Synthesis Essay – A Modern Day Threat: Is Wal-Mart Killing Small Businesses?

By all contemporary standards, many would openly castigate me for shopping at Wal-Mart. The reason why such is the case has something to do with the assumption that this simple action is, in reality, destroying the regular shops all around the country. These small business enterprises were started by individuals whose sole goal was to sustain their families while serving their community. It is for this reason that shopping in Wal-Mart is akin to committing a grievous crime as this chain preys on smaller businesses that are obliterated within a short period. It is a disposition that has in the past put me at odds with what I stand for and the virtues I would like to extol as someone who stands for free enterprise.

Wal-Mart was the brainchild of an investor who was merely following his “American Dream.” By 1995, the store had approximately 2,609 stores in the United States alone and was poised on opening new ones that same year (Fishman 56). These stores soon gained traction, with a sizeable amount of individuals in the population choosing to shop in this elite store. Profits were in the billions, and annual sales were always on the rise. Economists now believe that a single Wal-Mart store can generate up to $12 million every year and would also be the source of employment for thousands of Americans seeking gainful employment (Hicks 34). One of the primary reasons why this store chain has become quite popular among shoppers in the United States are the discounts offered here. Everyone fancies a bargain once in a while, but Wal-Mart provides a deal on a daily basis. Local stores end up bearing the full brunt of this development as customers would typically go for the lowest prices available in the market. It, therefore, serves as one of the reasons why everyone is up in arms opposing its encroachment in small towns.

Detractors are up in arms against this change in local culture due to the adverse effects it will have on the people’s habits especially in urban areas. These stores often ensure that they target towns with a sizeable population where it would be quite simple to influence attitudes and ultimately drive them to its shelves. Blind consumerism soon becomes a problem, especially when individuals start investing in items that they do not necessarily need. One might even view it as a classic case of “brainwashing” since these individuals have no control over their shipping habits and seem to be on a path toward homogeneity. Their shopping is mindless. Moreover, the shopping areas where they invade have no locally owned stores under them, proving that it is a self-serving Leviathan. It is part of a campaign by large corporations all across the word to open as many franchises as possible which would, in turn, multiply their net income. Wal-Mart is going by this script, and it seems as though it will stop at nothing to see that its fiscal goals are met (even if it means stepping on some toes along the way).

The truth of the matter is that a single Wal-Mart enterprise makes a killing yearly in annual sales. 12 million dollars is not a small figure, considering that they have thousands of chains across the country at any given moment. It is quite surprising that apart from claiming to employ the local communities, nothing much can be said about how they plan on giving back. Wal-Mart makes billions of dollars yearly but only create about 270 jobs in the areas where they have set up shop (Roberts and Berg 45). A correlation analysis reveals that this is just a small fraction of the population meaning that a significant demographic still misses out on potential job offers. Is this to say that Wal-Mart is a modern-day leech? Well, it has the money to create these jobs in small towns where it puts other business owners out of the game but still does very little regarding the contribution that they ought to be making. A large chunk of this money goes up the chain and finally lines the pockets of the executives. These individuals receive astronomical sums of money as their monthly salaries, money that could be used to develop local communities. It is for this reason that critics see Wal-Mart as a threat to the culture of small urban towns as it is directly contributing to stifling them economically.

Opposition to Wal-Mart is now a standard phenomenon in small towns. These individuals have had to come to terms with the conduct of this retailer and taking measures that are meant to keep it out. Questions, however, arise regarding how they intend to implement their action plan, considering that the retailer spends millions of dollars annually on strategists who help them in surmounting these challenges. These experts study the behavioral patterns of residents in their target locations and come up with feasible ways that would allow them to make the most out of their opportunity. Evidence collected from shopping habits reveals that Wal-Mart is now successful at creating a cult-like following where individuals would dive for miles on end just to shop in one of their chains (Scott and Hawkins 67).If such is the case, keeping the enterprise out of small towns will be a futile gesture especially when it is evident that it has been successful at creating a shopping culture among most Americans. If it is prevented from penetrating a particular town, it will proceed to another town and establish its base of operations there. It is the shoppers who will subsequently follow the retailer wherever it goes.

In conclusion, the rise of enterprise chains such as Wal-Mart has had a significant effect on the society. It has been blamed for the unnatural death of many small businesses which are not likely to recover. Additionally, it has been responsible for changing consumer behaviors and is a leading cause of consumerism across the country. On the flipside, Wal-Mart claims that it provides jobs in every new town where it opens a franchise, but evidence reveals that only a small fraction of the population benefits from such initiatives. The rest of the community is left grappling with unemployment while the executives profit from their woes. Nonetheless, keeping them off these towns seems impractical due to the influence that it now wields over people. For small business owners to weather the storm, adapting to these changes is integral. These small stores have to move out of their comfort zone and team up to create more substantial enterprises that can compete with Wal-Mart.

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