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May 11, 2009 - 6:38pm

Do you complain about free trade and shop at Wal-Mart, Target, etc.?

posted by Howard B. Owens in economy, Wal-Mart, localism, free trade.

As a transplant to Western New York, my impression that WNY is a hotbed of anti-free-trade sentiment.

NAFTA is a dirty word in these parts.

Certainly, trade was a hot button issue in the 26th Congressional race last fall.

Yet, every time I drive past Wal-Mart or Target, or any of the other Big Boxes in Batavia, the parking lots are full.

I wonder how many people realize that Wal-Mart and its ilk are a bigger cause of good paying manufacturing jobs in the USA being shipped overseas than NAFTA?

Black and Decker, for example, started a process of closing factories in the U.S. in 2002 that lead over the next 24 months of 4,000 jobs lost. The tool maker was pressured by Home Depot and Lowes to lower prices and that could only happen by shifting manufacturing overseas. In 1990, Levi owned several factories in the U.S., which produced about 90 percent of the product sold under the brand. In an effort to meet the demands of Wal-Mart and Target for ever lower prices, Levi eventually shuttered all of it's U.S. plants and now out sources all of its manufacturing overseas. Twenty-five thousand people lost their jobs.

If you're anti-immigration, the next time you step into Wal-Mart, consider than some 40,000 jobs have been lost in Latin America since the mid-1990s as clothes making was shifted from those countries to China.

We all love low prices, but those prices come at a price (and Wal-Mart doesn't always have the lowest prices in town -- sometimes, the locally owned retailers meet or beat those prices).

I'm not sure we can reconcile being anti-free trade, and even anti-immigration, and do the majority of our shopping at big box stores.

Buying local keeps more local jobs in the local community and helps grow the local economy.  In current conditions, the big boxes can be unavoidable at times, but they should be a last resort.

Peter O'Brien
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I am for free trade. I am for big box stores and for Main Street. I shop locally when I can but for some things the best place to go is Wally World. This country is a hot bed of innovation. There in lies where we can be both a leader and have a strong workforce. At my current job we are slowly reducing our plant from a manufacturing plant to a development plant. When we bring new products online we are worked just like our China plant. But soon the rush is over and we start on the next product to be pushed out the door. That is how industry is going to work in this country until corporate taxes come down and the minimum wage is abolished.
Jeff White
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I wonder if a big box were a sponsor for this site would articles like this be written? I wonder how many $$ are donated by those big box retailers and are given to local groups and or charities within the community? Maybe someone should report those facts too!
Bob Price
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The way it is nowadays,I need to shop for the best prices for items-for groceries,it's Aldi's,and what I don't find there it's Wal Mart.I look at some items in Tops-even w/ their "card",the items are still more expensive than WalMart....alot of people rave about Wegman's,they are nice,but I consider them expensive also(and we'll probably NEVER see them in Genesee county anyway)........I don't know how Valu or Ace stays alive-they are outrageous on most items.Most people want good prices nowadays,and unfortunately,the box stores win.
Howard B. Owens
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Jeff, I've not gone as far as saying "I'll never take an ad from a chain," but I don't call on them for ads. I'm going to try to make it on only taking ads from local businesses. If they support The Batavian -- and so far, it's working out well -- then I'll do my best to support the local businesses. I'm not drawing a line in the said and not saying never, not yet at least, but I would like to get secure enough financially that I can draw that line and say never. If I'm doing well enough with local advertisers, I won't go for the extra buck from chains. Bob, one reason people have to shop for price so much more now is because Wal-Mart et. al have done such a great job of destroying good paying jobs. People have lost $20-an-hour jobs and find themselves happy to be making minimum wage at Wal-Mart. The more Wal-Mart drives wages down, the more customers they create.
Andrew Erbell
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So Howard, how many pairs of $100.00+ dress pants have you bought at Charles Men's Shop on principle? Pontillo's, Aldi's, and Tops are all chains as well. Should they be avoided too? Maybe instead of going with one of the National AAA rated auto insurance carriers I should insist on some small local underwriter, and just hope if I have a claim, it's paid?
Howard B. Owens
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Andrew, actually the two Pontillo's locations in Genesee County are independently owned. Further, even the Pontillo's in Monroe County does more to keep money locally than Pizza Hut. As for Groceries, obviously, there is no locally owned choice. And I say, there are times you can't avoid Wal-Mart in this day and age. Wal-Mart has already destroyed too many independent businesses. But when you have a choice, even if it means a little inconvenience, it's better to make the local choice. It's a matter of self-preservation. There are lots of ways where you can make smart buying decisions shopping local first, and some ways you can't, but the first step toward the right decision is being aware of the options and why the decision is important.
Andrew Erbell
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As far as grocery stores go, there hasn't been a true local choice in 30+ years. Bob Wegman and Sam Walton each started with one store, a vision for something more, and the drive to pursue it. I give both of them alot of credit for achieving their goals. Local and niche stores have their place, and I spend a fair amount of money in them every week. But there's a reason stores like Wal-Mart or JC Penneys, or restaurants like McDonald's or Bob Evans exist, there is a demand for them. My own business has a regional competitor. They are much bigger than we are, have vast amounts of capital to draw on, and have tried on more than one occasion to increase their local market share at our expense, all to no avail. In fact, quite the opposite has happened over the years. It is possible, you just have to want it bad enough and be willing to work for it.
Mark Potwora
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If you live in the town of Batavia and shop at Wal Mart isn't that shopping locally..Look at all the property taxes paid by all those stores at that end of town ..I'll bet as a whole they pay more than those in Downtown Batavia...Charles Mens shop is a good example..100.00 dress pants..Or JCPenny's. who has the better value..Howard what about coffee shops ..Dunkin or Tim Hortons..all chains stores...Fast Food ..all chains..Local store have their place,But when your only have so many dollars to spend you have to go for value..and not over pay just to keep some store open on Main St...And if Wal Mart wanted to advertise on here and wanted to pay you $10,000 a month ,you wouldn't take it on moral grounds...You are part of BID ....
Howard B. Owens
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Mark, well, $10K ... but that ain't going to happen, not even $1K. But I'll reiterate, for every $100 spent in a locally owned store, about half of that stays in the community. The local owner uses more local services and local suppliers, plus the wages he pays. That $47 out of $100 doesn't even include his own profits that he spends locally, or his donations to local charities. Whereas, Wal-Mart keeps only about $17 of $100 in the local community and donates less. Ditto for the chain restaurants vs. the locally owned. In fact, while you can make an excuse for going to Wal-Mart because of the lack of choices to shop elsewhere for many products (in fact, my real point in this post wasn't to say, don't shop Wal-Mart, but to realize what you're doing when you do), on restaurants, there are so many great local choices that are affordable (and some fine upper scale restaurants that aren't really all that expensive), there is no reason to ever eat at a chain. Now, franchises are a little bit different -- some of them are locally owned, but often franchise fees are such that still not as many dollars are being recirculated in the community, but where franchisees are well established, and local, they often do much for the community.
Charlie Mallow
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Charles Men’s shop isn’t over priced and you can’t compare it to Wal-Mart. Wal-Mart doesn’t sell a suit that you can show up to work in and still keep your job. If you’re looking for a T-shirt, socks or jeans, then go to Wal-Mart. I do shop at Wal-Mart and it has its place but, you can’t compare the two businesses. They don’t sell the same products. The two businesses also provide a different service level. Wal-Mart isn’t going to alter their clothes to fit you. Just like the bikes at Adam Miller are not the same as the ones at Wal-Mart either. Its not that Wal-Mart is cheaper, they just sell lower end products. No one can beat their price in that space. Local businesses can compete with service and better quality goods. Just don’t assume that the products are comparable. They are not.
Howard B. Owens
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Good points, Charlie. That's what I'm trying to get at -- just don't assume the chains are the best choices for your buying needs. Try to think local first. I didn't do much Christmas shopping this past year, but what I did do, I did all in Batavia and didn't spend more than I would if I hadn't -- I just bought some different stuff than I might have found elsewhere, and my wife was very happy with her presents.
Gabor Deutsch
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I just wanted to say that the Arby's in Batavia and Brockport are privately owned franchises. The name and product might be chain but the owners are from Rochester and Batavia.
Howard B. Owens
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Gabor, franchises are a more complex subject. Some franchisors give their operators horrible contracts and the businesses turn over ownership frequently. They essentially chains that treat their franchisees and second-class managers. Also, franchisors almost always require the franchisee to purchase all products and services from specified, non-local vendors, so more dollars are leaving the county than staying.
william tapp
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NAFTA was and still is a bad idea, it moved our jobs out of the country, where is it going to stop???we all cant work at walmart?? we need to get jobs back stop NAFTA .i try to buy as much USA as i can , but try to find any thing made in USA, BECAUSE WE DONT MAKE ANY THING HERE ANY MORE!!!!!!thats why no one is working !!!!!China is going to own us soon if thay don't already do.
chris spencer
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I read this article a while back and thought I'd pass it along. It's a great story of how one company took on Wal-Mart. http://www.fastcompany.com/magazine/102/open_snapper.html
Peter O'Brien
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Gabor Deutsch
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I know that the Batavia Arby's has been owned since at least 1992 by the same owner and his family. If you ever go there for lunch you will be able to see the owner, his wife,daughter or all three working there. Yes they do pay for rights and are bound by restrictions but they hire local people and pay taxes to the city. To think that shopping locally means that you are not getting the same products produced in foriegn countries that big box stores sell is not true. Try buying electronics with made in america on the outside. Most of the components and hardware are manufactured in forien countries and the case and assembly is made in america. I tried to get an expensive sylvania tv fixed at a local shop and he said its a piece of crap made in china ?
Howard B. Owens
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I see nothing redeeming for Wal-Mart in that article, Peter. It only reinforces that Wal-Mart drives down wages and kills jobs by forcing companies to send manufacturing overseas in an effort to drive down prices on cheaply made goods. How is that good? It used to be that for the under educated the choice wasn't between a convenience store clerk or Wal-Mart, but which factory to work for at a living wage, which also offered plenty of opportunity for advancement. Wal-Mart is part of the reason those jobs are gone.
Andrew Erbell
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Therein lies the problem with your argument. Businesses exist solely to provide a service or product and if they do it well, make a profit. Their reason for being is not to provide jobs. Individuals that are "under educated" can find the source of their troubles by looking in the mirror.
Gabor Deutsch
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When unions and minumum wages force large companies to go else where for manufacturing and labor whom is to blame ? America is a service orientated country. Remember when vcr's first came out ? They were primarilly produced in America and you paid several hundreds of dollars for one. I wonder what type of computer you use and how many parts in it are American made. I can tell you the processor chip is but most of the rest is not. Does buying that computer from a locally owned business at a mark up make things better for them or you ?
Howard B. Owens
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Businesses exist to compete fairly, and when companies get unfair tax breaks/subsidies (as the big boxes have across the country), they are not competing fairly. When they allow foreign manufactures to force workers into inhumane conditions, they are not competing fairly. The chains/big boxes also use their pricing power to drive smaller competitors out of business, even though there are laws (unenforced) that should prevent this practice. A chain can afford to go a year or more without making money on a location, waiting out the locally owned competition, which will eventually fold because it can't lower its prices below its costs. The sole proprietorship just can't sustain those loses, and the chains know it. If Wal-Mart and its ilk competed fairly, there would be no problem, even if all of the other events I've raised concerns about came to pass, but I doubt seriously Wal-Mart could have grown as big as it has (as well as the other big boxes) without unfair advantages provided by governments around the world.
Howard B. Owens
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Gabor, it's more complicated than just complaining about union scale wages. Wal-Mart will move manufacturing from one non-union country to another non-union country just to save a penny a unit. If there were no unions in the USA, we would still lose jobs, unless we were willing to throw out all worker protections and bring back sweatshops.
Bea McManis
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To shop or not to shop? That is the question. Is it more noble to stick to the prevailing principles and trade at locally owned stores or to use one's limited income to stock the cupboard or replace worn out clothing and/or appliances and still stay within the budget? Groceries take a major portion of most budgets. Even with a list, it can be difficult to keep within the boundries. I take my list to Aldi's first. There I take advantage of dairy; eggs; juice; cereal; whole wheat bread and other bread products; basic baking supplies; condiments; salad dressings; olives; pickles; some canned goods; chicken and beef stock; and the boneless, skinless chicken breasts from the frozen food section. I cross out everything I purchased from the list then head to Wal-Mart (gasp!). I try to complete the rest of the list there, except for fresh vegetables. My last grocery stop will be Tops for fresh vegetables and anything else left on the list. The final stop, on shopping day, is Dollar Tree for paper items. In theory, the list takes me through two weeks of meal plans, however it is closer to three (and sometimes four) when I factor in the meals made from leftovers. I could shop locally for meat, ie: Clor's. However, in a small space with a small freezer, it is physically impossible to purchast the bulk specials that sound so tantilizing. I could shop locally for bread, but that is way out of my budget. I would love to have a green grocer in Batavia where fresh fruits and vegetables were available. Tops is the closest we have. If this were a perfect world, I would love to have a Batavia Main St. that had all of these stores within walking distance of each other (remember when A&P; Marchese; and several bakeries were all within walking distance?) As for clothes and small appliances, the needed items require close budgeting. On a limited income they are no longer impulse buys. It isn't a matter of not wanting to shop at locally owned stores, but the sad reality that there are many people who cannot afford to do this on a weekly basis. People on limited incomes make hard choices. For some it is the choice between food and medicine or between medicine and heat in the winter. For others it may be between heat and housing costs. The discussion regarding where to purchase a $100 suit is moot. This is a decision most don't have to make. Yes, there is nobility to being true to the local merchants. Everyone wishes they could shop exclusively with those who live close to home. Sometimes the trade off is nobility or survival.
Gabor Deutsch
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Howard, I do agree that its complicated and there are many factors that contribute to this problem. Most Americans dont want to be just a worker they want to be the boss and make lots of money. Companies want to make larger profits and grow. Unions dont protect workers like when they were first needed. Dont kid yourself. They are important but are notorious for costing jobs. Maybe I am an uneducated idiot but I have been around long enuff to see joblessness and strikes and unemployment. Big business contols politicians and is what makes are democracy grow. It would take more than NAFTA reform and shopping locally to change it.
Mark Potwora
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Howard you talk about walmart driving down prices and putting the local guy under....Well isn't that what the local pizzia shops do when they hand coupons..tring to sell there pizzia cheaper then the next guy and put him out of business..Or the local dinner that tries to offer a cheaper breakfast to get more people in from the other dinners..There might be a Walmart but there is also a Kmart,and Target are they just as bad...Its just competing on a larger scale... Its like the local Farmer..Now there is corperate farms,they can grow food cheaper.So should we still prop up the local farmer.Just for the sake of it...
Kent Kirschner
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Absolutely agree with you Howard and it always really grinds me to hear the counter arguments. Kind of like that tribe of people that buys Hybrid automobiles but will spend several hundred dollars a month watering their lawns and air conditioning their homes in hot, dry months. The path towards righteousness is clean and clear, but the proliferance of diversions down side paths are overwhelming. The argument about Wal Mart unfortunately seems to be lost because even the conscientous can find justification to stray. I like the fact that you are raising the issue though. It obviously sparks controversy. Good newspapering my boy. Like before the 1920s decision to be objective!!!
Howard B. Owens
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Mark, Is the local pizza guy using child labor to make cheaper pizza? And yes, we should help the local farmer more than the corporate farmer, because what the original intention of anti-trust laws were about was protecting small businesses. A variety of businesses, business owners and opportunities is the basis of the American Dream, better for the economy and better for democracy. If we're going to have laws, they should ensure an equal competitive environment not favor the big guys. I would think a capitalist/conservative would get that basic premise. What part of Wal-Mart getting unfair advantages isn't clear?
Peter O'Brien
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I own a hybrid. But I don't own it to "protect the environment". I bought it in '03 because the technology is cool. If I would have know what a hippy symbol it was to become I would never had bought it. Whats wrong with people spending their money the way they want to whether its watering their lawn or sitting in comfort in an air conditioned home? What Walmart is doing isn't wrong, its progress. If I have a product and I can sell 10 a month to a local store at $25 each but Walmart comes and says they will buy 500 a month at $15 each and the cost to build it is $10 which am I going to do? If you don't like that then never buy in bulk. Because that's what Walmart does and why it gets to put products out at lower prices. I don't understand the demonization of an American corporation who is giving people what they want. How do I know people are getting what they want from Walmart? No one is forced to walk in their stores when new ones open and spend their money there. People choose to and that is capitalism. You don't have to spend your money at Walmart but you get to buy more if you do, whats wrong with that? If you value a product at $25 and can get it at the price locally then pay that even if Walmart has it at $15 but don't be upset if your neighbor only values that product at $15 and then goes to Walmart.
Andrew Erbell
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Many of the local farmers you want to help ARE large corporations, so how do you rationalize that? Donnan Farms is one of the largest employers in Livingston County. They are presently milking more than 3000 head a day. Are they good or bad? What about Torrey Farms, Inc. in Elba or McCormick Farms, Inc. in Bliss? What is the cut-off you're suggesting?
Richard Gahagan
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Sam Walton was a small town local retailer that had a vision. He beat his competition by offering more products consumers wanted at lower prices, running his businesses more efficiently, and developing a dominate distribution system that no one could compete with. It's good you support local businesses Howard but don't fabricate facts: "Buying local keeps more local jobs in the local community and helps grow the local economy." This statement simply isn't true. Walmart saves their customers 2k to 3k a year and the sales tax revenues alone far exceed anything a locally owned small business does to grow the local economy. Walmart is the number one private employer in the world. By the way if you were smart enough to invest 10 thousand dollars in Walmart stock in 1975 it would be worth 20 million today. There are people who actually did just that and I'm sure they have added to local economies beyond anything you have even thought to consider. Corporations have had to move their operations overseas to avoid restrictive government regulations, avoid paying ridiculous taxes and to prevent unions from bringing the company to the point of bankruptcy.
Kent Kirschner
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What's wrong with Air Conditioning one's home? What's wrong with watering their lawn in a drought? What's wrong with shopping at Wal Mart? These are all contextual questions, that, when asked in context have a very reasonable answer. At the end of the day this is an ethical question and when I say ethical, what I mean is, how do these decisions affect me and in turn humanity over the long run. If it benefits me and in turn humanity over the long run, then it is ethical. If it degrades me and humanity in the long run it is unethical. Now to put this in perspective, lets take one of your legitimate questions: what is wrong with watering your lawn. Well, in many parts of the country they are experiencing extreme drought conditions unseen in recorded history. Couple that with a depleted water supply and an ever growing population in places like the Southeastern US, California and parts of the Midwest. We are all individuals with our founding father given liberties and we have the right to run that water until it runs dry. We'll get fined, but if we have the resources, we can pay those fines. But eventually, without careful stewardship, we will deplete the entire resource. We thereby deplete all prospects for sustainable farming and for any sort of population support whatsoever. This is a dramatic depiction of a very real possibility in the aforementioned affected regions of the country. So, what is the ethical decision? You may see this as a stretch from the original discussion but in reality it is very similar. Wal Marts pricing has a depleting affect in every aspect of their business model: they deplete the opportunity for small, local businesses to survive because they cannot compete on price. They deplete the opportunity for new products to be manufactured because the variety of distribution channels dry up. They deplete the opportunity for decent profits because as any wal mart supplier can attest, the margins are whittled away constantly. And eventually......there is an unsustainable economic drought that forces a migration much like a real drought would. That migration is all around us today in this current economic crisis.
Howard B. Owens
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Apparently, nobody is paying attention, but I'll say it again: -- Wal-Mart cheats. That isn't the American Way. Regardless of how well intentioned Sam Walton, his company is not an ethical member of the American business community. -- In communities where they've put local merchants out of business there is LESS tax revenue and FEWER people working. -- They don't pay as well as the people they put out of work. Buy local is a very simple concept -- it's good for the local economy, it's better for your own self interest. If you don't want to support your own community, I guess that's your business, but you're not doing yourself or your family any favors. If you don't believe in buy local, then don't complain about free trade, NAFTA, immigration, etc. They're not compatible positions. Personally, I support free trade and immigration. I just expect within that frame work for the chains to compete fairly without favor from governments.
Peter O'Brien
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There is nothing unethical about watering your lawn in the summer in a drought if you can afford to. NOTHING. It is not my responsibility to take care of the guy next door. You can't deplete water. There is far too much of it. The problem is that governments have control of it. Instead of creating a capitalist system to control water usage based on price (like gas) we rely on the government to handle it. Because of that, the desalinization plants that could help millions and make millions aren't built. Sure governments are going to be involved but they don't need to run things. When you earn the right to do what you please, others should keep their mouths shut. If I earn enough to get AC installed in my house and I want to use it, I will. If I want my lawn to look green and lush I will water it. If you don't like it, too bad. I have earn my money and I get to spend it the way I please. Walmart has a salon inside. Why are there so many local barbers and salons if walmart runs small business out? Did Walmart kill Bakeries? No, stupid people believing that Atkins diet will save them from some horrible doom did. Main Street supports Walmart just by spending their money there whether they want Walmart there or not. If you don't support them, don't shop there. Personally I prefer the relationships developed between local shops that I don't get at walmart. But I am not going to demonize a corporation for playing the game better than others.
Howard B. Owens
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Kent, well put. And it is important to remember that this is about balance. In Batavia, Wal-Mart and the other chains are impossible to avoid, but the choices we make do have consequences and free markets work best when both consumers and producers make ethical choices.
Howard B. Owens
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Pete, so I guess you're OK with Barry Bonds on steroids, or it would be OK if he paid off the umpires for more favorable ball and strike calls? Essentially, you're saying it's OK for Wal-Mart to cheat, because "they play the game better." If cheating is playing the game better, I don't want to play that game.
Andrew Erbell
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I get it Howard, Wal-Mart is evil. How dare they allow me to stretch a dollar. I think on my next visit to the store in Batavia I'm going to spend an extra $20.00 and buy something I don't really need just in your honor. Unless maybe you can explain to me why I shouldn't buy the exact same name brand products there for less than I can elsewhere; Upstate Farms Milk, Sahlen's Weiners, Nabisco Crackers, Helluva Good Cheese, Peter Pan Peanut Butter, Smuckers Jam, Perry's Ice Cream. Awful, just awful. Just so we're clear, I've never complained about NAFTA. In fact, of the posts I've read here, I don't recall anyone else complaining much about it either. By the way, what about those big farms I mentioned earlier - are they evil corporations or just the local farmers we're supposed to be supporting?
Richard Gahagan
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Howard your nuts. Walmart's investors respect the company a great deal as a cash generating member of the business community. How about Warren Buffett, probably one of the most highly regarded ethical business men that has ever lived, last I checked he owns about 2o million shares of Walmart stock. Why? because he only invests in the best American companies with a competitive advantage. Walmart doesn't cheat they beat the pants of their competition with a superior business model that other businesses have tried to duplicate.
Howard B. Owens
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Richard, go back and read the thread. I discussed their unethical business practices above. Andrew, I never said Wal-Mart is evil. I said they engage in unethical business practices and have been able to take advantage of small businesses through tax subsidies unavailable in most communities to businesses that have been there for generations, and that they engage in predatory pricing practices that if anti-trust laws were enforced wouldn't be allowed. I've also not said "don't shop at Wal-mart." I've said the exact opposite. I've shopped at Wal-Mart and will probably shop there again. It's unavoidable. I've said that several times in this thread and others. I'm saying make shop local your first choice. You're defending the abstract a situation that is indefensible in reality. Free markets are absolutely essential to a free country, but when businesses take unfair advantage at the expense of working people and small business owners, I'm not going to excuse that. I don't object to bigness, thought I think smallness is better. I object to unfair advantages. Wal-Mart, which is only example of this, doesn't deliver lower prices (and they don't always deliver lower prices than local competitors -- you should should around) merely because they have an efficient inventory system. They also get lower prices by using near-slave labor in foreign companies and forcing American companies to shift jobs overseas. If you're fine with American jobs being sent overseas, then you won't object to Wal-Mart. And Wal-Mart has also been able to grab market share by driving smaller competitors out of business - not because they have better products at lower prices, but because Wal-Mart can afford to sustain losses on products that the local competitors can't (um, I've said this before, but I guess nobody was paying attention). I just imagine justifying unfair business practices. How is that possible? I can't imagine anybody who would self identify as a conservative or a libertarian justifying unfair business practices.
Mark Potwora
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Look what WalMart did for drug prices..$4.00 for all generic brands..Does your local home town Drug Store do that..Look at all the people on fixed incomes get, when they shop there..Money left to pay for the heat and electric bill..Do you think they should pay more for drugs so that the local merchant can stay in business..Howard you have to give Walmart credit,if it wasn't for them we sure would be paying alot more for everything..The local stores also sell things that are made by child labor in third world countries.. Bottom line if you had your way the town of Batavia would have no stores and no tax base, and we would all be shopping in downtown Batavia paying twice as much.. Maybe more of Downtown Batavia problems have to do with Taxes...It is alot cheaper to set up shop in the town of Batavia...Don't blame Walmart for Batavia problems..
Andrew Erbell
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What about the local farmers, Howard?
Richard Gahagan
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Howard just buy some Walmart stock and sit back and watch your net worth increase.
Lorie Longhany
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I would bet that the same people that defend Wal-Mart are critical of welfare recipients, but when Wal-Mart moves in so do the government benefits. I personally know two people that had good manufacturing jobs and now work at "big box" stores at a fraction of their previous pay. We have traded middle class manufacturing jobs that paid a living wage for low pay retail jobs. Essentially moving from making stuff to selling stuff that Chinese people make. Low wages at or close to the poverty level, managers discouraged from awarding overtime, employees working off the clock without pay and workers repeatedly denied their right to organize. The result is that many Wal-Mart employees are eligible for many forms of public assistance. By providing financial assistance in various forms to Wal-Mart employees, the federal and state governments are essentially subsidizing the corporation for its low wages and minimal benefits. Wal-Mart's employee health coverage is minimal and expensive. Two-thirds of workers at large firms get health insurance from their employer. At Wal-Mart, only 41% to 46% of employees use the company's health insurance, because they simply cannot afford to pay the high premiums the company charges. Instead of providing affordable health care Wal-Mart encourages its employees to sign up for government programs. According to a government study from the staff of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce the estimated breakdown of costs for one 200-employee Wal-Mart store in government assistance is as follows: * $36,000 a year for free or reduced school lunches, assuming that 50 families of employees qualify. * $42,000 a year for Section 8 rental assistance, assuming that 3% of the store employees qualify. * $125,000 a year for federal tax credits and deductions for low-income families, assuming that 50 employees are heads of households with a child, and 50 employees are married with two children. * $108,000 a year for the additional federal contribution to state children's health insurance programs, assuming that 30 employees with an average of two children qualify. * $100,000 a year for additional Title I expenses, assuming 50 families with two children qualify. * $9,750 a year for the additional costs of low-income energy assistance. Overall, the committee estimates that one 200-person Wal-Mart store may result in an excess cost of $420,750 a year for federal taxpayers. We are paying more than those low prices on products.
Andrew Erbell
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Bad Wal-Mart, bad bad Wal-Mart!! Thank goodness the federal government is taking over private industries. They'll show us peons how to manage a business properly. One only need look at the USPS to see what a success it will be!
Mark Potwora
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Lorie does Walmart not pay city county and school tax...do they not pay federal tax...So in the figures you cite ,add in all the money they also pay into the system..Not to mention how much more we get for our dollar when we go there....I know a few people that work there and they say they are happy with their job...Pay and all...Do the employees of the Local business not ask for the same assistance..What do those employees cost us taxpayers..Tell the whole story..Not the Bad Walmart ones..
Gabor Deutsch
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What a joke ! the same crap you buy at box stores is essentially the same crap you buy locally but maybe better service. Dont try to act poor ask the people who dont have brand name money. I stopped trying to buy American cause all of it is produced else where or at least assembled and dont get me started on live support. America aint perfect but we are never gonna be producers and laborers . please.
Gabor Deutsch
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I think that I should stop buying things from WalMart and invest what little money I have in WalMart stock and then I can beat the system. Maybe I will be able to put a politician or two in my pocket (oh no he didnt). ?
John Roach
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If Wal Mart, K Mart, Target and the others were not around, the local downtown stores would not be able to employee the same number of people. The downtown stores also would not being paying those people anymore money either. Most of the “mom and pop” stores would not offer any benefits, and almost none would offer even the chance of moving up in the business. Maybe Howard can do a survey on wages and benefits paid to employees in the small stores downtown, say from the Post Office to Summit Street, and compare them to the chain stores in the Town? Maybe “box store” benefits are not enough to make some people happy, but more people are getting at least a little than the Mom and Pop store we all talk about can ever offer.
Howard B. Owens
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Right on, Lorie. You make what should be essentially the conservative/libertarian case against Wal-Mart. It's amazing that the self-identified conservatives here refuse to see that. Mark, now I don't know if the Town of Batavia provided any assistance to Target or Wal-Mart, Lowes or Home Depot to open here. But let's just say it was on par with the common practice in many other towns -- that would be about $2 million in tax breaks per store (and as I remember it, you opposed a LOCAL businessman getting $200,000 in money from a business development bank account (not anything related to future tax revenue). There have been studies that show that a Wal-Mart that gets a $2 million tax break drains more than that in lost tax dollars from the close local businesses. What if the town that gives $2 million in tax breaks to Wal-Mart instead invested only some of that money in funding local start-up businesses, locally owned businesses. Now you're talking about actually INCREASING tax revenue because these new businesses would open in ways that would fill niches in the existing market instead of trying to flood the existing market and put existing retailers out of business. Those new businesses would have a huge multiplier effect, because unlike Wal-Mart, they would used local suppliers, hire local attorneys and accountants, the owners would shop at local stores, and to remain competitive in a dynamic local employment environment, they would pay higher wages and offer better benefits. Further, Lorie wasn't comparing local retail wages with local Wal-Mart wages; she was comparing the wages lost in manufacturing, jobs lost because of Wal-Mart forcing companies to move factory jobs overseas, to what Wal-Mart pays. I'm wondering why this point keeps getting lost: Wal-Mart FORCES businesses to close local plants in order to meet their price demands. Mark, you completely skirted around the point that Wal-Mart is creating a low wage nation by using its pricing demands to shutter American plants.
Gabor Deutsch
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Ummm Howard ? Are you just trying to say that WalMart is the Antichrist or something? Get real. Just because you are sucessful doesnt mean you are right. When you move and actually live in Batavia then you talk smack. I do totally respect you for thebatavian. I just dont agree.
Andrew Erbell
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"they would pay higher wages and offer better benefits." Then, prove it, Howard. Go around to the local stores in town, ask them, and report on this huge wage and benefits discrepancy you claim exists. Similarly, does the wait staff at Bob Evans or Applebee's make vastly less than at Settler's or Miss Batavia or Tully's? Do they have equal opportunities for advancement? I'd also be curious to know how many employees at the smaller stores aren't relatives. Do you ever plan on answering my question about the local farms by the way?

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