When it comes to giant retailers, Walmart is a cut above the rest. It is the largest private employer in the US. It has enough branches to make it the most convenient retailer to about 90 percent of Americans. And its annual revenue is in the hundreds of billions. That’s the budget of a small European country. But not everything is rosy for the large corporation. There certainly are secrets Walmart doesn’t want you to know. Some of those secrets are dark and would tarnish its image. In the second part of our series about Walmart’s hidden secrets, we try to uncover things that might interest you as you do your weekly shopping.
10. Owned by a Wealthy Family
The first fact about Walmart relates to the owners. Understandably this is one nugget the wealthy family wouldn’t like to get around. But it’s not exactly a secret that the Waltons own the large retailer which makes them the richest family in the world. Even oil companies can’t compete with the riches of that family. So what does that tell us besides the fact that the first part of the retailer’s name comes from the family name? It actually tells us a lot. Especially if we add another fact about the low wages and harsh working conditions of the employees. We already covered that point in Part 1 of this series. When you think of the richest family in the world adding billions to their wealth every year while the employees are only getting poorer, you can understand why the Waltons prefer to stay out of the limelight. Now don’t get me wrong. There’s nothing wrong with being rich. The only thing that is wrong here is that if you as the owner keep getting richer exploiting the workers and not sharing your profits with them. Walmart would rather pay the shareholders than raise the wages of the employees to $15 an hour. We’ve all heard about corporate greed, but this one takes the cake.
9. Day-Old Bread is just as Yummy
That was a dark start. So let’s turn our attention to something that would benefit you if you shop at Walmart. It’s about bread. We all love the smell of fresh bread. But living in a city makes the chance of seeing fresh bread coming out of the oven as rare as spotting a unicorn strolling down Times Square. And since most of us get our bread from the supermarket, the expiry date is the way to tell if it’s actually fresh or not. If you buy your bread from Walmart, take a walk down the bakery aisle. There you’ll find day-old bread and other bakery products. For one thing, they’re cheaper than the fresh ones. But other than the price, there’s not much difference between them and the ones that were baked on the same say. They both taste the same, smell the same, and look the same. So why not save a few bucks on your bakery items every week? You can get a loaf of bread for as low as one dollar. Of course, Walmart offers these huge discounts because the company would rather sell them at any price than throw them away. So it’s a win-win for everyone.
8. Cheap Labor
We talked before about big corporations running overseas sweatshops and sometimes child labor to cut down costs and increase their profit. A quick Google search will yield plenty of scandals of this type. But what’s new here is that you don’t need to go overseas to find cheap labor. Why go through the trouble when you private prison systems that offer an endless supply of convicts all year round? And it’s all legal. Now, these convicts who are forced to work for as low as $2 an hour don’t work directly for Walmart. There’s no chance of that. Just think of the public outcry if you discovered that the guy who stocked the shelves at the fresh produce section was a convict serving a life sentence. It won’t look good. So instead these modern-day slaves work in farms harvesting veggies and fruits. What’s more, it turns out that this systematic exploitation of prisoners isn’t unique to the US either. In China, this unjust practice is widespread and involves forcing prisoners to work 14 hours a day in harsh and inhumane conditions. And all so that we can get our groceries at a low price while the shareholders in Walmart get higher returns on their investment. Welcome to the real world.
7. The Sweet Dollar Deals
We mentioned that if you know where to look you can find a loaf of bread selling for one dollar at Walmart. Luckily there’s no cheap labor involved here and the low prices are part of a marketing campaign to attract customers. Furthermore, a loaf of bread is not the only thing you can get for a buck at the giant retailer. Much like a dollar store, Walmart offers its customers the occasional dollar deal to keep them coming back. The trick is to know when such deals are on and which aisles have the coveted cheap merchandise. Sometimes you can get shampoos, deodorants, and other personal grooming products at a dollar apiece. So it’s always a good idea to check there more often. You will also find gift cards and greeting cards for this low price all year round. These gifts are reserved for the people you don’t care very much about but still have to send them a gift anyway. Some websites like I Heart the Mart keep a page dedicated to these dollar deals at Walmart. So it’s worth checking there before you head over to your nearest Walmart for your regular shopping.
6. Walmart and the Cops
We all love the cops. From a distance, that is. Nobody likes to have a cop tailing them. On the road, a police car is always better ahead of you than behind you. This is not a reflection of guilty consciousness. It’s just that when a cop approaches me, I always get a knot in my stomach and assume I must have done something wrong. Walmart, on the other hand, has a deep love for cops. There’s nothing kinky there, however. It’s just that Walmart employees like to call the cops a lot. More so than other businesses that deal with the public. Someone lifts a $3 pack of tissues? Call the cops. A hungry guy makes it out the door with a day-old loaf of bread? Bring the wrath of the police force on them. It’s ridiculous. Where’s the Walmart security, I hear you ask? Well, that’s the point. Walmart would rather the local cops handle incidents of petty theft than the company pays for their own security system. Why hire mall cops when you have the men and women in blue a phone call away? And if you’re thinking that this would only stretch the police force and keep them from dealing with a serious crime, you wouldn’t be wrong. But that trivial point doesn’t seem to both the management at Walmart as long as it keeps costs down.
5. Free Shipping Obviously
This is one nifty trick that many people may not know about and will save you a lot of money and time while you’re shopping. If you like to shop online, you’ll be pleased to know that Walmart delivers your purchases to your home free of charge. The minimum order has to be $35, however. Sweet. But what if your order is less than that? Easy. You can choose the ship-to-store option. It means your order will be ready for you to pick up at any store of your choosing. Here’s how you can use that option to your advantage. Say your day is packed with errands and you don’t have time to go to Walmart and spend hours walking down aisles, picking stuff, and having to wait in lines at the cashier. Just make your shopping online and have them ship it to the store. Now all you need to do drop by the store later that day or the next day and pick up your order. It doesn’t get easier than that. You save time and also money since online prices are usually cheaper than the ones in the physical store.
4. Win the Price Wars
I think we can all agree that one of the best features of capitalism is the fact that it doesn’t tolerate one person or company to have a monopoly over the market. At least there are rules and regulations in place to prevent such manipulative practices from taking place. And no matter what you think of Walmart or its closest rival, Amazon, you must appreciate their rivalry. As a consumer, I like to see the price wars rage on and each retailer tries to seduce me with huge discounts and amazing promotions. I don’t know about you, but I live for this kind of thing. It gives my life meaning to snag a deal online or buy a TV set for next to nothing. So the question now is, how can you benefit from the price feud between the two giants? Easy enough: compare prices online and make sure you get the best deal. There’s no point in being a loyal customer to one retailer or the other when you can save real cash on your weekly shopping. Remember that free shipping service we talked about in the previous section? It wouldn’t be possible if Amazon wasn’t trying to woo customers with free shipping as well. It’s a great time to be alive, isn’t it?
3. Seek the Coupons
One of the best things about Walmart is that it allows you to keep the change on your coupon. Say you have a $10 coupon and you made a purchase for $8.35, that leaves you with $1.65. Walmart will let you keep that dollar, 65 cents and use it in future shopping. Now you can understand why your Aunt Myrtle spends hours scouring papers and website looking for Walmart coupons. So where can you get your hands on these coupons? We’ll save you the embarrassment of having to ask Aunt Myrtle (she probably won’t tell you anyway, not after you insulted her pooch and called her cat neurotic) and refer you to some good website. You can visit I Heart the Mart or Passion for Savings to find coupons and special deals. It also helps to follow Walmart on social media such as Twitter where they post special offers on a regular basis. Chasing coupons might sound like a waste of time. But when you see the savings you can make on your grocery shopping you’ll probably change your mind and decide to make coupon hunting a regular pastime of yours. Anyway, nobody will know.
2. It’s all in the Price Tag
This is definitely a secret that Walmart wouldn’t want you to know about. It has to do with the price tag code the company uses. When you see a new item on the shelf such as a lamp or toaster, you might be tempted to buy it off before it gets picked by other customers. But that’s not usually a good idea. Time is on your side here when planning your shopping strategy. Large retailers like Walmart don’t like products with a heavy butt. By that, we mean items that stay on the shelves for months on end. A quick turn over is the goal of every retailer. So when an item sits around for weeks without making a sale, the company usually gives it a new price tag with a discount. So how do you know if this is the first price tag or final one? That’s where the price tag code comes in. If the price tag ends with a 7, then it’s a new item and this is the original price. So a pen that sells for $2.97 means it just got here and if you wait a little, that the price will come down. The discounted price usually ends with a 5. So a few weeks later you might find the same pen selling for $2.35. When the product still won’t sell, Walmart will give it a few more discounts. The final price usually ends with a 1. Keep that in mind the next time you want to buy at the retailer.
1. New Parents get Free Stuff
We end our list here on a positive note. As we mentioned before, not all big corporations are evil. And not all their marketing strategies are aimed at snaring the customers and fleecing them. Certainly not this one which is a good practice by the giant retailer. New parents will get a free baby box. You’ll need to fill out a form on the Walmart website. Just navigate to the baby box page to apply. Sure enough, Walmart will send a baby box to your home free of charge. So what’s in the box? Well, as expected, you’ll find lots of stuff related to babies. From pacifiers to diapers, nursing pads, wipers, and feeding bottles. Most of these free samples will give you a leg up in the new parenthood thing and help you try the products before you buy them. Naturally, you’ll be purchasing loads of these baby items so it’s always a good idea to know which brands are good for your baby.