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BOOKS & THE CULTURE Bear Market The Superstore That Ate Grand Saline BY CHRIS GARLOCK HOW WAL-MART IS DESTROYING AMERICA By Bill Quinn. Ten Speed Press. 1 f you’ve ever wanted an excuse to visit a Wal-Mart, this is it. Buy a copy of How Wal-Mart is Destroying America, read it, and then drive to your nearest “box store” and slip this cranky book in among the imported merchandise. In one neat swoop you’ll have supported an independent press, given aid and comfort to a righteous curmudgeon, and helped to undermine the late great Sam Walton’ s dream to carpet the land with Wal-Marts. Wal-Mart is a gleeful hatchet job by a writer and a publisher with plenty of axes to grind. The book kicks off with a forthright letter from the publisher of Ten Speed Press, who explains how an expected bonanza for the independent publisher went bust in a big way back in 1995, when WalMart’ s Sam’s Club division shipped back more than half of a 30,000-book order, so sloppily wrapped in old food boxes that most of the books were ruined. Adding in sult to injury, Sam’s Club demanded all their money back. Author Bill Quinn’s hatred of Wal-Mart ANDERSON & COMPANY COFFEE TEA SPICES TWO JEFFERSON SQUARE AUSTIN, TEXAS 78731 512-453-1533 Send me your list. Name Street City Zip is largely based on the chain’s destruction of small-town America, and more specifically, the destruction of his hometown, Grand Saline, Texas. There’s no Wal-Mart in Grand Saline, but just over a dozen miles east in Mineola and south in Canton, Wal-Mart superstores have drained well over half of Grand Saline’s retail business. What makes book such a must-read is that it documents WalMart’ s predatory practices, and provides muchneeded ammunition for the retail giant’s hapless targets. Octogenarian Quinn is a big fan of numbered lists, beginning with Chapters 1, “7 Things That Happen When Wal-Mart Comes to Town,” and ending with “12 Ways You Can Fight Back.” Quinn leavens his collection of antiWal-Mart news clippings with testimony against the small-town assassin by disaffected former employees, and spices it with his own pungent diatribes. If you are a stickler for documented sources and irrefutably-checked statistics, you may be put off by Quinn’s shoot-from-the-lip style. But if you like your corporate-bashing unadulterated with mollycoddle, you’ll get a real kick out of Quinn’s irascible wit and wisdom. “It’s not so easy anymore for Wal-Mart to just waltz into a town with its usual bag of tricks. The words Wal-Mart is coming’ are like a red flag for lots of citizens who have seen what havoc the monster retailer has wreaked in other towns…. I’ve pinpointed three of Wal-Mart’s oleaginous new ways all sneaky as can be” and off he goes with the three ways Wal-Mart sneaks into your town. Amid a plethora of Wal-Mart business practice minutiae are some real gems, such as the fact that Wal-Mart’s banking policy is to transfer instantly its daily earnings to corso the local bank and residents get no use of this locally-generated capital. Should Ten Speed’s returned-books tale of woe sound like sour grapes, there’s the interview with a former Wal-Mart man ager, who reveals that among the reasons he quit was that “I had one lady whose job was to make claims of product damage, or claim that the full order was not received, pallet damage, whatever…. My conscience was eating me up…. My deepest concern was that I was selling every moral I ever believed in.” Bill Quinn’s slender call to arms is no Don Quixote tilting at Made-in-China windmills. The word is getting out that Wal-Mart is sucking the life out of small-town America, and communities are not only fighting back but winning, too, spreading the good news through organizations like Al Norman’s “Sprawl-Busters” \(www.sprawl-busters. Peninsula Neighborhood Association “The long and the short of it for me is, I hate Wal-Mart. I’ll never set foot in another of those emporiums of crap as long as I live, and I’ll fight them until the day I die,” Quinn concludes. “All I ask is that if you decide in favor of Wal-Mart whether you’re shopping for a barbecue grill or permitting the mega-retailer to build in your town just know what you are choosing, and know what you are choosing to give up, and what you may allow to be destroyed, if only by being silent.” Chris Garlock, for two years the producer of Hightower Radio in Austin, is moving on to Washington, D.C., to become the communications director for Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch. SEPTEMBER 25, 1998 THE TEXAS OBSERVER 29 111111111111111111111111111.11011.101011111.1 41411010r