BizTube: Capitalism and Monopolies

Before you curse me for wasting one minute and thirty seconds of your life, allow me to explain the business lesson learned from this, um, inspiring video.

Those of you in the Minneapolis area, did you ever shop at the local grocery, Almsted’s Supervalu Foods, in St. Louis Park? If not, you have missed your opportunity because in September 2011 it was ruthlessly squashed out of the market by the big, mean chain store superpower Rainbow, a Roundy’s subsidiary. Other large grocery chains have also been accused of such Godzilla-esque behavior, but no company enjoys the loathing of a portion of the American population like Walmart, the biggest monster of all.

From published books to anti-Walmart websites to casual conversation, Walmart is accosted as a Bambi-squashing villain, surely destroying American well-being as we know it.

I would like to state for the record that I am glad to live in a nation that seeks to prevent monopolies, protecting consumers and employees. Having choices gives the people power to influence the behavior of corporations in the market, in theory. So I am an advocate for curbing monopolistic behavior.

However, I will not jump on the anti-Walmart train just yet, and here’s why. Four years ago, Walmart launched a brilliant marketing campaign that claimed “American families now save $2,500 a year, thanks to Walmart,” and I believe them! The savings are realized in two ways. First, you can shop at Walmart and get cheaper products and groceries than in many other retailers. (Build the spreadsheet and do some price shopping if you don’t believe me.) Second, Walmart is big and powerful enough to influence other players in the market to keep prices down.

Remember the $4 generic prescription drug program that Walmart launched? Remember how Target quickly followed suit? Yeah, that’s been nice for all of us, especially our grandmas and grandpas.

My heart goes out to poor Bambi, squashed in the meadow, but my pocketbook thanks Godzilla for keeping me in the black.