Sunday, October 26, 2003

YOKOHAMA, Japan -- The new supermarket west of Tokyo has all the trademark Wal-Mart touches -- roomy aisles, price rollbacks and big shiny signs, but shoppers have almost no idea this outlet is run by the U.S. retail giant.

Yuki Kitamura, a housewife who swears by the store's vegetable selection, didn't know and didn't care that Wal-Mart Stores Inc., the world's largest retailer, has a 37.7 percent stake in the supermarket chain Seiyu, the operator of this store and 400 others nationwide.

"The store got a liberating feeling, and it got roomier," she said. "It's fun."

Despite the $6.4 million remodeling of the flagship store, the Wal-Mart name is nowhere to be seen. Moreover, there isn't a single Supercenter in Japan, and Wal-Mart officials say they may never open one here.

Wal-Mart is making its entrance into Japan cautiously and stealthily. The retailer, based in Bentonville, Ark., studied Japan for several years and concluded it was a complex market best penetrated under an alliance with a local partner that understood Japanese shoppers. So it took a stake in Seiyu last year.

"For Japanese customers, the name Wal-Mart doesn't mean a lot. The Seiyu name means a lot. For the near future, we'll go with the Seiyu brand," said Billie Cole, spokeswoman for Wal-Mart International Holdings.

Wal-Mart, which operates in 10 nations besides the United States, has adapted its approach to different markets, making itself more visible with Wal-Mart stores in places like China, while taking a lower profile in Mexico and Britain, where it has chosen partners.

But nowhere else is the total invisibility of Wal-Mart quite as clear as in Japan. Foreign brands are sometimes embraced -- among them, Coca-Cola, Louis Vuitton, Walt Disney, the Gap -- but often face failure verging on total rejection.

More news of Wal-Mart stealthily attempting to take over the world. This is like day 2 or 3, I think. It's cetainly easier to find stories about Wal-Mart than people lopping off their cocks.

I know that my little temper tantrums won't change anything, but I think it's worth keeping an eye on those fuckers. To assauge my conscience, if nothing else, from the time when I bought things at Wal-Mart, before I looked into the place and realized what a snakepit it is.

Yeah, right. No inspiration today. Going away. I'll post anything fun I find. Have a nice'n.

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