Part Of A Trend

A number of people have been angered by Walmart’s recent decision to stop selling guns and ammo of various types.  I’m a little angry myself, but no that much — because I was wise to Walmart’s game a long time ago.  Here’s what I wrote about the giant chain back in 2003 (!!!):

Guns, And Walmart

February 26, 2003
8:10 AM CDT

I’m aware that a whole bunch of people out there buy guns and ammo from Wal-Mart (not to mention all the other household stuff), and that’s fine.  A couple of people know that I don’t especially care for Walmart myself, and have written to talk about it.

I’ve worked in and around the retail industry for over twenty-five years, for small operations and huge chains, and on two continents, so I know a little whereof I speak.  Here are my thoughts on the matter.

1.  I don’t like one organization, especially a retailer, to have a huge (or near-monopolistic) market share.  I don’t think it’s healthy for the economy, despite the short-term consumer savings that a large organization brings to the market.  When most of the smaller operations get put out of business, the community suffers, both economically and in spirit.

2.  Despite the folksiness of their public demeanor, Walmart is a pretty damned predatory company in their dealings with both suppliers and competitors.  They go after competition with a ferocity and lack of conscience that are truly disturbing.  That’s fine, of course—it’s good business—but at some point, that attitude will turn around and bite the consumer too.  When you become the only game in town, eventually you become arrogant.  If Walmart tries to deny that this will happen to them, they’re ignorant of history:  it always happens.  Always.

3.  Most insidiously, when one store becomes the sole channel for a specific product, it becomes progressively easier for that product to be controlled by legislation.  When there’s only one faucet, it’s easy to stop the flow of water—when there are thousands, it’s more difficult.

4.  Along the way, eventually, product choice becomes narrower when only one or two stores control all the sales.  When all a store cares about is what sells now, the more esoteric items disappear because they either don’t move quickly enough for the store to generate profit, or the price is increased to generate a larger profit.  So you either won’t find it, or it will be too expensive.  This is Retailing 101.

That’s it.  I don’t think that Walmart is good for the country in the long-term:  near-monopolies seldom are.

As far as the gun business is concerned, I don’t think Walmart is good for the country right now.  To their credit, they’ve made guns and ammunition cheaper in rural areas, and many people swear by them.  But when you live in Wahoo WY and Walmart is the only game in town, don’t think for a moment that you’re going to have the ultimate gun store in Walmart, because you won’t.

Frankly, Walmart doesn’t give a shit about the gun business.  It’s just another product category to them, like shirts or jeans, and most of their decisions are made at head office in Bentonville, not at the local level.  If guns and ammo become too problematic for them in terms of regulation, product movement or return on investment, they’ll drop the category without a second thought—once again, that’s good business, and you can’t fault them for it—but gun owners will be totally screwed.

Sure, the gun store is more expensive:  because he doesn’t have the daily profits from other categories like toys, CDs and sweatshirts to keep him in business.  I know how it works:  you shop around at the local gun stores, get all the information from the guys behind the counter, and then go to Walmart because that Remington 870 is $80 cheaper there.  Congratulations.  You got a great deal—and shafted the guy whose entire living depends on your dollars.  If you’ve done this kind of thing before, and this paragraph didn’t give you a twinge of conscience, you ought to be ashamed of yourself.

Walmart can survive without selling guns and ammo.  Your local gun store can’t.  Think about it.

Then in April 2006, I noted this development:

Walmart Stores Inc. has decided to stop selling guns in about a third of its U.S. stores in what it calls a marketing decision based on lack of demand in some places, a company spokeswoman said Friday.
The world’s largest retailer decided last month to remove firearms from about 1,000 stores in favor of stocking other sporting goods, in line with a “Store of the Community” strategy for boosting sales by paying closer attention to local differences in demand.

Once again, Walmart demonstrated that as far as they’re concerned, guns are no different from jeans or audio CDs:  no sales, bye-bye.

None of our Plano-area stores sell guns or ammo, I suspect because there are about a dozen gun stores (including Bass Pro and Cabela’s) in the immediate area;  and I suspect that we’re not a price-sensitive group anyway so cheap shotguns aren’t going to attract too many buyers when for a dozen dollars more you can get personalized service from a proper gun store.  And as far as I can tell, most gun owners up here have been buying their ammo online for over a decade — I being one of them, for sure.  So it’s unsurprising, from a purely merchandising rationale, that Wally World doesn’t stock any gunny goodness in this neighborhood.  Frankly, I wish WalMart would make it policy across all  their stores (although I don’t think they will because of their rural stores’ contribution).

Now read what the CEO of Hornady has to say about dealing with these assholes:

In my previous life, I worked for a company that lived and died by Walmart.  And like many companies, Walmart treated them poorly.  And, as we were going through these things with Walmart, I decided that if I was ever in a situation where I didn’t have to do business with them, I would not.  And when I got to Hornady, we were doing some business with them, it wasn’t a lot, but they started to become difficult to work with again.  I was in a situation where I made the decision for our company to walk away and everybody in the company supported my decision. And we have not looked back.

And here’s my favorite part:

“As long as there is a Hornady at Hornady, we will never sell Walmart direct. They don’t support our industry.” – Jason Hornady, 2007

He points out, by the way, that if perchance you see Hornady products at Walmart, those would have come through a wholesaler — and from his tone, I don’t think Hornady is too happy about it.

So there you have it:  Walmart is not our friend.  Make changes to your own shopping habits as it suits you.  And support your local gun store, regardless.

Small Wonder

According to some organization, Vienna is the most “liveable” city in the world.  I can see why, and I could live there in a heartbeat.  I’ve often commented on my love for Vienna — to this day, it’s the only city that is so beautiful that the first time I went there, I walked the streets with tears running down my cheeks.

I don’t know what criteria the EIU set to decide livability, but here are mine:

1)  It must be beautiful.  Vienna has that, in spades.

2)  There must be lots of culture:  art, music and all the rest.  Feel free to tell me Vienna doesn’t have that  covered.  Here’s the Kunsthistoriches (Art History) museum, see also beauty (above)

…and as for music?  Even their street musicians are a cut above the rest (he was playing Mozart  tunes, FFS):


3)  The people must be well-mannered, well-dressed and classy.  Vienna:  check, check and check.  The Viennese are terribly formal, which suits me down to the ground.

4)  A relaxed lifestyle.  Vienna = café culture, maybe even more so than Paris.  And oooh the coffee…

5) Good food, and restaurants.  Here’s Vienna’s equivalent of Whole Foods, or maybe M&S Food Court.  Let me tell you:  I know  grocery stores, and Julius Meinl is the best in the world.

Let’s not forget the street markets:

So yeah:  if somebody stuck a gun to my head and said, “You have to go and live in Vienna!”, I’d snatch the gun away and shoot him before he could change his mind.

I would be remiss, however, if I didn’t list a couple of negatives about Vienna.  (A German I met once said, “Vienna would be beautiful, except for the Viennese”, and my only qualification of his opinion is that of the language.)

I speak German reasonably well, and can get around most of Germany without too much hassle (once I’ve been  there a few days and have caught up — you don’t use it, you lose it, and I’ve pretty much lost it).  That’s not true in Vienna, where the local patois is incomprehensible, even to a lot of Germans.  (In the early days in Munich, Hitler had to take a few elocution lessons because people couldn’t understand his Austrian-accented speeches.)

Also:  in winter, it’s witch’s tit cold.  Holy balls.  Even coming from Chicago as I did, Viennese winters are cold, Bubba.  The only good thing about winter there is that it keeps most of the tourists away — which brings me to my last quibble:  in summer, Vienna has more tourists per square yard than the average day at DisneyWorld.

But in summer, the weather is glorious and the whole city seems to sing.  The multitude of statues to Beethoven, Mozart, Brahms and Strauss (all of whom lived in Vienna) must have something to do with it…

Mein schönes Wien… I need to get back there, and soon.

As for the rest of the “ten most liveable” cities on that list?  Ugh.  As far as I’m concerned, it’s Snow White and the Nine Dwarfs.

And one wonders how anyone could put Vienna and Toronto (???!!!) on the same such list, with a straight face.

Fashionable Footwear

Saw this on Insty’s sidebar not long ago, and it stopped me in my tracks:

I have seen some ugly shit in my time, but these so-called “Newchic” things are Hillary-grade hideous.  Somebody elucidate the concept to me, because I must  be missing something.   “Fugly” doesn’t begin to describe them.

Of course, if these are The Most Comfortable Shoes Evah, then I stand rebuked.


I’ve opined on this situation before, mostly when it comes to topic of the success of comic-book movies among so-called grownups:

The Democratic Party’s vision of the American future is a kind of permissive classroom, no doubt appealing to its base of spoiled children. It is not a place where real work will ever get done. Democrats tell their voters there is nothing they cannot have, and that if they complain and demand loud enough the stingy, bad parent (the Republicans, the rich, Old White People©) will be forced to give them treats. They are led to believe that anyone who does not give them what they want freely (free health care, free college, reparations, housing, jobs) is doing so out of malice.This jejune political rhetoric is mirrored on social media in the left’s call for people to be deplatformed. Censorship is the demand for teacher to restore order in the classroom and punish the disagreeable pupils. Unanimous agreement on all the big questions is a precondition for playing in the same nursery.

Going beyond politics, the infantilization of America is unmistakable by the success of Disney. As a film company, they’re on a hot streak almost unparalleled in Hollywood history. Within any given year they drop new releases in Star Wars, Marvel superheroes, children’s cartoons, and live-action remakes of children’s cartoons. These movies do well with children and with adults. It sucks the satire out of another Onion headline, “Rising Disney World Ticket Costs Prompting Many Parents To Leave Children At Home.”
This trend is also evidenced by the numerous toys geared for adults. Electronic toys and video games for men are extremely popular. Equally ridiculous is the number of adult women who have an affinity for Disney princesses.
Millennials (born 1980–1994) and Gen-Zers (1995–2009) don’t seem to realize that video games, toys, and the like were things you were only supposed to be into until you were old enough to drive, date, get married, and be an adult. But millennials don’t drive, they don’t date, they don’t marry, and they don’t really grow up. So it’s no surprise they are stuck in a preadult world [].

Don’t even get me started on supposedly-adult men of voting age who are infatuated with My Little Pony  (a.k.a. “Bronies”).  Great Napoleon’s bleeding ulcers, it actually turns my stomach to read about these fucking losers.

At the risk of sounding all White Christian Male and stuff [irony alert], allow me to remind everyone of this excellent precept from Corinthians:

When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.

Except that men aren’t doing any of that.  Instead, they’re clinging to the artifacts of their childhood, hoping that Mommy will be there to keep the Big Bad Wolf/Zombies away.

What will inevitably happen is calamity.  As Charles Norman puts it:  “The world is running out of grown-ups. It will probably take tragedies and a prolonged era of diminished affluence for people to grow up.”

Like I said:  calamity.

It Started With “Gay”

…or maybe it was “grass”, but either way, the result was the same:  a perfectly good word was hijacked by bastards in order to make something socially unsavory become more acceptable.   Hence “gay” for homosexual — deeply ironic considering that homosexuals in general are the gloomiest and most unhappy people on the planet.

Now, of course, we have a similar situation, only now it’s words hijacked by Big Tech:

According to a study by the University of Leeds, which looked at datasets of informal conversations, all mentions of the word ‘tweet’ in the Nineties referred to birdsong, while one in 100 do now.
We need not despair that, in future, our children will think of a remote data-storage system when they hear the word ‘cloud’. But we should offset it by teaching them the names of clouds.
We need not despair that, in future, our children will think of a remote data-storage system when they hear the word ‘cloud’.  But we should offset it by teaching them the names of clouds.
Seven in ten uses of ‘web’ in the same period referred to spiders: this has become one in ten.
‘Field’, ‘fibre’, ‘cloud’, ‘branch’ and ‘net’ have all changed meanings, too, co-opted for commercial or technological ends.
This is the living mutability of language, the way it shifts to keep tight its embrace with the world. But there is an edge of loss to this change.
Now, the speaker is not contemplating a sky or the running twists of water, the slender might of a spider’s web, or pasture, trees or the music of birds. He or she refers to a ‘virtual’ world, conjured in pixels.
What the tech firms call ‘disruption’, when they destroy old trading networks, is one of the forces of our time. Populist politicians disrupt electoral tribes*; the Leeds study shows that technology [is] disrupting language itself.

I have a very dear lady friend with the ancient and lovely name of “Alexa”.  She’s considering renaming herself as “Lexie” (a nickname), simply because Amazon’s electronic Stasi toy has become ubiquitous in ordinary conversation — and that’s not to mention all the jokes made when people get introduced to her.   (As she puts it, you can only hear “Alexa?  Turn on the coffeemaker” so many times before it starts getting really  old.)

And it’s all quite unnecessary.  Tech firms should actually create names for their products instead of lazily co-opting existing words or names.

We can talk about homosexuals and hippies some other time.

*Actually, no.  All  politicians create electoral tribes;  “populist politicians” (e.g. Nigel Farage and Donald Trump) simply create new electoral tribes out of elements of those electoral tribes made by establishment politicians.