I avoid Wal-Mart like the plague. Though I was raised in a small town where it was basically “the only option”. Of course, it WASNT the only option, until it forced our cool local stores out of business.
I just finished reading “The Big-box Swindle” and I am ready to swear off chain stores for good…to bad I cant quite swing that in our budget just yet. But I WILL. All the major ones like Walmart, Target, Home Depot, Lowes, Barnes and Noble, Borders, plus all the others, come in, drain communities of jobs and resources. To sum it up, according to the book, these stores TAKE more jobs than they make (due to forcing independant businesses to close). The jobs they take are higher paying, steady jobs, often with benefits. For every $100 you spend at a local/small business an additional $45 is re-invested into your local economy because that local merchant spends at other local merchants. However, that $100 spent at Your Favorite Big Box, only equates to $9-14 dollars re-invested back into your local community.
The developers of these stores have torn down countless historic buildings, and buried dozens if not hundreds of wetlands and other wildlife areas, just to pave over them, creating major water pollution issues, and our water quality is on the decline for the first time since we stopped factories from mass dumping chemicals into our rivers and lakes.
Then, they abandon their original store, just to build a bigger, newer, fancier one a block, or a mile away. The old store is often empty for YEARS. Sometimes because the retailer is renting it out, to prevent competition, others because no one else wants it. Cities and counties are then forced to buy it, and demolish it because its an eyesore and making property values decline.
Oh yeah, and they get MILLIONS and BILLIONS of dollars of *tax subsidies/breaks* and independent businesses get…ZERO.
So, my new quest is to figure out how I can shop as locally/privately owned as possible, and still afford to survive. There must be balance.