Post Paints Portrait of Life Among the Walmartians

Great PR, but Platt's Love Letter to Store Won't Convince NYC Unionistas

By Published on .

Seems so many New Yorkers and media sort have such a hard time wrapping their minds around the fact that Walmart isn't seen as the embodiment of evil by the poor people it supposedly preys upon, that writer Charles Platt went undercover and sought a job at the store to see what the big deal was and report back to the motherland. In what is likely the most positive press coverage Walmart will ever get in the New York area (yeah, I know, it's a News Corp. publication, but still), Platt tells of his journeys:

A week later, I found myself in an elite group of 10 successful applicants convening for two (paid) days of training in the same claustrophobic, windowless room. As we introduced ourselves, I discovered that more than half had already worked at other Wal-Marts. Having relocated to this area, they were eager for more of the same.

Why? Gradually the answer became clear. Imagine that you are young and relatively unskilled, lacking academic qualifications. Which would you prefer: standing behind the register at a local gas station, or doing the same thing in the most aggressively successful retailer in the world, where ruthless expansion is a way of life, creating a constant demand for people to fill low-level managerial positions? A future at Wal-Mart may sound a less-than-stellar prospect, but it's a whole lot better than no future at all.
Platt goes on to point out the connections between anti-Walmart groups and labor unions, remarks that other retailers (including New York City-favorite Target) don't treat their employees any better (and indeed pay them less), and launches into an economics lecture about the real value of unskilled labor. At times, some of the Walmartians (and Platt) seem to have been drinking a little too much Walmart Kool-Aid, but overall a pretty solid PR win for the store "the media elite" love to trash with glee.

This, however, was my favorite quote of the entire piece: "'If we don't remember that our customers are in charge,' our trainer warned us, 'we turn into Kmart.'" The horror!

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