Friday, June 29, 2012



The counter at Blogspot tells me that this is my 100th posting - happy birthday to me too!

On July 2, 2012, Walmart will turn 50.  Happy Birthday Walmart -  you’re now eligible for membership in the AARP. Or should that be that the AAPR: the American Association of Powerful Retailers?  You think there’s power in the Presidency? For real power think Walmart. It is the world’s largest private employer and the world’s largest retailer. World – not just the good old U.S. of A.  From an international down to a local perspective, they are the tail that wags the dog.

I can remember when the entry of Walmart into a town was a thing not to be borne. It was heralded as the death of any local retail endeavor, and was fought tooth and nail lest the whole local economy go down the drain, and the town take in its sidewalks and go belly up. The last state holdout against Walmart was Vermont.  The idea of that method of retailing just made them squirm - if you know and love the Vermont Country Store you’ll understand why - and Vermonters  would not permit any of those huge, stand alone, big box stores. I can remember when some strange folks thought ski areas were a blight on the landscape, but I could readily agree with the Vermonters that they didn’t need these monstrosities cluttering up their green mountains.

At the time I was living in upstate New York, just ‘next door’, and Bennington was one of our regular haunts. Well those sneaky folks from Arkansas up and slipped a Walmart into an old vacant Woolworth’s in beautiful downtown Bennington, Vermont. Yes sir, what a hoot! 
I never did get into that particular Walmart, being well endowed with two closer Walmarts in New York or Massachusetts, a mere twenty miles away east or west of where I lived.  Now that I’ve moved to the Charlotte area, I am spoiled for choice as far as Walmarts are concerned. I can set out in any direction and hit six of them – the newest and closest only about four miles away - and I can shop ‘til I drop. I’ve been to Walmarts all over the country, and I can usually find exactly what I need at most of them. They’ve become like the old Howard Johnson restaurants. Not haute cuisine or haute couture, but reliable. There’s usually the standard layout so that I don’t have to search all over the place. I must say that they really scrambled the layout when they opened the closest one just two years ago. It took me a while to be comfortable there. Many of the aisles are at an angle to the main one, but I do love having the ‘drug store’ aisles on the same side of the store as the grocery. 
I remember from reading some random Heinlein (yes, I believe it was one of Robert Heinlein’s stories: my memory ain’t what it used to be and it was during my youthful addiction to science fiction) of future life on the moon where the major suppliers were Sears Roebuck and Montgomery Ward, or a combination thereof.  As a science fiction writer Heinlein was quite a prophet of real things to come, but he missed any cues from a burgeoning Walmart. 

Last, but not least: I know I’ve mentioned this in another essay, but while we’re on the subject of Walmart’s birthday you must go and have a celebratory laugh or two at The People of Walmart. Yes, you will be amazed, you will be awestruck, you will laugh yourself sick.

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