business news in context, analysis with attitude

  • Labor-funded group Wal-Mart Watch (which is not related to the MNB Wal-Mart Watch) yesterday suggested that one of the authors of a New York Times op-ed piece defending the Bentonville retailer’s impact on the economy may, in fact, have received money from Wal-Mart for his services.

    The group pointed out that co-author Ken Mark is a business consultant who says he is managing director of Canadian company The Martello Group, which seems to list numerous Wal-Mart related projects on its website.

    Wal-Mart Watch Executive Director Andrew Grossman said, “Wal-Mart is known for its lowest common denominator approach to business. Have they now also falsely represented their business consultant to the editorial page of the New York Times? We call on Wal-Mart to fully disclose their business and financial relationships with the authors of this piece and others writing ostensibly objective analyses.”

  • MNB recently wrote about the city of Yelm, Washington, where the city council went so far as to ban any discussion of Wal-Mart from taking place during council meetings – even though the question of whether a Wal-Mart should be built there is very much on the community’s mind. City leaders said they were trying to keep mass hysteria from breaking out, but opponents said that what they were really trying to prevent was honest debate and discussion.

    Well, now The Olympian reports that a local stand up comic, Vanda Mikoloski, is joining with four other comics to host a fund raiser this weekend that will do nothing but make fun of Wal-Mart and the impact it has on communities.

    “We don't want to launch an attack, but we want to enlighten people," she told the paper. "That's our little tool in this battle. We've got to arm ourselves with our wit against this corporation. They hate to be ridiculed."

    The money raised by the event will go to the Yelm Commerce Group, helping it to cover the estimated $30,000 cost of appealing a city decision that the building of a Wal-Mart poses no significant environmental impact.

  • USA Today reports this morning on Wal-Mart’s efforts to appeal to more affluent shoppers, driven not just by a desire for higher sales and profits, but also by a need to drive up the company’s share price. Wal-Mart’s stock price has dropped about seven percent over the past year, the paper reports, and investors are looking for a turnaround.

    Which means that CEO Lee Scott has to find a way to attract a new demographic while not offending the company’s traditional customer base.

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