"Peep into the glass doors of the front of the store and you can start to appreciate the brutal simplicity of the Walmart concept. There is nothing inside its windowless walls, just 103,000sq ft of air. A Walmart supercenter is no more, no less than the name implies: a big box, an empty stage on which to wave a magic wand and summon up a million retail dreams."
Once again, we are treated to what I call, "Flint, Michigan Syndrome". There are jobs to be had all over America today, but you have to leave depressed Appalachian coal mining towns to find them. Most of the Walmart employees were offered jobs in other stores, but one person interviewed didn't want to "drive an hour one way to commute" to another store or actually move there. One person was "forced" to move over 300 miles to Myrtle Beach to work at Walmart. Forced? Leaving depressed mining towns for a resort area is a smart move not a personal tragedy.
"When Tesco left town, it didn’t linger over the goodbyes. It slashed the prices on all its products, stripped the shelves bare, and vanished, leaving behind only the ghostly shadow of its famous brand name and logo on the front wall of a deserted shell.
The departure was so quick that telltale signs remain of the getaway, like smoldering ashes in the fireplaces of an evacuated town. [wtf??] Notices still taped to the glass entranceway record with tombstone-like precision the exact moment that the Tesco was shuttered: “Store closed at 7pm, Thursday 28 January 2016.”
Ten years. That’s all the time it took for the store to rise up in a clearing of the lush forest of Welsh coal country and then disappear again, as though it had never been there."
“There’s a lot of people getting sick since the store closed because they’re not getting the right diet. It’s sad to me, but bad food is cheap.”
Nicole Banks is the first person in her family to go to college. With a [useless] degree in sociology, how would she sum up the impact of Walmart leaving?
She pauses to think for a while, and when she replies, she does so with unexpected vehemence. “It’s ridiculous,” she says. “People round here can’t get healthcare, they can’t get jobs and now the good food has gone. We are not getting our basic needs met. People are dying young.”
Banks is not exaggerating. Of the 3,142 counties in the US, McDowell County comes in at No 3,142 in terms of life expectancy. For men, that’s 64 years, a statistic that, as Bernie Sanders likes to point out, is the same for men in Namibia.
Clearly, such endemic health problems cannot be laid exclusively at the door of Walmart. But for Sabrina Shrader, a community organizer who was born and bred [sic - this is West Virginia] in the area, it provides the context for understanding the effect of the corporation’s decision, and that of its controlling family, to pack its bags and quit.
“The Walton family are billionaires,” she said (also no exaggeration – their collective worth is put at about $150bn). “They developed a system that just made us worse off, and then they took even that away from us.”
It is just sad that people think this way - feeling sorry for themselves and positing themselves as "victims", while living in the wealthiest country in the world, with a booming economy, low unemployment, low interest, and low inflation.
If you aren't happy with this, nothing in this world will ever, ever make you happy.