Kate's Collage
"Vinny Da Vendor"
"Benny Da Buyer"
Kizer & Bender
Memory, Paper & Stamps
Category Reports
Designing Perspectives
Scene & Heard

Creative Leisure News
306 Parker Circle
Lawrence, KS 66049
Phone: 785-760-5071
Email: mike@clnonline.com


A view of the industry through the eyes of a chain buyer.

Printer Version

Wal-Mart in the News

Charity work, legal hassles, an irate ad, and money.

by Mike Hartnett (May 2, 2005)

(Comment: There is so much in the media these days about Wal-Mart, it could easily fill 10 newsletters, so here's a digest-version of the highlights, plus comments in response to the CLN articles, "So, Is Wal-Mart the Bad Guy?".

Wal-Mart helping the poor.

Wal-Mart has been a good friend in several ways to Friendship House, the United Way social agency that I manage in a poor section of Peoria, IL.

Friendship House was adopted by an area Wal-Mart Superstore and was one of several United Way agencies that received a $1,000 check as part of its grand opening ceremonies.

As part of the company's Good Works program, Wal-Mart employees faithfully work one Sunday each month in the Friendship House soup kitchen, and those accumulated volunteer hours are translated into a cash donation each quarter by Wal-Mart headquarters – another $3,000/year.

Finally, starting this month, we will benefit from a program that partners a marketing company for our local newspaper with a non-profit agency. Friendship House will have seven dates at each of the nine area Wal-Marts to sell trial discount subscriptions to the newspaper – and Friendship House receives a percentage of the sales. The work is done by the marketing firm, but we will have volunteers and our literature available. If past performance is any guide, we could earn as much as $5,000 from this program.

And Friendship House is just one small agency. – Barbara Hartnett, Friendship House, Peoria, IL

(Comment: Wal-Mart recently announced that its donations and fund-raising efforts on behalf of the Children's Miracle Network over the past 18 years has now surpassed $300 million. The money directly benefits 170 children's hospitals.)

Turning the U.S. into a company town.

As for Wal Mart, it's a 6000-lb. gorilla that is growing every day. Good for the zoo if it attracts lots of visitors. But what happens to all the other animals in the cage?

Wal-Mart likes to crow about how many jobs they create, but what about all the U.S. manufacturing jobs they have caused to be eliminated by forcing companies to go overseas to have product manufactured? You notice you do not see their "Made in the U.S." campaign anymore.

Also, $10 is not a livable wage in most parts of the country, especially when they keep saying "AVERAGE" wage. Whose wages are included in the average – store managers, district managers, company president? The other thing they do not like to talk about is what percentage of workers they provide with health care. If they had to provide health care for all their employees, then what would be their prices?

By putting manufacturers out of business, and only paying $10 or less to about 90% of their employees, they are creating a society that can only shop at Wal-Mart. It's like the old company store days of the early 20th century and that ain't good. – Larry Olliges, Dee's Crafts.

Joining forces against Wal-Mart.

The Center for Community and Corporate Ethics took out a full-page ad in the New York Times accusing Wal-Mart of costing taxpayers $1.6 billion a year because its low wages and benefits force employees to seek government aid in the form of Medicaid, food stamps, and housing assistance, Reuters reported.

The Center's board consists of members of the Sierra Club, the National Partnership for Women & Families, and Common Cause and runs a website, www.walmartwatch.com. The Center was launched with initial funding from the Service Employees International Union.

"This is just one more example of labor unions playing fast and loose with the facts in an attempt to discredit Wal-Mart," Wal-Mart spokeswoman Mona Williams told Dow Jones News. "We don't know where they got these numbers. And most sources they cite are from dubious studies they commissioned."

The Times ad said the Center would mail sample legislation to elected officials showing them "how they can pass laws to put the brakes on Wal-Mart."

Coughlin investigation continues.

A federal grand jury is now reviewing allegations that former vice chair Tom Coughlin misspent as much as $500,000, some of it allegedly for anti-union activity, the Associated Press reported.

Wal-Mart spokesman Marty Heires told the AP the company can't comment because of the grand jury involvement, but "we have committed fully to cooperate with the federal authorities, and we're doing that."

Wal-Mart also has suspended $4.1 million in compensation to Coughlin, who at one time oversaw the operations of Wal-Mart stores and Sam’s Club wholesale clubs. Coughlin's attorney has denied any wrongdoing and implied a potential lawsuit against the company.

The compensation was part of an unusual retirement package that included a non-compete clause which barred Coughlin from speaking about Wal-Mart’s business practices with just about every major U.S. retailer.

Whistle-blower wants to be rehired.

Jared Bowen, a former vice president and assistant to Thomas Coughlin, claims he was fired for alerting officials about Coughlin's alleged improprieties, and he wants his job back. He's bringing his case to the Wal-Mart board of directors and wants the company's senior officials to stay out of the decision making process, reports the Arkansas Democratic Gazette.

Wal-Mart spokeswoman Mona Williams told the Associated Press that Bowen had not been "forthcoming" with company officials when they looked into the spending. "He admitted during interviews he had approved transactions that violated company policy and then remained silent for months rather than step forward," Williams said. "Our investigation was initiated after another associate provided information related to Mr. Coughlin's use of gift cards." Williams added.

If Bowen is not rehired, his lawyer told the Gazette he will sue the retailer under the federal Sarbanes-Oxley Act, which protects whistle-blowers from termination and was passed in 2002 as a result of the scandals involving Enron and other large corporations. The Sarbanes-Oxley Act also includes criminal penalties – up to 10 years in prison or a $1 million fine, the Gazette reported.

Everything is relative.

CEO Lee Scott is not among the highest paid CEOs in the U.S., when you compare compensation to a company's revenue or profit. In fact, the poor guy's total compensation dropped almost 24% last year, according to reports Wal-Mart filed with the SEC.

Nevertheless, it still totaled $17.5 million. And that is 871 times more than the average of full-time Wal-Mart employees, and as much as 50,000 times as much as Chinese workers, according to Political Affairs.Net. Visit www.politicalaffairs.net/article/articleview/976/1/32/

(Note: To read previous Business-Wise columns, click on the titles in the right-hand column. To add your thoughts – on or off the record – about Wal-Mart or any other industry issue, email them to mike@clnonline.com.)



horizontal rule

horizontal rule


Benny's Recent Columns...
BERNINA NAMES TOP DEALERS FOR 2012; They demonstrated exemplary sales, service, and customer education.

BE THE CHANGE YOU WISH TO SEE; Do it for the grieving families.

AN INTERVIEW WITH SPC'S ALEX NIELSEN; Explaining the new affiliate program for independent retailers.


HIGHLIGHTS OF MICHAELS' SEC FILING; The finances and the plans.

THREE WAYS RETAILERS CAN AVOID THE BLACK FRIDAY BLUES; How to maximize what should be your biggest sales day.

BE A MEDIA DARLING: 5 TIPS TO A SUCCESSFUL INTERVIEW; How to talk to reporters to maximize the positive effects of media attention.

TOP NEW PRODUCTS AT CHA'S SUMMER SHOW; Mostly scrapbook/paper craft products, but not all.

WAL-MART AND OUR INDUSTRY; A brief, casual history of the relationship.

THE STATE OF RETAILING & THE LOCAL BEAD STORE; The fast pace of changes is creating challenges for all.

COMMENTS ON THE FUTURE OF INDEPENDENT BEAD SHOPS; Are chain stores the problem, or is it something else?

MICHAEL'S FOURTH QUARTER, FISCAL YEAR REPORT; Highlights of a positive report.

WHY MICHAELS DIDN'T MAKE A BOTTOM-LINE PROFIT; Evidence that the banking system is coming back.

MEMORIES OF AN OLD FRIEND; Lots of years, lots of fun with Mike Dupey.

MICHAELS AND A.C. MOORE: Fourth Quarter, Fiscal Year Results; Profits, losses and sales.


WHAT'S THE BEST PRICING STRATEGY? A new study reveals retailers can increase profits by changing pricing strategies.

THE RETAIL SIDE OF THE STATE OF SCRAPBOOKING; Comments from Scrapbook Updates' readers.

RETAILERS WRITE...About lower prices than Michaels, the cost of services, tourism, and more.

HAS THE ECONOMY STARTED TO RECOVER? HAVE OUR CUSTOMERS? Two economic-savvy industry retailers have some answers.

IS BIGGER BETTER? Bad customer service can drive a customer to drink.

A NEW TYPE OF CRAFT STORE; Catering to the indie crafter.

CHA EVENTS FOR RETAILERS; How to get more out of a trade show besides ordering products.

HOW TO CAPITALIZE ON "STASH CRAFTING"; Enthusiasts have plenty of supplies? Here are ways to boost sales anyway.

A NOVEL WAY TO CHANGE OWNERSHIP; An essay contest for consumers.

SPARK CRAFTS NEEDS A SPARK; A great concept, but...

FOIL THOSE "FIVE FINGERED- DISCOUNTS"! How to guard against shoplifting.

A BRIEF HISTORY OF INDUSTRY CONSUMER SHOWS; Retailers benefit if they participate.

RETAILERS SPEAK OUT! On chain stores' coupons, individual paper vs. pads, offering a slide-scanning service, investing in technology, and how the younger generation thinks.

SCANNING FOR MORE BUSINESS! A simple, profitable service to offer customers.

IT'S TIME TO RE-AWAKEN THE INDUSTRY'S THINKING; Time to embrace new ideas and expand horizons.

HEY CRAFT INDUSTRY...WHERE ARE YOU? Where's the teaching, the inspiration?


UPDATE: HOW CONSUMERS WILL SPEND THEIR REBATES CHECKS; Food and gas inflation is taking its toll.

HOW PRODUCTS SELL...and why you need reexamine your buying habits.

WE'RE ALL IN THIS TOGETHER; We may sell different products, but our challenges and strategies are the same.

THE KEYS TO SUCCESS - AND FAILURE; Dreams get you started, but management skills make you profitable.

AN OPEN LETTER TO RETAILERS; Store traffic declines as gas prices rise? Some answers.

INDEPENDENTS RESPOND TO PROVO; To say they're not happy is an understatement.

ADVICE TO RETAILERS; How to keep a genuine enthusiast - and big spender - happy.

HOW ONE INDEPENDENT IS CATERING TO THE "NEW" CONSUMER; She needs motivation and inspiration, not a smiling bunny.

CLN NEWSBRIEFS; May 8 - June 2, 2006.

THE NEW WAL-MART SUPERSTORE; The craft/sewing department remains about the same, with some major exceptions.

REAL ESTATE WOES; How a landlord drove an independent our of business.

WHAT THE INDUSTRY NEEDS; Creativity, common-sense pricing, and much more.

HOW TO DRIVE A RETAILER CRAZY ... And lose a good customer forever.

THE CRAFT INDUSTRY: SLIPPING & SLIDING; The cause? Competitors instead of creativity.

SPARK CRAFT STUDIOS: THE INTERVIEW; This unique store offers food for thought for every retailer, large or small.

MICHAELS VENDOR PARTNER AWARDS; Winners produced better sales, higher margins.

A SCRAPBOOK VENDOR QUITS - WHAT WENT WRONG? Too much product - and loyalty - or too little?

GOOD AND BAD TIMES IN KANSAS CITY; A lesson in civility.

WAL-MART IN THE NEWS - Charity work, legal hassles, an irate ad, and money.

HOT TRENDS AND TRADE SHOWS; Trends change, but the keys to success do not.


HOW DO WE TURN THIS "CRAFTER" INTO A SCRAPBOOKER?; An essential goal if the scrapbook market is to grow.

RETAILERS RESPOND TO SCRAPBOOK DILEMMA; How to be a merchant, not a missionary.

BUYER'S HORROR STORIES; Vendors: here's what NOT to do at trade shows.

A BUYER'S VIEW OF "CRAFTS"'; A magazine changes, and buyers disagree.

WHY I DON'T STOP AT YOUR BOOTH; Advice on selling chains.

HEY VINNY: DON'T YELL AT ME; I don't make the rules.