Frankly, I love Wally World with its row upon row of bargains as far as the eye can see. But I also love a nice downtown with old buildings and intricate facades.
The two may not be mutually exclusive, according to a must-read piece on Tech Central Station (“Understanding the Wal-Mart Effect”). Writer Max Borders recounts that Boone, North Carolina, a quaint town named for Daniel, put up a big fight to keep Wally World out:
“As it often does, Wal-Mart won. And since then, Boone has experienced the Wal-Mart effect. First, some Mom-n-Pop shops in Boone may have gone out of business due to the intense competition. But something interesting has happened: many new businesses have sprung up and they’re cooler, more interesting, and more highly specialized than most of the old ones were. Mom-n-Pop have decided to move into more boutique-style businesses — and not even Wal-Mart can compete with that.
“For example, Hands Gallery — formed c. 1998 — is an interesting fixture for visitors to the downtown King Street area, offering indigenous art and sculpture for more refined tastes. While taking in the spring verdancy or autumn foliage of the high country, visitors can take jaunts through nearby Blowing Rock and Banner Elk for the utterly zoned and picturesque experience (and, of course, denizens of these planned towns take advantage of Boone’s big boxes along highway 321).
“But big boxes and all, downtown Boone offers its own home-grown order, complete with quirky restaurants and shops one might have found on the corner of Haight and Ashbury. An eclectic mix of businesses line the main thoroughfare. Earth Fare, an organic foods store, has come to King Street. Older fixtures such as the Appalachian Antique Mall and Mast General Store (retail) have enjoyed continued success and remain favorite establishments for shoppers. You’ll even find ’Josh,’ a vagrant everyone in Boone knows, selling poetry and beaded jewelry to passers by.”