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A Green WalMart for the Adirondacks

May 17th, 2006 · 7 Comments · News

Yup, for anyone who doesn’t know it, we have our own debate about a proposed WalMart. It’s not like we don’t have Wal-Marts around here, just that this one is behind the “Blue Line” and will be located in the “All American” Village of Saranac Lake. The debate has been strong and vocal at times. There is even a blog dedicated to opposing the development. I’ve sure got mixed feelings about this.

I’m scared of the behemoth and the mass consumption of cheaply-made goods. But I also can’t help but admire the incredible efficiency and power associated with this company. Let’s face it, most of idealistic groups around promoting environmental issues sorely lack the means or ability to implement their ideas. They are also the loudest critics of big business (read:Wal-Mart). Well the behemoth is turning green and seemingly on a mission.

Personally, I avoid Wal-Mart mainly because of logistical hassles. It is simply not worth fighting the traffic and waiting in line unless it is something not available elsewhere. But if I could stock up on inexpensive organic food and other sustainable green products in a ‘zero-energy’ environment, it might be worth it. A Green Wal-Mart is going to create an existential dilemma for many people as they are forced to confront their own daily hippocracies in the face of an inevitable reality.


7 Comments so far ↓

  • Mark Kurtz

    Saranac Lake offers the opportunity for Wal-Mart to build a “green” store in the Adirondacks. The currently proposed W-M is VERY controversial in Saranac Lake. There are several that flat out oppose it, some that desperately want it and the bigger the better, and majority that want something in between but not what the company proposes (121,000 sq. ft super-center) I, for one, will never shop in a W-M… they are an awful company… but I am involved with an organization (Sound Adirondack Growth Alliance – SAGA) that has changed it’s original position of 7 years ago of opposing W-M to: if they build it so that it is appropriate for the community of Saranac Lake (size, appearance, location, etc) the group will not oppose it. W-M has an opportunity: they can build one of their “green” stores (in the environmentally sensitive Adirondacks and the culturally sensitive community of Saranac Lake) at a small size and in a location (downtown) so that it supports the downtown business community rather than damage it. They could have something that would be a big public relations coup, something they could tout around the country as how they can fit in to a community and that they aren’t always the “bad guy”. Mind you, I’ll never shop there as I don’t really believe they have the will to be a “good guy” but they could at least get some good PR out of it and we would have a store we could live with.

  • evilwalmart

    I too would like to give Wal-Mart credit for turning green. But surely it might have something to do with 1) it will save them money and 2) it is good PR that they badly need.

    Go to the ‘live vote’ here and you will see most people do not believe Wal-Mart will keep their word about going ‘green’.

    A good discussion of Wal-Mart going ‘green’ is here.

    I’m all for protecting the environment. But I also believe people deserve a living wage and good healthcare. I believe workers in developing countries should not be take advantage of and I believe in fair competition. Wal-Mart is sadly lacking in those areas and many more. The company is morally and ethically bankrupt.

    Also, although I will never shop in a Wal-Mart store, I believe Saranac Lake needs retail development. It needs to be located downtown and should not be larger than 40,000 sq ft.

  • TourPro


    Saving (making) money and good PR are both natural activities of both individuals and big corporations. Not to mention the variety of other, more emotional, motivations. You know perfectly well living in the North Country that the cost of energy is a major variable in life and business. If economic forces make them change their ways, Great!!

    So, I’d say, who cares what their motivation is.

    How do you keep your word about ‘going green’? The market, economic and social, has caused Wal-Mart to evaluate their current and future business environment. In some ways, this decision is based on logic rather than an idealistic dream. I dare say, a ‘green’ Wal-Mart might be the largest and most environmentally friendly enterprise within the Blue Line. They could raise the bar significantly for what you might consider all the ‘quaint’ local businesses in terms of sustainable practices.

    Define “Living Wage” and “Good” Healthcare. Oh, “evil” too. I’m not paying for anyone to sit on their ass or more than they can produce in goods or services. If you are, then me and my family would appreciate a weekly donation from your groceries.

    I won’t get into what is a developing country or competitive advantage since I’m assuming you don’t buy into the ‘free market’ ideal. But at the same time you do seem to want ‘fair competition’. I hate to tell you, competition, fair or not, is a game of winners and losers. That is the goal of competition, to take advantage and win.

    I’m no huge fan of Wal-Mart. But I do see a brilliant business model to be admired. Morality aside. Don’t you see what they are doing? By ‘going green’ in behavior and product, they are also attempting to change both their current market and appeal to another potential market. They see opportunity in this potential market and sustainability in going after it and making their current customers more like it. Watch out because you are their target and they have huge guns aimed right at you.

    Thanks for letting me participate in this battle for hearts and minds. If I were judging, this round is a draw.

  • evilwalmart

    Sorry about the ‘broken’ code in the above post that made it all in bold.

  • TourPro

    Somehow I knew blogging about this would entail conversation. Ho Hum, so much for my attempt at avoiding human interaction 🙂

    Personally, I don’t want the Govt telling me what is a living wage.

    Healthcare is questionably provided by any of the existing means we have developed as of now. I submit, Wal-Mart might be one of the only private enterprises capable of doing this efficiently. Imagine a vertically integrated healthcare system by Wal-Mart. Reasonable care at reasonable prices, widely distributed, and not part of the existing crap we call a system. Heck, they already to eyecare pretty well. Hospitals could then focus on the more severe cases requiring in-patient care. Which is what they are best suited to do.

    I’m not sure what ‘artificial means’ are in this case. Isn’t propping up a less competitve or failing business also ‘artificial’?

    We can agree to not argue the morality issue. (Hobbes kicks Rousseau’s ASS, then goes home to enjoy a cold beer)

    What I meant with “sit on their ass” was, nobody gets compensated more than what they are worth or what the market allows. Would you pay someone extra just to be “fair”? Wal-Mart employees get paid exactly what they are worth to Wal-Mart and in relation local labor conditions. Isn’t what you seem to be proposing an ‘artificial’ means of setting the price on labor? Frankly, you get what you pay for, and if Wal-Mart is able to reposition themselves, I’ll bet you will see a corresponding shift in wages, type of employee, and required skillsets.

    My experience with Costco, I’d have to say is positive. It is a completely different culture than Sam’s Club in terms of employee/customer interaction. That’s something I’ll have to cogitate on.

    I don’t even like Wal-Mart, but I feel compelled to argue. Again, I have to reiterate, EvilWalMart is the archetype for the type of person/viewpoint they want to convert. As a marketer, I automatically reach for the low hanging fruit. But sometimes the sweetest reward comes from the greatest efforts.

  • evilwalmart

    Oh a marketer you say? That explains everything. Have you seen the great ‘Tom Tomorrow’ cartoon about how to make everyone love a sh@t sandwich? It’s amusing. Maybe you can get a job with Edelman PR. They are looking for bloggers to ‘market’ Wal-Mart. Contact my ‘buddy’ Mike Krempasky at Edelman PR( He’s hiring.

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