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The Little Guy

July 11, 2008 - Wes Burns
Anybody out there remember when we didn't have a Wal-Mart? Building materials, dry goods and sundries of all sorts were to be found only in a labyrinth of small, custom shops? I don't remember either.

I do remember when Wal-Mart was just another store in the mall. Before Menards took over the space and Wal-Mart developed its own hamlet just south of the mall. These were the days before Wal-Mart had achieved omnipresence in Marshalltown; today the Wal-Mart section of Marshalltown is almost self-sustaining. They have their own garden (section), gas pumps, and I'm sure some kind of secret weapons system to be used in cases of dire emergency. When the zombie apocalypse occurs, and it will, Wal-Mart is where you'll find me.

For all the good and all the bad we have gotten out of Wal-Mart perhaps maybe their greatest influence is the collectivization of business. If we didn't have Wal-Mart we never would have gotten the success of the other "big box" stores; Best Buy, Lowe's, Menard's, Toy's R Us, and Barnes and Noble.

Sure these stores deliver rock bottom prices every single day of the year, but at what cost? Mega stores ruin the small operations, the shops that the community has come to know and love, the mom and pop stores. The kind of stores that catered to a town's interests, where everybody knew your name and what you needed when you walked in the door.

Mega store chains ruin this. Faceless stores with predetermined inventory remove the human element from business. Once again we, the citizens of Marshalltown, are losing another of our local business to an outside chain.

A few weeks ago I saw a sign on Iowa Avenue. Two words: Big Earl's. Really? This organization thinks that they can come into Marshalltown and set up shop with dancers and adult video sales? And within a mile of the Adult Odyssey?

For years now the mom and pop Adult Odyssey has been a Marshalltown staple. Everyone coming in from the Ampride, every diner at La Careta, everyone who took the wrong turn heading to Meskwaki has seen the Odyssey. But not for much longer. With the corporate backing provided by Big Earl's the Adult Odyssey is soon to be no longer with us.

Its a shame that small business cannot compete with corporate mega store mentality. And its a pox on all of us for allowing something like this to happen to our mom and pop institutions.

Not on me though: I think that's stuff's gross.

 
 

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