Wal-Mart flick reinforces suspicions in Carbondale | AspenTimes.com

Wal-Mart flick reinforces suspicions in Carbondale

Wal-Mart lost a few more shoppers Monday night after the screening of a new documentary that portrays the mega-retailer as the most evil of empires.About 200 people packed into Carbondale Town Hall for a screening of “Wal-Mart: The High Cost of Low Price” by director and producer Robert Greenwald. It sounded like the film was preaching to the choir in this town, where voters rejected the Crystal River Marketplace mall last year.For example, audience members gasped in disbelief during the screening when certain statistics were released, like the fact the average full-time hourly worker at Wal-Mart makes less than $14,000 per year, or about $3,000 below the poverty level. Several current and former employees testified in the movie that Wal-Mart officials tell workers where to apply for state welfare programs.Midvalley activist Bob Schultz arranged to have the movie screened in Carbondale as part of a huge campaign to get it shown across America. He said he wanted to show it at a time when big-box retailers are showing intense interest in western Colorado.While many people know that shopping at Wal-Mart benefits a mega-retailer at the expense of smaller establishments, some still occasionally visit the chain’s stores to save a few bucks. This movie might change their spending patterns.”I don’t know that I will set foot in there again,” said Rick Carlson of Carbondale, who stressed that he doesn’t shop at Wal-Mart all that often anyway.Carlson, himself a documentary filmmaker, said he thought Greenwald’s movie effectively spelled out the long list of Wal-Mart practices that harm communities and society in general. For example, the documentary showed the working conditions of Chinese workers who get paid less than $3 per day to make the billions of dollars of goods that Wal-Mart imports into the United States each year.”Everybody in the country should see it,” Carlson said of the documentary. “Everybody in the world should see it.”Ericka Crampton of Carbondale said the documentary was valuable because it provided details on a lot of Wal-Mart’s practices, such as the tax subsidies that many towns and cities grant to land a SuperCenter or store, only to have services like schools suffer.”I’m never going to go back to Wal-Mart if I can help it,” Crampton said. Sometimes it’s difficult to avoid the store, she noted, because it sells items that are hard to find elsewhere.Soozie Lindbloom won’t change her spending habits. She already avoided Wal-Mart. Nevertheless, the movie was good because it gave her more reasons why people should avoid big-box retailers – something “extra in the quiver,” as she put it.Lindbloom said she couldn’t help thinking throughout the movie that people who shop at Wal-Mart really need to see the documentary.Greenwald effectively showed how Wal-Mart’s entry into a town wipes out long-standing businesses. In one case, a hardware store in Middlefield, Ohio, operated by three generations of a family, folded after 43 years when it couldn’t change its practices to compete with Wal-Mart.Lindbloom said she was thankful people in Carbondale are aware of such issues. “I love Carbondale because people give a shit,” she said.Scott Condon’s e-mail address is scondon@aspentimes.com

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