Wal-Mart Responds To Congress About Nazi Tshirts Still On Its Shelves

Walmart responded to a letter from Congress exhorting the retailer to remove tshirts bearing Nazi insignia, apologizing for letting some shirts fall through the cracks, as evidenced in a statement forwarded to us by a hill source.

Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. was not aware of the origins of the image when we stocked the t-shirt in question.

Respect for the individual is a core value of our company and we would never have placed this t-shirt on our shelves had we known the origin and significance of this emblem.

We immediately began pulling all t-shirts from the store shelves 11 weeks ago and have reached 99.5% compliance. Our records show that some 1100 shirts remain in the system, although we have issued a register restriction so the shirts cannot be purchased.

When we heard yesterday that some stores still had some of the shirts in inventory, we reissued the return-to-vendor directive. Our fashion merchandising team will reiterate the issue in their weekly video to stores.

If the records showed that the shirts were still in the system, then why were they allowed to remain on the shelves? Certainly not out of “respect for the individual.” — BEN POPKEN

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  1. kbanas says:

    I never really thought a site could have *too much* Wal-Mart hate, but this is starting to remind me of, like, Slashdot and Microsoft.

    I mean, I won’t shop there either, but seriously, it’s a T-shirt. I don’t know that their run-of-the-mill-gigantic-mega-corporation-incompetence is really worth what feels like a post every day, and I certainly don’t think there’s anything malevolent behind it.

  2. timmus says:

    Well, once the spokesperson trots out the line “core value”, you’d better double-check that the ol’ Babelfish can translate bullshit.

  3. kaycee says:

    kbanas,

    Do you think you would feel that way if you or someone you care about had been tortured, starved, or murdered by the Nazis? Or if the symbol was something else, but representative of a different evil reality? Wal-Mart selling Nazi T-shirts cannot be compared to Microsoft actions, and to say so is….shocking.

    I suspect you haven’t suffered much in your life.

    These T-shirts are not harmless. All over the world, anti-Semitism is increasing, and what happened in Europe in the 1930’s and 1940’s, not to mention other times and places throughout history, could happen again.

    We can’t outlaw every T-shirt or other banner that glorifies something evil, but that doesn’t mean we should ignore it when a company profits from it. People and companies sometimes should be held accountable for their actions.

    If you don’t want to read posts about the Nazi emblem T-shirts in Wal-Marts, skip them. At least don’t complain because someone else has enough empathy, integrity, and/or personal experience to hold Wal-Mart’s “feet to the fire.”

  4. royal72 says:

    kaycee, get off the soap box. it’s only a t-shirt, no really it is. one in bad taste perhaps, but that’s it.

  5. kbanas says:

    Uh… Wow.

    I’m not, by any stretch of the imagination, condoning the sale of these shirts. In fact, neither is Wal-Mart, as, if I understand the situation, the ‘code’ for the shirts has been locked out at the register.

    I was simply making the observation that I don’t think Wal-Mart up-and-ups are part of an anti-Zionist cabal working to subtly spread antisemitism in an attempt to engineer another holocaust.

    Instead, I was implying that for a company that has 1.8 million employees and who-knows-how-many-stores, this is probably just an incidence of translating the will of management into the action of someone making minimum wage, and in any situation like that, there’s bound to be a disconnect that leads to a lack of total compliance. And really, once that’s been established, do we really need to be pounded over the head about it?

    So, to summarize, yes, the shirts are awful and they should be gone, but I don’t think the fact that they can still be found in a few locations is a sign of any kind of evil intent.

    If that makes me an awful person without empathy or integrity, well, um, there you have it.

  6. schvitzatura says:

    If Consumerist could get a hold of the Wal-Mart weekly video, that would be a coup…perhaps you could ask Mr. H. Lee Scott for one.

    Do you have a a “Philip” in Bentonville?

  7. cgmaetc says:

    The continued presence of these shirts on Wal-Marts shelves smacks more for corporate incompetence than brazen Anti-Semitism. Obviously, Wal-Mart is a crappy company with even crappier checks-and-balances. How hard is it to get a guy to walk over the the shelf and remove the shirts ?

  8. SkimLatte says:

    kbanas the slashdot comparison was right on the mark, that’s why I tend to avoid reading any posts that have the word “walmart” in the title. But hey, gawker media is a commercial entity as well, they have to bring up those page views…..

  9. AcilletaM says:

    It’s not about the t-shirt really anymore. It’s about a company failing to uphold a pledge.

  10. shoegazer says:

    Um, the way I’ve read this through all of Consumerist’s posts, is that the Nazi issue is secondary; that when Walmart claimed it had taken ACTION and didn’t, it became a question of companies paying lip service to complaints and sitting on their hands. How hard can it be to instruct all store managers to recall a product / remove it from shelves?

    Yes it’s just a shirt, and yet THEY CAN’T LIVE UP TO THEIR WORD. That’s what’s so annoying. Do you really think they care about Nazis, or your @experiences and sensibilities as a consumer”? Face it, with this sort of publicity some turd’s gonna buy them in bulk from Sam’s Club and sell them at his boutique. You heard it here first. Speaking of which, any one see these at Sam’s?

  11. SugarCookie says:

    kaycee says,

    “If you don’t want to read posts about the Nazi emblem T-shirts in Wal-Marts, skip them. At least don’t complain because someone else has enough empathy, integrity, and/or personal experience to hold Wal-Mart’s “feet to the fire.””

    if kbanas shouldn’t read posts about wal-mart, you ought to follow your own advice. don’t buy one of the t-shirts. and don’t complain because someone else has the realistic understanding of how retailers execute corporate directives to hold someone’s accusations under scrutiny.

  12. libdevil says:

    There are thousands of Walmarts. 1100 shirts still in the system is a blip. Less than one shirt per store can’t currently be accounted for. That’s not failing to live up to a pledge, that’s failing to be able to find a handful of inventory items (many of which have probably been stolen by employees for later resale at grossly inflated prices because of the publicity). If you asked Walmart to find every Sharpie marker in their entire system, they’d have a similar failure rate. Some are lost, some are stolen, some are on the wrong shelves and won’t be found for a week. It’s not a big deal at this point – they’ve pulled the shirts.

  13. Daytonna says:

    The shirts were a hrmm… “not good” incident. Not particularly bad as in evil intentions, or showing support for Nazi’s. Just reflective of a massive distribution system with literaly hundreds of thousands of shirts to find and pull from shelves.

    I think the drastic measures Walmart has taken to keep employees underpaid, overworked, and barely surviving, are much more important reasons to hate the company. ‘Nuff with the Nazi T-shirt stuff, I hearby declair it a dead horse. :) Not that anyone has to listen to me.

  14. pronell says:

    Inhale, exhale. Then type.

    The site isn’t being anti-Walmart. It’s reporting on a continuing story. It’s reporting the developments of that story. It’s doing what it’s supposed to do.

    Now, if Ben were going cross country, to each and every Walmart, filming a documentary about the readily available nazi propganda available at mass chain stores.. that would be obsessed.

    People kept finding the shirts and kept sending in the pictures.. and I think it’s hilarious. This is what happens when you chase away good employees with horrendous policies; You end up with people who are not invested enough in their jobs to know where the inventory is and remove it when needed.

    Was the whole thing a waste of time for a congressman to get involved in? You bet, which is _precisely_ why it’s shameful it’s taken Walmart this long to actually deal with the problem.

    It doesn’t even begin to be an issue of free speech, it’s a matter of the largest retailer in the country being unable to implement its own policies.

    I’d hope that if it were a dangerous product, they’d be able to respond more quickly. Maybe Consumerist submitters should start scanning stores for small sharp toys with lead-based paints!