Friday, January 26, 2007

Or, What Cheap Catfood REALLY Costs Us

Stacy Mitchell, a senior researcher with the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, spoke in Asheville yesterday about the downside of Wal-Mart superstores and their ilk. From the Asheville Citizen-Times coverage:
Wal-Mart Stores Inc. alone takes in one out of every $10 Americans spend on retail goods, she said. The stores' building spree has doubled the amount of retail space in the United States since 1990, Mitchell said. The expansion reduces the cohesiveness of communities, she said, by reducing the role of traditional downtowns where residents are likely to run into acquaintances.

The replacements, she said after flashing a slide of a huge Wal-Mart parking lot on the screen, are places where "people get out of their cars and they make a beeline for the front door because who wants to hang out here."

The expansion frequently comes at the expense of local business that often pay middle class wages and spend more of their money close to home, boosting local economies, Mitchell said. One study found that $68 of every $100 spent in a locally owned store stays in the community while only $43 of that spent in a chain store does, she said.

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