Archive for Saturday, April 22, 2006

Another Wal-Mart coming to town

City, retail giant settle; smaller store set for Sixth and Wakarusa

April 22, 2006

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After three years of litigation, Wal-Mart is coming to Sixth Street and Wakarusa Drive.

City commissioners at a special Friday morning meeting unanimously approved an out-of-court settlement that gives Wal-Mart a clear path to build a new store - albeit a much smaller one than originally proposed - at the northwest corner of Sixth and Wakarusa.

"This decision is based on what's best for the community," City Commissioner Sue Hack said. "Most good projects are the result of compromise."

The settlement comes just days before a trial was set to start on Monday in which Wal-Mart alleged the city denied a building permit for a 132,000-square-foot store based on political reasons.

But several neighbors in the area - some of whom had helped gather a petition with more than 400 names opposing the original project in 2002 - said the deal would create a massive traffic problem for their area.

"I would rather have a Wal-Mart than rabies, I suppose," said Alan Cowles, president of the West Lawrence Neighborhood Assn. "Our primary concern has not been Wal-Mart but the total volume of traffic that all the commercial development in this area is going to bring. We're still concerned about that.

"It is disappointing to see the city give in to repeated requests for more development. Citizens should be free to plan their own communities. They shouldn't be planned by giant out-of-state corporations that send $300-an-hour lawyers to hammer them into submission."

Project developers said they remained convinced that the intersection and surrounding roads were designed to handle the traffic. They also noted that the settlement included provisions that the project meet strict aesthetic design guidelines.

"We're committed to making this development one that we all can be proud of," said Bill Newsome, a partner with Lawrence developer Doug Compton in 6Wak Land Investments., which owns the property.

The deal

After a 10-minute closed-door executive session - their fourth closed-door meeting of the week - commissioners emerged to say that they had come to a meeting of the minds with Wal-Mart.

¢ The city, Wal-Mart and 6Wak all agree to put on hold the seven lawsuits that currently are pending on the property at Sixth Street and Wakarusa Drive.

¢ During the next six months, Wal-Mart and 6Wak will submit a new plan for a Wal-Mart store on the site. The new store will be no larger than 99,990 square feet, plus a 6,500 square foot open air garden center. That's significantly smaller than the 132,000-square-foot store the company sought a building permit for in 2003, as well as the 200,000-square-foot building rejected in 2002.

¢ Wal-Mart will agree to pay two-thirds of the cost of a new traffic signal for Sixth Street and Congressional Drive.

¢ The total amount of commercial development allowed on the northwest corner will be capped at 128,000 square feet.

¢ If city commissioners approve the new plan, Wal-Mart and 6Wak will drop all seven lawsuits against the city.

The project must go through the city's normal planning approval process, but the settlement states that city commissioners already agree with the square-footage amounts proposed by Wal-Mart.

Douglas County District Court Judge Michael Malone must agree to allow the cases to be put on hold. He'll hear the matter Monday morning, but the city's attorney said Malone had indicated he would be willing to grant the request.

A Wal-Mart spokeswoman said the new store would be smaller than many of the stores the retailer now builds. It will, however, offer all the general merchandise items of a typical Wal-Mart - and also include a full-service grocery department.

"We feel that this size in Lawrence in this specific location will work," said Angie Stoner, a spokeswoman with Wal-Mart. "We're always looking for ways to better serve our customers."

That would be Wal-Mart's second entry into the community's grocery market. Construction currently is under way to expand the retailer's store at 3300 Iowa to include a full-service grocery department.

The new store will be relatively small. The store at 3300 Iowa will be about 210,000 square feet when the expansion is completed. At 99,990 square feet, the new store will be just a bit larger than Wal-Mart's first store in Lawrence, which was built in 1983 at 87,152 square feet. It currently is occupied by Sears at 2727 Iowa.

Stoner did not give a timeline for construction to begin. She said once construction started, it would take 12 to 18 months to complete.

Let down

Several West Lawrence residents said that they didn't believe the smaller store would mean less traffic, especially because the store would also act as a grocery store.

"What's a smaller store really mean?" said Timothy Riling, a west Lawrence resident. "It means they might carry less of certain items that don't sell well anyway."

But city commissioners said the smaller size was a selling point in the settlement. City Commissioner Boog Highberger said the agreement ensures that the total amount of retail space at the corner will be 26,000 square feet less than what a developer could build there today.

Cowles, though, said he's wary that Wal-Mart at some point will come to a future commission seeking to expand the store.

"I'm not convinced this is over yet," Cowles said.

But the settlement does seem to start an end of an interesting political chapter in the city. The Wal-Mart issue was a major part of the 2003 City Commission elections, which featured candidates that were part of the "smart growth" Progressive Lawrence Campaign - Highberger, with Commissioners David Schauner and Mike Rundle - winning all three seats.

On Friday, Schauner said he wasn't thrilled with how the entire intersection was developing.

"I think that corner ultimately will be not a very happy place to drive through," said Schauner, noting that additional commercial development is already built or planned on the intersection's other corners. "But I don't think our interest is in saying no to this 128,000 square feet. We'll get design standards. It will be a good-looking project.

"But nobody got exactly what they wanted. What we got was a compromise."

Some neighbors, though, are having a hard time seeing what's in it for them. Gwen Klingenberg, president of the Lawrence Association of Neighborhoods and a resident of the area, said she believed it would become significantly more difficult for her to get in and out of her neighborhood.

"I personally feel like I've been let down by this commission," Klingenberg said. "I put a lot of time into this issue for what feels like nothing."

Wal-Mart: A timeline

2001: City commissioners approve zoning that would allow a 132,000-square-foot store on the northwest corner of Sixth Street and Wakarusa Drive. Commissioners believe that the most likely user was a home improvement store. They place a condition on the zoning that would prohibit a department store from locating on the site.

August 2002: Wal-Mart announces plans to build an approximately 200,000-square-foot store on the site.

October 2002: Neighbors deliver a petition with 400 names to City Hall opposing the project. City commissioners ultimately reject the 200,000-square-foot store proposal and another one that would have reduced the size of the store to 154,000 square feet.

May 2003: Wal-Mart seeks a building permit to build a 132,000-square-foot store under the condition of the zoning approved in 2001. But city commissioners refuse, saying Wal-Mart is a department store and thus not allowed. Wal-Mart officials contend it is a variety store. The first lawsuit is filed later that month; a total of seven suits were filed.

April 2004: City rezones the property to limit any building on the site to less than 80,000 square feet. Commissioners remove the prohibition against department stores.

Friday:Commissioners unanimously agree to an out-of-court settlement - days before a trial is set to begin - that will allow Wal-Mart to build a 99,990-square-foot store on the site.

Comments

horrific_changeling 9 years, 1 month ago

And with the prevailing Ks S&W winds, just think of all the plastic bags that will blow over to the high school fields to litter up the place,stick high in the trees, like all the fields north and east of the current Walmart. It's so lovely!

missmagoo 9 years, 1 month ago

so where does this fit in with the new development plan for 6th & wak?

Scott Drummond 9 years, 1 month ago

"look what schauner,rundle,boog,and the plc just cost the tax payer"

And they had a ton of support in doing so. Bless them for standing up for those of us who do NOT want a Wanamaker Road or Metcalf Avenue in our community. The quote in this article says it all - local citizens should get to decide what sort of development takes place in their community, not large corporations and their hired legal thugs, and not crooked commisioners in bed with developers. It will certainly be interesting to see what the community reaction to all of this is. It just may not be what the pro-development crowd thinks.

LivedinLawrence4Life 9 years, 1 month ago

Let's welcome the tax dollars that Wal-Mart and the developers will pay for that site year after year after it is improved! Let them overspend on the construction of that location and pay tons of tax for that location! We need a bigger commercial tax base to keep the tax on our homes from increasing so much! If you don't like Wal-Mart, shop somewhere else until it goes out of business so another business that you like will come in to use the space. If you don't like the developers, add up the tax dollars they will be paying and be glad it isn't you. Meanwhile, perhaps Free State students will get jobs at Wal-Mart and walk there after school to work.

Jay Bird 9 years, 1 month ago

I think I'd rather have rabies, Alan Cowles, president of the West Lawrence Neighborhood Assn. Do we REALLY need another grocery store. Dillons and Hy-vee are right there. Why not expand on North Lawrence. There's a turnpike exit right there. When you get off, it kind of looks like the Getto over there. Tanger Mall was a bust. Try something else. Food 4 Less or something. A K-Mart would be better than nothing. Wal-Mart is a virus anyway.

Bob Reinsch 9 years, 1 month ago

Walmart needs a few Norma Rae's to walk around and start unionizing. I loathe Walmart and their uncompensated overtime. I loathe their reputation for selling American-made, when in reality they sell more Chinese made cheap crap than any other entity in the United States. I loathe their model of destroying small town downtowns with their local stores, then after the damage is done, close down the small local stores in favor of their supercenters, making people drive 20-30-40 miles to get their shopping done.

Walmart employees are the persecuted masses of commerce. I don't shop there... and neither should anyone else.

paladin 9 years, 1 month ago

The community reaction to all of this is irrelevant. I believe God shops at the Wal-Mart. For His every need.

bankboy119 9 years, 1 month ago

happy,

There is nothing in North Lawrence because the money isn't there to support it. Wal-Mart is being put where the money is going right now, just like any other business.

paladin 9 years, 1 month ago

Almost everything sold everywhere is made in China. Look for it on the products. Except toilets, for some reason.

ds9jullian 9 years, 1 month ago

At least Walmart is paying for something other than building the store. In many other places including my home town Walmart not only refuses to pay the local sales tax but they refuse to pay for the redevelopment of the intersection that is already 100% over capacity. Even when it is built I will not shop their because no one in Colorado can live on minimum wage.

ModSquadGal 9 years, 1 month ago

Oh please... what a joke. This town needs another Wal Mart like it needs another BANK.

Sigmund 9 years, 1 month ago

I am not convinced this is over with either. As to North Lawrence, its dying because there is really only one way to get over the river, its a pain to get in and out of.

This thing only got settled because of Wal-Mart's witness list and what their testimony would have been. Mike Wilgren's and Linda Finger's testimony would have been devestating to the Kurrent Kommission Krew. I was so looking forward to that.

But strangely enough the biggest winner here is the City of Lawrence. Now when developers decide to risk their capital in Lawrence, they will have the assurance that the City will at least follow their own rules, and not arbitrarliy decide to approve some projects and not others becasue they don't like the developers politics.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 9 years, 1 month ago

You have it exactly backwards, Sigmund. The reason this commission chose to compromise on this was because the previous commission couldn't follow the established rules when it OK'ed this project to begin with (although it was supposed to be for a home improvement store.) That gave Walmart and Compton, et al, the wedge they needed.

What's really disgusting about all this is that Compton, a former city commissioner, used his connections with his buddies on the planning and city commissions to sh*tcan the zoning regulations that should have governed this project, and then used that abuse of power as the basis for his suit against the city when the current commission tried to enforce the regulations he wanted to them to ignore.

byron 9 years, 1 month ago

it's pretty amazing that walmart was slowed and downsized as much as they were by your city council. nice job guys!

Jay_Z 9 years, 1 month ago

Reacharound...classy--you're a real peice of work.

Sigmund 9 years, 1 month ago

Bozo-

If Wilgren's and Finger's testimony would have shown what you claim (illegal acts by a previous Commission and and political cronyism by Compton) the Kurrent Kommission Krew would have been itchimg to get into court. That is obviously not the case here. You've been inhaling bus fumes again haven't you?

Jay_Z 9 years, 1 month ago

Bozo, yes, we get it...it was the previous commission's fault, etc. etc. But, the current commission though should have sucked it up, saved taxpayer money by not fighting it in court, and let them build. Rather, the current commission took up the "noble" cause of wasting over $100K to fight an unwinnable battle. But it was the principle of it, right? ;)

Moderateguy 9 years, 1 month ago

Well said Bozo, most people don't remember the entire process. I live about two minutes from there, and will not be giving them a dime of my money.

jonas 9 years, 1 month ago

"It is disappointing to see the city give in to repeated requests for more development. Citizens should be free to plan their own communities. They shouldn't be planned by giant out-of-state corporations that send $300-an-hour lawyers to hammer them into submission."

Except that the community doesn't frickn OWN that land, so they should have no say in how it is developed at all. Housing associations are the antichrist at work.

nut_case 9 years, 1 month ago

The only thing we need LESS than another wal-mart is a wal-mart with only 99K square feet of space. Just enough space to draw you in the store, then you find out they dont have/or are out of the one thing you want. Then you wind up driving to a REAL store anyway. Just like our tiny Home Depot and Best Buy do now.

lunacydetector 9 years, 1 month ago

i think the problem with the whole walmart deal was the city changed the rules in the middle of the game. not only that, but the city's definition of variety store vs. department store was exactly the opposite of the definition used in every other community througout the united states. i also wonder what some of the former city employees were going to say at the trial, not that they would be disgruntled, i just wonder.

so what will the rallying cry be for the PLC commissioners come next election? This has been a VERY BAD week for the PLC. first, there is the retail impact study that says exactly the opposite of what they wanted it to say. then they get a pie in the face by having to settle the walmart deal.

this is why it is so hard to do business in lawrence. after 3 years, it finally gets done. To the neighbors who opposed the walmart deal, blame yourself. you moved into a neighborhood with nearby commercially zoned property. what else should you expect, other than a commercial development?

armyguy 9 years, 1 month ago

I am not a fan of Wal-mart and avoid it at all costs. There is value in a having them in a town. It is not hard to look at other towns who fought and lost the battle with them. Bonner Springs fought with them for a few years and lost, however first quarter sales tax revune were up a couple hundrend thousand dollars according to the Bonner paper, which is owned by LJW. If I remember correctly the city also made them do a lot of landscaping to the parking lot which makes the store almost not seen from the highway.

The City also does not allow them to store anything outside their building. While that may not seem like a big thing, it does create a nicer area for those that live around them. Has any body looked at the side or back of any big store, most all have execess inventory,trash, pallets and other crap sitting all over the place.

Jamesaust 9 years, 1 month ago

"Except that the community doesn't frickn OWN that land, so they should have no say in how it is developed at all."

'They' don't need to OWN the land to regulate nuisances. At least "they' haven't had to as long as 'they''ve had something called anglo-saxon common law.

If you don't like pesky government by the people go to one of those countries without government and then see who will protect your idol of absolute, beggar-thy-neighbor ownership.

As for me, I've got $100,000 in legal fees to 'save' by not spending it at Wal-Mart! After all, these days you can buy the fruits of Chinese slave labor almost anywhere.

leftwingfarmboy 9 years, 1 month ago

Never shop at Wal Mart. Wal Mart is the anti Christ. If you don't believe me just look real closely at the elderly door greeters.

armyguy 9 years, 1 month ago

Perhaps is is just that so many other big stores are flocking to Bonner Springs, yeah right.

Wal-Mart opens Supercenter (October, 2002)

http://www.bonnersprings.com/section/archive/story/3215

Bonner sales tax receipts rose 44 percent in (2003)

http://www.bonnersprings.com/section/archive/story/4287

bankboy119 9 years, 1 month ago

Same thing in Chicago Macon. If there weren't people willing to work minimum wage jobs and people wouldn't buy at Wal-Mart, then it wouldn't exist. It's all economics.

GOPConservative 9 years, 1 month ago

Speaking of wasting tax dollars fighting Wal-Mart, people ought to stop and think about how much tax money they are wasting by supporting the scheme to siphon America's wealth to China so these atheist totalitarians will loan it back to support the fiscal liberalism of Congress and the President.

Through their failure to force China to float its currency like other major trading partners, the trade deficit with China grows each year. Wal-Mart is China's number one customer. Bush and the crooked coalition in Congress (that includes Jim Ryun) know that they don't dare get tough with their atheist buddies in China. Otherwise, China will quit being their sugar daddy. They need China to loan back the money extracted from America through discount pricing to pay for big-government schemes to invade our privacy and declare poorly planned wars in our name.

Every dollar we send to China that Bush and Ryun borrow back will end up costing our generation and future generation many times that in interest. Every dollar you spend buying discount goods at Wal-Mart (produced through essentially slave labor under totalitarianism) will end up costing you and your children much more than you would have paid by supporting true free enterprise at locally-owned businesses.

Further, the big-government fiscal liberals like Ryun, who have taken over my Party, never pay down the National Debt they create. Instead, they give tax cuts to the richest Americans and hand out more pork and subsidies to the tax sucking monopolies that put them in office.

Wake up America! The so called "religious conservatives" are neither religious nor conservative. While they rant on against homosexuals, evolution and oral sex, they are criminals whose allegiance is not to the taxpayers but to atheist totalitarians and to the likes of Tom Delay, who bankrolled their campaigns with laundered money from tax-sucking monopolies that now control Congress and the Republican Party.

armyguy 9 years, 1 month ago

Macon, good point. Also on that store, it is one of the most profitable in walmart history. At least it was in 2002, profit sharing returns were talked about that strore among all walmart peeons. I hate to admit it but I worked for the evil empire, or as I refer to it the Walmart triangle shirtwaist co. I prayed it would not catch on fire while I was in the back room, or we would all have died. All the back doors were padlock with only managers having keys.

katethegreat 9 years, 1 month ago

Someone told me once that each Walmart doesn't have to pay property taxes until it's been on the property for 10 years.

I don't know if this is true.

It would explain why they always abandon one building after 8 years only to build another one directly across the street.

ronin 9 years, 1 month ago

Try to imagine how much money will be spent at the new walfart by high school strudents every year after it's built. How many "whiners" will go there on a weekly basis to get their fix of cheap Asian plastics or garmets? How much more are you willing to pay to buy from a mon & pop, or at least a less cancerous national chain?

The answer my friend is blowing in the wind.....

yourworstnightmare 9 years, 1 month ago

GOPconservative summed things up quite nicely.

"I don't care about selling our future as long as guys ain't kissin' and women ain't killin' their babies."

Rebecca Valburg 9 years, 1 month ago

Armyguy -

The only locks on the doors in the back of a Wal-Mart are the same ones on ALL of the doors except the front doors - they disarm the fire alarm that sounds when you open it. The padlocks are on the huge rollup doors that are opened when trucks are docked against them, and obviously, the average associate doesn't need to have their personal truck backed up against the docks, nor would these be real convenient to get out in the event of a fire anyway, because more often than not, there's a semi trailer sitting on the other side. If they NEED out in an emergency, there's a fire door right beside those doors as well. Come on - public buildings are regularly inspected by the fire marshall - do you think they're going to risk THEIR jobs by not reporting Wal-Mart?

Scott Drummond 9 years, 1 month ago

"And they had a ton of support in doing so"

"let's see, the average over weight liberal in lawrence weights 200 lbs, 2000 lbs to a ton, that would be 10 cry babies,

wow, some following"

Wow, billyflay, that's some insight. I'm guessing your not a doctor, or lawyer or one of those other uppity professionals. Somerthing also tells me you find the Walmart experience fun and exciting.

For the rest of you, can someone please explain how you justify the morality of shopping at Walmart? Given all the news about their wage and benefits practices, their off-shoring of most of their products, and the poor, poor record they have in so many areas, I just wonder how so many people can lend their support to such immoral business practices. Is it that the majority of Walmart shoppers do not know, or is it that you just do not care?

paladin 9 years, 1 month ago

Why do I need to buy my Chinese goods someplace other than the Wal-Mart. What's the practical alternative?

Jay_Z 9 years, 1 month ago

Paladin--that is exactly the point. Most goods are produced in China whether you like it or not, whether you shop at Wally World, Target, K-Mart, it doesn't matter. Chinese goods are in all stores. The bleeding heart liberals just love to hate Wal-Mart.

Scott Drummond 9 years, 1 month ago

Chinese goods are in all stores because the majority of people are either not aware of the immoral business practices of Walmart or because they do not care about anything but saving a nickel (i.e they are, themselves, immoral.) The point of those who are opposed to businesses like Walmart is that it does not have to be that way. One of the previous posters said that the Chinese goods are everywhere "like it or not." That's a defeatist cop out. I don't like it & I'm not going to support it. And what of all you right wing, anti abortion Christians out there. You support mandatory State sponsored abortions? China has been "killing babies" big time for several decades now, all in the name of gender selection. Every nickel you spend in Walmart on that Chinese produced crap supports that evil regime. Like it, or not. That's some mighty wicked blood on your hands!

paladin 9 years, 1 month ago

So, I'm given to understand that you purchase no Chinese goods? Get real. Almost all hardware is made in China now. Electronics. Auto parts. Clothes. Housewares. Eyeglasses. Oh, just about everything. Or in other countries guilty of the same sins by Chinese interests or American/Chinese interests. What to do? Boycott one store?

runningscooter 9 years, 1 month ago

It's sad to see that so many people don't think beyond their wallets. Wal-Mart is extremely hard to beat because they own most of the American market. And please, get over all this West side eliteist crap. Would you like a gigantic box store build in your neighborhood or right across the street from your school!! The West Lawrence neighborhood didn't want a box store, but after studying Wal-Mart's history, yes it is about not wanting another Wal-Mart. You've all been duped by Wal-Mart's propaganda if you you continue to shop there because you can get dish soap for a dime cheaper. And let's not even get into the issue of not allowing unions.

paladin 9 years, 1 month ago

Except toilets. You can still buy a good American-made toilet. But, it will cost you.

Jay_Z 9 years, 1 month ago

Scott-so what goods do you suggest people buy? It is near impossible to not buy Chinese goods. I don't like the practices being employed in China either, but what are you going to do? Until laws are changed, or until international pressure is put on China, there ain't much you or I can do. I can't afford to spend the extra time/money avoiding the use/purchase of Chinese goods....

paladin 9 years, 1 month ago

Who's "We"? You got a mouse in your pocket? I didn't do any of that stuff. Greed and moral corruption in the corporate and government elite did most of it. What you gonna do? Vote for one greedy and morally corrupt politician over another one? What kind of change will that bring about? Both political parties are corrupt beyond repair. A new alternative party is the only possible hope. But, how could that ever happen? They, the wealthy and the powerful, hold all the cards

Scott Drummond 9 years, 1 month ago

Well, I will be accused of snobbery and elitism, for this, but yes, I go out of my way to buy American whenever I can. I try to buy local produce when I can, I buy organically grown food when I can. I try to buy clothes that are not made in China or in other explotive societies. Am I perfect? Do I ALWAYS succeed in these attempts? No, of course not. But I spend my money in ways that support the things that I believe in. There are lots of people that probably put some degree of thought in to what they do to earn the money that they make. My guess is most people have some way of feeling good about what it is that they do to bring in a dollar. Then they go out and spend that dollar without giving a tinker's damn about the consequences. I ain't perfect, so please, keep the sarcastic responses to a minimum, but I watch my my behavior on both the intake and the outlay sides of things. Sounds pompous, I guess, but my parents taught me the Golden Rule and it makes me feel bad to participate in or support evil acts. So, yes, I refuse to give my money to a Walmart that cheats people on overtime, demotes women who take maternity leave, violates minimum wage and immigration laws, offers their employees a prescription drug plan that Walmart does not participate in (!!) and etc.... You all do what you want, I just wonder how you can support that business and other similar crooks with a clean concious. Used to be the people of this country were more honorable, but I guess we've been so beaten in to submission that we'd sell our neighbor down the river for a nickel.

paladin 9 years, 1 month ago

scott3460-I believe you are absolutely right and are traveling the right road. Its difficult to find your way in a world where people value things and money a great deal more than they value each other.

Rebecca Valburg 9 years, 1 month ago

Scott -

I wrote you personally, but then continued to read - where are you finding this information? I work at Wal-Mart, and the place you describe is not my place of employment. There are thousands of stores in the United States, run by thousands of individuals, each with hundreds of people working underneath them. You can find individual examples of whatever you want to look for, because there are corrupt individuals everywhere, not just in Wal-Mart. However, Wal-Mart pays its associates generally slightly higher than its competitors in a town (so pay varies, based on the cost of living in the area), the time clock automatically pays people time and a half after they reach 40 hours (working without being timed in results in immediate termination - allowing someone you manage to work off the clock gets the same result - you can't even take work-related information (i.e. information on products) home with you to read, help a customer on your way out the door, or pick a shirt up off the floor on your lunch hour without risking your job). Demoting a woman for taking a maternity leave is against federal law, and being a woman and having been there five years, I've known a LOT of women that had babies, and not a single one was demoted. The immigration laws you hear about in the news refer to a third party cleaning company that a handful of Wal-Marts employed, and it was discovered that a few Wal-Mart associates knew that THAT company employed illegal immigrants. It's very difficult for Wal-Mart to regulate who other companies hire at all times, so now no Wal-Marts can use third party cleaning services, employment services, etc. And with regards to the prescription plan, I have no idea what you're talking about - I HAVE Wal-Mart insurance, and it's paid for every prescription I've turned in.

Our country's trade practices do suck, as I discussed in the messages I sent you, but even ELIMINATING Wal-Mart's 8% market share on retail sales won't dent the big picture - it will just make a little hiccup in the economy as we all shift our business to the retailer across the street. Write your congressmen, continue to read the tags on the products you buy, use the websites I provided you. Posting lies about Wal-Mart's corporate policies is funny, because it leads to interesting facial expressions and conversations with people when they're actually confronted with the truth - my personal favorite is when friends have little verbal pity parties for me and my poor little job at Wal-Mart, and then realize that I make more and have much better benefits than they do, however, it does nothing to solve the real problems. Again, blaming Wal-Mart simply makes YOU feel better, because then you don't have to take responsiblity. You can shop wherever you want - your tax dollars still support the government that condones this.

badger 9 years, 1 month ago

Well, that was certainly a useful and insightful comment, truthlawrence.

Your caps lock key is still stuck, smart guy.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 9 years, 1 month ago

RichardCory:

"Posting lies about Wal-Mart's corporate policies is funny, because it leads to interesting facial expressions and conversations with people when they're actually confronted with the truth"

I don't claim to be an expert on all the claims made against Walmart, but many of them have been fairly well documented, and yet you seem to have the opinion that none of it ever happened.

I'm curious why your opinion seems to differ so dramatically with the many reports of abuse by this company. Could it be that the Lawrence Walmart is very exceptional by being a model employer in every respect, which is what you seem to be reporting?

armyguy 9 years, 1 month ago

I thought that all this wal-mart stuff might be over but I guess I was wrong. Just thought I might add a little fuel for the wal-mart haters out there.

Richardcory, yes all the doors in the back room were padlocked shut, even the emergency exit. It was taken off after the Shawnee or JO fire marsahall fined, or wrote them a ticket however it was there.

While working for the Bonner Springs wal-mart I had my truck serviced by the shawnee walmart. The idiots in the TLE (tire, lube express) check out my left the transmission check plug out of the tranny. After the transmission broke in my truck I found out. I contacted my boss to find out what to do. She told me to be very carefull how I handled that so as not to lose my job.

To make the story short, I guess I was not too smart about it. Not only did I pay them to F##k up my truck that they refused to pay for I also lost the part time job I was using to help pay for medical insurance. Yeah for the part time Army, now all the nice taxpayers will help with that.

I was going to take them to small claims court, however a little thing called Iraq came calling and the time limit has run out, yeah for the part time Army and all the nice taxpayers.

Shop a wal-mart, I don't think so, however, everybody else should so my little dab of wal-mart stock will go up.

Scott Drummond 9 years, 1 month ago

RichardCory:

  1. If I wanted your spam in my email I would have asked for it, please do not send me any more of your propaganda.

  2. "Again, blaming Wal-Mart simply makes YOU feel better, because then you don't have to take responsiblity. " The first part of your statement is true, but you have it all wrong on the second. I buy American whenever possible, I buy local whenever possible, I buy organic and sustainable products whenever possible, and those things are examples of TAKING responsibility. You see rather than supporting a dictatorship in China, my money goes to support my fellow American citizens who have the benefit of labor law protection, environmental standards, etc.... I make that choice because I believe it is a morally superior choice. I understand that you believe Walmart is an ideal employer and that you make WAY more money than people suppose and get great benefits from the company. Evidently those are the things that are important to you. My standards, I guess, are just different, that's all.

lunacydetector 9 years, 1 month ago

for a couple of yous on here who think walmart will get some sort of property tax abatement YOU ARE WRONG! by kansas law, only manufacturing or industrial companies are eligible for a property tax abatement - and they also have to be the property owners.

walmart should've had to pay for the entire cost of the street light on congressional, but maybe the developer's goodwill reimbursement of $90,000 to the city picks up some of that tab since walmart is paying two-thirds of the street light cost.

Rebecca Valburg 9 years, 1 month ago

Scott -

Your tax dollars are still supporting the American government, so simply by having a job, owning a car, buying goods (even American made), you are still supporting American trade policies.

If you feel superior by not shopping at a particular retailer, and you feel that the things that you are doing are enough to offset what you're not, then I suppose that's enough for you.

The messages I sent you were simply pointing out that the information that you posted was wrong - yes, you can find individual cases of about anything you're looking for, but that doesn't mean that it's a corporately followed policy. (Bozo - I never said these things never happened, but saying that they happened to a few people in corrupt pockets is very different from saying that it's a corporate policy and happens to everyone) But again, if the propaganda is what you want to believe and you don't have time to listen to the other side, no one's forcing you. I also provided you websites that you could shop for non-sweatshop (not even affiliated with Wal-Mart) items, but those weren't up to your standards, either, apparently.

You've made up your mind, and you only want to hear the things that support those things that you already believe. Personally, I enjoy knowing both sides of the story (even Wal-Mart's - I very much like books against Wal-Mart as well, though the topics I find most disturbing haven't been mentioned on this forum), but it is much easier to only see what we want.

Rebecca Valburg 9 years, 1 month ago

Armyguy -

Who was the district manager over the store that you were at? I don't know the store managers at the various stores that well, and it sounds like you may have had a bad one, but the district manager's number is posted all over, and I can't imagine that if you called it, they wouldn't have corrected the door problem. In the last five years, we've had Mel Stos, Dwight Ing. (I can't remember how to spell his name) and Connie Freeman, and all of them have been very responsive to hourly associates. You wouldn't have even needed to give them your name.

And what exactly did they terminate you for? They have to put a reason in your file and key it in for the Home Office to pull up, and the reason you're giving would create way more red flags at the Home Office than I'm thinking anyone that was planning on working there much longer would want.

As for your truck, it sounds like you got caught in a pocket of greedy people wanting to protect their bonus checks. In your employee handbook, it discusses how to report an accident. Had it been reported properly, it should have gone to the third party insurance company, and been reviewed by people completely not tied to Wal-Mart.

You don't have to shop at Wal-Mart, and it would have been much easier if you would have done it earlier, but if you've held onto your bills, you might want to give the district manager a call.

Seems like there should be a law stopping the clock on how long you have to sue someone if you're serving overseas. If there's not, there should be.

Rebecca Valburg 9 years, 1 month ago

And since you've quit, you might want to consider selling your stock. As soon as you quit, the company that manages your stock (used to be Equiserve - it has a new name now, can't remember it) starts charging you a maintenance fee on it. That, too, was in the handbook.

Rebecca Valburg 9 years, 1 month ago

I find it interesting that there are numerous people on here giving personal accounts of individual things that have happened to them that anger them about Wal-Mart, but it absolutely infuriates those same people to have personal positive accounts given.

I have never said that the individual things listed did not occur, just corrected the mis-information on corporate policies.

I suspect that I've perhaps had better-than-average experiences with Wal-Mart, and the others voicing opinions on here have had worse-than-average experiences, and that the truth lies somewhere in between.

horrific_changeling 9 years, 1 month ago

The New Walmart

Reading tonight's posts about the new Walmart store, I'm very thankful that the masses no longer congregate at the town square. We'd have a bloody riot on our hands. I wonder what it was like to be present in the old days. I bet some wives had to come drag their orating husbands home by their collars, or just hide their heads in shame!

Tallow and Glue :D

introversion 9 years, 1 month ago

You guys wanna know how great walmart is to their employees? Ask some of the people who work for walmart who were assigned to help the construction contractors last year during the supercenter conversion on south Iowa. Walmart employees were put to work for their walmart wages while doing work for the contractors. They were told not to wear their name badges while they were doing it, and if any inspector asked who they worked for, they were to say that they worked for the contractor... I'd know because I was one of the employees "reassigned" to "help" with the remodel. I'd love to see how this company with all their awesome policies to help out their employees could explain that... Then again, they'd probably just prefer that no one found out... oops.

Walmart sucks. Whether or not you're down with Chinese products or not, it doesn't change the fact that Walmart sucks.

Rebecca Valburg 9 years, 1 month ago

Introversion -

Who are you, where do you work in the store, and who gave you that direction (not to wear your badge as well as to help the construction crew)? You don't have to respond on here, but I'd be VERY interested even just to get a private response from you. Again, I am in no way saying that what you say didn't happen, but it seems odd to me that the store meetings I attended, we were all told to stay away from the actual construction areas - if we were really curious, we were to grab management and they'd get hard hats for both of us and go with us. I helped the cabling guy numberous times, the plumbers a couple of times and I was never given that direction. And who would have told you to lie to an inspector?

In response to your policies comment, though, it's absolutely not Wal-Mart policy to instruct its associates to lie, refrain from practicing dress code, do the work of contractors (though obviously if the contractors need our merchandise moved, use of our scissor lift, etc - it's going to be Wal-Mart associates doing that kind of thing for them), etc.

If you still work there, and ever encounter a situation that you DO see as being un-ethical, and you don't personally feel comfortable going over someone's head, there should be an ethics hotline number posted in the breakroom and in personnel. (With these rooms being recently moved, you may have to look in the phonebook on the WIRE - if you've forgotten how to get on, it's the same way you get on to do your computer based learning.) It's a hotline that was established a few years ago - you don't have to even give your name when you call, and you can do it from a payphone if you feel more comfortable. At any rate, Wal-Mart will send in a group of people from outside the store to investigate, substantiate, and report back to the Home Office on what's going on in the individual store. There's actually a physical binder kept in each store, and if and when this occurs, that binder is filled with paperwork that has to be completed and sent back. There's a certain number of hours this has to be started in (24 or 48, it seems), and if management has a day off planned, they can't take it until the situation is wrapped up. Lapses of judgement and just flat-out bad people DO get through at times, but there are ways in place to correct and if need be eliminate them, and I kind of feel like it's your responsibility as a part of whatever company you go to work for to do your part to make sure others in the company are behaving in a decent manner. If you know something is wrong and you just look the other way, then you're just as guilty as the person doing wrong.

Rebecca Valburg 9 years, 1 month ago

I worked for a private business before I worked for Wal-Mart. If anything were to have gone wrong there, it was just me vs. the owner, so unless I personally wanted to take legal action, it was best to just sit tight. As for large corporations, I've worked for Wal-Mart and I've worked at one of the industries here in town, and I do like the fact that as long as I take the time to read the information provided me, there are avenues for me to deal with people that I have conflicts with, even if they rank above me. I personally DO like Wal-Mart's employment policies, but I have gone to and called the district office with complaints, and I've always been listened to and changes have always been made (my problems may not have been resolved the way I asked, but they were resolved). I've never personally needed to go higher than that, but I've worked with people that have gone several steps higher at other stores (those numbers are posted in the back as well), and they all still have their jobs and have gotten their issues resolved as well.

At Wal-Mart, you have access to every policy out there on the WIRE. If you have a problem, I recommend printing a physical copy of the policy, and having it with you when you go to talk with management.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 9 years, 1 month ago

RichardCory:

Are you employed as a PR person at Walmart, or are you just a volunteer?

Rebecca Valburg 9 years, 1 month ago

Bozo -

I'm not going to tell you my exact job at Wal-Mart, because I'm paid to DO my job, not discuss politics, but if you want to pull up my previous comments on other sites, I haven't made the gist of it a super secret. And you'll notice that Wal-Mart isn't the only topic on which I've become frustrated with people making up facts or spreading false information that they've been fed. Come up with real information, that isn't just individual accounts of something happening once, at one store, to one person, statistics that have been interpreted to a particular sides liking, misleading propaganda spread by anti-Wal-Mart groups, or just blatant lies, and I would love to discuss with you. I have lots of things I don't like about Wal-Mart, but that doesn't make it right or helpful to discuss things that aren't true. I could join right in with you, I could whine and complain about Wal-Mart not providing health care to its workers, but since it's pretty easily proven that they do, it's just wasting everyone's time, and making everyone that participates look uneducated. I don't really like George Bush, but posting that he has a secret sexual relationship going on as we speak with Saddam Hussein isn't going to help get him out of office. I have never refuted truthful things that were posted here, I've never denied that the individual accounts on here weren't true. However, there have been a lot of things posted in this thread about Wal-Mart that simply aren't true, and a lot of people in the public at large believe these things because no one ever bothers to tell them otherwise. Why does my responding with what the actual policies and procedures are anger you so much? It doesn't make it any less true that violations have occurred. But again, saying that these examples of violations mean that that's how absolutely every Wal-Mart associate, manager, store, etc. operates, and that it's corporately encouraged, doesn't help anyone, and in fact, only discredits those Wal-Mart detractors that are actually honestly trying to get positive changes implemented.

Rebecca Valburg 9 years, 1 month ago

As for Howard, yes, I am closer to Wal-Mart than the average American - I have much more access to Wal-Mart information (positive and negative) than most. So it's all in how you want to look at it. I haven't tried to hide the fact that I work there, and overall, I'm satisfied with my job. I know of policies and practices that I do find disturbing, but again, spreading false information simply takes away the attention from the real issues, both inside the company and publicly. On the other hand, if you have questions regarding policies, you can either ask people that are actually familiar with the company what the policies really are, or you can make up your own, and get angry when you find out that the things you posted are wrong.

Interesting that you posted the comment about Hitler - Hitler probably actually WAS a model son - slaughtering millions of humans as an adult didn't suddenly change the facts of his childhood. I could make up facts about Hitler's childhood - I could tell you he tortured small animals, neighbor children, etc, and wiped the blood on his mother's bedroom walls, but really, do we need to make up facts about Hitler to prove he was evil? I think there's plenty of truth already out there. Why are people so compelled to tell others that Wal-Mart doesn't offer health care, that they have policies demanding that people work off the clock, that every woman that has a baby is demoted, etc?

The whole picture is by no means perfect, but I've simply posted policies. If you doubt my interpretation of them, I welcome you to call any Wal-Mart in the country, ask for the personnel manager, and ask what the corporate policy is on whatever subject you're curious about.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 9 years, 1 month ago

RichardCory,

I agree with much of what you say, at least the priciples you state, but there is just too much evidence out there of the abuses that Walmart has, and probably still does, inflict on its workers. I'm glad that your experience is better, but merely that says that in the case of Walmart in Lawrence, things are somewhat better. And it doesn't surprise me that here in the People's Republic of Lawrence they are on better behaviour than in many other places.

My personal complaint isn't so much against Walmart in particular. Home Depot and Target and other competitors are probably only marginally better, if at all. My biggest complaint is that we will be wasting a lot of money to accomodate a lot of sprawl, and soon-to-be-obsolete retail operations like Walmart, only to have to completely redesign our economic system over the next few years or maybe a couple of decades at the most.

I just wish that more thoughtful people like yourself would quit defending this dinosaur that's about to collapse of its own unsupportable weight.

Rebecca Valburg 9 years, 1 month ago

I appreciate your comment.

The Lawrence store is very lucky to have the mix of people that it does working at it - I started in this store, worked in others, helped out for projects in still others, and I'm back at this one for a reason. It's by no means perfect, but there are some great people there that care a lot about the job they do and each other. Not all of them, mind you, but much better than some other stores.

And I appreciate your recognition that there are other retailers that are worse. Wal-Mart gets all of the attention right now, because it's the biggest player, but when you really look at the business practices and policies, Wal-Mart actually does come out ahead most of the time.

Does this mean that it's the perfect system? Absolutely not. Am I defending the economic system of which Wal-Mart is a contributor? No. Personally, I will disagree that all aspects of Wal-Mart are obsolete - they have been instrumental in revolutionizing the transport of merchandise, computerizing their inventory, tracking the flow of goods, etc, and continue to produce new ways of ensuring the product flow works as smoothly as possible. Most of these methods have been picked up by the other major players as well. And while I'm guessing that many of the readers on here do most of their shopping primarily online, we're decades away from this being the main method of shopping, since there are still many people that don't own or refuse to use computers, especially in the older generations. Even then, it's hard to tell if shopping online will ever fully replace the tactile experience of shopping.

Rebecca Valburg 9 years, 1 month ago

Regardless, though, the economic system is going to have to change. We can't continue to send more and more of our jobs overseas, and expect there to be no ramifications. We like to send the jobs away that aren't as glamorous or respected and keep all the well-paying office jobs, but the truth of the matter is, not every American is capable of putting out $100,000 worth of service a year. We've been inflating our individual qualities of living for years at the expense of people we don't care about, because they look different, speak a different language, and we never have to look them in the eye. As the world becomes smaller, and these countries begin to catch up (as well as the gap between the poor and rich in this country widens, putting our poor on a level playing field with those in other countries), blatant exploitation is going to become much harder, and I don't see how it can possibly continue indefinitely. The entire economy will have to be restructured, and Americans won't be pleased with the results on their own pocketbooks. I don't know the solutions, and it bothers me a lot, and THIS is what I like discussing with people. We'll still need the goods transported, we'll still need to know what sells where and when, so I don't think destroying the large corporations is the answer - they'll have answers we'll desperately need later on.

THIS is why I get upset when people point the finger at Wal-Mart as being the sole problem. It takes the attention away from the real problem, and destroying the large corporations that know the most about trade may actually hurt us in the long run.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 9 years, 1 month ago

" We'll still need the goods transported, we'll still need to know what sells where and when, "

This is where I disagree. The only reason we need the goods transported is because those who make the decisions on such things (ie, Walmart execs) have the cheap energy at their disposal to that allows them to find desperate people they can exploit, which is the real current definition of the global economy.

In the not too distant future, that cheap energy won't be there any more. It'll be much less economically feasible to send raw materials and components produced in one country to be processed or assembled in another and then shipped to still other countries to the final users. Economies will have to become locally and regionally based, simply because the energy costs to continue present system will be prohibitively high. That will make many of the systems and strategies that companies like Walmart have developed largely useless.

That doesn't mean that we'll have to end the process of "globalization." Tijuana and San Diego, Detroit and Toronto, etc., will be part of the same regional economies, and there should be as few barriers as possible between them.

Rebecca Valburg 9 years, 1 month ago

I don't know that I agree, but I don't disagree, either. It's all very scary to think about, isn't it? Things we take for granted (even simple things, like bananas - the number one produce item in America) just won't be options anymore.

If Wal-Mart goes by the wayside as a result of the economy changing, I certainly won't be standing in the way stopping it - I think the economy we currently have is dangerous and scary, and I realize that massive changes are needed, and will massively change life as we know it. The folks that think that Wal-Mart IS the problem and that all of our worldly problems will be solved by crippling it using things that aren't true frustrate me - as you obviously realize, the whole bigger picture is scary enough that it doesn't need lies to help it. And obviously, simply taking a single retailer out of the picture won't make everything rosy and wonderful.

Your ideas are fascinating - feel free to shoot me an e-mail any time - I'd love to discuss and see what you suggest as reading material.

alerixon1 9 years, 1 month ago

If you are looking for an alternative, please learn about fair trade. www.fairtradefederation.org. While all products are not available yet, the diversity in the market is growing rapidly. We, the consumer, have the power and can change the system with the one weapon all companies respect, our dollars.

brady 9 years, 1 month ago

The system does indeed need to change. The system has one problem from which all its adverse symptoms arise. It is simply that, at its basest level, it does not cosider life, only capital. That is, the system works best when it ignores the basic rights of humans. Growth and development, what pure capitalism ultimately values, are not more important than the quality of a human's life. We must find ways to grow and develop while maintaining a humane standard in the system.

One attempt to do just this can be found in the Fair Trade movement. Fair Trade respects the priciples of capitalism (private property, free movement of capital) while ensuring the consideration of the human component of trade. Fair Trade transactions are monitored to meet a specific set of criteria, the most important of which are a living wage and humane working conditions. Read more about fair trade at www.fairtradefederation.org and www.ifat.org.

eight_dollar_an_hour_loser 9 years, 1 month ago

Oh, terrific!!

I just got laid off from my dead end job!

Now I can get another one working for Wal Mart!

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