Older than I'd like to be,younger than I'd like to be. Still raging against mass culture/conformity .. to be continued

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Walmart and The Death of Small Town America

Years ago while travelling through the States we were struck by the amount of small-towns with central business districts which were almost dead with shuttered/boarded up storefronts and shattered broken glass reflecting the emptiness surrounding them.

It was an eerie feeling travelling through some of these towns which appeared not to be ghost towns so much as deserted, abandoned, derelict places that nobody cared about anymore.

It struck me at the time that nearly all these small towns contained a grey behemoth located on the edge of town. A monolithic structure with no architectural redeeming qualities that I could ascertain surrounded by a massive parking lot. Small-town America had migrated to Walmart on the outskirts of town.

Now much has been written about urbanisation and the migration to big cities and my first thought was that indeed with the advent of the Interstates, consumers/shoppers had decided to drive the hour or so to the nearest big city to purchase hard and soft goods.

Certainly Walmart is not the only reason for the decline of small-town America but what was most interesting was that citizens hadn't abandoned their downtowns for the next big city but rather the Walmart on the outskirts of town i.e. there was still money in town but it was all going to Walmart.

So I was fascinated to find this quote from the Director of Walmart:The Movie where he says "One particular section that quickly came alive utilized footage of deserted towns and main streets all across America, many that had been affected by Wal-Mart and other big box stores moving in and causing destruction."

So all these years later a Documentary movie has been made which looks at Walmart and at least in one section addresses that strange sinking feeling we had all those years ago.

For further reading another fascinating book is Barbara Ehrenreich's Nickel and Dimed (On Not) Getting By In America


Post a Comment

<< Home