Against Super Box Stores

RECEIVED Mon., Dec. 11, 2006

Dear community,
    Thank you to The Austin Chronicle for running two stories [“Developing Stories,” “Beside the Point,” News, Dec. 8] about the recent groundswell by Austin neighbors opposed to sly corporate plans to force a massive, uninvited, and unwelcome Wal-Mart in the midst of our communities. Friends, if Wal-Mart and those willing to look the other way (especially those in power) as the megamonster advances have their way, it won’t only be the surrounding neighborhoods whose quality of life and property values will suffer. We all will lose. To say that the proposed supersized Wal-Mart threatens the character and culture of our city is no hyperbole.
    I’ve seen the results of superstore invasion in small-town Texas up close and personal. In comes the big, gray super box, and in less than a blink, the little Czech bakeries and groceries are gone; the real taquerias and florists, disappeared; even the locally owned hardware, shoe repair, and feed store shut down. Village green spaces become miles of parking lot.
    Austin is different, right? We value our environment, our music and arts, our homegrown restaurants, our bookstores and unique shops. Or is that nostalgic image someone else’s Austin? Everywhere I travel, people say to me, “Oh, Austin is really cool. You’re so lucky to live in Austin.” I don’t think anyone imagines Wal-Mart in Austin city limits.
    Is it possible for mere people to stop the spread of such forces of mass community destruction? I guess I always thought that’s what Austin’s about. Wal-Mart, stay out.
Katherine Durham Oldmixon
   [Editor's note: For the record, there are six Wal-Mart outlets in or very near Austin city limits.]
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