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I am very excited about Wal-Mart coming to Juneau for a number of reasons, and the bashing they are taking from ill-informed people here amazes me.
I worked for Wal-Mart in Colorado and in Texas. I started off as a cashier during the Christmas season and later was put on full time in receiving. I was then able to transfer to a store in Texas working in the hardware department. While the wages I made weren't phenomenal, they were above minimum wage, even when I was working part time. Once I went to full-time employment I received benefits after 90 days, not two years, as was recently suggested by Lisle Hebert.
The majority of positions at Wal-Mart are not meant to be career positions. Wal-Mart provides an excellent place for younger people to get a job where they can learn about the retail business and, if they show some enthusiasm, they have plenty of room for advancement within the company. Wal-Mart's products are made in the same places that other retail outlet's products are made, so to slam Wal-Mart by talking about their "Chinese"-made products is just nonsense.
Either way you look at it, when Wal-Mart comes to town it is going to provide at least two very important benefits: another place where people can get a job instead of collecting a welfare or unemployment check, and lower prices on items that we pay too much for in other local stores. It will also make some of the other retail stores lower their prices if they want to stay competitive.
I look back on my experience working for Wal-Mart as time well spent. They provided me with a second job when I needed one and enabled me to move to Texas, where I had a full-time job waiting for me. As a shopper, I look forward to being able to shop at Wal-Mart again in the near future and pay more reasonable prices for my daily needs.
I'm just guessing, of course, but I would bet that when most of us travel to the Lower 48 one of the places we make sure we visit is the local Super Wal-Mart so we can stock up on items that either we can't find here in Juneau, or that are much cheaper down south. The only people who should be afraid of Wal-Mart are the businesses who have been overcharging their customers.
J. Marc Mulkey