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I've still been thinking about a post I read yesterday by gring0242, a father of four making $30,000/year who feels compelled to shop at Wal-Mart because of the allegedly low prices.  My initial response was to caution him that the prices may not  be that low and urge him to fight Wal-Mart in his own way.

Now I think I have a good way to take that fight to Wal-Mart directly.  Marking his 100th post at No Cleveland Wal-Mart, Jeff Hess has suggested that everybody who feels they have no choice but to shop Wal-Mart simply stop buying toothpaste there.

Why toothpaste?  Here's his reasoning:

All along I have been uncomfortable with those who would ask families on the poverty edge to not shop at Wal Mart and further stress their meager financial resources. A few weeks ago, while reading John Dicker's United States Of Wal Mart, I came across this little nugget:

Wal Mart is the largets retailer in the world, hawking more DVDs, magazines, books, CDs, dog food, diapers, bicycles, toys and toothpaste than any other company.

It was the toothpaste that caught my eye. I did some more checking and found that it controls approximatley 25 percent of the world's toothpaste sales. That means the company is raking in some $375 million from the approximately $1.5 billion in annual toothpaste sales in the U.S.

Now, if you're Wal Mart, and your annual sales are $288.189 billion, $375 million -- or only a miniscule 0.13 percent -- is less than a drop in the bucket, but it's still noticable. So here's what I propose.

If your family finances are such that you can avoid shopping at Wal Mart all together, that's wondeful. But, as a minimum, buy your toothpaste somwhere else. Doing so won't hurt your dental health. It won't damage the toothpaste industry. It won't hurt the workers who manufacture and distribute toothpaste. And, it won't hurt Wal Mart associates.

Your financial burden will rise a tiny bit, but you'll be helping to send a message that Wal Mart can track and measure.

Wal-Mart always cites the number of its customers as proof of how popular it is, but I've always wondered just how many people who shop there are as angry about the service and how they treat employees as gring.

Wal-Mart won't go down because of this little protest, but wouldn't it be great to scare the pants off them?  They can track PopTart sales at stores in towns ravaged by hurricanes so you know even a small dent in toothpaste sales will register.

If you do shop at Wal-Mart, send them a message they won't miss.

JR

Originally posted to JR Monsterfodder on Fri Aug 26, 2005 at 10:07 AM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  If you think this is a good idea... (4.00)
    ...recommend this post.  But as it seems most Kossacks wouldn't be caught dead at a Wal-Mart, it is more important to pass this idea on to your angry Wal-Mart shopping friends.

    Have a blog with an audience that includes more than just liberals?  Then post the suggestion there too.

    JR

    The trouble with capitalism is capitalists. They're too greedy. - Herbert Hoover

    by JR Monsterfodder on Fri Aug 26, 2005 at 10:06:28 AM PDT

  •  I've never shopped at Wal-Mart (none)
    and I never will, but I will ask others to do this.
  •  How to beat Walmart prices: (4.00)
    Here's how I beat Walmart prices, and feel good doing it:

    1. Buy in bulk at Costco
    2. Buy used from other consumers -- garage sales, swap meets, online classifieds (craigslist!)
    3. Shop 99 cent stores, and other similar outlets that sell closeout and discontinued merchandise
    4. Buy direct from farmers and other small businesses. I get my produce at the farmers' market, curtains from the garment district.

    Oh -- and you should never buy toothpaste from Walmart or any mainstream retailer. All those toothpastes are full of chemical crap like artificial sweeteners, and cheap filler ingredients, and they are considered cosmetics, not food, so they don't have to use internally-safe ingredients!

    Spend a few cents extra and buy a natural toothpaste.

    --
    The neocons will not give us our country back. If we want it back, we'll have to take it.
    --Lila Garrett

    by peacemonger on Fri Aug 26, 2005 at 10:12:34 AM PDT

    •  Or, (4.00)
      for a really cheap and natural toothpaste, mix a little Dr. Bronner's peppermint liquid soap with a bit of baking soda.

      --
      The neocons will not give us our country back. If we want it back, we'll have to take it.
      --Lila Garrett

      by peacemonger on Fri Aug 26, 2005 at 10:14:46 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  reallllly? (none)
        I used to use dr b's exclusively to wash cloth diapers (love that peppermint smell in my laundry room!) but I'd never think of using it to brush my teeth!
        and fwiw, i agree whole heartedly about the chemicals and CRAP in toothpaste, and just about everything else.
        my daughter especially has some ADD tendencies, but the symptoms are seriously reduced when she doesnt have artificial colorings and flavors. Red dye is the worst, it hypes her up, she doesnt stop talking (and i mean that, she talks just to talk, making no sense whatsoever) and she can't concentrate. Similarly, on days when she has dyes, that following night, I can almost count on her sleepwalking (she will get up from bed, totally asleep, walk around the house crying and completely confused)

        The only Bush I trust is my own - I want my freaking democracy back!

        by mytribe on Fri Aug 26, 2005 at 10:24:26 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  The Bronner's toothpaste (none)
          works quite well, but it's definitely not sweet. Most toothpastes include lots of sweeteners to hide the soap. So it's definitely an acquired taste, and may not work for children.

          As for the dyes and other chemicals, most of them have never been studied as to their short or long term effects on health. Truly scary.

          --
          The neocons will not give us our country back. If we want it back, we'll have to take it.
          --Lila Garrett

          by peacemonger on Fri Aug 26, 2005 at 10:34:35 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Fluoride. (none)
            Some of us cavity-prone folks need it.

            The less a man knows about how sausages and laws are made, the easier it is to steal his vote and give him botulism.

            by SensibleShoes on Fri Aug 26, 2005 at 10:45:33 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  It's available from many sources, (none)
              including your local water supply, and rat poison. :-)

              External application of fluoride has not been shown to prevent tooth decay. But there are many natural toothpastes with flouride if you want it.

              --
              The neocons will not give us our country back. If we want it back, we'll have to take it.
              --Lila Garrett

              by peacemonger on Fri Aug 26, 2005 at 10:46:58 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

  •  I don't go to Wal-Mart (none)
    I buy from the Dollar Store, Aldi's, Save-A-Lot, Kmart, any place that has Colgate Total toothpaste,
    I also buy big bottles of hydrogen peroxide to use as a mouth rinse before brushing, on the advice of my dentist. Foams up the little particles and whitens teeth.

    War is not an adventure. It is a disease. It is like typhus. - Antoine De Saint-Exupery

    by Margot on Fri Aug 26, 2005 at 10:15:40 AM PDT

  •  This is just stupid (3.33)
    The impact of a few people (even a million people if you are lucky) who would stop buying toothpaste at WalMart would be completely insignificant to WalMart. I doubt this would be more than a little blip in their tracking. At the rate WalMart is growing, there is no way a mild protest boycott like stopping buying toothpaste would ever make a difference.

    Do or don't shop at Walmart. I hate the place, but love Target. It's my choice. Go where it makes you feel good to shop. If you like low prices- fine. If you want better service or want to feel less of a cog in the WalMart machine- then go elsewhere. But this notion of not buying toothpaste there is just a waste of time.

    •  You May Be Right (4.00)
      But you never know.  Since the goal would be to send a message rather than destroy Wal-Mart, using toothpaste as an outlet for anger might do some good.

      JR

      The trouble with capitalism is capitalists. They're too greedy. - Herbert Hoover

      by JR Monsterfodder on Fri Aug 26, 2005 at 11:13:13 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  actually it would seem (none)
      that it doesn't make a difference.

      However, it does send a message, as JR said, and secondly, I think it may turn into a "fad"... if it works, it may starts with toothpaste, but slowly other things as well.

  •  Can we buy what hurts WarMart? (4.00)
    Can we find out what things they're selling at a loss and just buy those things? We win getting things at below market rate. They lose money on every transaction. Hurray?
    •  ...other side to this.. (why this might not work) (none)
      taken from another webpage but this is the basic idea behind Wal-mart:

      1. Sell items at a loss
      2. Wait for competitors to give up
      3. Raise prices

      ... so.. only buying what hurts them is better than buying everything, but the larger picture/aspect of this is that that's what they do for probably a lot of things, and that waiting for their competitors to die off completely is their goal... not whether they make money in the short term.
  •  WalMart is not really cheaper (4.00)
    There are a few things that they are genuinely cheaper on.  But they also mislabel a lot of things (whether maliciously or incompetently, I can't say) so you think you are saving money when you end up not doing so at the register.  Also, you have to buy things twice because their products are crappier.

    I stopped going to WalMart because I noticed I was always crabby when I left.  My wife, who is a human calculator when it comes to getting the best deal, eventually followed me for the same reason.  The very small amount (just a guess, but probably less than $25/mo) of money we "lose" by shopping at the local grocery store and Target is more than made up for in happiness.

    Complaining about the government but failing to run for office (or at least vote) is morally equivalent to cheerleading the war and failing to enlist.

    by RequestedUsername on Fri Aug 26, 2005 at 10:36:34 AM PDT

    •  Not true around here (3.66)
      About a month ago, we decided to stop grocery shopping at WalMart.  That decision alone has added anywhere from $25 to $35 a week to our grocery expenses.  We spent a few weeks trying to figure out which of the remaining acceptable grocery stores would be cheapest, but we still wind up paying at least $25 more each week than we would if we bought the same exact items at WalMart.  My family is lucky though; we can afford $25 extra a week.  Other people cannot and I would never fault them for choosing to feed their family over feeding their social consciousness.  Certainly, it's great to be able to do both.  But I can understand why people who are really strapped would continue to shop at WalMart.
  •  Wonderful idea (none)
    Almost makes me wish I shopped at Walmart so I could quit buying toothpaste there----very small almost.

    I have a couple of friends who really do feel they need Wallyworld.  Income somewhat less than 30K.  I think they'll love the toothpaste idea, and if its still too much of a drag, maybe I'll just gift them with toothpaste.   <eg>

    Truth, Justice, The American Way and Paper ballots!!!

    by maybeeso in michigan on Fri Aug 26, 2005 at 11:14:19 AM PDT

  •  I've been making the case (4.00)
    to my Walmart shopping friends that they are raising their own gas prices by doing so. Walmart is the largest importer from China, whose increased appetite for gas on the global market is a major contributor to the supply shortage. So paying less at Walmart = paying more at the pump.

    That seems like a frame anyone can understand and get behind. Thoughts?

    Democracy is the worst form of government except for all those others that have been tried. -Winston Churchill

    by roysol on Fri Aug 26, 2005 at 11:17:45 AM PDT

    •  i've tried using (none)
      similar logic with regard to the number of walmart employees who are receiving some sort of welfare.  Shop at walmart = increased taxes.  they don't get it.  they can't (won't) do the math.  i'd be interested to hear if you have any success tho....

      "Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it." -Ferris Bueller

      by lapolitichick on Fri Aug 26, 2005 at 01:18:25 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Walmart prices (none)
    With the millions of people going to Walmart it seems that it would be straight forward to have some price comparisons made. Various people could monitor specific items and post the prices on a site. They could also report the same items from other stores near by.

    One of things Walmart does is have things made to their specifications. So even brand name items that appear to be the same may be slightly different. This makes it hard to actually compare prices.

    Things like underware and tee shirts are, in many cases, thinner than similar items sold elsewhere.

    I think staples like toothpaste are one area where they try to be cheaper since they are easy to compare. But try TVs where nobody has the same model. That's where they make up for it.

    Musings on Society: policies not politics robertdfeinman.com

    by robertdfeinman on Fri Aug 26, 2005 at 02:25:51 PM PDT

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