08 July 2008

A Lowest Price July 4th

While spending time in my boyfriend's hometown of Pasadena during the long weekend, I had the chance to visit the scariest. Walmart. ever.

After my hometown's Walmart "upgraded" to Super (ie added a grocery store), I didn't think a WalMart could get bigger and scarier. Until I visited SuperMegaHugeScary Walmart. I guess it's cheaper to build your megastore like a warehouse, keeping prices even cheaper (yeah!), but I would never say that it keeps you happy. I stood there, gawking at the rows and rows and rows of merchandise that blended into the next rows and rows of merchandise. It was all the same. And it scared me.

Of course, this was a brand-spankin' new Walmart, so (duh) it was going to be bigger. When you build it new, you have to build bigger right?

(Answer: Wrong.)

Living in a historic 18th-19th century town like Chestertown is nice. There are strict building regulations on how big a new property can be: meaning nothing is going to get bigger than the pretty victorian houses downtown, and even the neighborhoods don't seem threatening.

But, driving across the bridge into Queen Anne's County, I see dozens upon dozens of scary megahouses, all over 5,000 sq. ft. easily, with 20 windows and three stories. I angrily stare at them and then twitch when I see another For Sale sign stuck into 96 acres of farmland. I've watched acres and acres of farmland and field disappear into housing developments in Pennsylvania, and I don't want to see it happen on the Eastern Shore (anymore than it already has).

But what does this have to do with WalMart? In my mind, everything.

The growth of suburban sprawl on the Eastern Shore means more businesses, like grocery and convenience stores, popping up in strip malls. Chestertown already has two grocery stores, several convenience stores and gas stations, and many takeout and fast food restaurants. It's a pretty ample amount for a fairly small town.

But, as more and more suburbs appear in nearby Galena and QA County, people and developers want - you guessed it - a WalMart. You don't need those two grocery stores and CVS's when you have a WalMart, especially since that WalMart will be open 24/7 and offer lower prices.

Luckily, many citizens of Chestertown and surrounding towns have spoken very clearly about their feelings on a WalMart. They don't want one. But, then again, a lot of people still do. Should we give in to lower prices? Is it really cheaper in the long run to establish a Wal-Mart in Kent County?

No thank you, SuperMegaHugeScary WalMart. No thank you.

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