Sunday, July 9, 2017

when Walmart left town

Economic, social, nutritional and other sorrows abound in the kind of coal country a campaigning Donald Trump once gave hope to. Walmart left town and the effect seems almost more pervasive and disastrous than the downside potential of a big-box opening 10 years ago.
When Walmart left town, it didn’t linger over the goodbyes. It slashed the prices on all its products, stripped the shelves bare, and vanished, leaving behind only the ghostly shadow of its famous brand name and gold star logo on the front wall of a deserted shell.

The departure was so quick that telltale signs remain of the getaway, like smoldering ashes in the fireplaces of an evacuated town. Notices still taped to the glass entranceway record with tombstone-like precision the exact moment that the supercenter was shuttered: “Store closed at 7 pm, Thursday 28 January 2016.”
This is a story that feels as pervasive and threatening as the smog in Beijing. It is to weep for.


  1. And long gone are the small mom 'n pop shops that might have continued to serve a community in distress. The big boxes plunder and move on leaving devastation in their wake.

  2. I found the long article a bit naive, but may be I don't understand enough about business, economics and politics.

    Several years back I probably would have responded the way the Guardian article's author did, as did as the first few commenters, and olcharlie. "Big Box stores behave like a locust swarm: they devour a local economy then move on." In fact for many years I refused to shop from Walmart's even online.

    But, is this true? Is Walmart a prime example of Vulture Capitalism! The locals (and folks from further away) benefited from Walmart's low prices. Low paying jobs were better than no jobs. This doesn't seem like insectoide or Vulture-like behavior. It seems outright mutually beneficial.

    Now we don't get any reporting representing Walmart's take. Was the company betting on an economic recovery that never came? Is it Walmart's fault somehow that the recovery never came? Implicit in the article is that Walmart is at fault, but nowhere does it say how it's at fault.

    Did politics prevent the local community from doing all it could to jump start the economy post-coal? Was Walmart s controlling interest in local politics?

    It seems to me that even a Megastore chain like Walmart cannot possible shoulder local economies particularly ones that lost their primary reason for existence; in this case coal mining. But perhaps it could have helped revive the local economy. If so can we say how. I don't know.

    How should the community itself have responded? Why didn't people just move away? Why didn't state or federal government help with moving or retraining? Did it / Does it make sense to expect an economic renaissance?

    The issue probably has something to do with America's socially irresponsible form of unchecked capitalism which looks to avoid or remove taxes on corporations, and the uber wealthy, and to avoid or remove govern sponsored programs for the rest of the country, i. e. legalized, codified non-generosity.