It’s great news that Walmart isn’t going to build at the very doorstep of a nationally significant Civil War site, Orange County’s Wilderness battlefield. The groups who fought off this development have every right to celebrate and be proud.
However, the superstore will still be built, on a different site a few miles away. And so, for that matter, will other Walmarts on other sites. And other big-box chains will continue to proliferate, too. Drive north of Charlottesville on 29 at any given time and you’ll inevitably see evidence of the onward march: huge scars in the red-clay ground, flattened places in the rolling hills, yellow bulldozers and piles of materials soon to be hastily assembled into soulless shopping centers.
It’s only because people patronize these places that they keep multiplying. It makes no sense to be offended by the cutting of trees, the disturbance of soil, and the loss of open space, and then to drive your car to the new place and park in the parking lot and walk inside to spend some money.
Let’s do better! Let’s shop at locally owned stores and especially those that can be reached on foot or by bike. Let’s support entrepreneurs who offer basic goods–not just boutique luxuries–in walkable, urban areas. Let’s make and grow our own stuff, trade with other people, and become fanatic reusers and recyclers. Let’s learn to live with less stuff.
We don’t need to give our money to Walmart. Really–we don’t. I’m glad they’re not building at the Wilderness, but I wish they’d go out of business instead.