Monday, February 05, 2007

Leave Wal-Mart Alone

I am still catching up with yesterdays news, and last Sundays as well. I just read the JT business reporter Michael Burke's article where he praises Kenosha's decision to prevent Wal-Mart from opening a supercenter in town. "An economic impact assessment concluded the area is already overserved with grocery stores and pharmacies, and that Wal-Mart would pose undue competition for existing retailers."

When businesses are protected from competition, consumers pay more. By eliminating this competition, Kenosha politicians are essentially forcing Kenosha shoppers to subsidize weak businesses that can't survive in a competitive market.

In my view, government should stay out of this entirely. Let consumers decide if the area is indeed "overserved with grocery stores and pharmacies" and if that is the case, let the consumer decide, through their patronage, which businesses should close and which should remain open.


Eric said...

Denis, you are a neo-classical liberal of the social Darwinian bent, what is commonly refered to today as a conservative. Just wanted you to know I am learning something in these classes I'm taking.

Anonymous said...

Walmart isn't exactly normal competition, it's like David and Goliath. WalMart is a monster and taking over the world, literally. It's a shame that people do not take into consideration shopping WalMart is going to put smaller businesses that can't possibly compete, out of business. I do think about that, and therefore do not shop at Walmart.
I hate seeing what Walmart is doing to other countries, I personally saw what it has done to a small town in England, totally changed its culture and people's way of life.
Ugggh, I HATE WalMart. They have enough money, why must they take over the entire world?

Denis Navratil said...

Sounds about right Eric. How would you label your own political philosophy?

Anon, as long as people are somewhat free to pursue their own interests, some will fail and others will succeed. Wal-Mart is doing well now with a low price no frills approach to retailing. Some day another business will come up with an idea that will draw people away from Wal-Mart. They may be bankrupt in 10 years for all we know. Clearly many people appreciate the low prices for everyday goods. Others, myself among them, find the atmosphere and service rather lacking. I think my own retail business benefits from a backlash against monolithic, impersonal retail goliaths like Wal-Mart and similar businesses. As huge as Wal-Mart is, there is no way they can fill every possible need of consumers. I think you are a bit hysterical about Wal-Mart, needlessly so. Just don't shop there.

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jp said...

Are not Wisconsin businesses protected by minimum mark up laws?

Denis Navratil said...

jp, I own a small business. I am not aware of any minimum markup law. I think we have one for gasoline though.

Wind Lake Jase said...

It is amazing to me how many people say "They don't want Wal-Mart to come to town." It is equally amazing how many people still flock there because they offer value (decent products at a proportional price). Where's the last Wal-Mart that went out of business? Is it a shame that they provide jobs for so many people in and out of this country? How many jobs did the Mom-and-Pop store down the street provide (likely not 1/10th what Wal-Mart did)? Once again, I have to support Denis on this one. The most powerful vote any consumer makes is with his/her dollar.

And Anonymous - I'd be proud to be called a conservative. But I'd be even more proud if I was called a capitalist.

The greatest gift America gave to the world is the ability "to make money." Prior to the formation of our country, money was generally stolen or inherited. It is our country that coined that phrase. For once, there was a place anyone could go and through their own hard work and intelligence, create wealth that did not exist before. Wal-Mart is the ultimate expression of that idea. I think they are wonderful though I rarely shop there as I live 15 miles from the nearest store.

Besides, there are too many examples of good mom-and-pops that compete in very close proximity to stores like Wal-Mart: Fitgerald's Pharmacy in Whitefish Bay recently watched an Osco drug down the street get bought out by CVS. What does that mean? Osco couldn't make it against them so they bolted leaving CVS to try. Another example is Solly's restaurant in Glendale - less than a mile from every fast food joint at the corner of I-43 and Silver Spring, there stands an old time burger joint that has done nothing but laugh at them. It's so crowded at Solly's, there are definite times not to go there.

Saying that Wal-Mart will put all the small business out of business is an insult to the very people you seek to protect. Long live Wal-Mart: they've raised the bar on retail competition!!!!

Wind Lake Jase

eric said...


I'll go with the fiscal conservative/social liberal label for now.


Where's the last Wal-Mart that went out of business? That would be all their stores in Germany. Now they're giving China a shot.

Anonymous said...

I didn't realize WalMart pulled out of Germany, actually that's great news. I lived in Germany and hate to see other countries become too Americanized. The whole American Walmart culture just doesn't belong everywhere. Walmart (they call them ASDA in Britain) seems to be popping up all over England now though along with McDonalds, Burger King, Pizza Hut and KFC. Changing subject slightly for a moment, what gets me is how the Brits make fun of the obesity of Americans, yet they are right behind us on the scales and catching up quickly. The more they shop and eat like Americans the more they become like us, whether they want to admit it or not.

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