Walmart may be largest employer of US citizens, but that does not mean people like to work there. As West talked about in his article “To the People of Walmart”, many of the employees live under the poverty line. Furthermore, when Walmart enters a market most of the small business in the area will have to close and find other ways to make money. Walmart also makes employees work just under the full time employee hour mark, which allows them not to pay for any type of benefits. Even though I agree with West about the fact that they are a shinning example of growth in the US, I think they could conduct their business very differently. They have decided to increase the minimum wage to nine dollars an hour and then ten dollars an hour by next year, but this doesn’t deal with the underlying issues within the company.
A company that operates in a very different fashion from Walmart is Costco. They have grown at an amazing rate over the past couple years while paying their employees a living wage. The average wage for a Costco employee is about $21 and hour and their starting average wage is around $12 an hour. This results in a much lower turnover rate for their employees. This allows the company to retain their employees, while paying them a decent wage and giving them good benefits. Additionally, it increases the number of applicants for Costco, which allows them to be more selective. Some people even argue that more people are willing to shop at Costco because they know that the employees are being paid a fair wage. Realistically, people are not only shopping there because of the employees, but due to the national craze around saving while buying in bulk. I can safely say that I also take part in this hysteria that has swept the nation. I love shopping at Costco because it is a very enjoyable experience. The constant samples, coupled with the supposed amazing deals make me enjoy shopping more than I ever have.
The issue is that neither of these companies can deal with the destruction of local businesses. Whether it is Walmart, Costco, or even Target, most of the local businesses cower in fear. The prices that the big box stores charge are substantially lower than what the small business owners can charge. The only way to deal with the loss of local jobs is to differentiate themselves. If I were working as an executive for either Costco or Walmart, I would create an initiative that helps local businesses. This would be in the interests of both the big box store and the local businesses. Even though I may decrease the profits by a small margin, I could increase the public’s perspective of our business. I would hire a team to have workshops before we opened a new store, and talk with the local businesses about how they can survive through specialization. This would make them and the local community happier. The large corporations could help the local business people keep their jobs while creating more with the introduction of the large store. In the end it could change the perception of big business attacking small local shops.
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