How Wal-Mart is Destroying the World: And What You Can Do About it Paperback – 31 Dec 2000
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From the Publisher
Review from Publishers Weekly
"First-Quarter profits at Wal-Mart stores are up nearly 40%. Company revenues are over $100 billion a year, and Wall Street is perfectly in love with the national mass merchandiser. But ask 86-year-old Texas journalist Bill Quinn what he thinks of "The World's Largest Retailer" and he'll tell you that good news for Wal-Mart is bad news for small-town America."
"His News appears in his new book, How Wal-Mart is Destroying America and What You Can Do About It. Quinn has been an editor and a trade industry newsletter publisher in Texas for more than 60 years. In the book, he claims in no uncertain terms that Wal-Mart is a hypocritical economic predator that is destroying the downtown retailing economies of small-town America by lying to local governments about the company's economic benefits, shamelessly exploiting its employees and using unscrupulous but quasi-legal business practices--and that is just the first chapter. In later chapters he covers the "7 Things That Happen When Wal-Mart comes to Town"(among them are"jobs are lost"; "taxpayers pay for the disaster"; and "Wal-Mart moves on")and"7 Ways Wal-Mart is Bad to the Bone"("sweatshop labor," overcharging the consumer and "a rotten record with women and minorities"). Quinn's reports come from interviews, public records and news reports detailing the darker side of the late Sam Walton's empire. The book ends with a chapter called "12 Ways You Can Fight Back" in which Quinn outlines how to keep the retailer out--and documents communities that have succeeded."(Publishers Weekly) --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
Top Customer Reviews
There is no denying that WM is a catalyst for a lot of distrubing trends: the use of scale economies to underbid mom&pop shops in America's rural areas, its transforming impact on communities (heavier traffic, depopulation of traditional downtown areas, etc), its heavy-handed approach to negotiations with sometimes desperate local authorities, and lastly, its use of near-minimum wage labor while crushing labor union activity in its stores.
But as a catalyst, it is much more the instrument of fundamental economic forces - globalisation and also vast integrated operational networks - than the sole or even the governing cause. In my view, that throws the questions into the political arena. Sure, you can attack WM, but what its managers are doing only makes business sense to them: expand shops that are incredibly profitable while selling at far lower prices than traditional outlets could because they lack the scale and organization of WM. That cannot be fought at the moment.
The bottom line then becomes: WM will continue to win unless there is some kind of concerted political action that changes the fundamental economic logic that is operating behind it - and that is way beyond just blocking the change of zoning laws or boycotting the company. I am not arguing that WM's impact is good or inevitable and unstoppable, but that the current economic environment favors it.Read more ›
Quinn writes like he talks. He doesn't hold back expressing his deepest thoughts about a subject. Especially a subject like Walmart, that directly and indirectly has negatively inpacted his pocket book.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
i always read other people's reviews of books ive already read in order to comment on what they have said and after reading the bad reviews of this book it doesnt even seem like those people have read the book. They shouldnt be allowd an opinion on a book they have not even picked up and given a chance. They give examples of how walmart has given to charity for their town, but i ask you this, IS THE MONEY COMING DIRECTLY FROM WALMART OR ARE THEY JUST THE MESSENGER? One reviewer was ignorant enough to say walmart was the best thing to happen to the world, a perfect example of someone who has not read the book writing a review.
The most common argument is if you dont like walmart dont shop there. Well i dont shop there, i still have a supercenter destroying my town. bottom line NOT SHOPPING AT WALMART DOESNT SOLVE THE PROBLEM. The purpose of this book is to inform everyone of just how walmart "helps" america. the format is very simplistic, yes, but that is so it can be understood and reach a larger audience.
Walmart is a multi billion dollar corporation that is truely destroying the world. Arm yourself with information and help stop this beast.
The list of egregious behaviors occurring under the aegis of Wal-Mart, based out of Bentonville, Arkansas, simply boggles the mind. Quinn's key complaint centers on the retailer's anti-competitive outlook, known as "Stomp the Comp," when the company moves into a small town and proceeds to demolish every mom and pop business in the area. Through cutthroat pricing and luring away employees from smaller stores, Wal-Mart takes business right out from under the noses of modest retail outlets. As all other stores in the area shut down, the Box from Bentonville becomes the only significant force in the region. This allows them to lower wages, raise prices, reduce advertising in local papers, and lets them get away with claiming twenty eight hours a week counts as a full-time job. Even worse, Wal-Mart oftentimes closes smaller stores in order to open a regional "superstore," which forces residents of small towns to drive thirty or forty miles to do their shopping. How does this behemoth get away with such activities? Because politicians in many areas fall for the old "jobs, opportunity, tax revenue" mantra chanted by Wal-Mart's bevy of attorneys, engineers, and other assorted boosters. Once the company gains a foothold in your town, the game is over. The retailer takes advantage of tax loopholes, destroys the environment, and eliminates more jobs than it creates.
Quinn outlines many more atrocities. The number of lawsuits lodged against the Bentonville Beast has reached stunning numbers in recent years. According to the book, customers have sued Wal-Mart for injuries sustained from falling merchandise, slipping on objects on the floor, and heinous crimes committed in the stores' parking lots. Employees too have expressed their dismay with the irresponsible employer. One woman filed a claim when the managers at her store dismissed her for dating a black man. Other workers sued over the company's unofficial policy of intimidating employees into working off the clock. Quinn unearthed many vendors whose experiences with the retailer have since led to court actions. Wal-Mart always pushes its wholesalers for deep discounts, and then often returns damaged merchandise in bulk for refunds at full cost. A few smaller companies went out of business after the retailer made a big order and then reneged on the deal a month or so later. It's gotten so bad that many big vendors refuse to sell to Wal-Mart anymore. Quinn goes on and on, listing outrageous behavior after outrageous behavior. Frighteningly, the company is now expanding into other markets overseas using the same shady business models that turned our rural areas into places tumbleweeds wouldn't be caught dead rolling through.
"How Wal-Mart is Destroying America" does have a few problems. Quinn's sense of humor, a fiery rhetoric fused with crotchety old guy attitude, gets old rather fast. I started noticing a troubling tendency to describe Wal-Mart in biblical terms of good and evil. Nothing is more indicative of this fact than a couple of drawings depicting a Bentonville goon sporting horns. Yeah, it's funny, but is this how you really want to make a serious argument? Moreover, the writer's obvious disdain for the retailer clouds his judgment. Is Wal-Mart at fault when a customer slipped on a cough drop? Should we take an ambulance chaser seriously when he claims Wal-Mart stonewalls every lawsuit? C'mon! Of course a lawyer is going to say something like that. I'm not defending the retailer's oily policy of spending mountains of money defending itself against legitimate court claims, but I understand why they do it. Big companies become targets for sue happy citizens very quickly. Should we expect Wal-Mart to roll out the red carpet for every lawyer with dollar signs in his or her eyes? I don't think so.
Still, Quinn's book is a revelation about a company obviously out of control. I suspect the primary reason Wal-Mart gets away with all this stuff is because it goes on in rural areas. If this sort of behavior occurred in New York City, Chicago, Miami, or a few other huge metropolitan areas you can bet we would all get an earful about it. Well, if this book is accurate city slickers may well discover exactly what Wal-Mart is all about before too long. By racking up billions in sales in Rural America and overseas, the Bentonville retailer will soon possess the ability to strong-arm even the biggest cities into submission. Quinn concludes his book with several tips to either cut down Wal-Mart's power or to keep them out of your area. Personally, not shopping at this store seems to be the most prudent course of action. I know I won't ever return.
While it may be a little on the obsessive side, it points out a lot of elements of the Wal-Mart empire that they would probably like to keep under wraps. Many of the practices exercised by Wal-Mart surprised me in their audacity. There are many accounts by customers, former employees, and others who have dealt with the beast firsthand. The book also lays out ideas to help communities fight off an attempt by Wal-Mart to move into new territory.
After reading the first half of this book, I was compelled to avoid shopping at Wal-Mart. Not that I shopped there often to begin with, but now I make it a point to look elsewhere for my goods.
I have already talked about the book to some friends of mine, who expressed interest in reading it when I was finished. If you are interested in the underhanded tactics that the largest U.S. retailer uses to insure success, pick up a copy of "How Wal-Mart is destroying America..." and pass it along when your done.
The good points of the book are how Mr. Quinn outlines areas of defense for your community to patrol, like watching all of the zoning requests, even from companies that seem to have nothing to do with WalMart, for often they will purchase and then lease out to the hungry beast.
He gives website information at the end of the book, so that if your interest (and ire) have been adequately sparked, there are outlets for your fiery resistance to flow into.
And, he gives factual information on the tactics that WalMart uses to infiltrate small-town America and ruthlessly destroy small business owners.
Most shocking to everybody should be the fact that WalMart is now the number one large-business employer in America...paying minimum wage and considering 28 hours a week to be "full time". No wonder America is slowly becoming a third-world country. In the past, when I actually shopped at WalMart, I felt like I was entering a third world country when I passed through those wheezing doors. Now I know why.
Teetering on the edge of good-point/bad-point is the simplistic writing style of Quinn's book. On the one hand, it is easy to read and gets the point across rapidly. On the other hand, it tends to sound a bit like Grandpa "going off" as he sat around the old stove at night. (Sigh...those good old days long before WalMart...)
The single most blatant bad point about this book was the fact that *not once* did Quinn mention that the simplest way to stop a carnivorous corporate giant like this is to STOP SHOPPING THERE. He made it sound so much like these places were plowed over with a bulldozer of incomprehensible size, when the simple statement of PROTEST NOW could go a lot further than the whining of people left in the destructive wake of this beast.
Quinn also fails to mention that Small Business (as a singular entity) is still the number one employment means in America, and that it is worthy of supporting NOW before the claws of the giant draw arterial blood.
The facts are that the general American wage is dropping because of minimum wage corporate giants like WalMart; that more people employed at poverty wage mean a greater burden on the country as a whole, and if left to the "Savage Capitolism" of Walmart, rather than the competitive forces of individuals and small business owners, America will eventually become a third world country itself...with a few very wealthy folks and an overall population of slave labor forces.
This book is very good in that it is based on real information and will stir you into some sort of anger. The bad point is that Quinn should have spent more time in pro-active response rather than re-active response.
Bottom line: If you don't like their presence, don't shop there. If people didn't patronize these places, they would go out of business. *steps off soapbox...bows to Quinn*
According to Quinn, the basic business philosophy of Wal-Mart is "Stomp the Comp!" (this seems to actually be a Wal-Mart managerial cheer). Sam Walton's attitude was to obliterate the competition. Sharing the market with competitors is for chumps who don't want to be #1. But in order to stomp the comp, Wal-Mart doesn't sell at rock bottom prices, despite its advertising claims. (If you doubt this, do a little comparison shopping and you'll discover that in fact Wal-Mart isn't the cheapest game going. But be careful: Quinn says that comparison shoppers have been escorted out of Wal-Marts because they were seen jotting down prices in notebooks.) Rather, it ruthlessly cuts overhead, and that means paying workers minimum wage, hiring most of its employees on a part time basis so that it doesn't have to worry about benefits, making its fulltime employees pay half of their benefits cost if they opt for insurance, insisting on discounts from vendors as conditions for doing business with them, buying cheap merchandise stitched together in third world sweat shops (remember Kathy Lee Gifford?), busting unionization efforts, and occasionally repackaging and reselling returned, defective merchandise.
Most of us probably aren't aware of these internal shenanigans. But all of us know what Wal-Mart does to local communities when it moves in. The national strategy has always been to target rural areas, overwhelm with an advertizing blitz, stomp the comp, and control the market. In the process, local businesses go bankrupt and folks lose their jobs, only to be offered part time, minimum wage work at the local Wal-Mart that's now the only game in town. Quinn shows how this pattern of seize and conquer is characteristic of the Wal-Mart approach. He also reveals the next, frightening stage of Wal-Mart evolution: consolidated Wal-Marts, even bigger and "better". The national plan is this: the old Wal-Marts that have drained downtowns in rural areas are now going to close shop and consolidate in huge Wal-Marts, leaving more empty buildings, putting people out of work once again, leaving dead downtowns in their wake, and forcing consumers to use more gasoline to drive to them. Thanks, Sam!
Take a chance on this book. Read it, think about it, talk to your family and neighbors about it. And take back your community by saying "no!' to Wal-Mart.
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