Theodore's World: Wal-Mart Whores To Moslems Bucks

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March 16, 2008

Wal-Mart Whores To Moslems Bucks

Wal-Mart Tweaks Store for Arab-Americans

Wal-Mart Does Homework to Lure Middle Eastern Shoppers in Detroit-Area Store


Faten Saad knew she wasn't in a typical Wal-Mart when she saw an end-of-the-aisle display featuring Mamool.
Boxes of the date-filled, whole wheat cookie from the Middle East welcomed the 21-year-old Lebanon native into the international aisle of the new Wal-Mart store in this Detroit suburb known as the capital of Arab America. Aisle 3, which also features Eastern European and Hispanic food, represents many of the 550 items geared toward Arab-American shoppers in the store that opened last week.

It might be statistically tiny in a store with more than 150,000 items, but it's symbolically huge for the world's largest retailer as it seeks to change from a cost-is-everything monolith to one that customizes its stores to meet neighborhood needs.

Managers say they seek peace with the neighborhood's merchants -- and vow not to undercut them on Middle Eastern specialties. But some experts and observers say Wal-Mart's well-planned launch in Dearborn is bound to shake up the buying and selling in a community that has long supported its own. Southeastern Michigan is home to an estimated 300,000 people who trace their roots to the Middle East.

"I have not heard of anything this tailored. It's inspiring to me as a shareholder," said Patricia Edwards, portfolio manager and retail analyst in the Seattle office of San Francisco-based investment manager Wentworth, Hauser & Violich, which has 537,000 shares of Wal-Mart Stores Inc. stock.

The Dearborn store also sells Arabic music and plans to offer Muslim greeting cards. But the modifications go beyond merchandise: It has 35 employees who speak Arabic -- noted in Arabic script on their badges. The store also has hired a local Arab-American educator to teach the staff cultural sensitivity.

It's clear as soon as shoppers walk in that this isn't a typical Wal-Mart. Inside the grocery entrance are 22 produce tables filled with squash, beans and cucumbers common in Middle Eastern dishes. The section also features grains and vegetables popular among blacks and Hispanics, two other demographics with sizable populations living nearby.
"It's like a farmers' market," said Bill Bartell, the store manager who developed the international aisle with Tut's International Export & Import Co., the Dearborn-based distributor that handles the sourcing for many of the store's Middle-Eastern items.
"Because we did all this due diligence prior to moving into this area, we came to realize our clients really kind of liked this atmosphere, and they liked the variety that we can give them."

More than a year of studying the market and meeting with community groups was put to the test last fall, when Bartell and a Tut's executive began to work on what would become aisle 3. They set up an 80-foot-long counter in an empty warehouse and hauled out products -- date-filled cookies, grape leaves, vacuum-packed olives, chick peas and a 97-ounce jar of olive oil imported from the Middle East. The men spent two weeks working on a way to present a new line of products.

As he recalled their effort, a few women in hijabs -- traditional Muslim head scarves -- inspected produce. One spoke in Arabic to Mohamad Atwi, the developmental store manager.

Bartell said the store aims to offer convenience -- not a comprehensive selection of specialty products.

"It's very important that we have the variety of the Muslim, Hispanic items, local items, at a comparable price," he said. "If you go over to Warren (Avenue) where there's other ... small retailers, they have a variety that goes on and on and on."

At the Super Greenland Market, which Wal-Mart studied to come up with its new store, customers can find one whole side of an aisle with more than 20 different varieties of chick peas and fava beans.

"We have vendors that extend from here to the end of the planet," said Jamal Koussan, owner of Super Greenland. "We import directly. That puts us at a big advantage."

He said Wal-Mart doesn't concern him, but he is watching it. He tracked his store's sales on Wal-Mart's opening day and saw no dip.

"I'm not saying they will have no effect on our business but nothing that will threaten us, that will threaten our existence or threaten our bottom line," he said.

Still, the lure of everything under one roof could prove stronger than product depth for some who frequent Middle Eastern shops.

Saad, the college student who emigrated from Lebanon in 1990, marveled while shopping at Wal-Mart and plans to return.

"I don't think I would come all the way here just to get those things, but I'd pick them up on the way if I was already here doing my shopping," she said.
Warren David, a public relations and marketing specialist focusing on Arab-American and Islamic markets, called Wal-Mart's arrival bittersweet. He's happy for the steps it's taken, but "at the same time I can't help but think it's going to have some kind of impact on the local business community."

The Dearborn Wal-Mart is part of a two-year-old corporate effort to help sales by tailoring stores to local demographics, said spokeswoman Amy Wyatt-Moore at Wal-Mart's Bentonville, Ark., headquarters. It targeted six groups: Hispanics, blacks, empty-nesters/boomers, affluent, suburban and rural shoppers.

Dearborn's store is designed to reflect its neighborhood, not serve as a national template for Arab-American shoppers, she said.

"We realize there are more than those six broad demographic groups around the country. In some places the result will be a unique store," Wyatt-Moore said.

Edwards, the analyst, says the Dearborn store is a good move for a company that historically has been better at the science, rather than the art, of retail.

"Wal-Mart is a little kinder and gentler than they were 10 years ago. They are fierce competitors ... but I don't think they're trying to do a scorched earth policy," she said.
"The trick for these local merchants is ... they're going to have to change how they operate in the face of this changing competition."

Wild Thing's comment........

So what will it be, Suicide Belts On Aisle 3? When Islamic Jihadists start beheading American citizens on our own soil, odds are the terrorists will do it with Chinese knives purchased at Wall Mart.

Posted by Wild Thing at March 16, 2008 02:55 AM


... Stuffed camels for Ramadan? Soon the Detroit Lions Cheerleaders will be wearing burkas? MOTOWN will be renamed MUSLIM TOWN? Their sister state will have a Muslim US Senator - Keith Ellison, and a left-wing comedian, Al Franken, on the senate floor in Muslimsota? WTF???

Posted by: darthcrUSAderworldtour07 at March 16, 2008 06:25 AM

It's EASY to $hoplift there. The burkas drive their security infidels nuts. We get 10% off on Roll-Over price reductions for our IED'S in the automotive department. Why are they open on Fridays?

Posted by: Ali Babba & 40 Thieves at March 16, 2008 06:47 AM

Great--there goes the only place I can afford to buy clothes for my kids. I guess I'll go back to shopping the Goodwill (although the Mexicans are kind of ruining that up here) and the Salvation Army.
When are we going to stop coddling these people and make them become Americans?

Posted by: Lynn at March 16, 2008 06:59 AM

Detroit has the largest Arab population outside of the Middle East except for maybe Paris, France.

In the suburb of Hamtramck, they have call to prayers over loudspeakers in the American City.

Here's the sound Obama thinks is on of the most beautiful in the world. Makes you wonder if he will want it broadcast in all American Cities?

Posted by: BobF at March 16, 2008 08:31 AM

Let me tell you for a fact that the "local" grocery stores in The Sandbox DO NOT even attempt to appease us Westerner's by putting stuff WE like to eat on the shelves. When I first got here five years ago, our commissary did try to give us a bit of a variety and stock some of the foods "we" like. But now that that more and more Westerner's are being replaced by the "locals," the commissary stocks less and less and less. We haven't seen English muffins for almost three years - but an entire section devoted to pita bread - not quite the same for breakfast, however. Just pisses me off to no end that America does it for “them,” but “they” don’t do it for us. There is NO reciprocation with “this” group. None, whatsoever…

Posted by: BT in SA at March 16, 2008 11:04 AM

I will call it as I see it.As Pogo said we have met the enemy and it are US...We sit and whine
while we elect a goverment that does "NOTHING"
We are so stupid that we don't understand what
ARM means on the loan for our new home,we have to have the flat screen tv's, 2-3 cars,big rv's and it goes on and on.I have seen the future,I was in
New Zealand for three weeks,what an eye opener.
Gas was 6.25 a gallon,a simple bacon&egg breakfast
with 2 cups of coffee 35-38 dollars,a nice plain
dinner for 2 with water are a joke
a 2 year old ford (plain)35,000 to 40,000.There is
little difference btwn our dollor and theirs .17
cents..But they are a happy lot no big SUV'S nice
middle sized homes and they arn't full of them selves,they love Americans but we worry them, they
think we are wound to tight.One shock was tv I
tuned in Gordon Ramsey' hells kitchen and the F
bomb came thru loud and clear...They asked about
our election and most said why does it take a year to do when it takes us 3 weeks.They PAY 10.5
on a money market or CD.It's time we take our
country back from the city council to the very
top..At times when I watched the election coverage
from down it mademy skin crawl.One of the most often asked questions was Can Obama last 4 years.
one other thing is race is no issue at all.One
thing I did get hooked on was Rugby,it makes our
football boring.It's fast, bloody and just plain
get it on 80.min no time out...I talked to this
Huge Maori native 6'7" about 280 and ask why he
didn't play in the NFL,He said the Pads and Helmet
mate I tried out for San dieago couldn't Handle the pads and uniform so I came home and I play Rugby

Posted by: Tincan Sailor at March 16, 2008 11:44 AM

I live a short distance from Dearborn and this story made my gut tighten even more. I feel like I'm living at the point of the spear -- the place where "MOHAMMAMERICA" will be born. Unlike many ethnic groups in the past who came here to become Americans, these people come here to convert America to their ways -- and we're opening the doors wide for them. I'm not saying that Wal-Mart's actions will cause the collapse of the U.S., but it is just another straw on the camel's back (pun intended.) The cries have already begun for sharia to be adopted in Dearborn...So far just a few voices, but I'm sure more will follow. Yikes!

Posted by: PeteSuj at March 16, 2008 12:04 PM

9-11 was a wakeup call that lasted all of about 3 or 4 months. We should have taken steps to secure America from invaders, legal and illegal. We should have studied, discussed who, why and how we were a target. Instead, we just could not wait to get back to our lives of trivial pursuit, soccer games, American Idol, etc.

I blame most of it on piss poor leadership at the Federal level that became even more bi partisan and could not even define our enemy. Our initial foray into battle went very well, then we fell into the old mode of Rules of Engagement and political correctness. We now have only 1% of the American population involved in the war. Most of the other 99% is blissfully unaware of what is going on.

We are constantly bombarded by the Left to consider the cultural sensitivity of growing minorities that themseves are culturally insensitive.

Money, profits and greed have overwhelmed common sense and the other sense, survival. Americans of great wealth and power and their foreign equivalents want the world to become one big globalized Walmart and Home Depot. Another group of religious adherents wants the world to be one big mosque. The rest of us are in the middle, but paying the price for these two groups that want to rule the world.

Walmart just gave encouragement to muslims who seldom seem to make a demand that is not met.

Posted by: TomR at March 16, 2008 12:17 PM

I wonder if the Wal-Mart buyer weasels in Bentonville will strong-arm the Middle Eastern suppliers the way they do for every other item in the store?

"Last year, you sold it to us for 1.00 per unit. this year, you'll sell it to us for .77 per unit, or we'll buy you competitor's item and sell it at a loss until you are out of business."

Next year, same threat, but .65 instead.

Just another reason for me not to do business with Wal-Mart. "Old Mister Sam wouldna done it that way."

Posted by: Rick at March 16, 2008 12:55 PM

There is a new Wal-Mart near here, it cratered to the local unions and anti-Wal-Mart factions, it was built right on the boundry of the anti-Wal-Mart neighborhood, the real irony is they don't stock the full line, it's obvious they agreed not to compete with the locals for a niche. Like Sears and K-Mart it's just another "store". For me it's 20 miles to that one or 20 miles to another better stocked store, or 40 miles to a full service store, needless to say they have marketed them selves off limits, especially when that choice carries a 'Made In China' label.

Posted by: Jack at March 16, 2008 02:53 PM

SitRep; Walmart Garland/Mesquite TX...
I can't go there anymore. There are MANY Muslimbs shopping there and they try to dominate everyone.

Forget being Black, White or's dangerous ground. Women wear Burkas and GLARE at you through their little peepholes. Holy Shiite...some of them might be guys in drag!
You WILL NOT find an Oriental there.

They are antagonistic...arrogant...and obviously inviting confrontation.

There is equal opportunity in my neighborhood. Blacks, Whites and Mexicans are all "back-to-back", facing outward with drawn weapons.

Posted by: SSgt Steve at March 16, 2008 06:52 PM

Obviously the ONLY patriotic conservatives in Detriot are the season ticket holders and employees / players of the Detroit Red Wings!
HOCKEY TOWN should slash, trip, check and fight these muzzies, eh? "Darth on a breakaway...deeks RIGHT... shoots and SCORES! Darth let go with a twisted wrister up top into the net where mom used to hide the cookies!"
Bear Nation - 1
Muzzies - 0

Posted by: drstrangeloveb52isok at March 17, 2008 12:22 AM

Darth....."MOTOWN will be renamed MUSLIM TOWN"..... I laughed at this but you knwo what Darth, I don't think anything will surprise me anymore. It could happen.

Posted by: Wild Thing at March 17, 2008 12:39 AM

Ali Babba & 40 Thieves, LOL

Drive by burka's.

Posted by: Wild Thing at March 17, 2008 12:40 AM

Lynn, as far as I know it is only at that one store. But we all know if it does well they will do it in more of their stores.

I was wondering too what the heck will happen when Christmas comes and the Muslims say they are offended by Christmas season, music, decorations etc,. Wal-Mart is creating a monster.

Posted by: Wild Thing at March 17, 2008 12:44 AM

Bob oh my gosh, I remember reading that about Obama saying that about the call to prayer. Thanks for the links and information too.

Posted by: Wild Thing at March 17, 2008 12:47 AM

Hi BT in SA good to see you.

Thank you so much for sharing about how it is over there. I truly am sorry it is like that, and it shouldn't be.

Posted by: Wild Thing at March 17, 2008 12:50 AM

Tincan Sailor, thanks for sharing about your trip and the differences between there and here.

I agree our election has become way to long and not necessary to go through all of this.

Posted by: Wild Thing at March 17, 2008 12:58 AM

PeteSuj, great comment, thank you.

You hit the nail on the head.....
"came here to become Americans, these people come here to convert America to their ways"....And that is a huge difference.

Posted by: Wild Thing at March 17, 2008 01:00 AM

Tom you are so great about all you said.

I really believe if our leadership had come down hard and stayed strong on who the enemy is, most if not all of this catering to Islam followers would not be happening like it is.

Posted by: Wild Thing at March 17, 2008 01:03 AM

Rick your right they do just like you said.

Posted by: Wild Thing at March 17, 2008 01:04 AM

Jack, interesting thanks for sharing about that. My guess is wal-mart will do this Muslim stuff to other stores but slowly and start with only the heavy Muslim areas first. But then again I have been wrong before. hahaahaha

Posted by: Wild Thing at March 17, 2008 01:08 AM

SSgt Steve, the way you describe it I can jsut see them peeking out and starring like you said.

Posted by: Wild Thing at March 17, 2008 01:14 AM

drstrangeloveb52isok, LOL good one!

Posted by: Wild Thing at March 17, 2008 01:17 AM