MISSOULA, MT: The October 6 cover of BusinessWeek posed a startling question: "Is Wal-Mart too Powerful?" The subhead followed that question with even more stark sentiments: "Low prices are great. But Wal-Mart's dominance creates problems - for suppliers, workers, communities, and even American culture."
American culture? While nobody can dispute that Wal-Mart can offer consumers the cheapest prices on everything from DVD players to jeans to Frisbees to guns all in one location, can it really impact American culture?
Enter Ford Lund and Rae Bauer. The two met while working side-by-side in the gardening department of their local Wal-Mart. So when their relationship budded into something beyond the professional and the couple decided it was time to exchange marital vows, they figured the most fitting wedding chapel would be their workplace.
Taking place on the lawn in front of the store where the bride, 48, and groom, 74, daily donned their blue aprons, the nuptials could not have been better PR for the corporate giant. Using perfect product placement, the couple not only bought their cake and rings at the store, but they had their wedding photos taken at Wal-Mart's portrait studio and had all of the store's employees present for the big moment. Known for superb employee culture and communication, Wal-Mart allowed those on duty to take a special break to attend the ceremony.
However, there didn't seem to be any corporate forces at work in the planning of the Bauer-Lund wedding. In the quotes that were featured in the Associated Press' story, the groom simply stated, "Wal-Mart is our family."
If not just for the publicity generated, Lund and Bauer proved that they deserve PR Play of the Week for demonstrating to the rest of America that in some communities Wal-Mart is not just a place to do your shopping - it's a way of life.