Saturday, September 16, 2006

Thank You Sir, May I Have Another?

As reported on Thursday night, Wal-Mart is ready to build one of its megastores in the middle of downtown Louisa, located about 45 minutes east of Charlottesville off I-64.

I'm not going to wade into the Walmart-Evil-Walmart-Good sort of nuclear argument, mostly because by this point in history, virtually everything original that can be said about the subject has been. But I will say this: Mayor Jim Artz is either the most brazen or the most incompetent politician on the planet. Or both.

Here's his direct, unedited quote, courtesy of WCAV-TV (otherwise known as "The Other CBS Station on Cable. You Know, The One You Don't Watch"):

“If you can't stand the heat, get out of the kitchen.”

This after he directly compares Wal-Mart to Santa Claus (what's next? Is Target the Easter Bunny? Or maybe K-Mart is the Tooth Fairy...). This guy has about as much tact as Terrell Owens on MDMA.

Look, rightly or wrongly, Wal-Mart has incredible economic power, the kind that will crush anything in its way out of existence. This is what a capitalist, free-market economy allows, and even encourages. We know this. But Good God, do you really have to encourage these people? As Mayor, don't you have a responsibility to at least have some moderating influence over the situation? Don't you realize that the people you're telling to take a hike are part of the local business community that you're supposed to work for? Instead of trying to ease Wal-Mart into the community and make everybody happy, Mayor McCheese over here comes in with guns a-blazin' and napalm flying.

Why not say what you really mean, Jim? "Yeah, uh, we don't actually give a crap about having a real downtown or businesses or nothin'. Really, all we care about is getting a great deal on a 12-pack of Ivory soap for $3.99. Unless the name of your business starts with CVS, Food Lion or McDonald's, you might as well close up shop now. And if you don't like it, you can BITE ME. Hahahaha!"

On the bright side, my girlfriend (a resident of Louisa) reports that there is a lot more people upset by this Wal-Mart thing than the story on Channel 19 lets on. And for good reason. Sure, you'll get cheap products (I enjoy Wal-Mart, as mentioned in a previous post, for this very reason), but it'll wipe out the rest of your commercial goods stores in town. For a town that already has two half-empty shopping centers begging for tenants, this doesn't bode well.

Throw in a Wal-Mart, and one of the two dollar stores goes kaput (probably Dollar General), CVS is on the ropes, the discount food place across the way from CVS is probably DOA, Louisa Hardware goes up in flames, and a dozen mom-and-pops along Main Street evaporate overnight. If that's the kind of town you want, great - and the people of Louisa certainly have the right to choose that - but at least be honest with people about what's going to happen as a result. And don't be so smugly arrogant about it.

Though I don't know why Wal-Mart is even bothering with the town, given that their distro. center is in Zion Crossroads. Given how close ZC is to 64 and 15, and the fact that a whole lot of development will be going on there, and the fact that it's closer to the general Charlottesville area/further away from Richmond, you'd think that Wal-Mart would set its horizons there. Strange.


Post a Comment

<< Home