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2004-11-11
Mullins, S.C. Wal-Mart Rejects "Made In USA" Business Deal.

Sam Walton boasted about his "Bring It Home To the USA" Program, which he started in 1985 "in response to the soaring U.S. trade deficit." He said that buying American products was not going to be "some blind patriotic idea", because Wal-Mart would "only buy American if those goods can be produced efficiently enough to offer good value." Sam said if his buyers "can get within 5% of the same price and quality, we take a smaller markup and go with the American product." That principle was tested recently in South Carolina, and the U.S. product lost. It was announced this week that Wal-Mart has decided not to ink a contract with a Marion County, South Carolina textile mill to produce a U.S. t-shirt called, ironically, ProperiTEES. The Anvil Knitwear plant, which shut down in 2002 and cost 600 people their jobs, made a pitch to Wal-Mart for a 5 year contract to produce t- shirts. Wal-Mart told city officials it "had several people look at it, but they could not make it work financially." Wal-Mart said the deal wouild mean higher prices for its customers. Anvil workers went to Bentonville, Arkansas to present their plan to Wal-Mart, which they hoped would restore 350 jobs. They told Wal-Mart the company could gain back some goodwill lost in a courtroom battle over a proposed Wal-Mart supercenter being fought by neighboring Florence, S.C. residents. Anvil's research said that Wal-Mart shoppers would pay more for a t-shirt made in the U.S. They said the Anvil t-shirt would cost 75 cents more than a shirt made outside of America. A town attorney involved in the deal told the press that Wal-Mart "gave absolutely no credence to the validity of our 'buy American' research." Wal-Mart explained that its research indicated that customers would not be willing to pay more for products made in the U.S. "While most of our customers would probably agree with this philosophically, they just aren't willing to pay more for domestically made merchandise," Wal-Mart said. Town officials were disappointed by Wal-Mart's decision, but the Mayor said, "The people who worked at Anvil want to go back. I am sad about them. But we will keep plugging along."


What you can do: Sam Walton said that before his company would buy from the Far East, his buyers should talk with U.S. producers first. "If we could all take a little extra trouble to work some of these deals out," Walton wrote, "and the manufacturers will continue to come up with their own creative programs, I think there's still a tremendous amount of untapped potential left in this idea." In this case, Wal-Mart has refused to tap into the Anvil market, leaving hundreds of U.S. workers without any potential left. Another Wal-Mart "Unmade in America" story.










 
 
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