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This past Thursday afternoon,
one of the most respected bloggers here at Daily Kos,
FishOutofWater,
posted a diary that was still on the rec list,
when I started writing this diary,
36 hours later.

It dropped off before I got done.

Here is the link:

http://www.dailykos.com/...  

It's a well written diary,
it gives us a link and a quote,
from Bloomberg.

But,
better than the diary,
is the comment thread,
as stated by the mighty Fish himself:

 Friday morning update:

I never expected so many comments. Thanks. Comments by people who have had business dealings with Wal Mart have been very revealing.  

 

So,
if Fish's diary,
and the many commentors,
with their inside knowledge,
are so informative,
why in the hell is goofy old bigjac writing another diary on Walmart?

The answer is below the squiggly:

I've worked in retail for more than 20 years,
fifteen years at OfficeMax,
and more than five years at Walmart.

The Walmart where I work is the busiest Walmart
in the Wichita area,
with about 400 workers
serving about 10,000 customers a day.

On a slow day.

By the way,
even though I get my paycheck from a slice of all that sales volume,
I often feel somewhat swamped by the flow of customers,
pouring in the doors of my workplace,
so,
anything you can do to reduce that flow,
should make my job a little easier.

That's sort of snark,
since lower sales,
(one point of Fish's diary)
could mean my hours get cut,
but if you were in my position,
an old dude trying to serve my share of so many customers,
you'd feel what I'm saying.

I just want you to have a feel for where I'm coming from;
anytime anyone tells me our sales are down,
I feel like saying,
it certainly doesn't feel as if we have any less customers,
pouring in the doors,
buying vast quantities of goods.

Anyway,
I feel as if I know a thing or two about Walmart,
at least my particular Walmart.

So,
I hope you'll think carefully about what I write here about Walmart.

First, about the picture:

http://s3.amazonaws.com/...

The picture of empty shelves,
completely empty shelves,
as far as you can see,
is not a picture of an area that has sold out of anything;
it's a picture of an area where one of us Walmart workers
has removed what was there,
because either it was seasonal items,
and items for the next season will soon be there,
or we are changing the layout in that area,
rearranging everything,
by taking everything off the shelves,
and putting it all back on,
often adding new or seasonal items.

Changing the layout is the meaning of the phrase mentioned in Fish's diary,
'modular changes.'

Officemax calls the layout a planogram,
Walmart calls it a modular.

It's a diagram for our use, so we know the layout
prescribed by the store planning people higher up.

This is the part of the Bloomberg article
that mentioned modular changes,
and prompted me to explain:

When Simon said things were “getting worse” he was referring to “modular changes,” the process of replenishing merchandise to keep up with customer demand and changing seasons, Tovar said. Wal-Mart is working to “manage this in the most efficient way possible,” he said.  
 

I suppose he meant that each time us low level workers work on the process
of changing out merchandise,
the average time from start to finish of the project
might be getting a little longer,
allowing customers to see those empty shelves,
for real.

But,
once again,
a huge area of empty shelves
is not an area where something has sold out:
the only one who picks the shelves that clean is us,
the Walmart workers.

Now,
for a real issue:
you want a fairly common item,
and you go to your local Walmart,
and they're out,
and you go back,
every other day,
every week,
and every time,
they're out.

I have no inside information on why this happens;
Walmart has computers,
and workers with common sense,
and we are trying to figure it out;
that was the purpose of that high level meeting,

  "We run out quickly and the new stuff doesn’t come in,” U.S. Chief Executive Officer Bill Simon said, according to the minutes of the Feb. 1 meeting. Simon said “self-inflicted wounds” were Wal-Mart’s “biggest risk” and that an executive vice president had been appointed to fix the restocking problem, according to the minutes.  

Walmart is not ignoring the problem;
it's very annoying to you, as a customer,
and it's a danger to Walmart's continued dominance of retail.

An executive vice president was appointed to fix it.

But this next quote could also be correct:

 "We’re very pleased with our in-stock position,” he said, adding that products audited by the company and its consultants match or exceed historical levels. He declined to disclose what those levels are.  
 

Do you know for a fact,
actual numbers from an external audit,
whether it's getting worse,
whether it's worse than K-Mart?

Of course you don't.

When you really want an item,
and Walmart's out,
the incident is inflated in your feelings;
you have not checked a hundred items,
and you haven't been checking that same hundred items
for years,
for decades.

So,
you don't know,
I don't know,
if it's any worse than the past,
or if it's any worse than K-Mart.

Stores run out of shit.

Shit like that happens.

The cynical view of this
is that Walmart can't serve two masters.

Profit is goal number one.

Making absolutely certain
every customer has exactly what he and she wants,
that's simply not the goal.

Think about it.

Coming close to that goal
helps them,
helps us,
stay ahead of K-mart,
but it can never be the primary goal.

Besides,
Walmart indirectly overburdens the limited resources of Earth
as it is.

You want Walmart to push harder?

I hate to throw famine and death and the end of civilization
as we know it,
I hate to throw all that into this diary,
but I think it's coming within my lifetime,
unless the fracking holds it off a little longer.

We're running out of oil and natural gas,
and we can't grow enough food for 300 million Americans
with no natural gas for the fertilizer,
and no diesel fuel for the tractors and harvesting machines.

So,
everything Walmart is doing that you hate,
they are doing it while trying to serve the needs of way too many humans,
and it's a lost cause.

If Walmart did not exist,
K-Mart would be doing the same thing,
and the whole thing would still collapse.

Buy this book:

http://www.amazon.com/...

A few more points,
from my notes:

Long lines at the register?

It takes about five minutes
to ring up a bog batch of groceries and other goods,
about $200 or $300 worth.

If you have two big carts ahead of you,
you will be up to bat in ten minutes.

You have a stopwatch in your pocket;
it's a tool on your phone.

Next time you get in line,
get your phone out,
and start the stopwatch.

See how long it takes.

It only feels like 45 minutes,
it's actually ten, or fifteen at the most.

Use your stopwatch,
then show your cashier,
and write about it here at Daily Kos.

About competitors,
here in Wichita,
we have no competitors,
unless you shop during daytime hours only.

At one AM,
you're coming to Walmart,
since every other store is closed.

Except for the Quick Trip convenience stores.

I wish Dollar General and Family Dollar and K-Mart would all stay open
24 hours a day,
but they don't.

But they don't.

If you want a great deal on AA alkaline batteries,
go to Dollar General.
$5 for a package of 20 AA alkaline batteries.

But they close at ten PM,
so hurry.

About the suppliers,
known in retail as 'vendors,'
I suspected on my own
what was confirmed in the comment thread
of Fish's diary:
Walmart must be cutting a special deal
with at least some of them,
to make it impossible for any competitor
to have the same item at a lower price than Walmart.

That is truly rigging the game,
and I know I get a paycheck from the Walmart dominance monopoly,
but when I'm thinking as a customer,
I wish K-Mart could somehow compete
with precisely the same prices,
on everything,
and stay open 24 hours,
and folks could decide where to shop
based on
someone they like who works at one or the other store,
or some other factor besides price and open all night.

By the way,
on most items I buy,
the prices are actually lowest at Walmart.

The glaring exception is the batteries mentioned above.

But on so many items,
such as over-the-counter remedies,
such as aspirin, acetaminophen, ibuprofen, naproxen sodium, loperamide,
and simple items such as a basic curtain rod,
liquid hand soap,
and cotton washcloths,
18 for $4,
on so many items,
I can't find a better price than my own Walmart store.

I don't know what kind of slave labor was involved in sewing the edges
on the washcloths,
but for now,
I'm buying a lot of washcloths,
and I'm getting that bargain,
with a 10%  discount.

Another topic:
not every Walmart carries guns and ammo.
In the one where I work, we do.

Since the President's announcement to take action on the topic,
our ammunition has been selling
as fast as we get it in.

We have imposed a limit of five boxes per customer.

Worry sells ammo.

General dirtiness of the store:
not too bad in our store;
hard to clean up after 10,000 sloppy, messy, customers,
who leave things on the floor.

I understand leaving things out of place,
but on the floor?

Restroom cleaning:
I've spent a lot of years cleaning restrooms,
and I wish the crew at my store would clean more thoroughly,
and more often,
but it eventually gets clean enough, I suppose.

Oh,
one last thing:

The Walmart name,
the logo,
the way it's written;
Here is a link to the history of the Walmart logo:

http://www.google.com/...

Since 2008,
five years ago,
it's been the way I've written it,
in the title of this diary,
and all through this diary
(but with a giant yellow asterisk,
called a spark,
after the name).

The Bloomberg article spelled it Wal-Mart!

You're late!

Thanks for reading.

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