It even provides jobs for people in the military when they are not being sent out because usually military families have to move around a lot. Since there is a Wal-Mart almost anywhere you go they would never be without a job. It even gives the families special benefits such as differential pay. This means even when you are on active duty you will still get paid your full wages. It provides jobs for almost anyone and everyone. Not only is the company bringing in a lot of money but it also gives back a lot of money. The store’s philosophy is known to be operating globally and giving back locally. They give financial help and provide volunteer services to more than one hundred thousand charitable and community focused organizations. Fighting Hunger Together is one of their main organizations. They have donated over one point one billion pounds of food from Wal-Mart stores and

Lisenby 4

distribution centers. They provided sixty five new refrigerated trucks for feeding America food banks. This helps get the most expensive and challenging grocery items to obtain, meat and dairy, to places securely and without spoiling. The company also gives back to college students. The Wal-Mart foundation gives away two scholarship programs that benefit their associate and their high school senior dependent. They even recently gave away ten million dollars in scholarships to help students enroll into college. (Hunger Relief) There are many reasons why shopping at Wal-Mart instead of another store could be very beneficial but what is the other forty four percent seeing that makes them decide not to purchase their products at this specific store? When I was a senior in high school I watched a video called “The High Cost of Low Prices” which is a documentary where employees of Wal-Mart, small business owners, and footage of Wal-Mart executives are shown to publicize Wal-Mart’s unfavorable business practices. This movie made me proud to be a Target shopper, although I am sure Target has its problems as well. It definitely leaves you with tons of examples on how shopping at Wal-Mart is not the way to go. Throughout the film I learned that Wal-Mart CEO, Lee Scott made a total of 27, 207,799 dollars in the year of 2005 and the Walton family is worth over eight teen billion dollars. So if he is making so much money why is the average salary of a Wal-Mart employee 13,861 a year? The company seems give off the vibe of trying to keep the salaries of their employees low and have as many people as they can work part time. Even though most managers know this usually does not get the job done and have stacks of applications sitting in the back the company does not allow stores enough pay roll dollars to withdraw this problem from the store. This means

Lisenby 5

they cannot hire more people to fix the problem of employees working overtime. As if receiving minimum wage and full time being considered twenty eight hours a week isn’t bad enough, because of the lack of employees the associates end up working overtime and don’t get paid for it. Why don’t workers just say no? This is because workers feel they have been given the option of either doing the extra work or getting fired and not many can afford to not keep their job. All of the negative benefits of the poor wages and hours tie in with the workers’ health care insurance. Since they are barely getting paid enough to support their family they cannot afford to buy the health insurance that Wal-Mart offers. In the video a lady being interviewed said that it came down to the choice of either feeding her children or having health insurance. Also I found out that Wal-Mart encourages people to use help such as WIC, food stamps, or welfare. Their reasoning of course being because then it doesn’t cost Wal-Mart anything and puts the responsibility on the government and tax payers and that means no extra money coming out of the company’s pocket (highcostoflowprices). Not only is Wal-Mart under paying its own associates but the movie pointed out a problem that I have never really thought about. When a Wal-Mart is built in any area all the other “Maw and Paw” businesses go out of business. This is because they cannot keep up with the prices since they will sell their products for a lot cheaper and instead of then providing jobs it leaves these stores out of business and unemployed. Environmental violations were even a problem. In North Carolina there is a river called the Catawba River. One of the creeks by a Wal-Mart led into this river. The reason this was bad is because this river is used for drinking water and this particular store had kept their chemicals, such as pesticides, out in the parking lot next to the creek. This was obviously a problem because

Lisenby 6

those chemicals would get into the creek and then make their way to the river in which people get their drinking water from. When asked to move these chemicals somewhere else nothing was done. Even when calling Wal-Mart’s headquarters still nobody did anything. It took a news story seen by a Wal-Mart manager to get these chemicals pulled from the parking lot which shows how uncaring and selfish of a company they are. (Lisenby) Another position brought up was working conditions for people involved with the company. Not only in the United States but places such as China and Bangladesh. In China men and women are forced to work in very poor conditions and even have to pay to live in them with money from their paychecks, which aren’t very much to begin with. It was said in the documentary that when Wal-Mart was coming to inspect the factory employees were told to lie about these working conditions. Such as saying they only worked six days out of the week when in reality they really worked all seven days. The people even went as far as giving the workers fake pay slips. But just as in the United States the workers never say anything at the risk that they might lose their job. A man being interviewed who was in charge of going all around the world and making sure that the working conditions in factories were good went to Bangladesh to discover that the women working were forced to work from eight thirty in the morning until ten at night and only made thirteen cents an hour. They were even punished in an abusive manner if they did not do what they were told. When this manager saw these conditions he thought once he told the Wal-Mart Corporation they would react to what they heard and change the conditions immediately but they did absolutely nothing and got angry at him for saying something. Women are also discriminated against at this store. There have been many lawsuits filed against the company for this reason. There was a woman being interviewed in the film that said the manager had promised her a higher position if she did good work in her current position. She

Lisenby 7

felt that she had gone above and beyond the work she should have been doing by always doing good work and even putting in overtime. When she went to go talk to the manager again about moving up like he promised he laughed and said that she wasn’t going to get promoted. When told this she told him that she didn’t understand why because she had done everything he had asked of her if not more and he said it was because she was a woman. In California and Texas multiple women have decided to speak out are filing new suits on the issue. The Supreme Court has decided to side with Wal-Mart and overturn most cases because they didn’t share enough in common to meet the requirements of a class (Shapiro). After reading this paper I hope that you feel more informed about some of the issues that go on at Wal-Mart behind closed doors but also keep in mind the good they do for people and a community. Now that you know a lot of facts that you may not have known before it is up to you to take what you read into consideration and either continue to shop at Wal-Mart or maybe decide to put your money into a different company.

Fishman, Charles. "The Wal-Mart You Don't Know." Wal-Mart You Don't Know. Fast Company, 1 Dec. 2003. Web. 30 Apr. 2012. <>. "Hunger Relief." Walmart Corporate. Wal-Mart Corporate. Web. 30 Apr. 2012. <>. Lisenby, Donna. "Welcome to the Catawba Riverkeeper Foundation." †” Catawba Riverkeeper Foundation. WaterKeeper Alliance Member, 22 Jan. 2004. Web. 30 Apr. 2012. <>.

Lisenby 8

Neff, Jack. "Who Shops at Wal-Mart ... and Who Doesn't." Advertising Age, 3 Sept. 2007. Web. <>. Ong, Jessica. "Walmart: A Growing Giant †” Part 1." Walmart: A Growing Giant †” Part 1. Compete Pulse, 28 Sept. 2009. Web. 30 Apr. 2012. <>. Shapiro, Lila. "Walmart Faces Long Battle On Sex Discrimination, Despite Supreme Court Ruling." The Huffington Post., 24 Jan. 2012. Web. 30 Apr. 2012. <>. Sunshine, Ken. "Facts in the Wal-Mart Documentary." WAL-MART: The High Cost of Low Price. Brave New Films. Web. 30 Apr. 2012. <>. Wal-Mart. "Fact Sheets." Wal-Mart Corporate. Web. 30 Apr. 2012. <>.

Sign up to vote on this title
UsefulNot useful