Near us, in a tired, industrial town that has seen better days, the Darth Vader of box stores moved in. My aunt and uncle, who have a motor home, were enthusiastic, but I was suspicious, having heard about employee lock-ins and other atrocious labor practices, and also how these stores kill local economies.
But something strange happened at the one near us. It set up shop in a vast parking lot that had belonged to some industry (manufacturer? refiner? who knows?) and was now a mere vacant space. And now, about five years later, there are 76 stores where once were none. And the few things that were still there--a church, a locally owned restaurant, a hamburger stand--are doing gangbusters business and seeing far more folks coming through than before.
So we joke and call this the Reverse W@l-M@rt, since most of them seem to crush local economies, and this store actually built one.
Now comes this article from Atlantic, about the efforts of the national chain to buy local. (By way of my food guru, Mark Bittman, here, whom I am now thinking was on the ship in the Antarctic where my cousin was married but that is an entirely different story.) And I am thinking it's time to check my preconceptions once again, and make the short-ish drive down there to see what they have in my neck of the woods. Where you are, have you ever shopped for organics at W@l-M@rt? I'm thinking it's not really a bastion of organics around here. But maybe I'm selling the area short. This is a case where I would love to be wrong.