The United States of Walmart is an in-depth analysis on the behemoth Walmart, one of the Big-box retail chain that has been ruling United States for the past thirty years daintily operating its headquarters in Bentonville, Arkansas. The author John Dicker – an investigative journalist probes the success of one of the world’s biggest corporation also being hailed as the largest retailer, grocer, jeweler, private employer, general merchandiser and a country unto itself which makes $288 billion in annual sales.
While it has been tagged as the “template company” whose size and scope sets the tone for business world at large, it also throws light on how this maxim of “Low price always” was fostered, leaving so many backlashes behind, the evidences that prove that Walmart has been built on the graveyard of smaller competitors. The first part of the book deals with the victorious retail store that has outnumbered it direct rivals like Kmart, Target, Home Depot, Best Buy to name a few. Walmart became Americas number one toy seller in 1998 outsmarting ‘Toys R us’ – one of the original category killers till then. Even while it evolved, it had smoothly pushed Ben Franklins five-and-dime aside.
Walmart has envisioned a place where people could buy at their lowest bid. And this was the dream of any discount store that emerged. This was one causative factor for small businesses to radically differentiate themselves or perish. Walmart spread its wings across a wide category, as mentioned from being a largest retailer, largest grocery store, largest corporation dealing from Sega Genesis to Huggies, DVDs to Happy Meal, precious jeweler, leaving no stone unturned.
With this it also popularized in private label promotions, where again it overrun a merchandising firm, Ocean Spray on sale of cranberry juice (private labels allowed retailers to cut prices 25% below competition). Walmart stands obstinate since it had launched its three stage division, with Sam’s Club wholesale discount store and Neighborhood Market in 1993 & 98 respectively.
The success story behind the founder Sam Walton, who started his retail career as proprietor of Ben Franklins Five-and-dime in Newport, he was a lot innovative and creative to spread the fame of this franchise chain across many places after which, the thought to chance a shop for himself, funded by his wife and father-in-law, he opened his first Walmart Discount City in Rogers, Arkansas. He had believed in his eyes more than market surveys and demographic data.
Despite the remarkable triumph behind Walmart, it proved an apotheosis to so many social ills. It was many a times caught in light of media, under charges on gender discrimination of its women employees who were paid lesser wages, poverty wages, lesser facility like the private health insurance, undue advantage of suppliers, where when the specified cost is not met out, outsourced sweatshops, its policy of non-union laborers – who are at liberty to address their grievances directly to the officer, and it promoted antiunion videos that claimed people who can speak for themselves are independent thinkers.
While all this shows the bad side of Walmart, part two talks in details of the lawsuits that were filed against the company for gender discrimination and how Lee Scott, clarifies each and every complaint with the usual Walmart’s Rollback Smiley. He rightly promises that, low quality jobs would never attract employees while people out there are fighting to get themselves employed in Walmart. Again it is held liable for the subsidies that are got from the government, because it has not properly fed its employees.
Then it talks about the censorship issue that rose up with magazines like Maxim, Stuff portraying lewd and less than legal pictures on its cover page, which rightly hampers it name as a ‘family store’, its spiky failure to expand to New York against the people, its apparent support to George W. Bush and so for republicans and many more. But the irony remains that, whatever charges have been raised against this big box retail chain aka Walmart, the truth is that, people shop, shop and shop, because it offers the lowest prices as it claims, because its only national retailer targeting small rural towns, topping it all, the fact that its effect on a local business community could be traced empirically.
The book keeps the reader engrossed in the combination of verity of less than attractive facts with accomplishment of this corporation. The facts are as gargantuan as the 460-terabyte database station located in Bentonville, Arkansas. The writer has hand-picked examples that are sharply defied by the CEO of the firm, Lee Scott, which makes it interesting. Less than any other success stories, it revolves mainly on the content which proves its strength. Finally, the book might be an eye -opener for people willing to know about Walmart, but ultimately it might have less than the required impact to stop people from shopping at this giant outlet, after all, as the author asserts, we’re all “Walmart’s Bitches”.
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