Walmart to media: lose the squiggly


Wal-Mart Stores Inc. wants its actual, physical stores to be known as Walmart. The change, it seems was implemented a year ago but has gone pretty much ignored by the media, present company included. So, yesterday Wal-Mart, the company, issued a friendly reminder at the end of an earnings statement.

Here's how it's supposed to go: References to Wal-Mart the global company retain the hyphen while mentions of Walmart stores do not. It's such a small thing but part of the company's campaign to modernize the name and image with a new logo and remodeled stores. Wal-Mart is smartly using the bad economy to attract new customers and implement the changes needed to retain them when things get better.

Shoppers turn to stores like Walmart and the dollar store chains when money is tight. But a return to financial good health usually means a return to shopping at higher priced stores, especially for things like housewares, apparel and other extraneous items. By carving out a more, um, sophisticated image, bringing in better merchandise, cleaning up and decluttering stores, Wal-Mart hopes to keep these new customers even when their paychecks get fatter.

News media are very much creatures of habit. Adapting to new things like how to spell a corporate name is much more difficult than it should be. It's the rare copy editor who lets HP go by without a ridiculous amount of back and forth about how it should be spelled out -- Hewlett Packard -- never mind the actual company's preference of HP.

But we'll adapt, I suppose. I just wonder what's going to happen to the infamous Wal-Mart cheer. The chant, which starts with "Give me a W," has a fun little move in the middle. When they get to the hyphen there's a "Give me a squiggly!" and everyone does a variation of the twist, lowering down to the ground and back again. It's a shame to see that move retired.