NWA editorial: Goodbye, or good-bye?

Retailer has had enough of the lowly hyphen

Posted: February 9, 2018 at 1 a.m.

Dear hyphen,

We heard the upsetting news and wanted to dash off a quick letter of consolation now that you're looking for work.

What’s the point?

Today we say farewell to a unifying character in the history of a certain Bentonville company.

It was shocking, in a way, when the folks up at the world's largest retailer pulled the plug. You had been with the company from the very beginning. We know some old-timers who said nothing would ever come between the family name and the stores their daddy dreamed of and turned into a reality, probably beyond even his wildest imagination. But from Day One, you were there right between the Wal and the Mart.

Wal-Mart.

You never got the credit you were due. Nobody ever said Wal hyphen Mart. When Mr. Sam started the company, you became his silent partner, one the whole company could count on. You never called in sick. You were a constant presence, at least in the corporate name if not in the store signage. And yet now, in 2018, the powers that be made the tough decision: The company is letting the hyphen go. Now, it's Walmart.

It's like "The Andy Griffith Show" without Barney.

The Eagles without Glenn Frey or The Beatles without Lennon.

The presidency without the "presidential."

"Retail is changing rapidly and we're transforming to meet the needs of our customers," a spokesman said.

We know that's true, but we always believed you, hyphen, were an indispensable part of the company. Oh, sure, a few might have described you as a divider, but that's just the kind of pessimism the company doesn't need. From our perspective, you've always been a uniter.

Still, times change, and for some, you just weren't sexy enough for modern times. They thought you were lacking a certain ... well, spark.

It's not fair, but what ever is in the corporate world. You're not the only one to get a pink slip up in Bentonville.

The shock of your departure was punctuated by the firing of your longtime friend "stores." No longer will Bentonville be home to Wal-Mart Stores Inc. They say Walmart Inc. is leaner and clears the way for customers, vendors and others to think of the company as more than just bricks and mortar. Online is the wave of the future, they say, and "stores" just didn't fit the company's expectations. You, hyphen, might have just been collateral damage.

We think back over all these years and know how much you'll be missed. You've always been a character, especially at all those company meetings where everyone did the cheer. Compounding the situation, it's hard to believe CEO Doug McMillon told all your colleagues they could keep the "squiggly" in the company cheer. How can there be a squiggly without you, hyphen?

The work you do is vital. We in the newspaper business know there's a big difference between a small business owner and a small-business owner, or between a great-grandfather and a great grandfather. If you're a Major League Baseball player, you really want to know if you're going to re-sign or resign.

Unlike Walmart, we can't quit you, hyphen.

Don't be discouraged. We're convinced you'll find work again in a matter of days, plus or minus.

Well, it's time to say goodbye, but we'll see you again, friend.

There's always Chick-fil-A.

Commentary on 02/09/2018