I grew up in suburbia. Although it was not Main Street America it did have everything I needed within shouting distance. There is the pharmacy where we picked up candy on our way home from school. There is the local market perfect for picking up the last minute items for dinner or my favorite chicken salad.
In the 20 years my parents and I lived in Bethlehem progress made it its way in, slowly but surely. Now the main street is choked with traffic, and the surrounding neighborhood overflowing with transplants from the city. Big box stores and chain restaurants have popped up along what used to be an endless stretch of cornfields.
My parents, my friends and I continue to support small businesses: our favorite restaurant, the local farm. But no matter how hard we try, we cannot stay away from the big box stores.
In Bethlehem, the big box stores were an option. In Charleston, they are a necessity. In this town of 21,000 there are not many options. Walmart is king. No matter how far I drive, or how many stores I visit, I always find myself back at the big W.
Emails have been circulating about how we, as Americans, need to purchase items made in United States, forever preserving jobs, pride and our place as the #1 superpower. If you have tried even once to find something that says Made in USA, you know how difficult this can be. At the end of the day, especially in these economic times, we find ourselves reaching for whatever is the cheapest and that usually comes from China.
Curtains, sheets, area rug. Drying rack, end table, garbage can. It is amazing to be so thrilled and so defeated at the same time. What a great deal! What a shame. But in a town like this, that’s all there is.
Stores like Walmart thrive on college communities and areas that boast a lower socioeconomic status. Some diehards refuse to shop there based on principle, but I refuse to drive 45 minutes to find the mom and pop shop that has a handmade end table for twice the price. Watching my budget and watching the sticker of origin can rarely happen at the same time.
Martha Stewart saved my butt yesterday, on a pilgrimage to Home Depot. Finally, a dresser. But what HD could not provide in other affordable home furnishings, Walmart did. My house is furnished, but I’m not happy about it!