TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: Re: What Wal-Mart Knows About Customers' Habits

Re: What Wal-Mart Knows About Customers' Habits

NoSpamForMe (
Fri, 19 Nov 2004 03:05:10 GMT

> [TELECOM Digest Editor's Note: Maybe you read in the papers
> recently where K-Mart and Sears had merged, making the combined
> thing now the third largest retail chain. Walmart has been watching
> that closely. There was a K-Mart in the complex where Walmart is
> located; Walmart drove them out of business two years ago. On the
> other hand, Sears has been downtown for about fifty years, and say
> they plan on staying. Our very first drug store chain (first for
> here in s.e. Kansas at least) -- Walgreens -- is scheduled to open
> in about six months; downtown -- praise God! -- on the corner of
> 9th and Maple Streets; the house owned at one point in time by
> Alf Landon when he was governor of Kansas. They've been squabbling
> for some time over the historical significance of that house, but
> it now appears it is going to be moved and the corner cleared for
> the new Walgreen's store. PAT]

Why is it OK for the a big chain like Walgreen's (or CVS, Rite-Aid,
etc.) to come into a town and drive the little independent drugstores
out of business ... indeed you salute them for opening a new store in
your downtown ... but WalMart is a "bad guy" ? There's really no
difference, other than relative scale, you know.

[TELECOM Digest Editor's Note: I was not praising Goddess for
*Walgreens* opening a store here so much as I was praising any
business for opening in our slowly decaying, beginning to show signs
of wear and tear downtown. For a few years now there has been a
movement of new businesses onto West Main Street; the area over the
railroad overpass going out to the Walmart complex. You are correct,
there is no difference other than scale, and we had this discussion
here a few weeks ago; small upstart phone companies walking all over
Mother, putting her in her place ('good' was the consensus) and small
down drugstores, clothing stores, appliance and furniture stores
getting trounced by Walmart ('no so good' was the consensus.) Then
Lisa Hancock or myself pointed out if we are to be consistent, what
is good for the goose is also fine for the gander. That was the
difference. I am accustomed to walking downtown (a few blocks) to
do shopping; *not* go way out on West Main Steet (which I generically
refer to as 'Walmart') although that area is where K-Mart used to be
before they went out of business here, and where a good restaurant
everyone in town likes (Eggberts) is located, and the Sonic drive in
and my hair dresser and other nice places are located.

Speaking of Walgreens, this decripit, brain-diseased old man actually
has a good feeling for Walgreens from 40 years ago. For several months
in 1963, I was employed by the fund raising committee to build a new
McCormick YWCA, to replace the old, ancient one on Walton Street in
Chicago. I spoke to a group of old hags who were having a luncheon
meeting, and one of the guests at the luncheon was Myrtle Walgreen,
mother of Charles Walgreen who in those days was the chairman of the
board of Walgreens, Inc. Myrtle and her husband Charles (the first)
owned and operated the *original* Walgreens at 63rd Street and Drexel
Avenue in Chicago. Charles did the pharmacy counter and his wife
Myrtle did the lunch counter. That was their one and only store, a
little storefront kind of thing right after the start of the last
century. Fifty or sixty years later, the 63rd and Drexel neighborhood
had totally gone to hell; she was a *very* old lady, her husband
Charles was long since deceased, her son Charles, Jr was the chairman of
the board, and all the other old ladies at this very elegant
hoity-toity luncheon were waiting for Myrtle to make the first move.

I made my pitch for money to build the new YWCA, and when I had
finished my presentation, Myrtle Walgreen stood up with her cane and
hobbled up to the stage where I was standing and she said, "well, this
idea of a new Young Women's Christian Association for the girls and
young ladies in Chicago sounds like a good idea, so I will start it
off with a 'little gift' of my own." On saying that, she reached in
her purse and pulled out a check for **fifty thousand dollars** and
said "here is just a small gift from my personal funds to help you."
That's all it took; the other old ladies saw what Myrtle had done, and
proceeded to get their own checks written out, since Myrtle had in
essence approved of my speech and collection efforts. She has long
since been gone of course, but I still remember the way by her actions
she encouraged the older older ladies to 'help build a new YWCA for
unfortunate young women and girls in our midst.'

Walgreens *used to have* a soda fountain/lunch counter in every one of
their stores; the two biggest Walgreens in downtown Chicago had
cafeterias in the basement as well. I don't think they do that any
longer at all. Myrtle said to me once the concept of a soda fountain/
lunch counter/cafeteria in every one of our stores started in 1912
when she was making lunch for her husband Charles each day; Charles
had suggested "why not make sandwhiches like that and coffee each day
for our customers who do business with us (at 63rd and Drexel). PAT]

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