Monday, February 1, 2016

2.1.16 Bee-otch of the Day: Walmart

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Name: Walmart
Age: 54
Occupation: evil retail megalord
Last Seen: Bentonville, AR
Bee-otched For: creating food deserts


Fifty years ago, it wasn't uncommon that every town in America had at least a small grocery store.

Back in the day, the husbands worked but the wives didn't, so they didn't mind walking down to the store to grab a few items a few times weekly. But thanks to people shopping at big giant megastores like Walmart and Meijer and the fact that most women now have to work, there's now a lot of towns with 2,000 people or less that don't have a basic, simple little supermarket to call their own.

Enter the phrase "food desert".

A food desert is an town where there's no grocer, period. Yes, there's small towns where there's a convenience store or even a Dollar General and/or Family Dollar that carries food items, but when it comes to meats and produce, they're SOL. Here in Michigan, there's many towns that are food deserts, including a few not far from right here in Grand Rapids. Take Saranac, for an example. Many years ago, the Ionia County village of 1,325 had a popular supermarket, Adgate's. Its owner, Bernard Adgate was a well-loved servant to the community. Adgate's even had additional locations in Ada and Westphalia. However, Bernard retired and sold the Spartan Store to some folks who ended up switching affiliations to Roundy's. According to some residents that I personally talked to, the store suffered with competition from nearby Ionia and people simply taking food off the shelves without paying. The store closed 15 years ago and is now a Dollar General. In addition to the DG, Saranac has a few convenience stores and a farm market, but one-stop shopping in that town is a thing of the past.

Here in west Michigan, other food deserts include Martin (whose last grocer closed 10 years ago and has since been demolished) and Hopkins (whose one-time grocer, Weick's Foodtown has since moved to Gun Lake; it's former location is now a dollar store). Up in my old homeland of northern Michigan, there's Manton (whose last grocer closed up shop in 2000) and Ellsworth, a town that had both a Spartan Store and a Roundy's store 20 years ago. Now, not only are they closed, but the village of 400 has no convenience store that supplies even the essentials. The town's gas station is a farmers' co-op that sells seed and coal, but no food items.

True, the people of Saranac, Martin, Hopkins, Manton and Ellsworth are within close driving distance to big stores in nearby bigger cities, but the people without access to a car such as poor people and the elderly are out of luck. But thanks to the most-evil retailer in the world, there's a few more towns where buying weekly groceries is now a special trip.

Take the small town of Oriental, NC, pop. just under 900. For 40 years, this coastal Atlantic town had a normal, small-town supermarket called Town and Country. It was family-owned and supplied by SuperValu. Three years ago, Walmart decided to build a Walmart Express store in Oriental, which carried mostly groceries and basics. T&C did major battle with Walmart and late last year, Walmart won. T&C closed and its abandoned building became a graffiti-laden, boarded-up eyesore. But the final nail in the coffin came when Walmart announced that they were closing all of their Walmart Express stores, Oriental included. According to the retail giant, most of their closed stores were just simply too close to their bigger stores.

However, Oriental's nearest grocers are in Alliance, which is 12 miles away. That's a 30 minute round trip.

Now, the town is working to try to replace both Town and Country and Walmart. The owner of the Town and Country has decided not to reopen despite now having the grocery business all to themselves.

You see, there's a reason why mom 'n pop stores close and it's because of idiots who all believe that bigger is better. In the end, the real losers in Oriental were all those who believed that the cool and hip Walmart would outdo Town and Country. But let's remember something: 50 years ago, they were saying the same thing about A&P. The company closed their last stores Thanksgiving Eve.

Look, when you support a local business, you're helping your community. You're helping a business owner pay his mortgage and put his kids into school. However, when you support Walmart, you're supporting a bunch of rich assholes who don't care about the towns they serve and don't care about their employees. The real reason why they're successful is because of morons who think that the local guy is ripping people off when in fact, he gives to local schools and helps the community.

And Walmart? Their hearts are empty, just like their Walmart Express stores.

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