He then points out the "Made in the USA" campaign of the 80's, and the new eco-stores that were built a decade ago- that there is a certain cynicism that comes from hearing about these campaigns in the past and seeing them disappear. He also reminds us that "low prices looked great for years, until we got a peak at their hidden, and sometimes unintended, costs. It is possible that the long-term consequences of muscling suppliers into sustainability will actually be unsustainable."
Up here in Canada, Wal-Mart is importing its superstore food concept. While driving along the new fancy toll highway 407 my daughter looked at the glitzy new office building to the left and asked "what's that?" I had just finished reading The Wal-Mart Effect and responded "it is the new headquarters for Loblaws, Canada's biggest grocery company. They are regrouping and adapting to meet the threat of Wal-Mart selling groceries in Canada." We shop a lot at Loblaws and my daughter knows it well and she asked "will they win?" I said that I learned from the book that when you go to Wal-Mart's offices you sit on lawn chairs and old discarded furniture in windowless cells, that their focus was on buying and selling at the lowest possible price and they did not spend money on superfluous things like furniture and offices. If Loblaws thinks that building a fancy new headquarters is the way to fight Wal-Mart then they did not have a hope in hell.
Ultimately Wal-Mart's success is based on Always Low Prices, Always. I wish them all the success in the world in their current campaign, but the disconnect between what we learned in the book and what is happening now is too great. If somebody was to start a pool on how long Lee Scott and this campaign will last, I would go very short.