Business Philosophy

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Eight Ways to Beat Walmart

Facts vs. Myths

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Local Letters

Walmart SS Solution

Walmart and the Local Economy

What We Stand To Lose

What Others Have Done

People to Contact

Contact TAWSS or call 758-9585


Eight Ways to Beat Wal-Mart

Support your friends and neighbors and local businesses.

Say NO to an SS Wal-Mart!

  • Quote scripture: Wal-Mart founder Sam Walton said it best in his autobiography: "If some community, for whatever reason, doesn't want us in there, we aren't interested in going in and creating a fuss." Or, as one company VP stated, "We have so many opportunities for building in communities that want Wal-Marts, it would be foolish of us to pursue construction in communities that don't want us." The greater the fuss raised by local citizens, the more foolish Wal-Mart becomes.

  • Learn Wal-math: Walmathematicians only know how to add. They never talk about the jobs they destroy, the vacant retail space they create, or their impact on commercial property values. In our town, the company agreed to pay for an impact study that gave us enough data to kill three Wal-Marts. Dollars merely shifted from cash registers on one side of town to Wal-Mart registers on the other side of town. Except for one high school scholarship per year, Wal-Mart gives very little back to the community.

  • Exploit their errors: Wal-Mart always makes plenty of mistakes. In our community, the company tried to push its way onto industrially zoned land. it needed a variance not only to rezone land to commercial use but also to permit buildings larger than 40,000 square feet. This was the hook we needed to trip the company up. Rezoning required a Town Council vote (which Wal-Mart won), but our town charter allowed voters to seek reconsideration of the vote and, ultimately, a referendum. All we needed was the opportunity to bring this to the public -- and we won.

  • Fight capital with capital: In our town (pop. 20,000) Wal-Mart spent more than $30,000 trying to influence the outcome of a general referendum. It even created a citizen group as a front. But Greenfield residents raised $17,000 to stop the store -- roughly half of it from local businesses. If Wal-Mart is willing to spend liberally to get into your town, its competitors should be willing to come forward with cash also.

  • Beat them at the grass roots: Wal-Mart can buy public relations firms and telemarketers, but it can't find bodies willing to leaflet at supermarkets, write dozens of letters to the editor, organize a press conference, or make calls in the precincts. Local coalitions can draw opinion makers from the business community (department, hardware, and grocery stories; pharmacies; sporting goods stores) and enlist environmentalists, political activists, and homeowners.

  • Get out your vote: Our largest expenditure was on a local telemarketing company that polled 4,000 voters to identify their leanings on Wal-Mart. Our volunteers then called those voters leaning against the WAL two days before the election. On election day, we had poll watchers at all nine precincts. If our voters weren't at the polls by 5 p.m., we reminded them to get up from the dinner table and stop the megastore.

  • Appeal to the heart as well as the head: One theme the Wal-Mart culture has a hard time responding to is the loss of small-town quality of life. Wal-Mart's impact on small-town ethos is enormous. We had graphs and bar charts on job loss and retail growth -- but we also communicated with people on an emotional level. Wal-Mart became the WAL -- an unwanted shove into urbanization, with all the negatives that threaten small-town folks.

  • Hire a professional: The greatest mistake most citizen groups make is trying to fight the world's largest retailer with a mimeo-machine mentality. Most communities have a political consultant nearby, someone who can develop a media campaign and understand how to get a floppy disk full of town voters with phone numbers. Wal-Mart uses hired guns; so should anti-Wal-Mart forces.

    "Your real mission," a Wal-Mart executive recently wrote to a community activist, "is to be blindly obstructionist." On the contrary, we found it was Wal-Mart that would blindly say anything to bulldoze its way toward another grand opening in America. But if community coalitions organize early, bring their case directly to the public, and trumpet the downside of megastore development, the WALs will fall in Jericho.

    From Al Norman