Oct 29, 2009

From Bentonville to the Grave

When we talk about Walmart in our communities, the discussion often focuses on how the giant retailer makes it impossible for local hardware stores and Main Street retailers to compete. Now, joining the hardware store owner, the clothing shop owner, and the local grocer: the local funeral director.

Walmart is selling caskets online. Not only is this in poor taste, it is going to undercut local businesses. Funeral directors often find many of the services they offer, such as hosting viewings, coordination, even some of the more "we don't like to talk about that" stuff like having a cosmetologist come in, to be loss-leaders that they make up for by selling caskets. Now people are going to be coming to those funeral homes with cheap Walmart caskets, saying "we'd like to have the viewing soon, we're just waiting for shipping from Bentonville," and these local business people, who are providing an important service, are being undercut.

Walmart's unfair business practices have been hurting small businesses for a long time, and hurting communities since they don't provide living wages or adequate health care to their employees. How morbidly ironic that many local funeral directors may now be buried in the retail grave that Sam dug.

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