Culture Fail – Wal-Mart, have a seat. We need to talk.

In an attempt to slither it’s way around a city ordinance put in place specifically to keep larger corporations from pushing out local businesses, Wal-Mart is attempting to build a smaller grocery store on Ninth street. On the surface, Corvallis looks like a town that could use a new grocery store- it would bring entry-level jobs for a growing student population. But let’s be honest here, not only do many not want a Wal-Mart- we genuinely don’t need one. For a town of roughly 50,000 people Corvallis is full to the brim with grocery store options: Fred Meyers, three Safeways, Winco, Albertsons, Market of Choice, Trader Joes, Grocery Outlet, two First Alternative Coops and a farmer’s market. Not to mention there is a Wal-Mart 15 minutes away in Albany. Why do we need one here?


I remember living outside a small town in Mississippi called New Albany. In a rural town like these, jobs are scarce and it’s difficult to keep the young people around. So when a Wal-Mart comes to town it seemed like a great opportunity to pump life-blood back into the population. But that’s not what happened- it’s never what happens. The Wal-Mart rose up, like a sore bursting out of the countryside. Then as the parking lot continued to expand so did the chain stores: KFC, McDonalds, Subway, and Taco Bell. It spread like a ring of buboes around an infected lesion. And slowly the rest of the town’s businesses fell away, rotting like necrotic flesh around a poisoned wound. I remember thinking as a teen how weird it was that the town just seemed to stop after the parking lot. I know why now. Wal-Mart really was a plague on that town, as it would be here. People have argued that it’s the free market at work. And that’s true: Wal-Mart is free to put a store wherever they meet the regulations. Conversely, we are free to stand up and say, “We don’t want you here.” So whichever stand you take, take it and be heard.


And this is my take: Get out.


By Magdalen O’Reilly