Wal-Mart isn’t just a store, or a huge company, or a phenomenon anymore. Wal-Mart shapes where we shop, the products we buy, and the prices we pay — even for those of us who never shop there. It reaches deep inside the operations of the companies that supply it and changes not only what they sell, but also changes how those products are packaged and presented, what the lives of the factory workers who make the products are like — it even sometimes changes the countries where those factories are located. Wal-Mart reaches around the globe, shaping the work and the lives of people who make toys in China, or raise salmon in Chile, or sew shirts in Bangladesh, even though they may never visit a Wal-Mart store in their lives. Wal-Mart has even changed the way we think about ourselves — as shoppers, as consumers. Wal-Mart has changed our sense of quality, it has changed our sense of what a good deal is. Wal-Mart’s low prices routinely reset our expectations about what all kinds of things should cost — from clothing to furniture to fresh fish. Wal-Mart has changed the lens through which we see the world. The Wal-Mart effect touches the lives of literally every American every day. Wal-Mart reshapes the economic life of the towns and cities where it opens stores; it also reshapes the economic life of the United States — a single company that steadily, silently, purposefully moves the largest economy in history. Wal-Mart has become the most powerful, most influential company in the world. Who knew shopping would turn out to be so important?