Several years ago I wrote about the Walmart effect and how Walmart affected the fragile economic system in a small town. But there is one thing that is as bad to a small town’s structure as the emergence of Walmart and that is the demise of Walmart. By the time that Walmart decides to close shop in a small town the previous small shop owners have left town, looking for a job, or setting up shop somewhere else, or have passed away, or are too broken by the Walmart experience to open shop again. So the mega store and its lousy jobs has departed and the small shops and their jobs have also. The meeting centers of the small shops are gone and the Walmart attempts to replace it. And the unemployment rate in the small town has skyrocketed and there is a whole group of former workers that don’t have any cushion and suddenly less hope of finding a job.
“When Walmart left town, it didn’t linger over the goodbyes. It slashed the prices on all its products, stripped the shelves bare, and vanished, leaving behind only the ghostly shadow of its famous brand name and gold star logo on the front wall of a deserted shell.
The departure was so quick that telltale signs remain of the getaway, like smoldering ashes in the fireplaces of an evacuated town. Notices still taped to the glass entranceway record with tombstone-like precision the exact moment that the supercenter was shuttered: “Store closed at 7pm, Thursday 28 January 2016.”
Ten years. That’s all the time it took for the store to rise up in a clearing of the lush forest of West Virginia’s coal country and then disappear again, as though it had never been there.”
“But for the people of McDowell County – proud country folk laboring under the burdens of high unemployment, low income and endemic ill health – even such a fleeting visit to this rural ad hasty leaving.
Wanda Church was present for both of these book-ends of the Walmart story – one of a few workers who helped set up the store in October 2005 and then gut it 10 years, three months and two days later. She remembers the feeling of excitement and expectation as they stocked the supercenter for the very first time, turning it in just 20 days from an empty building into a teeming cathedral of retail capitalism.
“It was amazing what we were able to do, stocking the shelves from nothing to full in such a short time,” she said, talking as she waited for her car to be repaired at a gas station over the road from the disused store. As if to underscore her enduring attachment to the corporation, she was wearing one of her old Walmart T-shirts.
She was there at the supercenter too on that fateful day last year when she and her fellow Walmart workers walked out of the store for the last time. “We were all crying. It was a sad day for a lot of people. It was a sad day for me – I spent more of those 10 years at Walmart than I did at my own home.” https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/jul/09/what-happened-when-walmart-left