Wednesday, July 20, 2011

If Walmart sold everything, wouldn't everyone work at Walmart?

Yesterday, I had a perfectly reasonable request for a type of sport card holder that I don't carry. I'll be telling the guy to go online to buy it.

I carry a set number of sports supplies: 3000, 800, 660, 400 count boxes, shoe boxes, 9-pocket sheets, soft sleeves and hard sleeves.

That's it.

I've simplified the supply chain -- I'm not sure I even have accounts with suppliers of anything else.

See, once upon a time I carried probably 10 times that number of ancillary products. I carried them because I was selling a lot of the primary product; sports cards.

It's been 20 years now since that dynamic changed. I slowly but surely extricated myself from the trap, simplifying, carrying only the product that had reasonable margins, and so on.

Nowadays, I think maybe cards are earning 1.5% of my sales.

I really should shed them completely, but I haven't quite gotten around to it.

I do not have the time, space, energy to carry the odd sizes of supplies -- nor is there any profit in it.

See, the customer can't buy all the easy stuff from the mass market, and then turn around and try to buy what's left over from the specialty stores. Because the specialty stores won't be there -- or if they somehow manage to survive, they will only be carrying the product that makes sense.

I'm going to make a bold declaration -- one that no one will agree with, that everyone will think is hyperbole -- in 20 years or so, everyone will be running around looking for things, trying to sell and trade things, and missing things they can't even think of yet -- but the book, game, toy, comic, record, card, etc. etc. stores will be gone.

O.K. Gone is hyperbole. But there will be less of them, and they'll probably being even higher priced for the hard to get product, and it will just be all around harder.

Sometimes, it's the ancillary product that make your hobby worth doing. A stack of sports cards is just a stack of sports cards. You need plastic sleeves, and stands, and display racks, etc. etc. You need informational guides. You need lots of things to really make it work.

But you can't expect shoe stores to survive if all they can sell are shoe laces, you know?

Linda and I have a friend who needs a certain type of shoe that only one of the shoes stores in Bend used to carry.

"The online place I was buying from doesn't have them anymore," she said. "So I went back to the retail store, but it was gone!"

It's the stuff you're not thinking about that will be much harder to find-- the stuff you won't miss until you miss it.

I had a blog awhile back where I said how useless it is to say, "You'll miss us when we're gone," but I'll say it nevertheless. (I know in your heart you don't believe it.)

But, fortunately for me at least, I only have to worry about the next few years -- not 20 years down the road.


Anonymous said...

There will always be cheap RE where folks like you will sit forever on their 'goodwill' collection of old merchandise, and wait for the customer.

The 'packrat' syndrome will NEVER END.


At walmart 'shelf-space' costs money and is competitive, at the friendly pack-rat shop, there is no competition, just put a box on another.

The pack-rat will never go away, every city has ton's of guys operating flea markets out of their garage or small shop, this trend will never end.

Anonymous said...

'walmart' stock market wise and quality, is one of the best success story's in US history.

Whether it be inventory, use of technology, early adoption of offshoring ( china sourcing ).

Most likely everything in the future will be sold by walmart.

But there will always be a little shop's, and there will always be people who refuse to set foot into a walmart.

The real question is why doesn't dunc broaden his inventory to dvd's, porn, food, ... junk food, ... beer ,,, TV's, iPods, iPads,... vibrators. You know the shit ameriKKKa loves.

If you can't fight them, join them.

Anonymous said...

'work at walmart'

When its the last job available, they'll be quite picky. Working at Walmart will be rock-star status in most community.

Those that can't get hired by walmart, will beg and grovel on the street or in a shop, just like here in asia. You know china has walmart's everywhere now??

Basically there are 2 tiers of job, one is you work at a BIG-BOX, otherwise you work at a family biz and sell 'stuff', or you sell 'snacks' on the street. China it trying to eliminate street-vending, and Hong-Kong has pretty much terminated it, but SE asia it lives well, and is still the 'welfare system' for the poor, if you need money, whip up some food, and take it to the street and sell.

The most important thing about 'big-box' for the worker or customer is comfort. Central heating in China, or air-conditioning in SE-ASIA. This kind of comfort can be found in no other place than the big box.

I can see Bend going this way, once hyperinflation arrives and people can no longer afford to heat their homes during the long 'hbm-winter', they'll flock to walmart to spend their time wandering the aisles to warm-up.

Just like Asia, where folks flock the natural urban pollution and cold/heat and spend their free time at the big-box store. I really think that the big-box like walmart could be tomorrows urban cocoon or artificial living space, or community space. It wasn't long ago that walmart was famous for letting people park their RV in their lots, and then people would shower&shit in the store.
From a sci-fi point of view I can see virtually all human activity being based out of the big-box. All dating, and dates, and human experience, hell all walmart has to do is offer little private karaoke rooms say 6by6 feet the way china or japan does, and couples will even have a place to procreate when they meet at walmart, ... life will begin and end at walmart, and not forget the prescription drugs, ... toss in hospitals, but most important is the WALMART MORGUE.

Anonymous said...

And who know's maybe your pic will end up here ..

Walmart is a great place to visit with a motorhome.

H. Bruce Miller said...

When everybody works at Wal-Mart (or for Wal-Mart wages) who will be able to afford the crap Wal-Mart sells?

Duncan McGeary said...

Well, certainly, it will be the only crap they can afford.

They could set up charge accounts and work to pay it off....

Duncan McGeary said...

Re People of Walmart.

You Bastard.

I'll never get those pictures out of my head.....

Duncan McGeary said...

My first thought was those had to staged.

But they feel authentic.


Anonymous said...

50 years ago walmart was a nickle&dime store, not unlike dunc's shop,
that a little guy, could locate stores in the no-where of usa, and build such an empire is breath-taking,
best stock in 1980's-2000
wages@walmart? stuff costs a buck, and they pay min-wage, ... so employees will always be able to sleep at work, and buy food, ... :)
WALMART is as USA as it gets, .. what's good for WALMART is good for amleriKKKa,.

It's all quite funny that the beautiful of Bend despise WALMART. WALMART is the REAL ameriKKKa that the 4th estate has created, in other words WALMART is the offspring of the likes of HBM. WALMART is ameriKKKa's future.

Hell eventually WALMART will buy COKE & TACO-BELL, and it will not even be where US shops, it will be where it eats, drinks, shits, shaves, ...

Every place in the world will be referenced by its proximity to a walmart.

H. Bruce Miller said...

"WALMART is the REAL ameriKKKa that the 4th estate has created, in other words WALMART is the offspring of the likes of HBM."

Damn, Buster, I wish they paid me better for selling out the American working class. And Mike Hollern hasn't sent me a check in MONTHS.