Saturday, March 15, 2008

Hummos-spotting: Dearborn Wal-Mart

This AP story, about the Wal-Mart supercenter that opened last week in Dearborn, appeared today in my local paper (the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette). Maybe you saw it too. What is notable about this store, serving the largest Arab-American community in the US, is that Aisle 3 features lots of Arabic food items, including hummos and baba ghanouj.

And: "The Dearborn store also sells Arabic music [Haifa Wehbe, I hope: hawgblawg] 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."

But will it have a negative impact on the neighborhood stores that have traditionally supplied mamoul and fava beans and Turkish coffee to Dearborn's Arab community? According to 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," "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..."

Do you believe her?

Does corporate "recognition" of Arab-American identity constitute a progressive political move? What would Naomi Klein (No Logo) say? Discuss.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thank you very much for posting my badge photo on your column.