See page one article in today’s Wall Sreet Journal (9-25-06), “Seeking Growth in Urban Areas, Wal-Mart Gets Cold Shoulder”.
Those who bash Wal-Mart usually fail to comment on the billions of dollars Wal-Mart annually saves consumers in the cost of goods (and increasingly of services), freeing up monies for consumers to spend on various experiences. Dollars saved on clothing, food, home furnishings, and the like allow many consumers to take in a NASCAR race now and then, make a once-in-a-lifetime visit to American Girl Place, join a Life Time Fitness club, or splurge in a Mac Cosmetics make-over before their (thousands of dollars) weddings.
It’s most interesting how Target manages to avoid much of the venom directed Wal-Mart, when Target represents just as significant a force in the commoditization of goods and demise of local goods merchants. When a Target opened near me in University Heights, Ohio a few years ago, it led to the closing of locally-owned John’s Furniture & Toys (at least the proprietor had claimed), much to the disappointment of many of my Shaker Heights neighbors. But John’s never progressed from selling goods to offering services and experiences that might allow it to successfully compete in the toy business, say by selling memberships to a John’s Toy Club or staging homespun birthday parties. Frankly, it deserved to close. And I, like many others, in the process benefited from the reduced sales prices that accompanied the closing, stocking up on future gifts (for all the birthday parties my kids go to) and everyday items (for us, whiffle balls) and other toy supplies, as discounts rose from 25% to 50% then 75% and finally 90% off over a multi-month period.
Indeed, Target seldom meets with the opposition that Wal-Mart so often encounters. As the Journal points out, credit Target with a greater appreciation for design and the esthetic value required of retail experiences today. (The nearby Target mentioned above came complete with an innovative escalator designed for one’s shopping cart!)
Also appearing in today’s Wall Street Journal is an op-ed piece written by U.S. Senators Schumer and Graham, complaining about the artificially low value of the Chinese yuan due to Chinese government intervention. Those who complain about such behavior on the part of the Chinese, like those who complain about Wal-Mart, usually fail to comment on the billions of dollars saved annually by consumers in the cost of goods from China. An artificially low yuan benefits U.S. consumers by further freeing up monies to be spent on various experiences.
These two pols, like so many others, mistakenly look to protect U.S. manufacturing jobs, when the preponderance of new economic output and job creation in the years to come will result from the emergence of new experience-based business. One simply needs to read the current issue of FC for testimony that such is truly the case.