Jump to content
  • Welcome to the eG Forums, a service of the eGullet Society for Culinary Arts & Letters. The Society is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of the culinary arts. These advertising-free forums are provided free of charge through donations from Society members. Anyone may read the forums, but to post you must create a free account.

Recommended Posts

the only food thing I get at WM is lard,they have it in real large packages,at really good prices. The Yard birds really like the suet that we make from it....I have look at some of their meats,while I'm there but very rarely buy any of it...

Bud

Link to post
Share on other sites

You may have heard of Wal-Mart's campaign to open a store in NYC.

The retailer is being very smart about its tactics this time. The store, whereever it will be constructed, will avoid ULURP (short for uniform land-use review process) because they are not seeking a zoning variance that would otherwise require either BSA (Board of Standards & Appeals) approval and/or an NYC City Council vote.

Personally I hope their tactics fail, because once they get in the door, it will be the beginning of the end.

Link to post
Share on other sites

...

I also sense that, by association, while the free-range chicken costs about $8 bucks as opposed to the factory chicken at $4 bucks, the "budget" shopper may become more educated on the merits of the spendy chicken and choose to buy the fancy bird.

David, seriously. The "budget" shopper as you call them, who buy their staples at Wal-Mart can simply NOT afford the extra 4 bucks for the "spendy, fancy" chicken, no matter how much they may appreciate the fact it's better.

For a whole lot of people in this country, four dollars is a LOT of money, when you're trying to stretch a budget to make sure your kids go to bed with a full tummy. Quality sometimes has to go by the wayside.

Believe me, even *I'VE* made those choices, and I don't have kids. But if it's between the dogs getting good stuff and me, well, they win, hands down. If I DID have kids, it would be even more of a no-brainer. Do I buy the $8 chicken and get one meal for my family, or do I buy the cheap-o, factory farmed one for $0.99 a pound and and then use the extra money to get some beans, or rice, or potatoes, or vegetables, so I can stretch it for 2 or even 3 meals? Not a hard decision, really, no matter how good your intentions are.

edit to---clarification

Edited by Pierogi (log)

--Roberta--

"Let's slip out of these wet clothes, and into a dry Martini" - Robert Benchley

Pierogi's eG Foodblog

My *outside* blog, "A Pound Of Yeast"

Link to post
Share on other sites

I have two WM Neighborhood Centers near me, in one direction 4 minutes away, in another direction 5 minutes away. The latter is a nicer store but I go to the closer one most of the time, for staples, frozen foods, dairy, OTC drugs and produce. I do not buy meat there, especially beef or fresh seafood, but I buy very little beef anywhere.

They don't advertise 'Always the Lowest Price, Always.' anymore and they aren't but the other supermarket chains here have either abandoned this part of town or operate only older, dirty stores. Kroger and Randalls (Safeway) both abandoned this part of town long before WM moved in. They and HEB have been consolidating older neighborhood stores into huge supermarkets and none of them is near me. I have an awful HEB, two mediocre Fiestas and a huge Foodtown within about 8 minutes. Foodtown's produce requires a lot of picking over to find good stuff and their generics are mediocre; prices, however, are on a par with WM and HEB. I keep thinking sooner or later HEB is going to close the one store they have left but it is their one store with a large Kosher section so they have something of a niche and I guess are quite successful. The nearest WF is 40 minutes away at best, round trip, and CM is even farther so I go to them only for special items and I save up my trips there and try to bundle up with other trips to save on gas. I will occasionally run out to the Fiesta just 3 blocks away for emergency last minute needs but prefer to save my trips to Fiesta to one of their huge, well-stocked stores.

I have been pretty satisfied with WM for several years and grateful for the Neighborhood Centers so I don't have to go to a Super WM - I dislike the big-box stores regardless of the chain. That is up until recently when the produce took a nose-dive. After several unsatisfactory hauls I tried the other WM Neighborhood Center which always had a slightly larger produce section with a little more variety; it had obviously gone downhill, too. I have yet to have a need to go to a Super WM but I suspect it's a market wide thing rather than just these two stores. WM's prices have definitely been going up in recent years.

I have already taken advantage of a trip to visit an elderly relative in a suburb to make a stop at a very nice HEB, 60 minute round trip otherwise, and stock up on fresh produce. I guess I will be having to look for opportunities to do that regularly from now on, especially for fresh produce.

Edited by brucesw (log)
Link to post
Share on other sites

You may have heard of Wal-Mart's campaign to open a store in NYC.

The retailer is being very smart about its tactics this time. The store, whereever it will be constructed, will avoid ULURP (short for uniform land-use review process) because they are not seeking a zoning variance that would otherwise require either BSA (Board of Standards & Appeals) approval and/or an NYC City Council vote.

Personally I hope their tactics fail, because once they get in the door, it will be the beginning of the end.

The end of what? Kmart & Target are open in NYC and the world didn't end.

Reading this thoughtful thread, what I'm hearing is that geography matters. If there is a lot of competition, WM influence is not as strong. The Mom&Pop business model is a tough one to sustain unless they have a niche..best Mexican ingredients, best local produce, gorgeous people working the counter..whatever it is. Middle of the road is a difficult niche to hold on to, particularly as choices expanded and mobility became easier.

Link to post
Share on other sites

You may have heard of Wal-Mart's campaign to open a store in NYC.

The retailer is being very smart about its tactics this time. The store, whereever it will be constructed, will avoid ULURP (short for uniform land-use review process) because they are not seeking a zoning variance that would otherwise require either BSA (Board of Standards & Appeals) approval and/or an NYC City Council vote.

Personally I hope their tactics fail, because once they get in the door, it will be the beginning of the end.

The end of what? Kmart & Target are open in NYC and the world didn't end.

Reading this thoughtful thread, what I'm hearing is that geography matters. If there is a lot of competition, WM influence is not as strong. The Mom&Pop business model is a tough one to sustain unless they have a niche..best Mexican ingredients, best local produce, gorgeous people working the counter..whatever it is. Middle of the road is a difficult niche to hold on to, particularly as choices expanded and mobility became easier.

No?

NYC is rife with chain stores these days. There are very few mom-and-pop places that can hold on in the current economy. W-M in the city might be the nail in the coffin.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I don't understand the objection to Walmart building a store in NYC. I know they tried for many years to build a store in Queens. God knows, people can use the jobs and Walmart hires hundreds of people. Indeed, they are the largest employer in the USA outside of the federal government. I haven't lived in a metro city in a number of years, but what I remember of the groceries in NYC, they were cramped, dark, not that clean and had security at the doors. Granted that was 20 years ago, so things may have changed.

Link to post
Share on other sites

But why would we think that a Walmart wouldn't be influenced by NYC? The reason that NYC groceries are so cramped and crowded is because there is very limited space in the city. I guess it depends on what size a plot WM could get. But they might just end up being cramped and crowded too. For all we know, it could turn into an industrially supplied Zabars!

Link to post
Share on other sites

I don't understand the objection to Walmart building a store in NYC. I know they tried for many years to build a store in Queens. God knows, people can use the jobs and Walmart hires hundreds of people. Indeed, they are the largest employer in the USA outside of the federal government. I haven't lived in a metro city in a number of years, but what I remember of the groceries in NYC, they were cramped, dark, not that clean and had security at the doors. Granted that was 20 years ago, so things may have changed.

There are many objections which are succinctly summarized in this NYT article -- http://www.nytimes.com/2011/02/04/nyregion/04walmart.html (and I'm sure have been debated to death on eG, so I won't rehash them here).

Also, the characterization that groceries in NYC are dark, dirty and have security at their doors :blink: is not at all accurate -- at least not in the sections of the City in which I am most familiar with ... certainly not in my neighborhood. Maybe to someone who thinks that we're still living in the era of The Bonfire of the Vanities, but not in my present reality.

Link to post
Share on other sites

But why would we think that a Walmart wouldn't be influenced by NYC? The reason that NYC groceries are so cramped and crowded is because there is very limited space in the city. I guess it depends on what size a plot WM could get. But they might just end up being cramped and crowded too. For all we know, it could turn into an industrially supplied Zabars!

If they ever do decide to build a superstore, I imagine it would only be once they've established a foothold in NYC (for a number of years).

That would require some oversight by the appropriate City agencies -- DOB, DOT, BSA, DCP and maybe a City Council vote. Certainly there would be involvement from the affected local community boards. The amount of input from the community would be huge. To give you an idea, on a scale of 1 to 10, it would be a 15.

But this is getting away from the main thrust of the thread. If you want any more details, PM me.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I wasn't characterizing the entirity of markets in NYC. I've been in some that were nice. I had a friend who worked as a security guard at a market in the '90's. Theft was a huge problem, especially meats.

Anyway, I would think affordable groceries would be something to look forward to.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Soba, I did not mean to offend. I was trying to say that there are market forces and realities in play, and we're using Mom&Pop and WM as icons for what's going on.

Geography and urban lifestyle are both huge detrimental factors for WM. People get around on foot, subway etc., it's not exactly conducive to lugging home super sized packages of toilet paper that would take up the entire living room anyway. I mean, where would you put a 12 pack of paper towels?? Super cheap vegetables? I doubt they'll beat the prices I pay in Chinatown or Essex St.

The Mom&Pop business model is inefficient. WM is efficient, they have economy of scale in their favor. As much as I love the farmers markets, they're not an efficient or eco-friendly way to get produce into the hands of consumers. It's a lot of little trucks coming into town v. one big truck. Mom&Pop's survive because they are geographically desirable relative to your needs. Would you go cross town to have a smaller selection and possibly higher prices? No, bu I confess I run into the Price-Gouging Gourmet Garage to pick up this or that when I'm too rushed or lazy to go over to Chinatown.

I would venture that Fairway was or is a bigger threat to Mom&Pop's. On occasion I will ride my bike from lower Manhattan to the Harlem Fairway for the sheer variety of produce they have.

People freaked out when Kmart opened up on Astor Place. I've gone in there 2 or 3 times and it's always a ghost town. Why? It's a much more varied, rich experience to shop in the hood versus a generic big box. I wonder how much longer they'll be there.

I've lived in Soho about 35 years, I've seen the neighborhood go through many, many cycles. From art galleries to Sun Glass Hut and Chanel. Ebb and flow. NYC is very, very resilient and even a parasitic company like WM won't be the final nail in the coffin. I use the word parasitic because of the documented way they treat employers and suppliers...cheap stuff always comes at a price.

Well, that was one long opinionated post!! :blink: It's a complicated situation with ramifications in all directions.

Link to post
Share on other sites

[The thing of it is, now that so much of the competition is gone, WM is raising their prices on groceries; some articles have the percentage incrase as much as 60% on some items. Plus, they have squeezed out many brands. Often, there is only their 'Great Value' brand (which may or may not cost more than other brands) with a few very limited other brands to compete.

The increase may not be profit taking. The american dollar has crashed and burned. Most americans very likely do not realize how much so, but ask any Canadian and they'll tell you. A few years ago an American dollar was worth $1.50 CAD. Now it is under a dollar. Most of that decline is due to the american dollar, not strength in the Canadian dollar. Furthermore, fuel prices have skyrocketed, and that are very much part of the cost of food (and items in general in the 'global' economy). American companies, loathe to raise prices, have shielded consumers from these increases for some time (often by using other countries to subsidize the prices; try buying the same goods in Europe) but the ability to continue that is probably passing. Some serious price hikes are inevitable.

Furthermore, you can always cherry pick ingredients so that claims of "some articles" can hold up. Chocolate, for example, has serious issues and has seen large price hikes. In recent years rice and coffee have also seen these.

I'm not defending Walmart, but I'm also hesitant to accuse them of profiteering, since it doesn't seem to hold water against analysis. For a really interesting read, try The Wal-Mart Effect. The book tries hard to be fair, and Wal-mart does not come out to be some angel, but may of the common beliefs (drives out small businesses and then raises prices, etc) are defeated even in the light of a book which is looking pretty hard for flaws in the company.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Walmart has raised their prices mainly because transportation costs have skyrocketed because of oil speculators.

Note the big oil companies have just posted first quarter profits that are record breaking

so they are doing mighty fine.

They also want to continue to get SUBSIDIES! and want more tax cuts.

My local congressman keeps harping about more "drilling in America" but can't seem to understand that oil from the U.S. is not used here, it goes to the world market and is subject to speculation just as is oil from other countries.

Walmart has to raise prices to continue to stay in business but their profits are not as big as they were ten years ago.

"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett

 

Link to post
Share on other sites

The increase may not be profit taking. The american dollar has crashed and burned. Most americans very likely do not realize how much so, but ask any Canadian and they'll tell you. A few years ago an American dollar was worth $1.50 CAD. Now it is under a dollar. Most of that decline is due to the american dollar, not strength in the Canadian dollar.

Actually, right now the dollar is worth about what it was in the late-80s, early 90s, after the Plaza Accord devalued the dollar. You might recall that for many years the Canadian and US dollars were at roughly parity; that was considered normal. In the 90s, when Robert Rubin became Treasury secretary under Clinton, Rubin actively pushed the dollar up. Since that time, the dollar has come back down again. In the 90s Canadian dollar <i>was</i> weak, and in recent years has basically been driven by increased oil exports, to the US. In fact, not only has the dollar not crashed and burned, it needs to fall further, especially against the RMB, which is still being held fairly tightly by China. Of course, an increase in the cost of cheap crap from China would hurt Walmart very hard.

"I think it's a matter of principle that one should always try to avoid eating one's friends."--Doctor Dolittle

blog: The Institute for Impure Science

Link to post
Share on other sites

In fact, not only has the dollar not crashed and burned...

Graph against a more independent currency. Check 10 yr trend. Pick other currencies. The USD is down significantly most, if not almost all. The RMB does not count, it is controlled. Now, I'll give you that if you go back far enough the US dollar has had other weak periods, but I think having a discussion where we talk about recent (10 year steady decline) is sensible. It is what people are observing in their day to day prices.

In historical terms (or hyperinflation terms), of course "crashed and burned" is an over statement. But it is very significant decline over the last 10 years. Perhaps it will find a previous level, but circumstances (who manufactured what, etc) were significantly different then; they are a lot harder to compare then more recent history.

Link to post
Share on other sites

But it is very significant decline over the last 10 years. Perhaps it will find a previous level, but circumstances (who manufactured what, etc) were significantly different then; they are a lot harder to compare then more recent history.

Yes, there has been a decline, I said that. The Clinton administration pursued an active strong dollar policy; the Bush and Obama administrations have been more hands-off, reversing the previous gains. Inflation and the exchange rate are related, but not the same. China does count very much--most of our trade deficit is on account of China, and oil. China has to buy dollars, and live with internal inflation. Walmart, obviously, has been a major player in the outsourcing of manufacturing. I believe that on the whole, Walmart has been a net negative on the economy--that workers have lost more in wages than gained in savings from the "efficiency" of Walmart.

"I think it's a matter of principle that one should always try to avoid eating one's friends."--Doctor Dolittle

blog: The Institute for Impure Science

Link to post
Share on other sites

Back to David's Quickfire Challenge "what can you do with the Walmart pantry?"

I try my best to avoid Walmart yet wind up there probably once a month. My store has an atrocious collection of factory food, nothing fresh, and the cheapest milk in town -- even less than gasoline per gallon.

Peter Gamble aka "Peter the eater"

I just made a cornish game hen with chestnut stuffing. . .

Would you believe a pigeon stuffed with spam? . . .

Would you believe a rat filled with cough drops?

Moe Sizlack

Link to post
Share on other sites

Out of curiosity, I checked out the Walmart Supercenter in the neighborhood where my ex lives with our two younger kids. This is in an middle/upper middle-class Atlanta suburb (when we moved there 12 years ago, it was an exurb, but that's Atlanta for you). Within three miles of this particular Walmart, there are two Krogers, two Publixes, a Fresh Market and a Super H Mart -- lots of competition, in other words.

I found the store -- the food section, anyway, as I didn't venture into the rest of the building -- unremarkable. When it first opened, it had a fish and meat counter, which they've done away with in favor of an in-store "bakery" (they only do the final bake on site) and an enlarged deli section. The meat coolers were expansive, and held a few things that aren't commonly available in the area, or weren't when I lived there (tripe, goat, whole beef briskets). All of the pork loin cuts were "enhanced," as was about half the chicken, but that's not unusual; Kroger does the same thing. There were local (within 100 miles) chickens, chicken parts and eggs. All fish and shellfish was frozen.

The produce looked fresh and was neatly arrayed, and the organic options were plentiful. I didn't see anything labeled "local," but outside of Whole Foods and Fresh Market, that's also not unusual.

In other words, it was a pretty typical grocery store, with pretty average prices. The only thing out of the ordinary was the absence of a service counter for meat and fish, which you'd expect to find in this neighborhood. The store has been there about eight years, and as far as I can tell, hasn't put anyone out of business; in fact, a Halal butcher has opened just down the block. (Of course, the area population has doubled in the last ten years, so one wouldn't expect much failure among well-financed stores.)

It's worth reading Corby Kummer's "The Great Grocery Smackdown" from the March 2010 issue of The Atlantic, in which he has identical meals prepared from ingredients purchased from Walmart and Whole Foods and serves them to a tasting panel. The results are revealing, as are a few bits of information he discovers along the way:

. . . last year, the market for organic milk started to go down along with the economy, and dairy farmers in Vermont and other states, who had made big investments in organic certification, began losing contracts and selling their farms. A guaranteed large buyer of organic milk began to look more attractive. And friends started telling me I needed to look seriously at Walmart’s efforts to sell sustainably raised food.

. . . .

The first thing I saw, McIntosh apples, came from the same local orchard whose apples I’d just seen in the same bags at Whole Foods. The bunched beets were from Muranaka Farm, whose beets I often buy at other markets—but these looked much fresher. The service people I could find (it wasn’t hard) were unfailingly enthusiastic, though I did wonder whether they got let out at night.

. . . .

I . . . found that its produce-buying had evolved beyond organics, to a virtually unknown program—one that could do more to encourage small and medium-size American farms than any number of well-meaning nonprofits, or the U.S. Department of Agriculture, with its new Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food campaign. Not even Fishman [author of The Wal-Mart Effect], who has been closely tracking Walmart’s sustainability efforts, had heard of it. “They do a lot of good things they don’t talk about,” he offered.

Dave Scantland
Executive director
dscantland@eGstaff.org
eG Ethics signatory

Eat more chicken skin.

Link to post
Share on other sites

People freaked out when Kmart opened up on Astor Place. I've gone in there 2 or 3 times and it's always a ghost town. Why? It's a much more varied, rich experience to shop in the hood versus a generic big box. I wonder how much longer they'll be there.

The entire Kmart chain has been in decline for years; merging with Sears hasn't worked out very well for either side. I'd guess we're not very far from seeing a lot of "underperforming" store closures. I remember when the big Target in Brooklyn opened, though--it was hugely successful.

"I think it's a matter of principle that one should always try to avoid eating one's friends."--Doctor Dolittle

blog: The Institute for Impure Science

Link to post
Share on other sites

There are places like the bakery two blocks from my apartment that I don't want to see vanish because some super-duper chain store sets up shop in the City, then replicates like cockroaches to the point where the places that made NYC unique vanish because people are attracted to the promise of [temporary] low prices.

That bakery, I should add, is pretty awesome. Their prune danish and strudel are worth getting up at 8 am and I am not a morning person at all. They've been around since the 1950s when that section of the Upper East Side was known for its concentration of people of Hungarian descent. Nowadays, it's yuppieville and kids fresh out of college.

In a five block radius from my apartment, I can count two Starbucks, a McDonald's, a Burger King, a Barnes & Noble, a Best Buy, two Gap stores, a CVS and a Footlocker. I'm just going off of memory. I'm sure there are more chain stores that I'm forgetting. I don't think we need more of the same. It's terribly depressing.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Their store brand green salsa is quite good.

It's fantastic with chips, as a marinade for meat and seafood, and it's especially good as a sauce over grilled chicken. I also buy the fire-roasted red tomato salsa. Delicious and every bit as good as some of the other bottled and fresh salsa out there.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I call BS on putting on gloves to handle produce in Italy.

I've been in many stores in Italy selling produce and I've never seen s customer don gloves.

I've never seen it in France or Italy, but I will accept that I have definitely not explored these countries thoroughly enough to say that gloves are never used. :wink:

Incidentally, I suppose this is a rather romanticised use of the word Europe which most definitely does not include the UK!

For what it's worth, you will never stop me picking up fruit and veg to take a good look before buying. I promise not to maul anything and make it unsellable/unusable, but I like to look and feel what I am getting!

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×
×
  • Create New...