If there is a corporation that is guaranteed to get a progressive, hipster Christian’s drawers in a knot, it’s Walmart. But, contrary to what some might say, Walmart is not evil and it is not the anti-Christ (maybe it is, but we’ll get to that another time). Do they have some crappy business practices? Yes, they do. Do they treat their employees well? No, they don’t. But, for all their faults, they do provide a place for some people to get the things they need to survive.
There are a lot of people who refuse to shop at Walmart (it’s that whole evil thing). And, there are writers, bloggers and others who urge us all to not patronize it in any way, shape or form. Then, there are those of us who live in the real world and understand that things aren’t always so cut-and-dried. What do I mean by that? Let me give a couple of examples.
Hugh Hollowell is the director/CEO/chief cook and bottle-washer of Love Wins Ministries and spends quite a bit of money at Walmart. He told me that he doesn’t like a lot of Wal-mart’s policies but, having a non-profit homeless ministry’s budget, he has a limited amount of funds and he can get the most bang for his buck at Walmart. What does that mean, you ask? Let’s say you’re in his situation and have $200 to spend on work boots so some of your people can get work. Now, you can take that money to the Red Wing and walk out with one pair of high-quality, made in America steel-toed work boots. Or, you can take that $200 to Walmart and buy six pairs. Or, let’s say you have some people sleeping outdoors and in need some quick shelter until you can get them in a better situation. You can take that $200 to REI and buy one tent. Or, you can go to Walmart and come away with five. The math speaks for itself.
Progressives like to talk about privilege. They’ll even talk about the fact that they enjoy privilege in many ways. And, the ability to effectively boycott a place like Walmart is a privilege. One that many people don’t have. They shop at Walmart because it’s what they can afford. Or, they live in a community where Walmart is the only place to shop. Does that mean they are bad people because, by shopping there, they are allowing Walmart to continue its shoddy, unChristian business model? No, it means they are people whose circumstances don’t give them any other options.
Now, you may be wondering what difference this might make to you. Possibly, none at all. It is entirely possible that you are perfectly fine shopping at Walmart. Or, you might be someone who would never set foot inside that big, blue and yellow box. However, if you’re one of those people who shops at Walmart, but feels a little uneasy about it, that doesn’t mean you’re a bad person and or that you’re contributing to an evil empire. It means you live in the aforementioned real world and know that, every now and then, Walmart is the best of a less than stellar list of options. And, that’s okay.