December 20, 2016

The Gift of the WalMagi


In New England in December the cold does not come in on little cat feet. Instead some mountain god of the great north woods throws open the door to Canada late one night. When you step out the next morning your scrotum promptly goes into hibernation somewhere around your arm pit. The cold gets hammered down tight. And it stays that way. Until, oh, somewhere in the middle of March.

I’d come to New England after many years away and, in Seattle, thought I’d packed well for the trip. I’d made a point to bring my very warm Seattle jacket. I stepped outside into the New England winter this morning and between the door and the car I knew, based on testicle retraction velocity, that my coat had nothing to say to this winter. I might as well have packed and dressed in a Speedo. At least I would have been rapidly arrested and taken to a warm jail cell until my need for medication could be determined.

In the car, having cranked the heat to fat end of the red stripe on the dial, my thawing reptile brain hissed, “Get a coat or die, monkeyboy.”

But where? I was only going to be here for a few weeks before going back to the temperate zone of Seattle. I knew that various stores around this township would have vast stocks of sensible and warm winter coats but I didn’t really feel like investing somewhere north of $100 in some multiple layered goose-down body blimp that would warm you even within fifteen yards of Al Gore. I just needed a warm and dependable coat at not too much money… $75 to $85 … that would get me through the New England nights without frostbite.

Then I remembered that this town has something that Seattle didn’t because Seattle is just far too “smart” to have one – A Wal-Mart.

Wal-Mart, the greatest thing to happen for working people in the United States since trade unions and, today, a lot more beneficial to them as well. This town had two vast Wal-Mart’s. It was bracketed with them. I set off confident I could get a temporary coat at an affordable price. Little did I know.

I pulled into the vast parking lot and got out. Between the car and the door my core temperature dropped about ten degrees and I shivered as I took the warm cart and got the warm “Welcome to Wal-Mart” from the silver haired grandma at the door.

Inside the store stretched out before me like a land of dreams so wonderful so various so new…. Everything new. And shiny. And, well, cheap.

I got distracted at first in the food area of the store that could have held six of my local Seattle market inside it. I picked up a half-gallon of milk, a couple of bottles of club soda, and a jar of imported cherry jam ($3.00 less than what I paid for the same thing in Seattle). Then I pushed the cart off into the deeper realms of the store where banners proclaiming “UNBEATABLE” and “ROLLBACK!” loomed out of every aisle.

sevendollarcoat.jpgI found the basketball court sized area marked ‘MEN’ and turned in. Fleece coats, fleece vests, overcoats, Dickie work coats, and then winter coats in the quilted style that simply shouts, “You’ll stay toasty inside even in Nome!” And, amidst three or four circular racks, I saw a selection in blue, grey, black, green, and red of bright and shiny new winter coats. Above the racks was the simple sign in red and it said: “$7”.

Yes, I blinked and looked away. I looked back. It still said: “$7”. Above it a smaller sign said, almost in apology, “Was $15.”

Among dozens of these coats I found my size. Perfect fit. Smoothly made. Ample pockets. Serious zipper for closing. Nice shade of blue. And reversible to another nice shade of lighter blue with ample pockets on that side as well. I zipped it up and felt my temperature rise until it was uncomfortable to keep on.

I placed it in my cart and rapidly made my way to the register in order to get out of the store with it before they realized they’d left a zero off the back sides of the $7 and the $15. As I checked out I noted that the milk, water and jam had cost more than the winter coat. I put it on in the doorway and walked back across the lot to the car not feeling the cold at all from my thighs to my neck.

I can’t get over it. A winter coat for $7? The Goodwill won’t sell you a dead man’s old winter coat for $7.

And yes, it was “Made in / Hecho en China,” but…. well… how? Is there some darkened cavern that stretches for miles under the Gobi desert in which harvested brains in wired jars control robotic Chinese infant arms that stitch endless winter coats from the sheets of polyester that flow in a dark river beneath the factory floor? And then they’ve got to pack them up and ship them from the wastes of the Gobi to the racks of stores in New England. And then they price them at less than a small bag of groceries? How? Is? That? Possible?

It’s not. It’s a miracle. It’s a manufacturing, wholesale, supply chain, retail miracle on such a staggering scale that we can’t even begin to perceive it up close. We just walk into any one of the thousands of Wal-Mart stores and buy a winter coat for what it would take a homeless beggar about thirty minutes to cadge out of passing people on a downtown street on an average afternoon. It’s more than amazing. It’s a magical gift of modern American corporate capitalism.

It’s the gift of the WalMagi. It’s keeping me warm this Christmas season. And tens of thousand of other people too.

[First published.... last Christmas]

Posted by Vanderleun at December 20, 2016 1:44 AM
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"It is impossible to speak in such a way that you cannot be misunderstood." -- Karl Popper N.B.: Comments are moderated and may not appear immediately. Comments that exceed the obscenity or stupidity limits will be either edited or expunged.

Yep. You can knock it all you want, but the WalMart near where I live has probably saved me hundreds of bucks over the past couple of years, mostly on the exact same products to be had at Safeway or Albertsons. The people who work there are almost all friendly and good-humored, and more than a few times I've searched for some specific item at every specialty store in town, only to eventually find what I needed (or a close-enough approximation) right there.

It's not perfect, but as long as you don't expect a boutique experience, more often than not it has what you need.

Even if most of it is made in China.

Posted by: Julie at December 11, 2009 9:13 PM

I felt that way today at the Dollar Tree store. It felt like a Christmas village in there. Everything I looked at, I could afford 5 of! Amazing.

Posted by: Joan of Argghh! at December 11, 2009 9:15 PM

Reminds me that I need to get a coat tomorrow. It's been running about -12F at night here and my old coat is 15 years old and falling apart. Yeah, I'm cheap and Walmart sounds good.

Posted by: charris at December 11, 2009 10:54 PM

You've just made a gigantic point about capitalism, free trade...and gratitude.

Posted by: Robert Townshend at December 11, 2009 11:22 PM

Notice how you don't hear so much carping by local citizens about Wal-Mart in their 'hoods as you did when things were better. I can even count myself among the carpers, mostly because of Chinese goods. Now when I go to Wally-World, I see lots of (happily) employed people, all ages, all races.

A Wal-Mart here recently closed at one location and reopened bigger in another. What happened? Original strip mall businesses closed, like my favorite Office Max. Original strip mall is now an empty wasteland. New location? It is open until Midnight. So now when I get a shopping jones at 11 PM, I am off to Wally-World. But do let us know if you get some type of toxic geographic-patterned skin reaction from your attractive new blue jacket. Thanks for sharing.

BTW, Regarding Dollar Tree, if I'm in and see small American flags for a buck, I load up, keep them in the trunk of my car, and place them on Dad's grave or the graves of other veterans long-gone and seemingly forgotten. I can buy a year's worth of flags easily.

Posted by: Nancy at December 12, 2009 2:14 AM

If we had Chinese labor laws, I bet we could sell that jacket for 6 dollars! And we'd be saving on shipping!

Posted by: Christian at December 12, 2009 3:40 AM

But we don't. What we have is a global economy and a China that is slowly and painfully becoming a modern totalitarian state instead of a Maoist totalitarian state. How will that work out? Will it ever become a free state? Impossible to know.

Posted by: vanderleun at December 12, 2009 5:52 AM

I have a lot to say about this, but I'll try to keep it short. China has moved roughly the size of the American population (300,000,000) into the middle class since shaking hands with capitalism. The growing economies of the world (China and India) are those countries which are adopting capitalism. But you can't impress a liberal with wealth creation and the abatement of abject poverty. Because capitalism isn't "fair"..."whimper." They're so overeducated they actually believe the government creates wealth.

"WalMagi" was also my solution to the economic downturn back when the Piracy Act of 2009 was passed. That's ARR to most of you.

Also, if you're looking for a job, I spoke to a WalMagi manager at the returns desk the other day who told me they can't hire enough people. I admit, Walmart's return desk during the Christmas season sounds like hell on earth to me, but if I had to choose between that and government assistance... at least hell is warm and doesn't require supplication to a bureaucrat...oh wait, what?

Posted by: Western Chauvinist at December 12, 2009 7:20 AM

That's such genius in that "proposal" I've promoted an excerpt to the sidebar.

Posted by: vanderleun at December 12, 2009 7:28 AM

When I worked "outside the home," about once a week I would get up earlier---dash off to my nearest Wal-Mart and shop while the 24 hour store was virtually empty, except for the stockers, one checker, and the security guard. I'd take my loot home and put it up, and still make it to work on time at 8 o'clock. I loved it.

Posted by: Deborah at December 12, 2009 7:58 AM

I shop a Wal--Mart location in Las Vegas which was held up for five years due to a County Commisioner who is now in prison. The supermarket workers union hates these places, and will pay to keep them out.
This enormous merchant center was dead. Now it's sold out, and the neighborhood picked up as well.
Four supermarkets closed. Not my business. Fact is, Wal-Mart doesn't buy food in China.

Posted by: james wilson at December 12, 2009 8:58 AM

I am often amused that people hate Wal-Mart with a passion. My wife hangs around on Democratic Underground (mostly to post gently countervaling opinions), and she talks about the posters who agonize over wanting to shop at Wal-Mart because of the low prices and yet not wanting to lose their liberal cred.

Frankly, I think Wal-Mart -- by introducing the concept of $4 generic prescriptions, quickly adopted by its competitors -- has done more for national health care than Congress put together. God bless 'em. ..bruce..

Posted by: bfwebster at December 12, 2009 9:35 AM

Man I envy y'all your fancy Walmarts and such.

I can't seem to escape a store with a small plastic bag of groceries, or even a decent shirt with buttons, for less than thirty or forty bucks. I imagine it's much like what the shopping experience would be at an organic hippie-mart on some backwater asteroid beyond Mars.

A few years back, when I lived on a smaller neighboring island, I regularly had to take the 20 minute (each way) ferry ride on the designated delivery date to find a preemptively peeled -yet still sadly wilted and shrunken- head of iceberg lettuce or some such over-priced whatever. Now, through the infectious wonders of market capitalism, there are two kinds of expensive wilted lettuce available every day.

One of the classic local stories of misunderstood island capitalism involves a customer asking his local waterfront proprietor why they never seemed to have his favorite brand of frosted flakes anymore, to which the owner replied; "Said brand of frosted flakes sold out so quickly we couldn't keep the shelves stocked with it, so we discontinued it on account of being tired of explaining that we were out of stock". There was no in between. 'Name-brand' food used to be either hard to come by, half stale and dearly priced, or fully stale, dusty, and forever in stock...However dust never alighted upon the rum and booze aisle. There were always fifty different varieties that were just right and reasonably priced.

Anyway, since then we've acquired a K-mart or four which sadly seem to be mere mirages of the fabled wonders of Wally World.

On the up side, a bitterly cold day here hovers around 70 degrees and causes everyone to turn off their fans and bundle up, so I guess it all evens out in the end.

Posted by: monkeyfan at December 12, 2009 2:55 PM

Went into the Athens Wal-Mart today and bought six pounds of stocking stuffer candy (Butterfinger, Reese's, Hersheys, etc.), denim jean patches, mascara for Key, blue Christmas lights for a mini-tree, two plush fireplace stockings for my daughters, and a huge honking 4-liter bottle of admittedly pedestrian but savory sangria for $24. I almost felt like a highwayman, epsecially when I realized debit cards are about to put the poor Salvation Army ringer out of business.

Posted by: Velociman at December 12, 2009 6:11 PM

Somewhere, deep in Businessman Heaven, Sam Walton is smiling...

Posted by: newton at December 12, 2009 7:56 PM


(OT) I'm kinda curious. Where are you at? I was born and raised in Puerto Rico, where Christmas Eve consisted of spending the day with a T-shirt on.

(Sorry, Gerald!)

Posted by: newton at December 12, 2009 8:00 PM

Newton: USVI

It seems we were almost neighbors once.

Spent some time in Señorial and near Humacao (Palmas) in my younger days. Did the pilgrimage to Aguadilla a few times too.

Borinquen...Great place for a young man.
Your Pueblos and Grand Unions had better produce than ours too.

Posted by: monkeyfan at December 12, 2009 8:31 PM

Not at all Newton. Comments belong to commenters.

Posted by: vanderleun at December 12, 2009 9:02 PM

Here in Indonesia, we have Carrefour, which is the French Wal-Mart wannabe. It's not bad, especially for a third-world country (Indonesia, that is, not France;-), but it's not Wally World. I'm in Thailand now for a week or so, and they have the British chain Lotus-Tesco here. I'll have to see how that compares. My guess is that Wal-Mart will remain the champ.

Posted by: waltj at December 13, 2009 6:27 AM

make no mistake, the Chinese are learning about capitalism and they are quick studies. Remember, they were banned from engaging in it for over 40 years. It was only 20 years ago that those restrictions were relaxed and they have come a long way.

Posted by: pdwalker at December 13, 2009 6:36 AM

Not so fast, dudes. Those cheaply made products are taking jobs away from Americans. They pay those people $.50 per hour, no health insurance, no paid vacations, no social security, no worker's compensation. They live in dormitories. And they are the lucky ones.

There is still no middle class in China. How can you have a middle class in a police state? There is no free press. There is no disposable income, except for the top 3% who are either corrupt government officials or lucky property owners, just as it is for 3/4 of the planet. No Chinese manage these factories. All managed by Westerners. Quality control is a never-ending struggle to prevent corruption by suppliers and employees and graft from political cadres.

There are riots in the countryside due to near-starvation conditions. The rich get richer and the poor (i.e., 90% of the population) are very, very poor. For instance, the average Chinese cannot buy those winter coats - they are strictly for export to the West. China is still and will be for a long time to come a command economy.

By the way, Mr. Vanderleun did you know you are blocked there?


Posted by: idleart at December 13, 2009 9:43 AM

That's funny, pdwalker, because we began banning ourselves from capitalism about eighty years ago.

If the Chinese are truly learning capitalism, which I doubt, I wish them the best. To learn capitalism, you must learn liberty. Without liberty, it is at best only merchantilism. That is a great improvement on communism, but not on capitalism. 'The ghost that now inhabits the words laissez faire was once an unconquerable fighting spirit. It did not belong to capitalism. It belonged to liberty; and to this day its association with capitalism is valid only insofar as capitalism represents liberty.' (Garrett)

Right now, the Chinese are doing what they have done for much of their history--using a formula without asking why, using a tool without the skill to adapt. They are not able to change anything other than in immitating others. Their core value of human knowledge is static; they cannot increase its volume or change its course. (Tocqueville)

We have seen how difficult it is to keep liberty, but the Chinese distrust it at their core.

There is nobody to hand this ball off to.

Posted by: james wilson at December 13, 2009 9:43 AM

James Wilson, you and I posted at the same time and said pretty much the same thing. A further thought for what its worth: Its not that the Chinese or the Indians are rising, its that we're falling. The real question is, how far?

Posted by: idleart at December 13, 2009 10:09 AM

"By the way, Mr. Vanderleun did you know you are blocked there?"

I would expect that to be so but I file that knowledge deep into the DGAS file.

Posted by: vanderleun at December 13, 2009 10:50 AM

I have lost 150 lbs in the last 2 years, and without Walmagi I'd have been wandering the streets wrapped in an old sheet, praying it didn't fall off. Now that I am approaching human sizes I can shop elsewhere - and sometimes do - but WalMart is always my first stop. Because Why Pay More? If they have the tee in the color I want for $3, why would I pay Kohl's or even Marshall's $19.99 for what is functionally the exact same item? The quality isn't *that* much better, and I won't be wearing it more than a year before I slip down to the next size anyway.

Posted by: JimK at December 14, 2009 6:00 AM


1. I believe the estimate is that Wal-Mart has saved about $600 billion a year for consumers and has effectively reduced the poverty level in America.

2. I shop at Wal-Mart regularly to stock up on non-perishables and grocery shopping at a Super Wal-Mart works out pretty well.

3. Capitalism. Who'd a thunk it.

4. Thank you Sam Walton.

Posted by: memomachine at December 14, 2009 6:20 AM

I don't think stories like how Wal-Mart helps in times of disaster get enough press.

Posted by: John Davies at December 14, 2009 6:31 AM

As the father of three, I'm grateful to have a Walmart within five minutes of my house. I'm doing my part to keep it the busiest Walmart in the country, which point the store workers are quite proud of.

Posted by: physics geek at December 14, 2009 6:45 AM

It's nice to see an article that isn't just echoing the tired old talking points that Wal Mart is evil.

Wal-Mart is great. It's done more to increase the purchasing power of lower income Americans than any government policy.

Super Wal-Marts meet more shopping needs than any other store. They absolutely clobber Super Targets in terms of prices and selection (particularly food stuffs)

Posted by: JD at December 14, 2009 6:58 AM

I doubt a week goes by that my wife doesn't spend a couple hours in WalMart. We buy groceries, clothes, electronics, books... you name it. We also have a trendy store that sells upscale decorative items at twice or three times the cost of WalMart where the trendy people shop. I went inside and checked the labels there. Yep, most of the stuff was made in China or Indonesia. Not much at all "made in America."

Like most liberal fantasies, the idea that Walmart is somehow uniquely "guilty" of buying and selling Chinese goods is just a feel-good lie that they tell themselves, much like they enjoy attacking corporations and conformity as they sip their $3.00 lattes in their favorite Starbucks.

I once got into a "discussion" with a liberal about how evil it was to shop at WalMart. After trying to explain how the global market works, and how the selling of Chinese goods around the world was lifting hundreds of millions of Chinese out of abject poverty, and explaining that WalMart is mostly a miracle of acquisition, shipping, logistics and retail property placement, it became clear to me that what the liberal really hated about WalMart was that she desperately wanted to shop there, but was terrified that doing so would destroy her liberal "street cred." I wished her well as she spent $50 for the same pants I could buy for $12, and asked her to check some labels in the stores she shopped to make sure no third world sweatshop goods had managed to slip in.

Posted by: CosmicConservative at December 14, 2009 7:11 AM

I HAVE THE SAME COAT! Mine's brown on one side and pink on the other, yours is nice too though. It was so warm I went back and bought 5 more to take to our local coat drive. Seriously, what's with the griping about walmart? People need to get a life. My retired dad got a keep-busy job there and with 28 measly hours of "work" a week he gets blue cross blue shield health insurance for $47 per paycheck ( every 2 weeks) and 10% off in the store ( so I guess my coat would have cost $6.30 if I'd asked him to pick it up). He's been there 8 years now and doesn't want to leave. I guess some poeple just need to hate- mostly out-there lefty libs, notice? their glass needs to be half empty at all times- and walmart is big and convenient. Whatever, haters: Walmart rocks!!!

Posted by: Barb at December 14, 2009 7:25 AM

What great comments. Keep 'em comin' folks. We'll turn around the WalMart haters right here!

Posted by: vanderleun at December 14, 2009 7:37 AM

My sister works at Wal-Mart and I get so sick of news stories and blog posts about how badly Wal-Mart treats its employees. She's happy to have a good job with good benefits and steady pay. Before Wal-Mart moved into my grandma's town, everyone had to drive fifty miles to shop. In bad weather and as my grandparents age, that's no joke. Now they can just run to the Wal-Mart for their prescriptions and necessaries, and some of their friends have excellent part-time jobs there as greeters and cashiers. What is with people and the anti-Wal Mart nonsense? I'm glad you're appreciating it! When we lived in Portland my sister and I would go once a month to the suburbs just to hit the Wal-Mart and stock up. It was inconvenient but worth the drive to avoid the high prices elsewhere.

Posted by: Jenniferwhatnot at December 14, 2009 7:46 AM

I live in a small rural community. Walmart has done more to improve the quality of life in small town America than any other single entity. I laughed when I read one of the comments where they felt like shoplifters when they checked out. I have had the same experience checking out an overflowing cart and getting a total of $70.00 or so when I was mentally expecting twice that. Above and beyond the direct savings is the time, money and effort saved by having this enormous stock of almost everything right in town. Who loves ya Sam?

Posted by: Ted Snedeker at December 14, 2009 8:09 AM

Oooh, when you get back to Seattle, you're going to get beat up.

I lived there in the mid 90s and decided to go on the Atkin's diet. So off to my neighborhood market where I filled my basket with bacon, eggs, butter, cream, etc. It was then I realized I was in the back of the store and had to make it to the cashier. Worse still, I would then have to lay out my bounty in plain sight. I dodged a couple of aisles crowded with enlightened Seattle transplants, made to the front and fortune favored me, to a cashier who appeared to have ancestral roots in Puget Sound. She make quick work of the scans and bagging. I made it out unscathed but after that, I always had a bunch of Arugula on top of my basket to cover my illicit selections.

As for Walmart, on the Mississippi Gulf Coast I saw how the locally owned markets had figured out how to compete. They had much better meat and produce sections. As well as, local/regional products. Something Walmart can't really compete with. So you ended up shopping at both for each had their strengths.

Posted by: JKB at December 14, 2009 8:18 AM

The only places I shop regularly in the flesh is Walmart. I work second shift + and Walmarts are two of the three stores here that are 24hr and there when I need them at 2-3 am. The staff at my regular store have been there a long time. And nearly all of them have been saved by Walmart. They aren't the smartest or most presentable (and a fair fraction are actually low IQ and/or with serious physical disability), but they show up, smile and work hard. I'm proud of all of them and I'm proud of Walmart for hiring them.

Posted by: stef at December 14, 2009 9:42 AM

If you think WalMart is good, you'll soon realize their groceries are overpriced when you walk into an Aldi, now that place truly rocks.

79 cents for a loaf of bread, 69 cents for a head of lettuce, 78 cents for a dozen eggs, $1.49 for a gallon of milk, $1.69 for a pound of salted sweet cream butter, $2.19 for a pound of safety packed 80/20 ground beef (not the garbage in a tube).

I never spend more than $25 on any tip to Aldi and end up with a cart full of food.

Posted by: Ronald at December 14, 2009 10:04 AM

We live in Silicon Valley, CA, and Wal-Mart is considered to be one of those horrible places like McDonalds or something. We drive 40 miles to go to the Wal-Mart Super Center in Gilroy (the garlic capital of the world). We only go every couple of months, but the savings more than offsets the cost of driving there. As to stuff being made in China, I really don't care where it's made, unless slave labor is being used (and I don't mean "slave wages", but actual slaves). I just want good quality at a good proce.

Posted by: Buford Gooch at December 14, 2009 12:03 PM

It's not all sweetness and light. My (almost-retired) ex works at one part-time, and they're careful to keep her hours per week below the "trigger point" at which they have to give her benefits.


Posted by: Brian H at December 14, 2009 2:37 PM

Brian's ex's experience is fairly common, I believe, and not just at Wal-Mart. A former roommate of mine was employed about half-time at a small publishing firm in Illinois for about two years. They were quite up-front and honest with him about it: they told him "We wish we could hire you full-time and give you benefits, but we just can't afford to. So we'll have to limit your working hours per week to below the point where the law requires us to give benefits." He obviously would have preferred a job that gave benefits, but half-time work was far better than no income at all, so he took the job. Had he said, "I won't work for you unless you can give me benefits," he would have had no job at all.

I don't know how many Wal-Mart employees are in a similar situation, and whether the store could actually afford to give them full-time work with benefits or not. My guess, though, is that the math is something like 5 full-time workers with benefits, or 8 part-time workers without. (Numbers made up on the spot, of course, like 73.4% of all Internet statistics). Which one is better for the store, the overall economy, and the workers themselves -- I don't know. The five who would have a job would obviously rather have the benefits, but the three that wouldn't have any job at all are probably happy with the current situation. It's not as clear-cut as it might seem at first glance.

Posted by: Robin Munn at December 14, 2009 4:38 PM

More like 8 and 3, I think. Of course, there's an admin cost and penalty to having more bodies to manage and document, so it's not all gravy for Wal-Mart, or whoever. There may also be efficiency and skills costs to using p/t labor for too many functions.

Posted by: Brian H at December 14, 2009 6:13 PM

And this is the Evil Empire that Chicago's mayor will not allow to build in the neediest neighborhoods in the city. Stupid!

Posted by: Omnibus Driver at December 14, 2009 6:57 PM

"It's not all sweetness and light. My (almost-retired) ex works at one part-time, and they're careful to keep her hours per week below the "trigger point" at which they have to give her benefits."

If Wally World gives her more hours they get penalized. That really seems like a problem of govt. regulation creating incentives to under-employ reliable workers. Without the trigger your ex would very likely get more hours, make more money, and then be able to spend it on her own priorities like healthcare insurance or some other "benefit". Doesn't seem like Walmart's fault to me. Especially when you consider that the "trigger" increases costs for Walmart which would show up in prices. Why not require employers to provide housing and transportation for employees too and ratchet those prices up even further?

Posted by: The Apologist at December 15, 2009 11:42 AM

Yet it seems the "(almost-retired) ex" still works there for some reason.

Posted by: monkeyfan at December 15, 2009 1:19 PM

I'm glad so many of you love your cheap WalMart crap.

Guess paying more taxes to keep the underemployed/unemployed fed and housed is worth it.

Wonder how long your cheap coat will last?

No wonder America is so screwed with the likes of many of you. We deserve it. Enjoy your chains.

Posted by: Kirby Foster at December 16, 2009 1:04 PM

Now now little piqued person. Please sit back and drink your hemlock like the nice little colonized mind you are.

Posted by: vanderleun at December 16, 2009 1:35 PM

As to "how long will the coat last?" you just don't seem to be able to fathom the point: "Who? Cares?"

But I'll be sure to put it in the landfill of your choice.

Posted by: vanderleun at December 16, 2009 1:37 PM

There's a movement to radically change California government, by getting rid of career politicians and chopping their salaries in half. A group known as Citizens for California Reform wants to make the California legislature a part time time job, just like it was until

Posted by: somaie at December 16, 2009 11:18 PM

"Wal-Mart, the greatest thing to happen for working people in the United States since trade unions" Those who are still working, that is.

Posted by: Fletcher Christian at December 23, 2010 2:27 AM

"Testicle retraction velocity" ????
must digitize!!!

Posted by: flannelputz at December 23, 2010 2:14 PM

To Fletcher:

Well, yes, it is a boon to those who are still working. It's also a boon to those who aren't working, as it helps them stretch their all-too-few dollars to make it to the next unemployment check.

Got a problem with that? Didn't think so.

Posted by: Hale Adams at December 23, 2010 8:32 PM

One of the reasons that liberals hate WalMart is that it provides a greater dollar subsidy to the American consumer than does the Federal Government through all of its welfare programs.

Memomachine at 6:20am says "I believe the estimate is that Wal-Mart has saved about $600 billion a year for consumers and has effectively reduced the poverty level in America."

The website shows the entire Federal budget for welfare programs for 2010 at $557 billion and this number includes unemployment insurance.

The left cannot stand the fact that private enterprise provides a bigger benefit to the poor than the gov't and it makes a profit while doing so.

Posted by: Hangtown Bob at December 24, 2010 9:33 AM

When my now unfortunately deceased wife started having health problems, Wal-Mart was a great aid to me. One of the odd spinoffs of her problems was that the longer I was gone from home, shopping, the more of a nervous wreck she became. I usually made the rounds of grocery, pharmacy, maybe a hardware or auto parts store- but if something delayed me, she became increasingly panicked.

About this time, Wal-Mart opened a 24 hour supercenter, and I quickly found I could get almost anything I needed there.

When her glasses broke at three AM- and she was blind without them- who was open, with repair kits?

It's not perfect, it's not always the cheapest- but it has a place. One thing about mine- I notice that they hire handicapped people, a subject dear to my heart since my first wife was handicapped.

Posted by: backhoe at December 24, 2010 2:28 PM

I understand the allure of shopping at Walmart. I understand it even more now that I am currently unemployed but it pains me greatly to purchase things that are being made in China. I do not think America should be in business with them. There is not an easy answer to the problem I know.

Posted by: Lance at December 27, 2010 8:06 AM

So, Gerard, after glancing through the comments form 09 I really want to know... do you still have the coat?

Posted by: Craig at January 6, 2011 10:39 AM

Why yes, I do. I just don't have the bone-chilling cold to bring it out.

Posted by: vanderleun at January 7, 2011 10:28 AM

Clan Lewis does not shop at Wal-Mart. That's where the Morlocks are. Meth-heads, ghetto scum, that banjo-playing kid from Deliverance, immense shrieking Negresses, vato crews stocking up on spray paint, smelly alter kackers -- no thank you. I'll pay seven cents more for the toothpaste at Target. No Joe Dirt lookalike ever tried to sell me a half-wolf puppy out of a cardboard box in front of my Target. No one ever found a dead body in the trunk of a car in the parking lot at my Target. Holder's People never shot anyone at my Target. All of those things have happened at the local Wal-Mart.

When I need bulk supplies, I go to Costco. When I need everyday items, I go to Target. Groceries come from Aldi or the local market. No price, no matter how low, is worth the trip to Lumpen Hell-Mart.

I don't criticize other people for going there, however. If you don't mind watching Traveler kids being beaten by their mares for "not robbing good enough" or being followed to your car by Afro-American "youths" in response to your "difrefpec'", more power to you. You can have my share of the Wal-Mart experience.

Posted by: B Lewis at December 23, 2011 11:54 PM

The next town over is a liberal college town. They fought against a Walmart for years and finally couldn't stop it.

They also have a Winco food store. If you are not from the West a Winco is like the Walmart of food stores except even lower prices and better products.

So last month I went to Winco and got to the checkout with a basket full of food and found no bags there to bag it. The town had banned plastic bags and paper bags were now behind the checker and you had to pay $.05 apiece for them (a tax that went to the city).

So what do you do with a cart full of groceries and no bags? That's right! If you have any balls you tell them to stick it and walk out.

Well a few days later I was looking for an obscure food item and went back to this town to one of their touchy-feely organic market stores and picked up a couple other items too.

At the checkout I discovered they provide paper bags. I asked them about the law banning plastic and putting a tax on bags and the response was that law only applied to big box stores. Aha!

The left wing city council passed the law to snare Walmart, their final MArxist jab at the dreaded Walmart but it also ensnared the beloved Winco (the law of unintended consequences). Pretty sad and petty that the city council had to stop to intolerance and discrimination to take a last swipe at Walmart.

Posted by: GoneWithTheWind at December 22, 2013 7:30 AM

As kids we used to wear shoes that were beyond profession repair, so we fixed them ourselves with staples and home made glue.

That anyone can work an hour or two at minimum wage and buy a pair of shoes is still remarkable to me.

Posted by: Estoy Listo at December 22, 2013 8:45 AM

My father-in-law was on a gunboat in China, during the Depression. He told a story about seeing a coolie that died pulling a ricksha. Other men ran up, pushed out of the way, and the strongest took off pulling the ricksha. It was now his "rice bowl". My father-in-law was a conservative man but he alsways said that he understood why they put Mao in power.

I can remember when they opened the Walmart in Hood River. I was packing pears at the time and we all went over to check it out. It's still in business and I guess there are enough trendy shops to keep the liberals happy there. I don't shop at Walmart often but don't begrudge the right to others. Sewing factories went overseas back in the late 80s and they aren't coming back. I try and support those still around, like Tom Bihn. But I sometimes think lefties prefer that poor people wear discards than to have the option to buy new clothes.

Posted by: Teri Pittman at December 22, 2013 12:25 PM

GoneWithTheWind wrote:

The next town over is a liberal college town. They fought against a Walmart for years and finally couldn't stop it.

Hah! Corvallis, right?

So last month I went to Winco and got to the checkout with a basket full of food and found no bags there to bag it. The town had banned plastic bags and paper bags were now behind the checker and you had to pay $.05 apiece for them (a tax that went to the city).

So what do you do with a cart full of groceries and no bags? That's right! If you have any balls you tell them to stick it and walk out.

Nah, just load the naked groceries into your cart, wheel it out to your car, and pile the stuff into the trunk. By the way, the law doesn't apply to cardboard boxes, and most grocery stores accumulate a bunch of empties. Just ask, and they'll almost always give you boxes at no charge.

Posted by: Herp McDerp at December 22, 2013 8:26 PM

For what it's worth, Wal-Mart has a subsidiary company in Nicaragua, called Pali (there being an accent on the "i"). Smaller stores, but it's a small country. And there are "Super-Palis", too. Staff actually wear uniforms that are recognizably Wal-Mart. And they are much cheaper than the other supermarkets there, which cater to the upper-crust. On the whole, they seem to fill a great need there, allowing those of very modest means the chance to shop for affordable food and technology, and clothing from the wide world at prices that they can manage.

Posted by: Alberta Oil Peon at December 22, 2013 11:02 PM

But I sometimes think lefties prefer that poor people wear discards than to have the option to buy new clothes.

Bingo! We have a winner! If poor people have the option to buy new clothes (and food, shelter, and other necessities) at prices they can afford, why would they need leftists to constantly remind them of how "oppressed" they are? Keeping poor people poor and in rags is a job security program for left-wing activists, who basically don't give a rat's a$$ about poor people anyway.

Posted by: waltj at December 23, 2013 5:49 AM
This town had two vast Wal-Mart’s. It was bracketed with them.
Sounds like ManchVegas.

Recently Stop & Shop closed all of their stores up here in NH, & Shaws closed about ⅓ of theirs, so now we have Market Basket, Hannaford, & Wal±Mart. Hopefully Wal☃Mart improves their grocery section.

Posted by: Stark Dickflüssig at December 23, 2013 7:02 AM

This comment is directed to those of you bitching about China and Chinese products. Firstly where do you think most of the stuff you but comes from Iphones anyone? Samsung my be a Korean company but most of it's products are made in China. Caterpiller,3M,IBM, Louis Vitton all had factories in the area I was in. I recently spent a month in China helping my company open a factory and teaching Chinese people how to put me out of a job. The young Chinese don't want to make crap they want to do a job they are proud of they are tired of being the butt of jokes many of which are freely told in China even the one about bad drivers o.k. especially the one about bad drivers. You also have to remember that when you look at other countries and see their low wages it doesn't necessarily mean they are being underpaid $1.00 an hour may sound pitiful to you but your costs are much higher an example would be going out to eat here in the states to a decent restaurant will cost you $30-$40 for two people fairly easily, in China a nice steak dinner for 2 with a bottle of wine will cost you $10-$15 so your money goes much much further. My company paid a per diem of $40 a day with that I paid for 2 meals a day all of my cab and subway rides around town all of my souvenirs and trinkets entrances to various museums and attractions when all was said and done I still had money left over I couldn't believe it. China's middle class may not be making 70k a year but it exists believe me.

Posted by: Theworminator at December 23, 2013 9:00 AM doesn't necessarily mean they are being underpaid. $1.00 an hour may sound pitiful to you but your costs are much higher...

Precisely. When the union shills and anti-globalization activists complain about the "low" wages paid in certain countries, they often neglect to mention that "low" is a relative term. I've been in a number of places where $10-$15 per day (not per hour) was considered a decent middle-class wage, and the people receiving it were able to not only make ends meet, but put a little something away for the future. I'm not convinced that jobs that can be done for $10 a day are ones that we should be trying to save for Americans.

Posted by: waltj at December 23, 2013 10:24 AM

Two years ago an elderly relative's building was infested with bed bugs. I moved him out of there and had to buy a whole new wardrobe before we could get him into a nursing home. I went to Walmart. He was completely outfitted and I wasn't broke. Thank you Sam Walton. Yeah the stuff comes from China but so does everything else including the upscale high fashion brands.

Posted by: daisy at December 23, 2013 10:26 AM

B Lewis--the banjo player in Deliverance actually does work at at Walmart today, in north Georgia!

Posted by: Ann K at December 23, 2014 11:05 AM

I lived and worked in the Philippines for most of 2002-3. The production workers there were paid an equivalent of about $5 US dollars per day. Although that sounds like taking advantage of the worker, the supply/demand rule made that the going wage.That worker also got a bus ride to and from work, lunch paid for and there was a free clinic inside the factory for the workers (many of them young pregnant women). The cost of living for these workers is also quite low, so the $5/day was a good deal for them. Capitalism at work...

Posted by: Snakepit Kansas at December 20, 2015 5:12 AM

If not for the Federal Reserve's hijacking of the money system in 1913 US citizens here could live quite well on $5 a day too.

Consider that $1 in 1913 is worth about $97 today.
Said another way, something that costs $97 today only cost $1 in 1913.

Where did all of it go?

Posted by: ghostsniper at December 20, 2015 9:55 AM

"Wal-Mart, the greatest thing to happen for working people in the United States since trade unions"...all so your silver-haired grandma can say "Welcome to Wal-Mart."

Posted by: Albert Camus at December 20, 2015 9:57 AM

Walmart/Sams Club; white managers and customers need not apply.

Posted by: John the River at December 20, 2015 8:49 PM

"There is hardly anything in the world that some man cannot make a little worse and sell a little cheaper, and the people who consider price only are this man's lawful prey. "
John Ruskin

When the next global conflict starts, the United States will be unable to respond. We manufacture very little. We have very few skilled workers. And Wally World will be empty. Because the ships will stop bringing goods, instead bringing armed Chinese. By the billions. Enjoy your cheap coat.

Posted by: Papa23 at December 19, 2016 10:45 PM

@Papa23, behind every blade of grass are 10 guns and 10,000 rounds of ammo. Bring it.

Vacant Walmart caverns will be converted to massive dead chinese body disposal units. The rest will be eaten. Better stay out of the way.

Posted by: ghostsniper at December 20, 2016 8:13 AM

Get the idea that you should have left off the last two sentences?

There has been a lot of changes since this comment thread started in 2009. It has become pretty clear that US government interference in commerce and manufacturing has grown faster than American productivity has been able to keep up with. The minimum wage increases have wiped out the very concept of teenagers working for a paycheck, those of us that got our first job at 13'ish have difficulty imagining 'kids' who haven't worked for a paycheck at twenty-five.
I try to avoid Chinese made every since a package of new button batteries started smoking in the kitchen drawer, but China isn't the problem. It's our own government (and it's vast intrusive bureaucracy) that we put in place and then put up with.
What's funny is that the Chinese are now beginning to see some work seeking cheaper nations after an average of 12% wage increase per year for the last decade. If not for the push for new, ridiculous minimum wage increases, America might have very well gained back some of the lost jobs. Lucky for the Chinese that the Democrats nipped that in the bud.

Posted by: John The River at December 20, 2016 9:24 AM


Gimme a break GS. I read a lot of your posts and I admire and like your sand. But...

Stay out of the way?

I've been on the planet long enough to know that when wars take place, that the ranks are full of average Joes who would rather not be in the world of shit that they are in. BUt they do their job, including dying.

The ranks are not full of killers. Just men who do their jobs.

I am armed. I am trained. I am willing. The net seems full of posters who think they will win a conflict by themselves. It is telling on those individuals.

They will need reluctant average Joe soldiers to help them stay alive.

Blood and guts killers get killed all the time. Navy Seals die all the time. Snipers too. Just like average Joes. Bullets have not prejuduces.

Someone like myself may actually have your six.

Posted by: Papa23 at December 20, 2016 11:37 AM

The Wal-Mart in our small town closed about a month ago and man do I miss it. Now it's a 45 minute drive maybe once a week to Big Spring to pick up this and that.

I will say though I liked it much better years ago when you'd walk through one and see Made In America signs proudly displayed everywhere. I wouldn't mind paying more if the product was manufactured here

Posted by: MMinLamesa at December 20, 2016 11:48 AM