Wal-Mart came, saw & conquered the economies of small towns across America, but now it’s packing up & leaving. Wal-Mart made international headlines when it announced that it would be shutting down over 100 of their small express stores to free up resources to focus on their larger stores. This wreaked havoc on the towns left behind by these closed stores. Most of the stores are in small towns whose economy has been turned upside down by the introduction of this industrial giant. Since Wal-Mart spent the last few decades taking over the country with their extremely low prices, they have successfully pushed out small businesses from small communities. Now that they are abandoning these towns, people are quickly realizing what a huge impact that Wal-Mart had on their community. In many towns all of the smaller stores had to shut down since they couldn’t compete with Wal-Mart’s unbelievably low prices. Now that Wal-Mart is packing up & moving back into the big cities, small towns are being left without the basic services that seduced them into allowing this mega company into their town.
“I was devastated when I found out. We had a pharmacy and a perfectly satisfactory grocery store. Maybe Wal-Mart sold apples for a nickel less,” said Barb Venturi, mayor of Oriental, a small town of 900 that was hit hard by Walmart’s decision to close. “If you take into account what no longer having a grocery store does to property values here, it is a significant impact for us.”
The removal of Wal-Mart is devastating small communities who have become completely dependent on the commercial giant. When Wal-Mart first hit these small towns, many people feared that this would be the end of mom & pop shops. Their fears were quickly validated by the fact that Wal-Mart was able to give them a price on products that no local competitor could match. When one store made a sale, Wal-Mart also created a sale that put the local business to shame. Unable to compete with such outrageous prices, most small businesses ended up shutting down. This made Wal-Mart become the only supermarket & pharmacy in many towns, making people completely addicted to them. Now that Wal-Mart is moving out people are realizing how much they rely on them. The problem is compounded by the fact that many of these communities have a booming elderly population, which makes it even harder for them to commute to other towns just to buy groceries. Combine this with the fact that all the existing small businesses went under trying to compete with Wal-Mart & you have a recipe for disaster.
Wal-Mart’s decision to close their smaller stores is shedding light on our dependence to companies that don’t care about the communities they dominates. Now that all the earlier companies in these towns have gone bankrupt, Wal-Mart has no problem abandoning these communities to chase larger profits. Our addiction to cheap goods has blinded us to the fact that large corporations have no loyalty to the people they serve. Their loyalty is saved for profit only, & while that in itself isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it should be balanced out with a genuine interest in the well being of the client. For the small communities recovering from this dependence it will be a long road to recovery. Hopefully by the time they fully recover this message won’t already be forgotten.