...swirling around on the blogs I visit regularly. Glenn Reynolds' little quip sums up my own feelings perfectly: I'm no big fan, but the squalling of WalMart's foes sounds like advertising to my contrarian heart.
Those wanting the mega-retailer to dry up and blow away might as well wish for a new pony for Christmas while they're at it; there're just some things that a giant retail conglomerate can offer better than any Mom & Pop. Those bemoaning the destruction of Mom & Pop are missing the fact that when Wally World comes to town, it only crushes little businesses foolish enough to try and compete head-to-head with it, when there are plenty of niches that the Blue Collar Nirvana leaves open to exploit, the three main ones being Specialty Items, Snob Customers, and Convenience Addicts.
Wal Mart isn't and can't be everything to everybody. If you need a bottle of Arrogant Bastard Ale, a box of Buffalo Bore .41 Magnum ammunition, or an odd piece of software for your Mac, well, Wal Mart just can't inventory those things. Similarly, if your yearnings run towards a scary-looking Eeevil Black Rifle, or the controversial raunch-rock album with its naughty lyrics intact, well, Wal Mart won't inventory those. Somebody's gotta sell 'em, though.
This kind of intersects with Snob Customers; I know, because I am one. Some people are willing to spend more to get a better degree of service. If there was a grocery store that charged double the usual prices, but had an obsequeious toady following me around the store to fetch items I pointed at off the shelves, I'd be there with bells on. I'll always spend a couple bucks more to avoid being treated like cattle.
Lastly comes convenience; which may sound ironic, but is one of the main reasons you won't see me at Wally World much. It is just too damned inconvenient to navigate the asphalt prairie, dodge pick-'em-ups with "#3" stickers in the back window, schlep across a store the size of Rhode Island, and wait in a hundred-person-long checkout line just to save a dollar on a six-pack of beer, two tee shirts, and some TV dinners. I'd rather be hit between the eyes with a ball peen hammer. Repeatedly.
Blending some elements of all three of these profiles, I'm obviously not the Wal Mart Shopper, and my retail dollars are largely safe with Mom & Pop. But I am in the Super Store a couple of times a year anyway.
Nobody does bulk bags of socks like Wally World.