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The Wal-Mart Effect | [Charles Fishman]

The Wal-Mart Effect

Drawing on unprecedented interviews with former Wal-Mart executives and a wealth of staggering data�including facts such as this: Americans spend $36 million an hour at Wal-Mart stores, this text is an intimate look at a business that is dramatically reshaping the American economy.
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Publisher's Summary

Drawing on unprecedented interviews with former Wal-Mart executives and a wealth of staggering data - such as that Americans spend $36 million an hour at Wal-Mart stores - this is an intimate look at a business that is dramatically reshaping the American economy.

Wal-Mart is not only the world's largest company; it is also the largest company in the history of the world. Though 70 percent of Americans now live within a 15-minute drive of a Wal-Mart store, we have not even begun to understand the true power of the company and the many ways it is shaping American life. We know about the lawsuits and the labor protests, but what we don't know is how profoundly the "Wal-Mart effect" is shaping our lives.

Fast Company senior editor Fishman, whose revelatory cover story on Wal-Mart generated the strongest reader response in the history of the magazine, takes us on an unprecedented behind-the-scenes investigative expedition deep inside the many worlds of Wal-Mart. Fishman penetrated the secrecy of Wal-Mart headquarters, interviewing 25 high-level ex-executives. He journeyed into the world of a host of Wal-Mart's suppliers to uncover how the company strong-arms even the most established brands. And he journeyed to the ports and factories, the fields and forests where Wal-Mart's power is warping the very structure of the world's market for goods.

Wal-Mart is not just a retailer anymore, Fishman argues. It has become a kind of economic ecosystem, and anyone who wants to understand the forces shaping our world today must understand the company's hidden reach.

©2006 Charles Fishman; (P)2006 Tantor Media Inc.

What the Critics Say

"In the end, Fishman sees Wal-Mart as neither good nor evil, but simply a fact of modern life that can barely be comprehended, let alone controlled." (Publishers Weekly)
"He brings to light the serious repercussions that are occurring as consumers and suppliers have become locked in an addiction to massive sales of cheaper and cheaper goods." (Booklist)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

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  •  
    Matthew 01-04-15
    Matthew 01-04-15
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    "Great book. offered in a FACT based way. A+"

    Love or hate Wal-Mart you will be shocked, and pleasantly surprised by how Wal-Mart truly works. As a long haul driver for Wal-mart, I am a true product of the Wal-mart effect. if you think you're not....listen to this book...you may be very surprised.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kyle Richardson, TX, United States 01-04-14
    Kyle Richardson, TX, United States 01-04-14 Member Since 2013
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    "What did Walmart do to his family?"

    Very biased view of Walmart and large corporations in general. The author appears to have very little understanding of basic economics. He claims Walmart is a monopoly when it only controls 20 - 30% of the market. The book eventually devolves into a rant against the free market and need for government regulation.

    I learned a little and there are a few valid criticisms, but overall this is a very biased rant against Walmart.

    Don't waste your credits, I'm headed to Walmart to pick a few things up now!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Sean Commerce Township, MI, United States 07-25-13
    Sean Commerce Township, MI, United States 07-25-13 Member Since 2015
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    "Not exciting but you learn a ton about walmart"
    Is there anything you would change about this book?

    I would make it a bit shorter. It is not repetitive though.


    Did the narration match the pace of the story?

    Yes


    Was The Wal-Mart Effect worth the listening time?

    It was worth listening to. It will make you more conscience when you buy from supermarkets. It teaches you how it effects the WORLD ENVIRONMENT, WORLD ECONOMIES, and PEOPLE from small towns in South America to big cities in the US.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Mark St. Ann, MO, United States 03-20-13
    Mark St. Ann, MO, United States 03-20-13
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    "Factually interesting"
    This book wasn’t for you, but who do you think might enjoy it more?

    It was really factually interesting. The narrator was really monotonous and difficult to concentrate on.
    I work with a company that sells products to Walmart... So I found some of the insights about how the Walmart works and their history to be quite fascinating... but it was just a little too dry for me.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Lily St. Augustine, FL, USA 03-15-13
    Lily St. Augustine, FL, USA 03-15-13 Member Since 2012
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    "If you EVER shop at Wal-mart, PLEASE read this!"
    What did you love best about The Wal-Mart Effect?

    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!


    Any additional comments?

    Four comments:

    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!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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    Blake Portland, OR, United States 03-12-13
    Blake Portland, OR, United States 03-12-13
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    "A fun, well balanced, informative story"

    A very instructive, informative and entertaining look at Wal Mart's massive impact on the world. Alan Sklar is great as always and I flew through this book because it was lots of fun. Not life altering or anything, but definitely a cut above the average audiobook in terms of keeping my interest while teaching me about the world at the same time. Highly reccomended.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Donald W. Skrzelowski. Sr. 03-11-13
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    "Fascinating"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    Yes. Very interesting about a business we all have at one time or another used.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    The gentleman who pulled his products from Walmarts rather than lower the quality of his products.


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    That the executives at the corporate offices use sample lawn chairs as guest chairs.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Sam Motes Tampa 03-06-13
    Sam Motes Tampa 03-06-13 Listener Since 2009

    Audible obsessed lifelong learner.

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    "Make you an offer a vendor can't refuse"

    Paints the picture of the behemoth Walmart bossing its partners around to constantly cut prices while it kills the job market in new locations it enters. The stat of a new Walmart creating a net of 30 new jobs after 5 years was astounding. Vendors being strong armed t cut prices or get cut off sounded like a mob boss mentality.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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    Maggie Pine Bush, NY, United States 02-28-13
    Maggie Pine Bush, NY, United States 02-28-13 Member Since 2014
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    "Good book, not totally balanced"
    If you could sum up The Wal-Mart Effect in three words, what would they be?

    The book starts off very fair and balanced. But towards the end it seems the author just hates walmart (with good reason) and becomes less objective.


    What about Alan Sklar’s performance did you like?

    Alan Sklar is one of the best book narrators out there. I have listened to many of his books just for his narration.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    wayne Mississauga, ON, Canada 02-27-13
    wayne Mississauga, ON, Canada 02-27-13 Member Since 2011
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    "Very balanced"

    Unlike most books and documentaries on WalMart I found this one very balanced. I especially liked hearing how some items. Most interesting was how much influence Wal Mart has on the production of salmon and other seafood. There was a lot of information that I had never though of before, like the fact that airlines before the 80's would not allow any fish on the planes (due to the worry of melting sea water corroding the equipment).

    The narrator was very good and did an excellent job of capturing the mood and theme of each chapter. The only complaint was the afterward tacked on to the epilogue, read horribly by the writer of the book. This second narrator missed the mark with his part. The editing is sketchy which many sentences obviously chopped with awkward pauses and repeating sentences. Even with this flaw it doesnt take away from the book, which I found to be not too long and not too short. It was a pleasant surprise for me.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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