Wal-Mart Sucks

Another empty soul of a Wal-Mart

Here’s what I get for reading old copies of Utne.

This is from a little article in the October 2004 Utne about Wal-Mart and all of their great business practices…

Once Wal-Mart stifles its competition in a region, it consolidates its holdings by vacating many of its stores. To limit competitors in the future, the leases of these dark Wal-Marts prevent them from being used for retail. Other uses for these massive windowless structures are limited.

As of February 2004, Wal-Mart possesses 371 dead stores. Half of these buildings have been vacant for at least two years, and 21 percent have not been used for at least five years. Over that time, the number of dead Wal-Marts has risen 38 percent. Meanwhile, Wal-Mart opens a new store every 42 hours.

Can you believe this shit? They open Wal-Mart stores, and then when the local economy can no longer sustain them, they just leave them empty – empty! – and forbid any other businesses to enter, lest they take over the market share of their store – let me repeat.. their empty store – and allow the teeming masses to realize that, in fact, they don’t need Wal-Mart at all!

I looked into Wal-Mart a little more and found some fun stuff.

First, from Al Norman, of Sprawl-Busters…

People are surprised that Wal-Mart would even want to locate a store at Ashland, with another one 10 miles away. But that’s part of the Wal-Mart saturation strategy. They place their stores so close together that they become their own competition. Once everybody else is wiped out, then they’re free to thin out their stores. Wal-Mart has 390 empty stores on the market today. This is a company that has changed stores as casually as you and I change shoes.

According to this article, Wal-Mart has left behind more than 25 million square feet of unoccupied space across the country. To quote:

The company claims it tries to sell these properties, but the only potential buyers are other big retailers, and Wal-Mart will not sell real estate to its competitors. In one Kentucky town, an empty Wal-Mart was torn down at the taxpayers’ expense.

This article, from 2002, gives the annual count of Wal-Mart empty buildings.

In fact, you’d be well informed about Wal-Mart’s business practices as a whole by checking out Sprawl-busters.com, where they say “yoru quality of life is worth more than a cheap pair of underwear.” (I guess that depends on who you ask.)

The greatest thing, though, is how so many people and orgainizations are fighting back. Some of the more fun examples are the National Trust for Historic Preservation, who has declared Vermont – yes, the entire state – as an endangered historic place due to the building of four Wal-Mart stores in the past 10 years (in 1993 it was the last state without one.) According to their website, Vermont “now faces an invasion of behemoth stores that could destroy much of what makes Vermont Vermont,” Also, for those of us who are internet savvy, there are a couple of websites to frequent when we’re pissed at Wal-Mart, such as Wal-Mart Watch, Boycott Walmart (a division of 1world communication), the Wal-Mart Sucks Journal, and Walmart Blows, among others.

The worst thing, though, is thinking about the fact that we have two Wal-Marts in this town, in lil’ ol’ Sioux Falls. How long will it be until these two big boxes squeeze what little local business we have out of town and then, hell, close up one of the stores. How long until we have a large empty building worth absouletly nothing?

Story moral? Wal-Mart is a no good bully, and we all should hate it.


Off of the rant, though, I heard Ben Folds on Sirius Live Sessions tonight at work. He played a newer song called “Late,” which is a posthumous tribute to Elliott Smith and could be one of the most touching and sad songs ever written. It could be for another column the talent we lost in Elliott Smith, and for what we’ll never know, but I guess all of the great ones feel they need to be remembered for killing themselves.

Unfortunately, all it really ever does is put a sad ending to what is usually shaping up to be a solid story.

“Late” – Ben Folds

Under some dirty words on a dirty wall
Eating takeout by myself
I play the shows
Got back in the van and put the walkman on
And you were playing

In some other time a thousand miles away
I played a thousand times before
And like pathetic stars, the truck stops and the rock club walls
I always knew
You saw them too
But you never will again

It’s too late
Don’t you know
It’s been too late
For a long time

Elliott, man, you played a fine guitar
And some dirty basketball
The songs you wrote
Got me through a lot
Just wanna tell you that

But it’s too late

It’s too late
Don’t you know
it’s been too late
for a long time

No, no
Things were looking up
Least that’s what I heard
No, no
Someone came and washed away your hard-earned
Piece of mind

When desperate static beats the silence up
A quiet truth to calm you down
The songs you wrote
Got me through a lot
Just wanna tell ya…

Oh, but it’s too late

It’s too late
Don’t you know?
It’s been too late
For a long time.

This was lovingly handwritten on March 10th, 2005