Friday, May 28, 2004

Big Bad Box

The public cannot seem to reach consensus regarding its position toward Walmart. Chicago's city council thinks it is necessary to serve the overlooked West Side neighborhod. Austin thinks it as the antithesis to keeping Austin wierd. Vermont has so many Walmarts and other big box stores, with more on the way, that the entire state has been listed as one of America's most endangered places by the National Trust for Historic Preservation. Finally, Ingelwood, CA, residents, when tested with a public referendum vote, collectively put their thumbs down, 2-1, on the empire that rules retail, and pursues to rule town square.

We most likely are all closet Walmart shoppers. We don't mind stopping there to pick up the basic items we need when we happen to be out of basics while driving through Bastrop, TX. Why bother hunting in a small town when the mother of all basics calls out from just off the highway?

However, we protectors of the heritage of our city's architecture and neighborhoods could not look ourselves in the eye if we did not resemble some sort of disgust when Mr. Walton's legion begins eying our zip code.

That action motivates us to join the Heritage Society of Austin or Save Our Springs. At least we are motivated to do something.

And, yet, our heroic protests look like hypocrosy when we flock to Target, Central Market or the HEB superstore for our homegoods, organic vegetables or toothpaste. Which box is bigger, the evergrowing Target, HEB or Walmart?

How big does a box have to get before it prompts our disgust? Maybe the National Trust for Historic Preservation deserves our attention. Vermont is not what I would consider a role model state, in terms of its ability to set cultural trends. If we follow Vermont's trend of building big boxes, then we should expect to be boxed in, eventually.

I really do prefer the smaller mercantile. If I want one-stop shopping, I will pursue it online.