Friday, April 29, 2011

Walmart Stops Biting the Bullet, and Goes Back to Selling Them

Let me share one of my guilty pleasures with MikeB readers:

You can't beat looking at these photos for a laugh on any day you're feeling a bit sad.  They are a guaranteed laugh.  Maybe not so much though, at the idea of some of these people buying guns and ammo.....

Wal-Mart brings back gun sales

The move is just the latest sign that executives are returning to the company's roots after recent failed efforts to appear more upscale.
By InvestorPlace on Fri, Apr 29, 2011 By Jeff Reeves, editor of
Wal-Mart (WMT) may be the world's biggest retailer, but that doesn't mean it has given up on growing. From planned grocery deliveries to inner-city residents to its recent purchase of a social-media company, there always seems to be something new in store.

The latest news, according to The Wall Street Journal, is that Wal-Mart will reload gun sales by cutting back on electronics floor space to make room for rifles, shotguns and ammunition at hundreds of U.S. stores.

But unlike previous failed efforts and some recent quirky initiatives, the return of guns and ammo is a return to Wal-Mart's roots -- something the company may sorely need.

Before you go making gun sales at Wal-Mart a political issue, remember that the bottom line is always the bottom line for the King of Retail. And that bottom line hasn't been very impressive lately. The company's stock is down slightly over the past 12 months, while the S&P 500 has tacked on 11%. This is no surprise, given seven straight quarters of same-store-sales declines in the U.S.

Wal-Mart stopped selling guns and ammo at most of its U.S. stores five years ago but is now stocking up on firearms and nearly half of its 3,600 U.S. locations. Spin doctors at the corporation claim this is part of a larger focus on "heritage categories" -- fishing rods and bolts of sewing fabric that were cut out of aisles as the discounter tried to appear more upscale.

Upscale obviously didn't work. A few of years ago, Wal-Mart eliminated thousands of items to de-clutter its stores, but it suffered more customer complaints than anything else. In September, managers made an about-face and began restocking the shelves as Wal-Mart added thousands of new products. And just a few weeks ago, it announced an ad campaign in which Wal-Mart reasserts its low-price roots. That, essentially, leaves the company right back where it started a few years ago.

That isn't a very heartening sign for shareholders. After all, businesses are meant to grow and seize more opportunities, not just put it in neutral.

But in Wal-Mart's case, it may be wise to simplify and return to the mission that made this store a retail powerhouse. Sprawling rural and suburban SuperCenters offering guns and ammo and cheap clothes, food and furnishings made the franchise what it is today. Why tinker with the model if it was so darn profitable?

In Wal-Mart's case, a return to previous business success could be the best move, especially after some new ideas that have fallen flat.


  1. Walmart is eating the seed corn. One of the reasons that they had such great success for so many years is that they placed their stores in a lot of areas where they could undercut their small business competitors and drive them out of business at some point in time (depending on how well capitalized--or stubborn--their competition was) thus achieving virtual retail monopolies.

    The nearest large store aside from the local Walmart is, you guessed it, the Walmart Super Store in a town ten miles south of here. Other than that, not much on offer.

    When Walmart was able, over the last 30-40 years to eliminate the competition it was all good. They pay their own help as low a wage as possible and offer little in the way of genuine benefits. But, now, it's not just their own employees who aren't making much money. Between the generally tough business climate and the wholesale shutdowns of manufacturing plants things were not great but now local, good paying jobs in a lot of areas (read teachers and other public employees) are being stripped of benefits, having pay rates frozen, facing layoffs or aall three AND being told that their collective barganing agreements aren't worth the paper they were printed on.

    How long do you think it will be until you have a story to report about a distraught individual going postal in the Walmart gunroom?

    The small city I live in has a Wal-Mart and Lowes. There are still two home centers/hardware/lumber yards in town but several other lumberyard/building supplies have gone out of business*.

    * The local builder, the three nuke plants and the local SUNY campus probably keep the two non-big box stores in business.

  2. So you would deny people firearms based on how they look (and laugh at them as well)

  3. No, TS. I would deny people firearms on the basis of the critieria used in the NCIS data base.

    I question the basis on which people seem to demonstrate an ability to think and exercise responsible judgement based on appearances of some of the people in photos appearing on - but I would never suggest using that as a criteria for someone to have a firearm or not have one, nor did I ever suggest that as a determinant.

    I admit that some of the more outrageous photos appearing on the web site DO make me laugh. A lot, out loud. If your honest about it, they make most people laugh.

    Because they're funny. If you look at the entire collections of them from, you have to admit that there IS something about walmarts that seem to attract these people to their stores. More than other places? I couldn't / won't make that claim.

    But gee whiz, some of these people!

    Perhaps I'm just old fashioned, but I think it is preferable to be well groomed and apprpriately dressed when going somewhere in public. That's just me.

    Unlike say, my all time favorite 'people of' photo of the old guy with the long white beard, wearing a white leotard, tights, ballet slippers, and frilly tutu cruising around walmart on one of those shopping cart scooters....

    Tell me some of these people don't make you question their mental competence and capacity?

  4. Good job Walmart. You are now almost American.

    I still wouldn't buy anything gun related from them. Not while they lick Bloomberg's boots.

  5. It's really not just about how they dress (and I don't have to look at any photos, I just go right to the source). I tend to wear jeans and shorts that are "experienced" when I'm working on the house and how someone dresses is less of a concern for me than a lot of other things.

    One of the things that makes me wonder what's up is seeing people that are already morbidly obese bringing a shopping cart full of junk food and sodas to the checkout. I'm pudgy (some folks would say I'm a lardgut) but I have a pretty good idea what causes it and try to at least eat decent food when I'm overeating.

  6. I think there is a definite difference between wearing clothes that are, to use your word, experienced, around the house. I tend to think of those kinds of clothes as expendable chore clothes - if something happens to them during certain necessary activities, well....they were close to the end of their useful life anyway.

    But too many of these people appear so grotesque in their attire and demeanor and even in some cases conduct that I believe far more serious questions come into play, about issues such as their grip on reality, than simply do they lack good taste or consideration for the rest of us who see them in public.

  7. DogGone,

    I can't argue with you. People of Walmart is absolutely hilarious. I'm just surprised none from my area have made it to the site.

    "If you look at the entire collections of them from, you have to admit that there IS something about walmarts that seem to attract these people to their stores. More than other places?"

    I would bet that a large majority of those photos are taken late at night. One of the attractants might simply be the fact they are open 24 hours.

  8. How is it supposed to work? Do they sell guns that require the background check too, or only shotguns and stuff like that?

    I guess this is good for the gun-proliferation advocates, you know the fanatics who believe the more guns the better.

  9. Mike,

    All new guns, including shotguns and "stuff like that" require a background check.

    BTW, the Walmart near me never quit selling guns.

  10. Is that true in every state that you need to submit to a background check to buy a shotgun, unless it's a private sale?