Wal-Mart isn't worth price to pay

Published 1:48 pm Wednesday, August 24, 2005

By By Adam Prestridge
While many may grieve over Atmore's lack of a Wal-Mart retailer, there are many great examples of why it might not be such a bad thing.
Take, for instance, the numerous local businesses that would almost certainly close due to having a Wal-Mart – especially a supercenter. Why would anyone go to the three local pharmacies, Brantley's Tires, the Diamond Oil gas stations, the Piggly Wiggly just across the state line, or any other locally-owned and operated business when they can simply go to Wal-Mart for all of those things – money which would all go to Wal-Mart headquarters in Arkansas, as they contribute nothing locally and often are offered numerous tax exemptions to enter a city.
Low prices may be great, but think of the costs. Many people say Wal-Mart would offer dozens of new jobs, and they'd be right, but Wal Mart pays its employees so little that many are still on government aid. Many of the people working these jobs would also probably be the ones who lost their jobs in the business closings.
And if you needed anything else, here is complete proof that Wal-Mart is evil, courtesy of the AP.
A man and woman in Brownsville, Ore., forgot to pay their $10 tab for 10 bags of manure during a recent trip to Wal-Mart. Wal-Mart, of course, pressed charges against them. But when they explained the situation to the city attorney, he decided to drop the charges. One would have assumed that would have ended the strange mess.
But not with Wal-Mart. The retailer, using a little-known Oregon law that allows businesses to press civil charges when criminal charges are dropped, slapped a $175 civil suit on the couple. Not wishing to drag the issue along any further, the couple agreed to pay the fine and go on with their lives.
Why does Wal-Mart need $175 for a $10 item that was already paid for? Do they really need that money? It's not like they'd use it to pay their employees or put money back into the community.
All in all, it's a company that really should cease to be. I have this argument often with my fianc/, who loves Wal-Marts and hates to hear anything bad about them, but it's true. There are numerous companies who use more ethical business practices, who pay their employees well, and who offer many of the same benefits to the consumer as Wal-Mart. Their prices may be a little bit worse, but I for one am glad to pay a little more to come home with less baggage.
Wal-Mart or not, this city is doing just fine. Let's keep it that way.
Tim Cottrell is sports editor of the Atmore Advance. His column appears weekly.

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