Wednesday, October 1, 2014

10.1.14 Bee-otch of the Day: Walmart

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Name: Walmart
Age: 52
Occupation: Satan
Last Seen: Bentonville, AR
Bee-otched For: putting people and comedians last

---It seems that Walmart is getting into smaller towns these days.

It was announced last week that the evil mega-retailer will be building a new store in Kalkaska, MI, population 2,017 next year. The new store will be slightly smaller than their average supercenters - 128,000 square feet vs. 150-160,000 for most of their locations - but it is destined to do as much damage as their other locations.

Despite its low population, Kalkaska is one of the biggest towns in northern Michigan. Nearby Traverse City is the biggest with a population of roughly 15,000. Kalkaska has a few car dealerships, several fast food joints, a downtown with businesses that sell everything from food to trinkets and three grocery stores, two of them are locally-owned.

The closest thing to Walmart that Kalkaska has are Northland Food and Family Center, which has been owned by the Ascione family since 1972, which has a selection of retail products such as clothes and everyday household items. The store was given a facelift in 2010. There's also Shopko - formerly Pamida - a chain which mostly targets towns the size of Kalkaska.

Kalkaska has two other grocers: a Save-A-Lot that's north of town on US-131 in the town of Leetsville and Family Fare on the town's south end that was once Glen's. The founder of the Glen's chain, Glen Catt was a Kalkaska native. Both Northland and Glen's are Spartan Stores.

The new Walmart is slated to open in 2016. Oddly enough, some businesses are welcoming the new store, even the owner of McLean's Do-It-Best Hardware, who says that it will create jobs for the people of Kalkaska, a town that lost 200 people in 10 years due to an economic downturn. But, it's also worth mentioning that in 15 years, Kalkaska has lost two other hardwares, an ACE and a True Value.

If the new Walmart opens, what will happen to Kalkaska? Well, bear in mind that when Meijer opened in Cadillac 15 years ago, several small grocers in Fife Lake and Manton - both Spartan-affiliated - closed. Fife Lake has since regained a grocer, Fife Lake Village Market while Manton, pop. 1,200 has no supermarket to call their own. Even Cadillac is down to one traditional grocer, a Family Fare that used to be Glen's and prior to that, Carter's.

True, some are happy about the proposed Walmart since it will bring jobs to the area, but bear in mind that Walmart associates are paid on average $8 per hour and cannot work over 38.5 hours. Most Walmart associates are on government assistance and when the new store opens, it will cost taxpayers in Kalkaska about a million dollars per year.

What's even more sad is that I've read some of the complaints regarding Northland. I was there a few years ago and it was kinda dated. I'm happy that they've remodeled it and I might check it out when I come up north next time. So far, the only complaint I have is their dated logo, which dates back to 1972. I hope they can survive Walmart's competition, especially since my mother once cleaned the Ascione's house back in the 1990's. I think they will since they have a second location in Kingsley.

But like any election, the shopper will decide.

Of course, there's also the news that Walmart is now claiming in Tracy Morgan's lawsuit against them that he was not wearing his seatbelt in the accident last June when a Walmart truck rear-ended the Mercedes limo bus Morgan was riding in. The comedian and actor was riding with six other comedians in the limo. One of them was killed. The driver of the Walmart truck had not slept in 24 hours, and was charged with murder.

Folks, my father was a school bus driver for 23 years. He's driven through rain, snow and ice. In those 23 years - as far as I know - nobody was ever injured. Even more, virtually every bus he's driven did not have seatbelts. Some of the roads he's driven on were bumpy enough to have students fly in the air as he hit them. But, that wasn't his fault. That's what happens when you're given a job and you do it. Why don't school buses have seat belts? Good question. Ask the school district.

I've never ridden a limo and I've hardly seen anybody wear seatbelts in them, either. Personally, I think Walmart's trying to convince Morgan that he was at fault for his injuries so they can keep on to every penny. The Waltons are not very giving and have an excuse for everything. They have billions and yet they pay their employees shit wages and find ways around every system to keep every dime.

Walmart: finding every excuse in the book. Always.


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