It's difficult enough to succeed at running a small business, but now some retailers say Walmart is depleting the supply of elderly, cantankerous employees.
Heigorou "Hank" Murakami, who has owned a small hardware store for 27 years, said he recently lost a longtime employee to Walmart.
"We called Buzz 'Mr. Sprinkler,'" he said, referring to 69-year-old Buzz Fesserman. "Not because of frequent urination problems, which he did have, but because he knew everything about home sprinkler systems. He yelled at customers and passed gas when he coughed, and the customers just loved him. Now he's gone...working for Walmart."
Murakami's isn't the only local store to lose a beloved older worker to the giant retailer. At Tinkle's Scrapbook Shoppe down the street, owner Tinkle Bettencourt tearfully spoke of a former employee, 82-year-old Carmelita Goodlespech.
"She always smelled like Icy Hot," Bettencourt said, wiping her eyes. "She worked here for years, and then one day she said she was going to work for Walmart and she was gone. Now every time I smell Icy Hot I burst into tears."
Asked to comment on this story, 87-year-old Wallis Plenn, a greeter at the Walmart Superstore, shouted, "Go shit in your hat. And get a haircut, you goddamned hippie."