I will be the first to admit that I want so bad to hate Walmart.  I have always been the kind of person to root for the underdog, and when a company gets SO huge that they become the largest retailer in the world, they have a large amount of power that no single company should ever have.

Walmart has been through a lot over the past few years, becoming a political lightning rod for everything that seems to be WRONG with this country – accused by women of not promoting women when they are more qualified than the men in the same role and constantly accused of not paying their employees what they are worth.  And now, they face allegations of a cover-up involving bribes paid to help them expand rapidly in Mexico.

I still shop at Walmart when I have a chance.  The nearest store here in Portland, OR is actually a long drive, because they have faced significant resistance from Portlanders who don’t want them in their neighborhood.  But they have slowly crept into our backyards by a stealthy plan to open several smaller “Neighborhood Markets” that use existing, empty real estate.

Will I shop there when they open a Neighborhood Market right down the street from me next month?  You bet.  The bottom line is that we have to survive in this crappy economy, and Walmart allows me to stretch my money the furthest possible.  They keep prices low, they price match competitor ads and they accept competitor coupons, making it easier for me to go to one place and get everything I need for the lowest possible price. And if they didn’t make it so easy, I would be shopping somewhere else.

High expectations are the key to everything – Sam Walton

As I constantly hear the negative accusations that seem to rear their ugly head more often than a few years ago, I can’t help but wonder if this is what Sam Walton had in his plans when he built this empire.  Did he intend to have 8,970 locations and 2.1 million employees?  Did he intent to crush small businesses across the country by making prices so low and irresistible that consumers ditched locally owned stores for their huge super centers?  I would argue that this isn’t what he intended.

Hopefully, they will get their act together and start to focus on “quality not quantity.”  They need to focus on their employees, who are the backbone of their success.  And they also need to realize that there is such thing as “too big for your britches.”

But the truth is that I will continue to shop at Walmart, because with the economy being so bad, I have no other choice.