Up until a few years ago my opinion of WalMart probably aligned with the majority here in the United States. Sam Walton had built a better mousetrap, and the prices were good so why should anyone complain? They provide good benefits for entry-level people and buy things from people all over the world. Sounded like a win-win. Lately, however, I began to develop a bit of a social conscience and paid more attention to some of the negatives.
Most of the concerns stem from the fact that WalMart is one of the world’s largest corporations. Many allegations and lawsuits occur each year. Cases cover everything from foreign worker working conditions to U.S. child labor laws. Add to this the fact that I generally don’t like shopping there. It may sound elitist, but most of the people I see in WalMart are not the type of people I hang out with. Yes, I know, I myself am there! But I truly hate shopping there any time it is busy.
Unfortunately as we prepare for the road we are becoming extremely conscious of price, efficiency and availability. Our budget will be thin. Driving all over some unfamiliar city in an attempt to find the cheapest price on apples wastes a lot of time and gas. WalMarts are everywhere, typically near highways, and have cheap prices. So sure, our favorite chicory coffee from New Orleans, French Market, sells for a good price at Kroger. But Kroger does not have locations in every state, even if you add in the many different grocery stores under the parent company. They probably don’t share the exact same list of products either.
So last week we went to WalMart and found out that they carry a chicory style coffee from Community Coffee. We tried it, and frankly it tastes about the same. And I have a feeling we will be making many similar compromises in other areas as well. No, it’s not ideal. No, it might not be the best for world-wide labor or the environment, but when it becomes a choice between those ideals and us just staying home and working forty hours a week for another four years…….well…….yeah. Compromise.
[UPDATE 1/23/11: Turns out, French Market chicory is a lot cheaper per oz. at Kroger than even the Community Coffee chicory blend at WalMart! Guess I’ll just keep my options open on this one…]