Walmart: 6 Years of Abstaining from a Brand
It’s been almost 7 years since I have spent any money at any Walmart stores, affiliates or private brands. Since then I’ve also entered into one Walmart/Sam’s Club store (my employer did not give me a choice). Not many people know this about me- I tend to keep this to myself on account of offending or making anyone feel alienated about their shopping choices. As seen in a Mashable article featuring workers in Walmart stores being threatened and treated with abhorrent working conditions in Southern California stores, I’m ready to share my story. I would like to preface this story by saying that I don’t judge anyone who chooses to shop or work at Walmart or Sam’s Club. That is why we live in this free economy, so everyone can choose where they spend and earn their income. And that’s why I’m writing this post, to educate others so they can make their own decisions.
It began in 2005 (original suit file in 2001) when I was working on a lawsuit against Walmart in Minnesota which resulted in more than 2 Billion dollars in fines. It began when Walmart workers in Minnesota weren’t getting paid for breaks, being denied meal breaks and forced to work off the clock. In my specific role with this lawsuit I learned first-hand specific incidents against Walmart employees, in Minnesota, that included dehumanizing and abhorrent acts against humanity and most specifically, women. One incident I read that impacted me most was seen in the NY Times article quoting:
Ms. Braun had recounted the humiliating experience of soiling herself while at work because she had not been permitted time to use the restroom….The company owed $1.6 million for 4.4 million contractual violations of shorting workers — giving workers less than the amount of time they were entitled to — on their 15-minute rest breaks.
After hearing thousands of stories similar to this one, I made a personal commitment to cease my involvement with the brand completely. I’m not a millionaire, lobbyist or executive. My personal spending will never make enough disruption to their profit that they to make changes to their employment or pricing structure. However, since I’ve made this commitment I’ve had to tell a lot of employers and friends about my choice and the subsequent reasoning. I’ve sat in a lot of cold vehicles outside of Walmart’s and done a lot of Google searches and calls to local stores to see if they carry items that I could originally get at Walmart. I’ve also had to have awkward conversations with employers about my choice- I’ve been from managers that I ‘may not have a choice’ of where I need to purchase the office’s holiday candy or event decorating supplies.
A positive outlook on this tough situation is the money I could have spent for 6 years on groceries, clothing, decorations and home furnishings has now been spent at local shops such as Miss Meyer’s in Ames, Iowa. It’s incredibly rewarding to know that you have made a significant contribution to a small (or large!) town’s Main Street. I’ve also benefited from friendships and partnerships I’ve made with small shop owners. So much so, that for our wedding, Brice and I have decided to exclusively deal with small shop owners and businesses that align with our values.
Retail conglomerates like Walmart won’t listen to individuals like me but they will listen to thousands of individuals speaking at once. They won’t listen to a lot of angry e-mails (which I have never sent) or people picketing. They will listen to thousands and maybe millions of people making the choice not to support Walmart’s treatment of employees, supplier choices and non-sustainable values.
I’m not asking anyone to make the same choices I have. I am sharing my story so others can become more aware and educated on how their money can send a message to companies they support or don’t support. So, think about it. Take some time and go over your expenses from the last month. Did you spend money at companies you don’t agree with or have had bad customer experiences with?
With all of the choices, from Amazon to the Main Street shop owner- why spend your money supporting values you don’t believe in? Vote somewhere else with your money.
(P.S. If you want to learn more or support the Walmart workers Black Friday Strike please click here)
Stand Up to Live Better YouTube Video