For 12 years my wife and I lived in the Puget Sound area of Washington state ee the real Washington.
If you’ve spent any time there, you know where Gig Harbor is and what a quaint little community the residents have built. There you’ll find friendly, outdoorsy types who can’t wait for the next sidewalk art show or community play — not unlike us.
But when it comes to Wal-Mart, particularly one in their backyard, those gentle folks turn into fire-breathing pit bulls. More than any other community, Gig Harbor defined “NIMBY” in the late ’80s when residents ran out the giant retailer before it ever got started.
Most other communities have not been blessed with such acute vision. Take the Columbine area, which has been overrun by growth. There seems no end in sight, and we watch helplessly as gargantuan machines rip up and pile huge mounds of earth, on one corner after another, to make way for yet more apartments and retail. Traffic mounts. Demands for water increase.
In the Evergreen area, fast food springs up along the Parkway, and soon the inevitable occurs. The big guys, the Home Depots and Wal-Marts, glide in on golden wings and promises of community stewardship. Who are they trying to fool? This is not the Wal-Mart that founder Sam Walton built.
Sam Walton came to New Albany, Miss., in 1982 when I published the paper there. He visited every store every year, an impossibility today. He knew employees by name. He believed in being an integral part of the community, and supported community events and local media.
I can tell a wonderful story about his giving a grand piano to the Arts Center in Moultrie, Ga.
Ironic isn’t it? Small communities gave birth to Wal-Mart, and now it systematically moves from one to the next, taking business from independently owned stores and in the process cutting out just a little more of the community’s heart.
Then, of course, there’s Home Depot, which moved into Evergreen and installed lighting that is obnoxious to nearby homeowners. What has been Home Depot’s response? Essentially, “Tough. We’re here now, we think it’s within code, and you’ll live with it.”
It’s all but too late for the Ken Caryl/Columbine area. It’s almost too late for Evergreen, and now Conifer faces a situation where local commercial building is booming, but with the site preparation that must be done, rental prices are not affordable for the local mom-and-pop.
It’s capitalism at its worst.
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But talk about sports at its best ee Go Rockies!!
Brad Bradberry is the former publisher of Evergreen Newspapers.