Friday, December 16, 2011

Walmart, With Me It's Personal

Finally, we don't have to live like individuals anymore. We in Eureka can now all live like a third of the rest of the country. No longer will we need to think about where to buy low quality merchandise. It will now all be at the same place. In Eureka's Bayshore Mall at one store.

As the years unfold you will forget about all of those mom and pop shops or franchise chains where you used to get everything from ammo, milk, bicycles, clothes, food, pet supplies, appliances, tires, computers, baby stuff, cosmetics, ear plugs, paint, pharmaceuticals, ladders, TV trays, DVD movies, toys, books, nails, chewing gum, 5 hour energy, BB guns, laundry detergent, toilet paper, shoes, games, gardening supplies, tools, antifreeze, oil, dinner plates, mirrors, patio furniture, fish for tanks and eating, pesticides, art supplies, bedding, bath supplies, pool and pond supplies, live plants, BBQ's and Smokers, Beer, alcohol, bandages, spices, candles, picture frames, tents, sleeping bags, entertainment centers, Xbox, Wii, Play station, backpacks, electronics, office supplies, lighting, generators, heating and cooling, jewelry, flooring, mattresses, musical instruments, hot tubs, saunas, cell phones, cameras, car care maintenance, exercise & fitness, fishing, marine, golf, hunting, vitamins, wedding & party supplies, hair care, janitorial supplies, school supplies, fragrances, shaving supplies, vision care, gift registry, and all of it from China when possible.

If I sound like I am not thrilled about this new wonder in Eureka it is because it means the likely end of many businesses that provide these products or services. Before Walmart opened in Redding, my aunt got a job working there. Her job was to call around to all of the other businesses in the Redding area and get prices of the goods above so that Walmart would be sure to sell them for less. After about a year when many businesses there folded due to this, Walmart stopped hiring and made my aunt and others do more and more as people quit or got fired. The job became unbearable and so she also quit but was not replaced and people in her department had to do more and more in less time with fewer people. The pay was low and so was the morale.

During the same time frame, I had a pretty good job working at a company called Sandy's Fast N' Fresh, that invented hot food and beverages at 7/11 stores.  Walmart moved into the business nation wide and eventually bought the company I worked for and closed it down. Not because they were not making good profits but because they knew they could make more. My supervisor couldn't take the fact that he was no longer needed and freaked out. Gus put a gun to his head and blew it off. He was about my age then and felt that he couldn't live on the $7.50 an hour pay offered to the new guys. We weren't even offered jobs with the new company. They replaced 3 people on a local truck that did service to the stores to assure that product was rotated and only ordered when needed with 2 guys on a truck at just above minimum wage that just dropped shrink wrapped palates into the parking lots in the middle of the night. One guy would drive the truck to Southern California from Merced Ca. while the other one slept. They would both unload and the first driver would sleep on the way home. They weren't paid for sleeping and were super efficient. I haven't eaten a sandwich or burrito in a 7/11, am/pm or stop and go since then. No one is really code dating this stuff anymore except the franchisee of the store. We know how self policing works out. The company which was a division of Walmart was spun off and sold about 10 years ago but the damage was done.

I don't like that Walmart has moved into Eureka one bit. I moved about as far away from the company as I could get without leaving this country. I still wanted to live somewhere that other people lived and Eureka was about it for real towns. Now the virus has spread to Eureka. I'm sure that our little local economy is not ready to give up one third of it's retail business but that is what is about to happen.

In my opinion, Walmart is the worst possible business that could have moved into a dead mall. It will become the mall and one day the mall will become the tax base to Eureka. When that happens even people in the TV, radio and newspaper business will mostly go out of business because these smaller business that will go away are what keep the local media alive. Walmart only buys one ad and they do it on National TV or radio not local.

People wonder why I am so upset about the way homeless people are treated in this county. It is because many of us are one bad decision like this away from becoming the working poor or homeless.
I think that in the next few years there will be a lot of available commercial real estate in this county. Thankfully we still have the underground economy and the feds have shown that they aren't about to let Walmart sell our main export. I'll see you all in the underground. Walmart will probably sell the scissors at below cost.


  1. Tom, I used to work in the valley and one of my accounts was the Wal*Mart in Red Bluff. I remember a conversation I had with the manager one day about their practice of displaying the items other local stores had on ad and how Wal*Mart would beat their prices. He told me it was their intent to be the cheapest until they drove all their local competition out of business, then raise their prices. That's how they do it.
    I also used to make trips back to Bentonville annually to meet with the national buyers. One thing I learned there and have seen in print since is Wal*Mart has a employee turn over of between 33%-35%. These 200 local jobs mentioned in the press release about the future Wal*Mart in Eureka won't be living wage jobs. They will be poverty level jobs, part time with little future. In and Out Burger pays better than Wal*Mart.

  2. I worked at a small nursery in Ukiah when Walmart came to town. It did not take long for them to put us out of business along with 1 other small nursery in town. Only one very large very old nursery survived the flood of cheap Walmart nursery products. With Walmart on the outskirts of town, 2 small malls died in the middle of town and now the whole town has a 'ghost town' feel to it... and now Eureka. A town that jumped into action 2 times already to show Walmart they were unwanted. It was even on the ballot and we voted to NOT give them a store there! But they pushed there way in in secrecy. I know a lady that works for a security company that is negotiating a contract with them. It was strictly HUSH HUSH. Walmart did NOT want the community to know they were coming... till it was too late to stop them. SHEEESH!

  3. Doug and Traci, thanks for sharing your personal stories. Anyone else want to chime in?

  4. Tom, you are right.

    I strongly suggest you look into whether or not the path for Walmart was paved with taxpayer dollars through the Eureka Redevelopment Agency. In my limited experience working on Walmart developments, they ALWAYS deal directly with agency staff. That way they get low/cheap rent, fees for permits waved, and the City gets tax revenue which will NOT go towards education, public safety, or environmental concerns. Instead, those tax dollars will go into more Walmarts and Big Box stores. Do the research... If the Agency helped in ANY way, shape, or form, hold ALL of your elected leaders accountable.

    And good luck!

  5. I hate the way they snuck into Eureka.
    Wal Mart is the poster corporation for what's wrong with this country today...the little guy's businesses continue to disappear and we're fed a steady diet of Chinese trash.
    The enemy has pierced the Redwood Curtain, and we'll all ultimately pay.

  6. Very fine post and some outstandingly excellent comments, Tom. Kudos to you, and Greg, Traci Bear, and Doug. We're wondering why officials didn't say a peep to the public about this.

  7. FREE ENTERPRISE.. I am glad we still have it.

  8. Some SERIOUSLY ignorant, incorrect, and twisted comments here. Just to give a single one: Walmart does NOT drop prices in a specific area, drive out the local business, then raise the prices. Their prices are set regionally. They are large enough they don't have to play that game. For all you who bash it... you have a solution: DON'T SHOP THERE. But sadly, you all will shop their within the first year it is open. You hate it, because it is the thing to do (very common in Humboldt County), then when the evil company "tricks" you with their low prices, you blame them. Bravo.

  9. oh yes anonymous you better believe were gonna bash it through protest, to make sure this walmart does not stay open. Democracy is slowly making a comeback didn't you know?

  10. I suppose you folks think buying stuff from Amazon etc. is O.K. even though they employ no one locally at any wage. And as for "Chinese Crap" some excellent products are assembled in China. Any number of electronics including the computer or I Pad you're using right now. When it comes to Wal-Mart I guess folks will vote with their feet and wallet. Almost no one working in mom and pop retail makes a "living wage" around here nor do they enjoy much in the way of benefits.

  11. Everyone is overlooking the fact that Walmart got in because a "local" leased to them. Yes, Carrington brought them in but no one is pointing the finger at him. Why? I just don't get it. If Arkley had done it he would be getting trashed. The bottom line is that Carrington worked a deal with Walmart to move into a retail space that was permitted for their type of business. No big "conspiracy" with the City of Eureka or special deals. Walmart came to town with the blessings of one of our most prominent locals.

  12. Other than the Eco-news, a couple of radio stations and a semi-annual milquetoast investigation by the North Coast Journal, Humboldt County hasn't had community-interest newspapers, TV, or radio-news since I moved here nearly 40 years ago.

    No retail giant in U.S. history has had as much bad-press, books and documentaries proving, beyond any doubt, they are harmful to rural economies.

    Despite overwhelming evidence, there will be no front page coverage because the truth is just too "negative" for local corporate media.

    What's fascinating is how today's interlocking corporate directorates in finance, media, manufacturing and distribution have significantly narrowed American's choices in what we read, hear, see and buy, and where we buy it.

    A centralization that Stalin would have envied! The natural end-result of "free-market" ideology, where bigger is better, at all costs.

    Eureka's Walmart supporters only have to be average right-wing insurance agents or cops to win the financial support of the development community to win elections.

    If the democrats could get past their bickering and turnout to support their average candidates,Eureka would have had a retail square-foot limit below Walmart's desire...years ago.

  13. " If Arkley had done it?..." Funny how Arkley was the only one that would confirm it until now.

  14. The plans were sitting at the Humboldt Builder's Exchange for weeks! I don't see how it was such a big mystery. Why don't you go after Carrington?

  15. Dave Kirby, I seem to remember a few weeks back where the Jerry Brown caved in to Amazon over the internet tax. Something about 2,000 plus California jobs lost if Amazon stopped doing business here. I don't think that offsets the amount of jobs lost to the retailer but I think your premise that they create no jobs is wrong. Not to back up Amazon, just keeping things on the up and up.

  16. The plans included the name of the architect but not the name of the store. That is what I heard from those that first rumored that this was going to be a Walmart. The guy building it is the same that builds other Walmarts.

    I don't know anything about Carrington except that he must be a good friend of Arkley for Arkley to have confirmation on this before the rest of the public.

  17. Good Post and comments all.

    Wal-Mart has acted sneaky, but, can ya blame them due to the known resistances. For me, their business is really no business...lower prices or not. I understand what Doug and Tracy explain because it does occur. Maybe, consumers in general just need to experience a market crash, free for all fall in economic activity to realise and UNDERSTAND the arguments of Big-Box versus small business. A problem is that "start-up" small businesses don't understand the complexity of market share economics.....thus, as is usually the case, new start-up small businesses don't last long......only the historic small businesses have a fighting chance because usually their "space rents" are still low and not affected by newer construction improvement valuations that are already over-inflated to launder wealth for various reasons and for various public and private entities.....

    I believe let the consumer decide where they shop, for better or for worse. Then, when worse hits, those consumers will lack preparedeness for what is about to come next.....defleecing of everything they have "OF VALUE" and learn is still a good motto for times like we have now....

    Anyhow, most adults who are shoopers in the 21 century act like 3 year old kids walking through the candy isle......give me, give me, give me...I want, I want, I want........NOW! Kinda like drivers......gotta get there, gotta get there, go go go!

    A flaw of the American consumer is this - not knowing the difference between a quality consumer product and CRAPOLA! Heck, I moan and groan all the time about blue Jeans going to pot with threads per square inch issues, wear and tear issues......which were not issues growing-up beating the hell out of blue jeans. Today, products are manufactured to fail so that the consumer is endlessly consuming......when that endles consumption finds its way into the pockets of too big to fail big boxes, then kiss your sorry arses good-bye!


  18. Well, Tom, you know I love ya, BUT you're just a little too late to the party.

    Was it personal when the timber workers were losing their jobs? How about the fishermen, who are finding it tougher and tougher to make a living? (See today's paper for how your latest democrat legislator-ess is making it harder for crab-fishermen to make a living.

    Do you speak out against the regulations that are killing business? The anti-business climate promulgated by our California legislature? Businesses are fleeing this state in droves and it doesn't have a THING to do with WalMart.

    WalMart hate is the easy rhetoric. It may feel good, but it ain't doing a goddam thing to fix what's wrong.

  19. Bigger picture: North Dakota's energy lessons for California - Brian Calle/Orange County Register

    California's economic slide is one of choice and consequence, not of necessity. The state still possesses the resources for prosperity, even today, but policies advanced by ideologues and political zealots in the state capital have tarnished the Golden State....

  20. My story is a personal one. I say that because it happened to me and my family and friends. I am not complaining I am telling you how it is from first hand knowledge. You can read and believe all you want but until you live it, you don't know the real impact a company like Walmart has on people's lives.

    I didn't have any family in nor did I work for the logging or fishing industry. I did however try to tell people about the consequences of cutting beyond the rate of growth. Look how that turned out for Palco. What does that have to do with California? The dams along with silt from clear cutting have had a devastating impact on local fishing. You aren't blaming the loss of trees or fish on the state are you Rose? The feds set the policy for hydro electric dams not the county or state. You seem to believe that resources are endless and extraction of them should occur at any pace. That kind of thinking has already destroyed much of the earth.

    Your take on the local crab fishery would seem to be at odds with the fishermen themselves that helped craft the new legislation. I read the whole article in today's Times-Standard and I can't even see why you brought this up? Did you read the whole article Rose?

  21. "Thankfully we still have the underground economy......I'll see you all in the underground."

    Tom, have your employer vest their interest there and see how that plays out for you in the long run. Are we looking at format changes and a future KPOT-92.3FM or KBUD-96.3 or KNUG-105.5FM anytime soon? Why not just do it now and forgo all of the national and regional advertising you receive and let the grow shops be your economic guide to a blissful existence.

  22. That would be cool. It will never happen but it would be fun until the feds and banksters closed it down.

  23. Why would the Feds and Banksters close it down? If it's a viable economic model, and you believe in it, then why not turn to the marijuana industry for your stations income? Seemingly, other local radio groups have done just that. Nothing is really stopping you, except fear. If you believe marijuana is Humboldt's savior against the Wal-Mart retail destruction, then take the leap and steer the stations in that direction. Rather than complain about Wal-Mart's destruction of local retail businesses, be pro-active and promote the marijuana economic system.

    But, that's not really the case, is it?

    Because you know that for survival for local employees of a commercial radio entity, you have to bow down to the corporate world. Your employer believes in that capitalistic economic model to survive. They are not being idealistic, they are being realistic. Les Schwab, Safeway, Ray's Food Place, McDonald's....who else do you have on the air? And, who did they drive out of business upon their arrival in Humboldt County? Don't like corporations being the guiding force to your station's revenue and your livelihood? Too late. Do you really think your employer is going to dry up and blow away because Wal-Mart opens in the Bayshore Mall and doesn't air commercials on your stations? Then, why didn't you lose your job when Mulkey & Kovacovich and other local tire stores went out of business due to Les Schwab's presence in the market? Have a little faith in your advertising sales department and your company's management to find revenue if McKinleyville Ace goes out of business due to Wal-Mart's dominance in the retail hardware sector. Which is not likely.

    Believe in your own press; promote the "underground" economy. Have the local marijuana grower's supply shops be your largest St. Jude's radio-thon sponsors. You know it ain't going to happen, because your employer is wiser than that unless marijuana production is legalized. And, that would be a whole different story. And probably corporate-owned.

  24. Ray’s Food Place, McDonalds, Safeway and Les Schwab all buy ads locally. Walmart does not.

  25. When I lived in Anaheim about 20 years ago, I used to have a koi pond and a fish tank. I got all my supplies including the pond liner and fish at a local fish store about a mile from my house. Walmart bought the defunct Broadway/Robinson’s May mall. They bulldozed it and built a huge Walmart less than a half a mile from my home. The fish store closed and the owner told me it was because Walmart was carrying everything he carried but was undercutting his prices. The next nearest fish store was about 7 miles away. Because of that distance, I tried the Walmart. At first they did have all the supplies I needed. After a while though the guy in charge of the fish and pet department quit. Instead of replacing him, a department head from another department was put in charge of the fish. Walmart does this all the time. When they first open, they have people in all the departments. When people quit, they are usually not replaced unless absolutely necessary. Soon they were out of most of the products I needed and there were even tanks with of dead fish floating in them. I had to drive the 7 miles to the other independent fish store to get what I needed. On many days this took 40 minutes each way due to traffic. I see stories like this coming to Eureka.

    As far as the radio biz goes, I work for some brilliant people that know how to keep the lights on. Whether they do it with local talent or not depends a lot on how much money comes in. Either way they will still need an ops person, an office manager and sales people. That is, as long as they can keep the lights on.

    Humboldt has already had a signal go dark. AM 790 moved to AM 980 which moved to FM 106.3. The music format that was 106.3 is now gone. When stations just turn off their signal, it is not a good sign. I hope I am wrong and that the 200 great minimum wage jobs that will come with the Walmart will enrich us all. I just don’t see that ever occurring in any other market before. Show me a success story where Walmart actually grew an economy without taking tax breaks or other government handouts and I’ll up my optimism.

  26. Just spoke with a former GottShalks employee...interesting points made that validate what was written by several above posters.

    I also agree with Rose......too bad small businesses can never amasse the wealth to survive in economic climates as exists currently.....just a matter of when the money well runs dry with regard to expensive regulations. Market share businesses are easily capable to relocate or cut-back services, #'s of stores, employee #'s, etc... in order to cut the bottom line. When the bottom line can't be cut any lower, then usually a small business is near death and the big box business will just modify through anticipatory economic evaluative research - PROMULGATION STYLE, LOLA!


  27. Re-write from lost posting....

    In short, no small business is a whole seller; therefore, bigger businesses will be prejudiced and biaseed in favor of wholesellers....this is why the small business customer is subsidizing the large business customer where product lines are old boy network of scratching each others if the wholesale price was like a flat tax......then the competition between the factions of large and small would be on un-alike products. It is one thing when it is just businesses fine tuning for efficiency that renders better is another thing when subsidized winners versus non-subsidized losers is taking place in the business grant funded projects that are really kickbacks to the local politico sidekicks who go-along with ruse schemes that steal tax dollars and create more dependents of entitlements.......


  28. . You're a little hord to follow ( I should speak with the way I write)but I think I mostly agree with you HOJ and that means I must agree with Rose on something. We have agreed before.

  29. my ? isn't Price Fixing in the U.S. still illegal? If so, why hasn't anyone gone after Wal-Mart sounds to me like most of you could have a small claim's suit on your hands and I say, if you're up for it go for it- Or at least keep trying to keep WalMart - out after all - looked what happend to Taco Bell - Arcata - Just b/c it goes in doesn't mean it can't go out - :)

  30. Wow, thanks for the interesting post tom. And the great comments. I know that I'm going to sound like a broken record here, but people are going to have to "get it" sooner or later. We are competing against countries that don't play fair.

    China has no environmental restrictions, they just made a dam so big that it is going to change the world weather. (The Three Gorges Dam). It is the equivalent of placing a dam across the Golden Gate and flooding the Sacramento Valley. Literally! They did that to have cheap energy to flood the American and other markets with their products. Contrary to the opinion that is being foisted upon us, their stuff is not crap, it's very competitive.

    The real kicker is China keeps the value of their money below that of the U.S. dollar, to give themselves a price advantage. China doesn't need to subsidize any of their products because they subsidize all of them by Currency manipulation.

    There is no way in hell that Joe Consumer can fight that kind of competition. We need the help of our elected officials. But I can't afford to buy the campaign for the ones that would represent us, but Wal-mart can!

    We need to get behind some grass roots movements that will get us back to good healthy American capitalism and jobs. Sending all of our money to China is going to kill us.


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