Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Wal-Mart and the News-Miner

The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner's Sunday editorial was a real doozy. Wal-Mart is planning on building a 37-acre Super store off the Mitchell Expressway. The News-Miner breezily asserted that "there is nothing that can stop the arrival of the second Wal-Mart" and " If Wal-Mart wants to build it, then it will be built."

Oh, yeah? Then how is it that small towns are preventing these megastores from being built in their communities?

Their editorial did point out that there are certain problems with having Wal-Marts in one's town, but went on to quote Sam Walton (hardly a neutral source) as saying that, essentially, Wal-Mart is good for small towns and creates "hundreds of thousands of jobs." And of course, they are cheap. But what are the costs of those cheap jobs and that cheap merchandise?

I've always detested stores like Wal-Mart because of their warehouse architecture, and the fact that they drive small local businesses into the ground. Unions don't like them either. Wal-Mart's purchasing power has driven manufacturing jobs out of the country, and Wal-Mart doesn't like unions--basically because they demand a living wage for their members. And health care.

The welcoming of the first Wal-Mart in town was obscene, a veritable worshipping of Mammon and bargains, with no reflection on the cost to Fairbanks. I don't think the second store will slip in quite so easily as the News-Miner editor thinks.

But I'm sure the News-Miner will welcome the increased advertising revenue a second Wal-Mart could bring them....


Mary said...

Actually, the N-M was not happy about Wal-Mart coming to town. Wal-Mart doesn't buy newspaper ads or even do inserts most of the time. They rely on bulk mailing instead. KMart at least used to advertise.

Let's hope that the new Wal-Mart will undercut the old Wal-Mart and force it out of business.

Deirdre Helfferich said...

I stand corrected. I was under the impression that Wal-Mart also did local inserts (probably because of K-Mart). This is a level of harm that I was unaware of, and means that local newspapers get hurt in two ways: Wal-Mart doesn't advertise, and they drive out the local businesses or regional chains that do advertise.

jeanne said...

Some "Creative dissention" thoughts. I am wondering how to fight back at such a huge conglomerate such as WalMart when there also seems to be little chance of public process (aka zoning changes, etc) for this Super Walmart. How about this? Recognizing that WalMart cares very much of it's community image and really wants to be accepted in the community...if we can't beat 'em, then let's join 'em! Why not plan to do a little variation of picketing? Pick the busiest day of the week (Saturday?) & plan on spending a few hours pushing an (empty) shopping cart around the store, and cover yourself with signs/sticker/whatever to send the message that we Fairbanks people don't want Walmart here. If 50 or so of us at a time do this, well i don't think there'll be a shopping cart shortage, but there might be. Plus, you'll be walking right past shoppers who don't have a clue but might ask you what your sign means and become enlightened before they leave the store. It's a lot warmer to pretend to shop than it is to stand outside adjacent to the parking lot. There's absolutely nothing illegal...you're not trespassing. Maybe you might put some of that "cheap, plastic crap" in your cart and push it around the aisles for awhile, but decide to not buy it afterall. This is something that we could all do every Saturday for 30 minutes or 3 hours....any time of the day. College kids could participate, too. We could run a shuttle for them. All sorts of options.