August 16, 2002

The Wal*Mart Comes to Town

Those in this area who pray to the god of Big Capitalism now can dust off their prayer mats and kneel towards the new Holy City of consumerism. That’s right, the Wal-Mart Super Center has come to town.

It opened this week, perched like a fortress atop the Last Hill Out Of Town. The shiny new automatic doors slide open effortlessly, greeting you with a blast of cold air and a whiff of cK Buy. The shiny new cash registers beep and hum, singing a song that only they and the accountants can understand. The shiny new gas pumps dispense refined tar into the mouths of thirsty SUVs as harried soccer moms stuff in shopping bags and kids, in equal amounts. You can even eat off of the parking lot, it’s so new. All is right with the world.

You always hear about Wal-Mart coming to town and driving everyone else out of business. That can’t happen this time, since we’ve had our old Wal-Mart for 11 years now, and the Mom & Pops have long since shuttered their doors. Actually, the only ones hurt by the opening of this new store were the old store, which necessarily closed, and the esteemed City of Carson. You see, when Wal-Mart went looking for a plot of land on which to build a new store, the only perfect place they could find was about a hundred yards on the wrong side of the county line. The city fathers, who were already so worried about budgets that they’ve been selling off city parks to developers, shit a collective brick when they heard this. They tried to make bargains, but the deal was done. So now Carson City is out a few million in sales tax revenue, and the old Wal-Mart sits like a discarded orange peel, rotting on the horizon, too big for all but the most multi of multi-national retailers to move into.

Who wins? Why, Carson City’s friendly neighbor to the south, Douglas County (my place of residence, incidentally). They already scored a coup by getting the Target and Home Depot a couple of years ago, and now there’s another ginormous retailer perched on the hill outside of town.

The opinion page in our local newspaper summed it up just right:

Wal-Mart is a nation, erecting cities inside our borders and changing the balance of power among local governments.

It’s free enterprise, baby.

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