Walmart Navy sails around traffic jams

Before Covid, it was rare to see more than one ship lined up at America’s biggest port complex, the Los Angeles and Long Beach terminal. As of today, there are over 60 of them, filled with billions worth of toys, furniture, and home electronics. The traffic’s almost as nightmarish as the I-405.

Now, the nautical logjam has gotten so bad that big box retailers are chartering their own ships to get around the lines in time for the holiday shopping season…

Incoming cargo at the Port of Los Angeles — which sees half of all U.S. imports — is up 30% from record levels set last year. Cue the long line of boats stacked with so much stuff that trucks and trains can’t move the goods out fast enough to make a dent in the bottleneck. Now big retailers are taking matters into their own hands:

Walmart has chartered a grain cargo ship, stuffed it full of toys and consumer goods, and sent it away from the LA Port to a nearby cargo dock, Reuters reported Thursday. Home Depot sent its own vessel loaded with Halloween and Christmas decorations to San Diego. Target, Costco, Ikea, and Dollar Tree are also getting on board the boat-chartering trend.

Traffic managers get paid to come up with solutions for problems like this. Which – BTW – are considered “good problems”. Lots better than sitting around like Congress wondering what can we do to justify our paychecks?

No cash accepted at our local Walmart, this morning

Yes, it’s happening, again. Apparently, this also panicked shoppers, last July…so, I presume the same explanation applies. The pandemic has resulted in coin shortages here and there around the country.

And how do you keep from running down your stock of coins? By not accepting cash, of course. The Walmart we shop periodically was not only NOT allowing cash to be processed at the self-checkouts, today…they weren’t accepting cash at the registers either.

Just letting you know. For some folks, this can be a problem.

Walmart pulls displays of guns and ammo until after Election Day


“There’s a Boogaloo spill on aisle 9…”

Walmart announced that it would be temporarily removing all guns and ammunition from its stores’ shelves as a precaution against possible civil unrest or looting in the wake of Election Day.

According to a Wall Street Journal report, the retail giant made the decision to avoid the potential theft of any weapons should riots break out and a store’s security becomes compromised. Customers can still purchase guns and ammunition upon request, but the store will not have the products on display on the sales floor. The company did not provide any time estimate on how long the firearms would be kept out of sight.

Walmart sells firearms and ammunition at roughly half of its 4,700 stores nationwide.

Trumpster nutballs are leading the national whine at this attack on their right to buy cheap ammo. Having to pay suggested retail for .223 rounds to stuff in their AR-15s must break their little hearts.

* Just a footnote: I’ve been a gun owner my whole adult life. Grew up in the arsenal of America. Kin of mine built the prototypes for the M16 and AR15. I have no intrinsic dislike for sporting firearms though I no longer hunt. I treat the firearms I still own strictly as defensive.

Waste Management 3 R’s

Called the “three R’s” of waste management, this waste hierarchy is the guidance suggested for creating a sustainable life. Reduce, recycle, reuse. You might be wondering as to how can you incorporate these principles in your daily life. They are not hard to implement.

And if Walmart can manage to do it, I think we all can.

Our weekly shopping draws from 4 stores. Each Sunday morning, we head out to the 2 with the best deals/prices [mostly] for our groceries and consumables for the coming week. This Sunday morning started out at Walmart – followed by Trader Joe. Just happened to notice these boxes on our way to the self checkout.

Which employer will be screwed the most by Trump’s trade policies?


Click to enlarge

Our dipsh*t fake president is trying his hardest to increase the price of consumer goods to American working folks. No need to repeat his lies and rationales for policy and plunder. True Believers will ignore any attempt at clarity. Americans with some understanding of what globalized economics means for consumer scale and income already know what I’m talking about.

I just wanted to offer this map – and a “Thank You” to Barry Ritholtz for offering it in his newsletter – to illustrate where families in this nation go to shop. You can figure out what will happen if our proto-fascist-in-charge gets his way. Costs rise. Prices rise. Folks who can afford that the least have the most to lose. And the company whose business model is focussed deeply on that demographic – will be the conduit from the White House to our wallets.

Watch out for shoulder-surfing at the checkout counter

A man who cashed $300,000 worth of counterfeit checks using personal information stolen by peeking over the shoulders of hundreds of Wal-Mart customers was sentenced to prison Thursday.

Robert MacVittie and his wife lined up behind customers trying to cash payroll checks at “dozens and dozens” of Wal-Mart stores in 20 states and recorded them providing their Social Security numbers, Assistant U.S. Attorney Gregory Melucci said at the hearing where MacVittie received a 34-month sentence. The couple would then use the victims’ identities to create counterfeit checks, which they cashed at other Wal-Marts.

Melucci called MacVittie, 35, and his wife Jennifer, 32, “the Bonnie and Clyde of counterfeit checks…”

More than 400 people had their identities used on the successfully cashed counterfeit checks, Melucci said.

In all, the MacVitties stole or attempted to steal the identities of more than 900 people, Melucci said. They failed to cash more than $600,000 in other counterfeit checks…

The fraud started in October 2013 and the couple was finally arrested at a Nevada casino in November 2014, Melucci said…

MacVittie was also ordered to repay Wal-Mart for the check losses. Half of his menial prison salary will go toward that debt, as well as 10 percent of any wages he earns after his release from prison.

ApplePay and similar electronic means of checkout absolutely rule. We prefer the former because encryption is guaranteed. The checker doesn’t even get your name.

Go to use the restroom in a WalMart – and it turns out to be a meth lab!

A restroom at a Wal-Mart in eastern Indiana has been closed indefinitely after an employee discovered a working meth lab inside.

State police say a Wal-Mart employee alerted police after seeing a man he described as suspicious enter the restroom about 11:30 p.m. Thursday with a backpack and leave without it. The Star Press reports that members of a state police meth suppression team removed the dangerous chemicals.

Delaware County Health Department inspectors closed the restroom and a nearby women’s restroom until they could be “decontaminated” by a professional cleaning company.

State police say people who make methamphetamine are leaving “the deadly explosive chemicals in public places to return later to get the finished product,” rather than risk explosions and contamination at their own homes.

What? Surely, you didn’t expect drug dealers to be thoughtful and urbane?

Dumb crook of the day


Stylin’ ride for young crooks

An Albuquerque, New Mexico, man is facing charges after police say he drove a stolen electric shopping cart to meet with his probation officer.

KOAT-TV reports that court papers say 18-year-old Michael Johnson rode the electric shopping cart this week to make his scheduled visit. When the probation officer asked Johnson where he got the cart, court documents say Johnson admitted taking it from an Albuquerque Wal-Mart.

Johnson was arrested and charged with larceny and receiving stolen property. He also violated his probation when he was arrested and was ordered held on a $500 bond.

Albuquerque police spokesman Tanner Tixier says the cart is worth more than $1,800.

It was not known if Johnson had an attorney…

…or a brain!

Thanks, Mike

A penny of progress in Florida tomato fields makes a world of difference to field workers

By enlisting the might of major restaurant chains and retailers — including Walmart, which signed on this year — the Coalition of Immokalee Workers has pressured growers that produce 90 percent of Florida’s tomatoes to increase wages for their 30,000 workers and follow strict standards that mandate rest breaks and forbid sexual harassment and verbal abuse.

The incentive for growers to comply with what’s called the Fair Food Program is economically stark: The big companies have pledged to buy only from growers who follow the new standards, paying them an extra penny a pound, which goes to the pickers. The companies have also pledged to drop any suppliers that violate the standards.

So far, the agreements between retailers and growers are limited to Florida’s tomato fields, which in itself is no small feat considering that the state produces 90 percent of the country’s winter tomatoes.

But gaining the heft and reach of Walmart — which sells 20 percent of the nation’s fresh tomatoes year-round — may prove far more influential. To the applause of farmworkers’ advocates, the retailer has agreed to extend the program’s standards and monitoring to its tomato suppliers in Georgia, South Carolina and Virginia and elsewhere on the Eastern Seaboard. Walmart officials say they also hope to apply the standards to apple orchards in Michigan and Washington and strawberry fields in many states…

Since the program’s inception, its system of inspections and decisions issued by a former judge has resulted in suspensions for several growers, including one that failed to adopt a payroll system to ensure pickers were paid for all the time they worked.

Amassing all these company partnerships took time. The workers’ coalition organized a four-year boycott of Taco Bell to get its parent company, Yum Brands, to agree in 2005 to pay an extra penny a pound for tomatoes, helping increase workers’ wages. In 2007 the coalition sponsored a march to Burger King’s headquarters in Miami, pushing that company to join the effort. Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s, Chipotle and Subway have also signed on.

Perhaps the coalition’s biggest success is luring Walmart, which joined the program in January without a fight. Walmart officials said they were looking for ethically sourced produce as well as a steady supply of tomatoes. The giant company’s decision coincides with its major inroads into organic foods and fresh fruits and vegetables.

RTFA. It’s about a victory, serious victory inside one of the greediest segments of American capitalism. A penny a pound may not seem like a lot to urban and urbane workers and professional; but, for a field hand it’s a world of difference. And the most reactionary elements of American agribusiness think it’s the end of the world.

Kudos to the organizers and field hands together who joined this fight and won. And special thanks to the restauranteurs and retailers who supported this struggle.