retail news in context, analysis with attitude

There were a couple of piece son MNB last week that mentioned the fact that over the past two years, Walmart’s sole Chicago store has generated more than $10 million in incremental sales tax revenue…and I have suggested that in a time when both shopping and government revenues are down, it might be tough to deny Walmart the additional stores it would like to open within the city limits.

To which one MNB user responded:

Kevin, Kevin, Kevin....what isn't to be understood about how Walmart is driving the smaller specialty shops out of business? Sure, the price and selection and most times product are good, but why make it too convenient? It should be a contender, but not to the point of shutting everyone else out. My husband and I haven't stepped in a Walmart in 5 yrs in Jan of 09. Sure, we could have saved money but is it really worth it in the long run? They have every right to be there, but use common sense on location.

I would simply argue that smaller specialty stores don't have a constitutional right to survive…they have to compete aggressively and bring a differential advantage to the marketplace.

And while I know you didn’t mean it this way, your phrase – “the price and selection and most times product is good, but why make it too convenient” – sounds like an endorsement to me.

Another MNB user wrote:

Got to admire Walmart. It is taking it right to the Obama folks. It is assumed that an early priority of the Obama administration will be some Walmart bashing. Their union backers will demand some return on their campaign contribution investment … So Walmart is going on the offensive and declaring that they are making a significant contribution to the President’s hometown. That’s $10 million worth of tax money that Chicago won’t easily replace. May take the steam out of the union bashing of the folks from Arkansas. Nice move.

You’re right…this certainly plays in Walmart’s favor. Though it is unlikely that when Walmart opened the store two years ago, it was thinking that Obama was likely to be the next president of the United States.

I wouldn’t count on anything about Obama’s future decisions, however. If he’s proven anything through his appointment of people he doesn’t necessarily like or agree with to his cabinet, he’s full of surprises.

MNB user Aaron Algazy wrote:

It sounds like you’re saying that if Walmart was not there that the people who paid $5.3 million in sales taxes would not have spent that money at all; so in essence you’re saying that the money spent was extra income? I guess, and it’s also purely a guess as well, you’re incorrect.

If that Walmart would have been any other retailer they may have also made as much in taxes, but other retailers in the same area would probably have also seen increases in sales tax revenue, I’m guessing. And speaking of other retailers…what about all the little retailers in the nearby surrounding area; did they see losses of income; which means that they also posted less tax revenue for the same city? What was the total tax income for the same area last year to this year or before Walmart was opened to after its opening? Were there other circumstances that might have caused an influx of extra revenue…a new housing tract, the closing of other retailers, maybe there wasn’t any other big box retailer nearby for those that live there?

I’m guessing, again, this article was more of a Walmart strategy to send information to the media to show how great they seem to be. I guess, again, that if they were not there, the city would still have received the same (or close to it) amount of tax revenue without them.

You’re right. We’re both guessing.

But my guess continues to be that Walmart generates sales by dint of its marketing and merchandising approach that other stores might not get.

Got a number of emails responding to Friday’s “OffBeat” piece about the excellent profile that “60 Minutes” did of USC football coach Pete Carroll, which, I wrote…

...looks not just at his unique approach to molding the way young men behave on the gridiron, but also the way he spends much of his free time interacting with street gangs in Los Angeles. It is a remarkable story, and Carroll strikes me as a remarkable man – a winner in many ways, not least because he brings an unbridled enthusiasm and optimism to his various fields of endeavor.

It seems to me that in many ways, Carroll defines the very nature of leadership, appealing to people’s best natures rather than the lowest common denominator. That appeal ranges from scholar-athletes that he deals with in his job, as well as young men who wander the mean streets of Los Angeles, fully expecting that they could be dead before turning 30. That’s something that more people in leadership positions ought to do…realizing that leadership is different from management, and that real leaders find ways to connect with a wide variety of people and attitudes, not just those who look like them and think like them and live like them.

PM Meadows wrote:

A friend of mine sent your website’s link to me as he noticed you had a comment about Pete Carroll. I read the comment and wanted to take the time to email you. I’ve been connecting with street gangs in Compton and throughout Southern California for years. Pete is, as you state, a true leader. He doesn’t just “talk the talk, he walks the walk”. It’s been my privilege to have Pete “in the trenches” in Compton for years. Often times a celebrity will show up to speak with “at risk” kids whether they are gang members or just in the ‘hood’ trying to survive.

The worst thing you can do to an inner city “at risk” youth is show up and not come back. Magic Johnson is famous for that. Magic, though I’m sure a great guy, is not well thought of by the “at risk” population because he tends to show up where the cameras are. Pete is nothing like Magic or any of the other celebrities. Pete does not have an agenda, rather he has a genuine heart to pour into the youth.

When I first started going into the streets I found my experience to be life changing. Some of the most intelligent kids you could imagine are in the gangs. Most of them just want to be part of something but rarely have the opportunity. As a “white, successful business man” the streets were cold to me for several months until the youth started to realize that I kept coming back. Now, I have some very good “young” friends that know they can call if nothing more than to talk.

I’ll end this email on one comment. You mentioned in your article that the “young men of the streets fully expect that they could be dead before 30”. Actually, their goal is to make it to 18. That’s from the ‘mouths of babes’ directly to me.

Thanks again for recognizing Pete. He deserves the accolades.

MNB user Michael F. Parker wrote:

I gradated from Notre Dame in 1967 and have always hated USC until “60 Minutes.” Pete Carroll is incredible and I wish him even more success because he is the human being that we all dream of being. He is positive, filled with love and committed to growing young people. In a world of me sports, Pete takes me back to the 60’s when team and pride were meaningful and “I” didn’t exist. It is truly interesting that eternal values always win.

Several readers pointed out that people who want to know more about Pete Carroll should turn to Art Turock. Art, one of the smartest industry consultants and observers out there, has studied Carroll’s leadership techniques…and actually has written a couple of pieces about his experiences at USC’s football fantasy camp for MNB. To read the most recent of his pieces,
Click Here

To receive a complimentary copy of the complete USC self-study white paper Art wrote for the USC Coaching staff that applies the elite performance research, with additional adaptations to business, call Art at 1-800-473-8997, or email him at:

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