Wal-Mart wants to build a supercenter in the community of South San Franciso, CA. To warm up residents to the idea, the Wal-Mart community affairs department is cranking up the public relations machine, and starting their own fan club, the “Friends of Wal-Mart”. In an “open letter” dated November 3, 1999, Wal-Mart urges residents to send a “postage paid card” back to the company, but addressed to the City Council. The post card says that Wal-Mart would be “a good addition” to South San Francisco. “I am writing to urge you to say Yes to Wal-Mart” the postcard says. In its ‘open letter’, Wal-Mart claims to be an asset to local businesses. “Research has shown, and local merchants themselves have stated, that businesses which focus on taking care of their customers and customizing their merchandise mix, can actually take advantage of Wal-Mart’s coming to town. That’s because Wal-Mart tends to act as a retail magnet,” the company letter explains. In these newsflash pages, we have brought you stories of businesses that withered to nothing in the shadow of a Wal-Mart. The only thing attracted to Wal-Mart were other merchant’s sales. Wal-Mart’s term “customizing their merchandize mix” means selling things that Wal-Mart doesn’t carry, like our story below of the Variety store owner who switched to selling tropical fish and wallpaper instead. Wal-Mart also claims in its open letter that its store will “mean 250 to 300 new jobs”, without suggesting that any existing jobs will be destroyed. We call this “Wal-Math”: 1 job created, minus 1 job destroyed = 1 job. They don’t teach Wal-Math in South San Francisco schools, but retailers use it all the time to mislead the public about the real bottom line impact of superstore sprawl.
For sample packets of Wal-Mart disinformation campaigns, contact [email protected], or order the book “Slam Dunking Wal-Mart” sold from this website. In so many communities like South San Francisco, Wal-Mart now has to spend big bucks to organize support for their store, because local residents are prepared to fight to keep them out. If Wal-Mart has such a glowing reputation, why are they forced to resort to open letters, post cards and PR people to convince people to endorse their project? Wal-Mart may be a retail magnet, but the attraction seems to be lacking in South San Francisco.