Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Where America Shops--Wal-Mart

Wal-Mart may already have my soul. It's probably my second favorite place to shop (after the immortal Costco, subject of my last blog).

What is impressive about Wal-Mart is that the prices are incredibly low and you don't have to purchase "big box" quantities of everything to get a good price. But there are a few things that stand out about Wal-Mart, both in "good" and "bad" ways, which are:

  • So many overweight people love to shop at Wal-Mart--I can't think of anywhere else I have shopped where there are so many people with weights in the high 200 pound and up range. One would almost think that there is a weight requirement to walk into a Wal-Mart. (Take that, you skinny b___s, few of whom I have ever seen in a Wal-Mart). Men with their bellies hanging out under their T-shirts, and women with gigantic arms and bubbling behinds in their tucked-in purple stretch pants provide a truly startling visual vibe. You would think that consuming about five donuts or more is a requirement for walking into a Wal-Mart. Anyway, if you ever feel the ground shaking the next time you visit a Wal-Mart in California, don't worry about an earthquake: it's just the floor boards creaking under the cumulative weight of all of the oversize Wal-Mart customers.

  • So many Wal-Mart shoppers have tattoos--When you visit one of these fine establishments, it's hard to not find somebody who has tattoos: old people, teenagers, young women, middle-aged women, people in the military, college kids, everywhere you look, you see tattoos. I am probably biased against tattoos based on my age and religion (Jews are not supposed to wear tattoos, although exceptions have been made for Holocaust survivors, since, unlike the rest of tattoo wearers, they can truly say that getting their skin used like a portable etch-a-sketch machine was not their idea.) Tattoos for men? Even though I don't like them, I do get the macho factor, that getting a tattoo shows that you survived Iraq, Afghanistan, working for George Bush, being a teacher in the public school system, etc, etc. But for women, I have the visceral yecch factor. Too often as I see an attractive young woman walk by, I am thinking about how great she looks and then.....there goes the rose tattoo strategically placed just above her rear. Or, there is the little red star on the back of her otherwise dainty-looking neck. And then......drum roll....the award for the multiple ugly turn-off factor goes to....women who have gigantic snake tattoos on their arms or legs. Somewhere in America I can just picture the guy who has taken a woman home on a date, he thinks he is going to "go all the way," he takes her upstairs and then, before the magic moment, he sees two gigantic snakes with gigantic red fangs on her thighs...Then, after failure hits, she says, "OK, that's alright honey, maybe you're just tired tonight," and he says, "I just don't get it. I don't know what has gotten into me tonight." (What he should say is, "How do you expect me to perform when those two gigantic snarling cobras on your legs are waiting to dig their shiny teeth into my ____________and strangle my b___s until they look like raisins!)

  • Is it good to love such a "bad" company?--We have all heard about all of the terrible things Wal-Mart does to a large collection of people: Sweatshop labor--People work overseas in sweatshops to make clothes sold by Wal-Mart for the same amount of money per day that we Americans leave as a tip in a cheap restaurant. Unions:fuhgedaboutit, Norma Rae, take a hike, Sally Field, no, we don't really like you. Medical plans for Wal-Mart employees: I hate to even think about it. They probably either have to put with no medical care at all, or a PPO plan where the deductible is equal to your first child, or an HMO plan where they get doctors who went to medical school in Guatamela and are being paid about $10 a day for the right to let you rot in their office for hours waiting for them to take a look at you. And so on...And yet, look how well Wal-Marts do, even in our crummy economy. They get loads of shoppers, especially people who look like they are not exactly high-earning Yuppie scum. They employ tons of people around the world. A Wal-Mart comes to your local shopping center and boom, what a difference. There is a mall in my area which used to be moribund, until the Wal-Mart showed up. Now, the mall parking lots are usually full, even far away from the Wal-Mart, as shoppers come out of nowhere to spend their money, and keep the other stores, next to the Wal-Mart, doing well in their businesses. As we know, including those of us who never suffered through an economics course, once consumers spend money, it enables other consumers to be employed, which in turn leads to more consumers spending money, and so on.

Maybe, as the character Gordon Gecko said in the movie, Wall Street: "Greed is good." At least as far as Wal-Mart goes. And for all of the bad things that Wal-Mart does, its customers are buying "stuff," as Thomas Friedman says in his columns, not just risky ideas, such as reverse credit swaps, derivatives, and similar products that brought America, and the entire world economic system, to its knees.

Somebody out there is planning the next Wal-Mart right now, a gigantic institution which will make "stuff", and thus employ thousands of people, or sell "stuff" to the millions of consumers of American products around the world, to help accentuate the economic recovery we are all craving. Whoever it is, go for it. America needs you!

No comments:

Post a Comment