Saturday, November 12, 2005

Wal-Mart: Killing a small town near you

Local sustainable economies are the best way to ensure healthy communities, whether you live in Maine, Florida, Missouri, or California. Keeping commerce close to the people keeps it in the hands of local owners, often family-run, and most importantly, accountable to the members of that community.

It is the advent of box store retail, particularly the Wal-Mart phenomenon, that has crippled local economies and more than anything else, killed the sense of community across our nation. When people decry the loss of familiarity, closeness and civic spirit in our towns and cities, forsaking the local business down on Main Street to shop at Wal-Mart is a primary cause of that loss.

The most frequent excuse given by the uninformed and ignorant for shopping at Wal-Mart is that merchandise is cheaper. It is for those people that Wal-Mart: The High Cost of Low Price is must see filmmaking. This feature length documentary once and for all puts to bed the notion that Wal-Mart’s low prices are without consequences for each and every one of us who value life before the mega store. This retail giant has enacted a civic jihad against small towns across the country and this documentary clearly lays out the damage that has been done by low prices, all the time.

With a clear presentation of the facts, documenting the damage inflicted, this film clearly indicts the Walton clan for its predatory retailing and destruction of an American way of life—American Main Streets and local business districts. For instance, in the film, mention is made that when Wal-Mart opens a store in Maine, on average, $7.8 million dollars are taken from small and family-run businesses during the first year of operation.

Next week (November 13-19), 400 organizations have come together to offer public showings of Wal-Mart: The High Cost of Low Price. In Maine, there are several showings taking place at the following locations:

November 15, 7pm-Portland/USM (Luther Bonney Auditorium)
November 18 and 19, 7pm-Brunswick/Bowdoin College (Sills Hall)
November 20, 7pm-Damariscotta/Skidompha Library (Porter Auditorium)

I hope as many people as possible see this important film. After seeing it, if you still think it’s in your best interest to shop Wal-Mart, then you’ll only have yourself to blame for killing our local communities.


Anonymous said...

"The most frequent excuse given by the uninformed and ignorant for shopping at Wal-Mart is that merchandise is cheaper."

Actually, if you do your comparison shopping, this isn't always the case. I've done it with my local Wal-Mart store and then compared it with Target, the new Kohls, and my local hardware store.

If Americans weren't addicted to their need for instant gratification, we could find a way out of this Wal-Mart maze of big box retailing.


weasel said...

I have always refered to the sometime unavoidable trip to Walmart* as going to "the Communist era Polish department store"- shoddy merchandise, dirty linoleum, harrassed looking workers, and a sullen and bewildered clientele. Did we really 'win' the Cold War in order to import that model?

(*Instances of unavoidable trips: blown bulb on a Sunday, CD-Rs any day after 5 or 6pm if working late, when flourecent tube burns out and local, 'independent' hardware store only carries one brand as dictated by their franchise bosses, etc. I'm all for supporting local businesses and stores but they have to wake up and support me a little too. Its not the 50s anymore- I can't do all my shopping between 9-5, Mon-Sat.)

weasel said...

And I suppose that would be described as instant gratification, as opposed to not wanting to sit in the dark....

Jim said...

I think you make a good point; some local businesses don't seem all that worthy of saving or of being cast in a martyr's robe. However, if you get a chance to catch the film (I'm sure they'll run it in Belfast at some point, given the commie socialists that inhabit that burg), families like the Hunters and Red Esry really did their best to diversify and treat their people with the respect they deserved--only to get clobbered by the big yellow steamroller!

I know last winter, Mary was in Dover-Foxcroft and needed to stop at Reny's and was shocked to see they closed at 5pm. She expressed a similar sentiment that not everyone works M-F, 9-5 any longer.