Monday, July 11

The Great Wal

I do not patronize Wal-Mart. Not because of some ethical or moral imperative, but because the stores I've visited in the past have been poorly organized, poorly lit and painfully slow from which to check out. It seems as though most American consumers have strong feelings about Wal-Mart, whether it is admiration or loathing. But Slate wonders how Wal-Mart will expand into new uncharted territory: consumers who don't make purchases based on the lowest price. The article even recommends (tongue firmly planted in cheek, I assume) that Wal-Mart adopt some strategies from luxury boutiques and high-end chains. However, I'd advise them to ignore the advice about looking to Restoration Hardware for tips on "inventory management." I think perhaps the author meant "product assortment."

The retail behemoth has been in the news lately, on the global front, as questions are raised about the company's role in the trade deficit with China. But there's also been recent news on the local front too, as the Washington Post documents how life in Wal-Mart's northwest Arkansas hometown has gone upscale as more of its suppliers have established local offices to serve their biggest client. And when those executives who work for the suppliers relocate, they are demanding more amenities and cultural activities. I guess not everyone believes that Wal-Mart is where the heart is.