Lots of anecdotal information, some hard data but above all inconclusive. In depth economic analysis would have been nice and is lacking in the book.
It's hard to say I "loved" anything about the book, but it certainly reinforced my dedication to boycotting Wal-mart at any cost. I'm more convinced than ever that Wal-mart is as culpable as Wall Street for the state of our economy.
What I didn't realize before was how Wal-mart tramples (and sometimes bankrupts) suppliers in their pursuit of "Always Low Prices"; the suppliers (and their employees) bear the brunt of the ever-lowering prices, NOT Wal-mart. I hold Wal-mart responsible in large part for the loss of American jobs to China (and elsewhere), and the transition from REAL American jobs to Wal-mart jobs. I credit Wal-mart for the fact that almost EVERY product (excepting the most exclusive brands) on the market now is junk, designed to be replaced every few years. Standards overall have declined to the lowest common denominator because that's the only way other stores can even begin to compete with Wal-mart. It used to be that appliances would last decades; now you have to buy a Sub-Zero refrigerator or a Viking stove if you want an appliance that will last more than a few years! (The story about Levi-Strauss is one good case in point.) I used to think it ridiculous to buy extended warranties because I was sure large-ticket items I bought would last forever; now they seem a waste of money because you can practically replace these items when they break down in a few years. Thus, I hold Wal-mart responsible for further separating the Haves from the Have-Nots.
My favorite illustration of this "anti-democratization" concerns lawn mowers: A Wal-mart shopper might avoid buying a Snapper mower because of its cost, but he ends up replacing the Wal-mart- purchased mower every couple of years because they're cheap enough to be considered "disposable". So the old mowers end up in a landfill, while the "expensive" Snapper starts season after season, and ends up being the "bargain" over time. So the person able to afford a Snapper ends up spending less in the long run, just as the wealthiest people pay the least for credit and (perhaps) the lowest taxes! Wal-mart is Robin Hood in reverse, helping the wealthy get wealthier on the backs of the poorest. (This theory of anti-democratization is my own extrapolation: if it offends you, don't blame Charles Fishman!)
I remember many years ago when Wal-mart first came to my town in Georgia, they picketed outside Publix because Publix sold items not made in America. Today what percentage of Wal-mart merchandise is made in the USA? Sam Walton must be rolling in his grave...
My great fear, now that Wal-mart is plunging deeply into the organic market, is that organic producers will be forced into the same race to the bottom that so many other markets have. One day the ONLY people to enjoy natural health will be those who live on what they can grow themselves, or wealthy enough to buy their food from "boutique" farms and ranches. Since it's daunting to think how anyone can produce EVERY food they need, and store or preserve it from season to season, once again it will be just those wealthiest who will have access to abundant natural health. Thanks again, Wal-mart!
1) I apologize for my fervor and the length of this review. I'm sorry if I sound like a communist.
2) I was really struck to learn how the earliest employees' purchases of Wal-mart stock made millionaires of those who held on to it, compared with current purchases of the stock, which don't even make good toilet paper.
3) I doubt that the Wal-mart race to the bottom which leaves the (organic, hormone-free, pastured, local and sustainable) "cream" for the wealthiest 2% can be reversed, thus restoring the world's health and economies, but boycotting Wal-mart makes me feel like one TINY drop in the bucket which I can easily provide! If a LOT of us did the same, who knows? When it comes to making purchases, our best votes are with our feet and wallets!
4) Please, read this book!
I loved this book. It hit home very much like the book "Fast Food Nation". It made me think about Walmart in a whole new way and how it has changed our society and business around the globe. It never states Walmart is good or bad... it just makes you see all sides of it and think about the future.
Avid listener of mysteries, thrillers, a little sci fi. Also enjoy self improvement titles. Mom, wife, Social Media Coordinator for biz.
Whether you love or hate Wal-mart - or if you don't even think about the world's largest retailer - you need to listen to this one! The author puts together a fascinating look at how Wal-Mart is effecting the global economy as well as the way YOU look at shopping. I loved it!
I have a couple of friends who work for Walmart. Things that they have told me about the place got me curious. I was certainly delighted to find this audible book.
I live in a very small town and we are getting a new Walmart super center built right down the road.
I can honestly say that I now consider myself a "former" Walmart shopper. I will certainly take my business to Target. Yes, I'll miss Sam's Club but I'll get over it!
I recommend this book to anyone who is a Walmart shopper or a former shopper.
It simply amazed me to hear some of the tactics used by Walmart to be able to keep their prices lower. 95% of the products that Walmart carries are made in China! They are trying to bankrupt Target, Kmart, Sears, Lowes, & Home Depot just to name a few.
Walmart carries the same products such as Lowes or Home Depot. The difference in the products other than the price is that Walmart has those same name brand products made in China, using cheaper and more light weight parts. Walmart coerces those manufacturers to be the ones who have to repair or replace the product if it malfunctions. Even though Walmart had it manufactured in China. This of course, is very costly to the maker. If the maker doesn't agree to these arrangements, then Walmart refuses to carry the product.
I will NEVER set foot inside a Walmart again.
If I can't buy American, I don't need it.
While this book did teach me a few things I didn't know about Wal-Mart, ultimately, the analysis is largely superficial, and occasionally laughably wrong-headed. I particularly liked his view that if an economic analysis appears in a peer-reviewed journal than its conclusions are equivalent to scientific truths, or that a market where 80 % of the product isn't sold at Wal-Mart is unquestionably under Wal-Mart's control. If you are looking for a sophisticated economic analysis of Wal-Mart, this isn't it. He does level some valid criticisms at the company, but an equal number of his arguments fall well short of the mark.
It's not even very well-written. It rambles and repeats itself, and there is a strained sort of muckraking/yellow journalism quality to the language which further undermines the credibility of the author.
Spend your credits elsewhere.
I'd put it in my top 5 for books of this genre. For a book built on a lot of facts, figures, and scientific studies, the author has mixed just enough anecdotal material and interesting background on the "characters" that it doesn't sound like you're being read textbook material. Instead, it feels like we are being told the life story of Walmart by the narrator and through the eye of the people who knew it best.
Learning just how frugal and strict the company is even within the executive staff over the years was pretty memorable. The image of such a powerful CEO having held meetings in an office furnished with mismatched office furniture and lawn chairs was powerful in a lot of ways, but still somewhat absurd to picture.
There weren't really characters, as it was a non-fiction book, but as per my earlier personification, I guess Walmart was my favorite.
It really was. I had to convince myself to get some sleep before work or I probably would have finished it in one go.
I am glad that I listened to the book but had I known that it was written 10 years ago I would never have selected it. Many of the same issues are present today and it did provide a framework to look at the Walmart of today. I would not recommend it.
Legal Thrillers, crime, fiction. humor and a bit of management sprinkled with some self improvement. All through Audible.
If you are looking for business ideas, innovative thinking, insights which you can use in your business this is not the book. This about Walmart, its people and culture. Their obsession with lowering prices. It makes a interesting reading provided you are not expecting any useful take away
Interesting overview within the first hour (9 CDs... yipes (9 hours)). I had to do a lot of ffwd after that, as it was very repetitive information. If you are a fan of Wal-Mart or Sam Walton then this book is for you. If you want some interesting insight on what effect the largest company in the world has and could have then "read" the first hour or so. Beyond that it is wayyyy too detailed on store numbers, managers and a dogmatic work ethic.