Disappearing fishing tackle sparks my short rant on Wal-Mart…

So there I was, last week, at my local sports equipment store. It is a chain store near my house that I go to on a regular basis, although I don’t need much of what they sell there. I don’t golf, my bad knees forced me off of the running circuit years ago, and I am far too old to need football pads, or baseball cleats. I go to this particular store for one thing only – fishing tackle. And they stock lots of it, or at least they did. That is why I was so surprised when I stopped by the other day to replenish my supply of 2 ounce pyramid sinkers, and found their once packed shelves were nearly empty…devoid of tackle.

Frustrated, I  hailed a young store employee to find out what was going on with the fishing tackle.

“We’re not stocking ‘fishing stuff’ any more,” he said, sounding almost happy about it. Then he waved his hand at the few rods that were still standing in their vertical holders, and the nearly empty racks where lures and spoons and hooks were once displayed, and the empty shelves that once held a multitude of tackle boxes, bait bubblers and sand flea rakes.

“Why would you get rid of the fishing tackle?” I asked.

He shot me one of those, isn’t-it-obvious looks, and then he replied. “We need more room for the Lacrosse gear.”

“Lacrosse gear,” I snorted, “you’re kidding me. This is South Florida – sport fishing capital of the world. The Fishing Hall of Fame is a few miles down the road. And you’re clearing out the fishing equipment to make room for Lacrosse gear? Where are we supposed to go now for rods and tackle?”

“Try Wal-Mart,” he said over his shoulder as he walked away, “they have about everything we have.”

“Wal-Mart,” I said. “I never shop at…,” but the young sales associate was long gone.

Of course I was about to ask him why a seemingly bright young man like himself, would possibly direct a customer to Wal-Mart. Didn’t he realize that as goes the fishing gear, so go the propane stoves, tents, and overpriced sneakers? The golf clubs, weight sets and treadmills will soon follow. In another year he’ll be directing disillusioned young lacrosse players to the Wal-Mart Super Store two miles up the highway, and shortly after that he may find himself filling out an employment application at aforementioned store…doesn’t he know that!

Wal-Mart, with roughly 2,200,000 employees (2011 figures), is the number one private employer in not only the United States, but the entire world. And frankly, I could care less if they had ten million workers, as long as they made some halfhearted attempt to pay them better. Their anti-worker message is articulated clearly in the recent events going on up in our nation’s capital. Scheduled to open six new stores in D.C., Wal-Mart axed plans to open three of them based upon the D.C. City Council’s elevation of the minimum wage to $12.50 per hour for so called ‘big box’ stores. Big box stores being defined as those stores with floor space in excess of 75,000 square feet and annual revenues of over 1 billion dollars.

Since by some estimates, each Wal-Mart worker displaces 1.4 local workers it only seems right to me that they pay their workers a livable wage, whether $12.50 per hour is a livable wage in the D.C. metro area is debatable.

In vast areas of the United States, especially in the rural areas of the Midwest, Rocky Mountain West and South, the appearance of a Wal-Mart Super Center is viewed with the same tepid enthusiasm that accompanies news that a new prison is coming to town. It may not be exactly the industry that they want, but at least it will bring jobs. At least their young people will have somewhere to go to earn a paycheck…you know those young people, the ones that for a multitude of reasons are unable to pack up and leave for greener pastures as a good Republican friend of mine suggested to me recently.

And bring jobs it shall, and they shall be derived from the displaced workers that once owned and staffed local businesses.

Or so this seems to me.

4 thoughts on “Disappearing fishing tackle sparks my short rant on Wal-Mart…

  1. I think you’re right when you suggest that Wall Mart is currently benefiting from the downturn and changes in our economy. Also from the fact that high school and college students can work there part time and make a little pin money. Unfortunately ,even as the economy continues it’s slow recovery a good percentage of people will be stuck at places like Wall Mart because the market has changed and the jobs previously held are gone. The smart ones will use Wall Mart to keep them kind of going while they train up for jobs in fields which are growing. Of course, we can always hope that the huge profits which Wall Mart makes and will continue to make will get plowed back in the form of significant wage increases for it’s employees. Right ? Yes and I’ve got some ocean front property in Arizona .

    • Believe me, I am a capitalist at heart, and I know that the objective of business is to make money. But it seems to me that the very few are making a damned lot of it (money), while more and more people are ending up at the bottom of the pile. I read an online article the other day (I would post it here if I could find it), about this minimum wage situation going on up in DC regarding Wal-Mart and all the other big boxers. In the comments section one person mentioned smugly that underpaid Wal-Mart workers should simply look to online education as a way out of their situation and not depend upon the company to pay them fairly…there ya go…it’s the fault of these lazy layabouts again…Thanks for reading Pete.

  2. I used to shop at Wal Mart 10 years ago when my kids were eating me out of house and home. When cheap school uniforms could not be found anywhere else. My teacher’s Union brought a film to us about how badly the company treated workers. I stopped going there. If you look at Facebook sometimes at photos of Wal Mart customers you will understand where I developed my Wal Mart Phobia. I don’t want to be running into people that wear stockings as pants and who tattoo their children. I am too sensitive. Enjoyed your Rant. I think Ranting is good therapy. As long as you don’t do it in aisle 5 where they sell the guns. Ellen

    • Thanks for reading, Ellen. Actually, the only good thing I can say about the South Florida Wal-Mart stores is that they do not sell guns – I am sure that is not their decision though, and they would if they could. And I don’t mean to single Wal-Mart out, because I am sure there are lots of other companies just as guilty as they are. But as I travel some of the more rural areas of this country, I see what is happening. In some of the less populated areas of the Midwest, Wal-Mart is the only game in town – until perhaps, a gambling casino opens… but that is a whole other blog 🙂

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