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Discussion Starter #1
In light of the recent arrests of illegal workers hired with the full
knowledge of Wal-Mart, some have called for us to boycott their stores. Will you share your thoughts on this?

I understand that small time boycotts (a handful of people in each community) will never register with the powers of the world's largest retailer. I would like to do my part but where do I draw the line? I'm cost-conscious and my best grocery value is with consistent Wal-Mart shopping. However, if it's at the expense of someone's job am I being fair
to pinch a few pennies?

Additionally, Wal-Mart is the only store in my area that sells general merchandise. If I want a spool of thread or a pair of pajamas, I have to drive 15 miles one-way if I don't shop at Wal-Mart.

There's a huge trickle-down effect. If our local Wal-Mart has declining sales, our county loses revenue and people lose jobs because our shopping will have to be done in the nearby city.
Ellie in Virginia

Ellie sure asks a big question. Let's begin by finding out a little
about boycotts.

According to the practice began in Ireland and targeted a ruthless landlord named Boycott. All of his tenants were so upset that they refused to have anything to do with Boycott and his family. The practice came to the U.S. in support of labor movements. And in the 1960's it gained popularity as a political tool.

Over recent years you've seen more boycotts. That's because they appear to
be working. However, you won't find many statistics because companies are reluctant to comment on boycotts and certainly don't want to admit that they work.

The purpose of a boycott is to get an organization to change because of an organized refusal to continue to do business with the company.

For example, Ellie feels that Wal-Mart shouldn't hire illegal aliens.
Boycotters argue that an organized refusal to shop at Wal-Mart will cause them to stop the practice. Please note that I haven't studied what Wal-Mart's hiring policies so I don't have a position on this particular boycott.

But I do believe that in a free market systems it's fair to vote with
your money by financially supporting businesses that you admire. Or to withhold your business from companies you disapprove of.

Now on to the question of whether Ellie should join this particular
boycott. To decide Ellie needs to consider how important the goal is to her, whether the boycott could help achieve that goal, whether her personal sacrifice is worthwhile compared to the goal and would an alternative strategy be better.

Ellie's goal appears to be to protect the jobs of American workers. Primarily in her hometown.

Can a boycott help achieve that goal? Even though Wal-Mart may be the largest company in the world, yes, a boycott could be successful. But, as she points out, it would take a large number of boycotters to affect Wal-Mart's bottom line. So good leadership of the boycott is required.

One position for Ellie to consider is only shopping at her local Wal-Mart if that store meets her standards. Each store's sales and profit figures are measured separately. So it might be easier to affect a change in her local store. And, if her real concern is local jobs, then a national boycott might not be necessary.

Plus, it is possible that boycotting the local Wal-Mart could cause them to lay-off her neighbors. For every job saved, the boycotters could cost two or three.

Now for the toughest question. Is the goal worthy of the sacrifice? If she abandons Wal-Mart that means driving further to buy household items. No big deal if she visits the city regularly. But it's a different situation if her car is troublesome and she rarely leaves home.

Or the difference in costs. For Ellie paying a little extra may be no
big deal. But for a family just barely to pay the rent, those pennies might mean missing a meal.

Plus the poorer family probably spends less in Wal-Mart when they do shop. So the wealthier family will have a greater impact on Wal-Mart even if their sacrifice is less.

Finally, Ellie should consider the alternatives. A visit to the local
store manager could reveal that the store isn't hiring illegal aliens. Or she might want to ask if the local paper would do an investigative piece on Wal-Mart's hiring practices. Another option would be to continue to shop at Wal-Mart, but to set aside the money saved for a contribution to the local food bank. In most cases it's wise to exhaust other options before resorting to a boycott.

Boycott issues aren't often easy. You can't mathematically calculate the 'right' answer. So the bottom line is usually a decision about what is important to you. And that's a question that only Ellie can answer.

Gary Foreman is a former financial planner and purchasing manager who currently edits The Dollar Stretcher website <> and newsletters. You'll find thousands of time and money saving articles.

23,290 Posts
Great article Sara. I have tried boycotting Walmart "as much as possible". It isn't only because of the hiring practises they have with illegal immigrants, its because of their policies in regards to hiring, how they come into a place and mom and pop stores end up closing, and I don't like how they have, since coming to Canada, started the box office stores. (Its horrible having to go from store to store to store, when its 30 below and the windchill is -40.

If at all possible, I shop at mom and pop stores and at any other store other than Walmart. I also am a stickler to shopping at Canada only stores if at all possible.

As in this article, Foreman's last sentence is so very true.

Boycott issues aren't often easy. You can't mathematically calculate the 'right' answer. So the bottom line is usually a decision about what is important to you. And that's a question that only Ellie can answer.

Master Dollar Stretcher aka AmyBob
5,738 Posts
This article has interesting points. I've been boycotting my local WalMart, not for the reasons listed, but because it's always such a mess and the help is RUDE... and when I wrote to management about it, they didn't even bother to respond. (So now I've forwarded the letter to corporate headquarters, after someone on here got the address for me... but that's another topic.)

However, like the article said, I'm cost conscious, and many times WalMart IS the best place to buy something-- in both price and selection-- so I've been going out of my way to stop at the WalMart in the town where I work.

Knowing full well that one customer (me) isn't going to make or break the local WalMart, should I go back to shopping there for my own convinience, or should I stick to my boycott just to make a point? At this point, I'm only causing myself more running around and trips to other stores, knowing darn well that I could run into WalMart and get everything in one trip. Yet, I don't want to give in and spend my money in a store that doesn't care much about it's customers. :bang:

It was so much easier in college when I boycotted dozens of businesses at a time... I didn't have a family or a house to take care of, and could buy my essentials anywhere that sold Ramen noodles! ;)

Master Dollar Stretcher aka AngeleeBob
1,471 Posts
i am boycotting as much as possible also I use the Wal-Mart for essentials that I would have to drive 30 miles to get so I am there about once a month know. For all of the above reasons btw.
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