Sam Walton spins in his grave

It turns out that – and nobody could have guessed this – Wal-Mart customers want basic goods at low prices. Who knew? It seems they aren’t interested in paying extra for organic, green products or brand labels. Lately Wal-Mart has been trying to convince its customers that they should want the same stuff members of the cultural elite want. It hasn’t gone well.

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. will begin a promotional campaign next month called “It’s Back,” telling core customers the chain is restoring merchandise it removed from store shelves in a botched effort to sell them stuff the cultural elite said they should want.

Trying to turn Wal-Mart into Target was the brainchild of Leslie Dach, a leftist former senior aid to Al Gore. Dach spent his entire career in politics which, for some reason, led Wal-Mart to believe that he would be perfect to muck around in and make changes to their wildly successful business plan. He presided over a major change in the culture and products of the chain of stores. Predictably, he failed miserably.

He figured that what the people of Wal-Mart really wanted wasn’t inexpensive basics. They wanted upscale products, designer labels and organic food choices. Dach, of course, was making the most fundamentally rookie mistake possible in marketing: He was projecting.

As a member of the liberal elite, he didn’t approve of Mountain Dew, fishing tackle and sweat pants and neither should Wal-Mart shoppers. What he really wanted was organic arugula, green cleaning products and designer clothing. If he wanted that stuff, it is certain that everyone else would too. He was wrong. Profoundly wrong.

All that is over now…

Starting in May, Wal-Mart shoppers in the U.S. will see signs in stores heralding the return of fishing tackle, bolts of fabric and other “heritage” merchandise that Wal-Mart reduced or cut out altogether as it attempted to spruce up its stores to appeal to more well-heeled shoppers.

That strategy failed, and the Bentonville, Ark., retail giant now is pursuing a back-to-basics strategy to reverse the company’s fortunes after seven consecutive quarters of sales declines at U.S. stores open at least a year.

Why would Wal-Mart put themselves in the hands of a political hack with no retail or marketing experience? Because they were attempting to appease the American liberal elite. Wal-Mart is a the bugaboo of American leftists and a target of attacks in the ongoing culture war. Wal-Mart thought if they compromised with the left, they would back off. They found that the left didn’t back off but their customers did. Stores like Dollar General have exploded in popularity since Dach joined Wal-Mart. Wal-Mart is now correcting their mistake and returning to their tried and true roots.

Of course this is a terrible set back for Dach’s career, right? Making a rookie mistake regarding the fundamentals of marketing – knowing your customer and knowing your niche – is the sort of thing that you pay for dearly, right? Yeah, not so much.

[Dach] was given three million dollars in stock and a hundred and sixty-eight thousand stock options, in addition to an undisclosed base salary. He and his wife, a nutritionist, recently bought a $2.7-million house in the Cleveland Park neighborhood of Washington. He commutes to Bentonville during the week, to an apartment furnished out of a Wal-Mart store.

Yep. That was predictable too. The one aspect of American business that I have never been able to master is the part where you attain great wealth whether you succeed or fail miserably. In my career I have seen many fail and walk away far wealthier than I will ever be.

Of course I am at a disadvantage. I am not temperamentally suited to be a politically correct, crony capitalist, profiteer engaged in cynical social engineering as the means to curry favor with the leftist cultural elite. That means, unlike Dach, I have to actually, you know, sell product. That is just my cross to bear.

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12 Responses to Sam Walton spins in his grave

  1. Mark says:

    This illustrates the beauty of the capitalistic system vs socialism. Company makes bad business decision, consumers vote via less business and company corrects prior decision.

    Whereas with the government and government-run enterprises: government makes bad decision, comsumers/voters gets screwed, government continues to make bad decisions secondary to a defective feedback mechanism.

    Good for Wal-Mart!

  2. Doc says:

    We have 2 Walmarts here locally. 1 recently went thru some sorta’ fancy re-model….& ya’ can’t find ANYTHING!

    The other one has kept the “old style”, & is working just fine, & I’ve told the managers of both as much. So…is th’ socio-dem FIRED or what?

  3. Roy Ryder says:

    I didn’t know that about the Walmart CEO. I just know that the Walmart near me that underwent the Dachification sucks and I haven’t been there for a while. If I can get overpriced crap anywhere, why go into a store so large that I need a passport to go from Housewares to Toys?

  4. R.D. Walker says:

    For me, Wal-Mart is the one-stop shop…

    Let’s see, I need 5 lbs of potatoes, shotgun shells, a quart of oil, a bottle of asprin, a fifth of Jack Daniels and some printer ink cartridges. Where can I get all of that in one place?

  5. sortahwitte says:

    Your Wal-Mart sells Jack? Wow.

  6. R.D. Walker says:

    Damn right it does. Iowa is filled with Catholics and Lutherans. Neither have a problem with whiskey and our laws reflect it. It’s the Southern Baptists and their spin-offs that get all weird about booze.

    The store has 36 general merchandise departments including apparel and accessories, fine jewelry, a covered lawn and garden center, health and beauty aids, and a full line of electronics. Other store features new to the store include a Papa Bello Pizza restaurant, a family fun center, a Tire & Lube Express, a Murphy USA gas station, a full liquor department and a Smart Style hair salon. The store will also have a pharmacy, a vision center, a one-hour photo lab, a Wal-Mart Connect Center for wireless phone sales and a wide selection of organic products throughout the store. It will be open to customers 24 hours a day, seven days a week and will include 13 full-service and six express check-out lanes.

  7. Mark says:

    Now, now, don’t diss the Southern Baptist or I might start ac’in a fool. Not all of us fit the stereotype; I prefer a drink a day. It’s the legalist that give the denomination a bad name. They seem to forget that Jesus did not like the legalist of his time (Pharisees), and did drink wine (he was even accused of being a drunkard).
    Sorry RD for going off topic.

    • R.D. Walker says:

      I have been told He was drinking grape juice. Bah! Jesus drank until He had a happy heart. You can drink Welch’s all day and it ain’t never going to give you a happy heart.

      Sorry Mark, but you gotta admit, the liquor laws are squirlly in some states.

  8. Mark says:

    Agreed RD.
    Furthermore, during the wedding at Cana Jesus turned water into wine, because they ran out of wine! They were having a good time indeed.

  9. Locke n Load says:

    I have no real quarrels with Walmart. The market produces winners and losers to the degree that the ideas presented fill a need. Walmart has arguably done great things and saved millions from even harder times.
    That said, I prefer Costco :)

    If Walmart REALLY wants to impress me they’ll try and revive something they ran with in the 80′s: buying American goods whenever possible. Walmart is over 75% foreign goods right now.

    As for Dach?
    hahahahahahahahahaha!
    Projection indeed.

  10. notamobster says:

    Wal-Mart represents the best and worst of capitalism. They have a great model and system to provide what the customer wants (best). They also cause tons of mom-and-pop’s to go out of business (worst) because they just can’t compete with the margins or the overall operating efficiencies.

    I don’t like going there because I hate crowds, but they are cheap and have damned near everything. A net plus, for sure.

  11. Faye Nettles says:

    Hey, I live in the south, WAY south. In Florida to be exact and yes our Walmart sells Jack. I don’t buy it but it is there. What they don’t sell that I want is Fabric. I used to spend approx. $800 to $1000 a month at WalMart. Not any more. I found other places to shop when they quit carrying the items I wanted to buy.
    They are going to have to work hard to win my dollars back.

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