Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Early Tribes Writing

I can see the beginnings of my Arts & Humanities Tribe thinking in a post from last February, Parallel Hatreds.
I recall going into Walmart a few years ago and thinking "There's a lot of ethnic folks here. Huh." I thought immediately after, "I wonder if that's what the people who hate Walmart are really objecting to. There are poor people here, immigrants, odd-looking people." I have observed the tone of discourse about Walmart since then, and it has confirmed my initial suspicion. The Walmart opposers like immigrants and poor people in the abstract, but they don't like to see them in groups larger than three outside their assigned neighborhoods


J. Peden said...

I go to Walmart quite a lot, when I get near enough to one. There is a lot of good stuff there at cheap prices.

One thing I've thought about the anti-Walmart crew is that they especially just don't want "poor" people to be able to dress like them.

I guess this would obscure the tribal dress boundaries?

Anonymous said...

Interesting thoughts, but it's a little different in Vemont. We still have only one Walmart in the state, with one under construction, I think. The Walmart is located where it accessible to the masses (Canadians and vacationers), but in one on the wealthiest Vermont communities.

People that I know who do not shop at Walmart are opposed to the business that they take away from local shopping, which degenerates the businesses in village centers and "downtown".

I have also heard dinner discussions about strong arm tactics used to get the low prices from suppliers. I have shopped there twice and nearly choked walking throught the haze of smoke to get in .......

Anonymous said...

"The Walmart opposers like immigrants and poor people in the abstract, but they don't like to see them in groups larger than three outside their assigned neighborhoods."

Maybe Linus said it best: " I love mankind...It's people I can't stand!!"

Assistant Village Idiot said...

b.a.c. - I have heard that theory of why people are opposed to Walmart. I think people deceive themselves on this, putting a more generous and acceptable cover on their ungenerous motivations.

It's a terrible accusation for me to make, isn't it? I don't doubt that what people in VT think are their true motivations are at least partly the case. It's not an either-or phenomenon. But there are other clues that leak out as well - people dislike its bigness, because they are suspicious of any business that is large. They find the buildings charmless and unaesthetic. They want the great mass of humanity to buy things in charming little shops - which they would, if they could find what they wanted. But people who work overtime and have a couple of young children don't want to drive to three places to get what they need.

I love little shops. They don't carry what I'm looking for, ususally. I think the anti-Walmart crowd wants the world to be other than it is.

Anonymous said...

Want the world to be other than it is. Yep.

Austin is in the middle of a "stop WalMart" campaign directed to a seriously languishing mall in my neighborhood, led (of course) by competing businesses. It seems very tribal (let them eat white bread elsewhere) and hostile and dog-in-the-manger, not least toward the owners of the space that needs a tenant.

With typical Third Coast Collective logic, an anti-big-store measure has been rammed through the city council that will harrass everyone else, but too late to interfere with this WalMart.

Thus WalMart will be insulated from subsequent competitors and high-volume entrants to the market. Sitting prettier than before.

It's never a well-bred tea party between vendors and powerful customers. Ask the suppliers of auto manufacturers.

David Foster said...

"I have also heard dinner discussions about strong arm tactics used to get the low prices from suppliers"..many of these suppliers are very large companies. For example, WalMart (successfully) beat up GE to get much better prices on the Compact Flourescent Lightbulbs.

It's amusing to think about Vermont "progressives," many of whom are no doubt very anti-big-corporation, showing such tender regard for the feelings of GE and other big manufacturers...

J. Peden said...

b.a.c., yes, via a pretty big businessman friend of mine, I know practically first hand about "strong armed" tactics. But that's "just business", and he understands it and thrives. It's not going to end.

And local 'mom and pop' stores just have to adjust, they will always have to, and they do. Around the WalMarts I've seen in 4 States, there are usually a lot of smaller stores, and even big stores.

WalMart is actually in competition mainly with KMart, Sears, Kroger, Safeway, Costco, BiMart, Penney's, even large "thrift" store chains, and so on.

The public hoopla against WalMart is mainly political, imo, in particular the essentially Marxist dogma against "big industry". And people do a lot of business promulgating the dogma, suing WalMart, and so on. In my anecdotal experience it verges on the ludicrous, and often looks tribal.

I think WalMart is going to be outdoing their detractors and competitors for quite a long time.

David Foster said...

This has a lot to do with aesthetics-as-a-religion. Target is also a large and profitable corporation; however, I don't see the "progressives" being concerned about TGTs impact on local small business, or about any beating-up of suppliers that they might do. Nor is there much concern about the impact on small business of the high-end department stores.

The rea; objection to WMT by "progressives" is that they perceive it as tacky.

Ben Wyman said...

I don't think people hate Wal-Mart because lots of ethnic groups and poor people shop there. It's because it's become deeply ingrained in us that Wal-Mart destroys small business and runs sweatshops and marks the end of life as we know it. It's just become a social necessity in certain classes to be opposed to it.

But I do think that the reason they don't actually go there is that it's full of dirty poor people.

bs king said...

I don't shop at Walmart because 1. I live too close to downtown Boston for there to be one anywhere near by 2. They gave Kathy Lee Gifford a clothing line, and that offends me and 3. Once, in Concord, I went to the bathroom in a Walmart, and I flushed the toilet, and water came back up out of the drain in the middle of the floor. That's the only public bathroom that I left without washing my hands...I just felt cleaner that way.

To add something real to the debate, the next time you hear someone rant about Walmart, ask them if they shop at Target. A lot of people who hate Walmart do. If you really look at the difference, it seems to primarily get down to my point #2 above....Target simply has cooler clothes.

Woody said...

I don't like to go to Walmart because you have to get dressed up to go.