**UPDATE: Given the enormous interest and response from readers, including many Walmart employees, vendors and other associates, I will continue to update this story on a new Page Five as more emails come in. Of course, if we receive an official Walmart response, I'll include that as well.
"Your reporting about Wal-Mart deserves wide distribution. Shareholders should be in open revolt about this train wreck of an organization."
NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- As I have noted in recent days, the response to my recent Wal-Mart Stores (WMT - Get Report) stories has been nothing short of overwhelming.
It all started with 24 Pictures From a Walmart Store That Make Sears Look Classy.
A considerable portion of it comes from readers who work at Walmart. Many of the emails I have received from Walmart employees, independent of one another, corroborate one another. I'll publish a representative sampling in this article.
Of course, I keep identities anonymous if that was what was requested. In other cases, I mention specific stores but do not include details that would out specific individuals.
I have repeatedly asked Walmart for comment and have received no response.
The responses I received from readers indicates a systemic problem at Walmart -- one created by folks at the corporate level, not on the ground, in retail stores. In fact, given the position Walmart appears to have put many of its retail workers in, it's amazing enough of them can keep it together well enough to keep the business running. Without considerable intervention, this can't possibly end well. In fact, I really believe we're watching a failure unfold in front of our eyes. But it's one we're watching spring from the ground up, even though the people on the ground should not be held culpable.
If Walmart doesn't act fast to right the ship, disgruntled employees and dirty stores might become more than a minor irritation. They could further damage the business and, in turn, the company's stock price.
First, consider the following (lightly edited, bold emphasis added) email from a Walmart employee, who will remain completely anonymous:
Regarding your photos of Wal-Mart article, when I read it I just had to laugh. I work at a Wal-Mart and I can tell you with no uncertainty that the single reason for all of the problems in those photos is understaffing. This is not a store by store problem, either; it is a corporate problem. Corporate decides how many hours we are allowed to schedule employees with each week and how many employees we are allowed to hire, and it usually falls short of what we, the employees, feel we need.
For instance, resets used to be done by a 3rd shift team, but they were a small team and could only ever get grocery resets done, so we in the general merchandise area had to do our own during the day. It's irrelevant now, as the reset team has since been eliminated.
I address the excuse that the mess I photo-illustrated at the South LA Walmart exists because of "resets" (wholesale reshaping/restocking of large sections of a store) in Monday's Walmart: Retail's Biggest Embarrassment.
The emailer continues by outlining what happens on the ground as a result of this understaffing:
Every week for the last 5 years, and every DAY for the last 2-3 months, 1st and 2nd shift employees at our store have been responsible for stocking freight from the previous day's trucks because we don't have enough 3rd shift stockers to accomplish this. That means every single day we have pallets on the floor in almost every general merchandise department, with associates -- who are supposed to be focused on other things like helping customers -- stocking shelves. With so much time dedicated to stocking, we have little time left to put away carts of junk or clean up aisles (as seen in your photos). If we try to do our real job duties instead, we get yelled at by management for not dealing with the freight. Most days the backup of freight in the back room is so bad we literally can't move back there, which means if a customer wants something that's back there, they aren't getting it.
The emailer closes with this:
You are right to say executives should be embarrassed of all this.
Another emailer corroborates the original emailer's statement regarding "resets" with the following correspondence: