KAN YE BELIEVE IT?

By: Stuart White 23-07-2020

Categories:HRMC Articles written by Managing Director, Stuart White,

You will be forgiven for thinking the world has gone mad. From adults fighting each other for toilet paper when there is no shortage of supply, international travel practically ground to a halt, queuing for petrol overnight...hardly what we recognise as our world. And, fitting in with all things mad, that this year Kanye West would run for president of the United States of America. Why not, he can afford it. If you consider that the combined spend of Hilary and Donald in the last presidential campaign was in excess of $1,3 billion and that the 42-year-old rapper with his many assets — including Yeezy, his music label and real estate — and his debt, has an estimated worth $1.3 billion, according to Forbes, he has enough for the campaign – but just!. Perhaps that explains why Kanye West has now decided to shop for his children’s clothes at the discount store Walmart. 

You know the name Walmart, but you may not know the backstory and it’s one worth telling.  

Walmart was the brainchild of founder Sam Walton, one of the most successful businessmen of the twentieth century and named as the richest man in the United States by Forbes magazine in 1985.  Born in Oklahoma, USA, 1918, the year that WW1 ended, Walton attended the University of Missouri, working  as a lifeguard, waiter, and newspaper delivery driver to pay his tuition fees and graduated  in 1940 with a degree in economics. Following graduation, he aspired to attend the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania, but finding he couldn't afford it he instead took a job as a manager trainee at J.C. Penney in Des Moines, Iowa, where he worked for 18 months before serving in the Army during World War II.

In 1945, after the war, Walton opened his first store, a Ben Franklin franchise, in Newport, Arkansas.  Ben Franklin specialised in out-of-town outlets selling arts, crafts and décor supplies and over the next 20 years Walton built up a chain of 15 of the franchised stores. While still operating these outlets, he approached Herbert Gibson, founder of an already-successful discount chain in the American south, to discuss the possibility of a partnership. Rebuffed for having too little capital, Walton decided to go it alone from zero, with his new store brand, Walmart.

By 1991, Walmart surpassed the iconic Sears, Roebuck & Company to become the country’s largest retailer, Sears falling to third place after Walmart and Kmart. As of the end of 2018, Walmart is still was one of the largest companies in the world, with a market capitalization of more than $275.8 billion.

If you who have not visited the United States or been in a Walmart store, imagine a store with a floor space  the size of a football field, selling everything from clothing and electronics to hunting equipment, DVDs, cosmetics, homeware, toys and much more besides, all at extremely competitive prices. Their Super centres also carry a complete supermarket  and liquor range,  Known affectionately as Wallyworld, it’s no wonder it’s the go-to chain for cash-strapped families and indeed anyone looking to save a few bucks on their household expenses.  

So imagine my surprise, then when I read this headline in the online Daily Mail this morning.

Kanye loads up on children's clothes from Walmart and visits the bank with friend Damon Dash who denies the rapper is 'crazy' and slams Kim after she blamed his erratic behaviour on 'bi-polar disorder' 

The header was accompanied by some pap shots of the rapper in his local Walmart outlet and the article went on to explain

‘Sporting newly-dyed red hair, Kanye and his friends, and two security guards, headed to the chain store in Cody, Wyoming, Wednesday, which is near his ranch where the star is said to be holed up away from wife Kim.  Kanye and Dash were pictured browsing clothes in a Walmart store before snapping up a range of kids' clothes and bags, and loading up on items from aisles promoting bargain goods for $3.77. It is a marked departure for Kanye, whose Yeezy range sells sneakers for more than $11,000 and whose family are typically in head to toe designer. ‘

Reportedly having more money than God, this may the clearest sign ever that Kanye West has lost touch with his own reality, forcing his kids to slum it in mass-market rags.  Great advert for Walmart, though – Sam is probably tuning in his grave, the latter to rub his hands with glee! As President of the US, West will be able to preach the need to cut back when times are tough, budget accordingly and make sacrifices and can back it all up with his recent Walmart experience! I am not sure however that it will be enough for people to feel that they are in good economic hands as he has offered very little economic strategies although he did propose at his rally a few days ago that "everybody that has a baby gets a million dollars." I am not sure if that constitutes an economic strategy, madness or if that that can even fly, unlike West who is looking like being away with the fairies and more Monty Python’s Flying Circus than President!