Wednesday, February 16, 2005

convenient parking


The Puget Sound area (at least the south sound) is finally realizing that Wal-Mart isn't necessarily a benefit to the community. Olympia and Tumwater have both issued 6-month moratoriums on big box stores (anything over 125,000 square feet). This is absolutely amazing to me. Too often the local governments are wetting themselves over big box stores - more jobs, more revenue, more taxes, etc. Finally they are getting smart and realizing that those spaces could have different uses that would benefit everyone, not be an ugly eyesore, and not put local businesses out of business.

Please! Contact your city council and urge them to follow suit. Does anyone know if King County has the authority to pass such moratoriums? Or is it on a city-by-city basis?

Now as I write this I'm thinking about the big box stores that I frequent. Costco is really the only one I can think of at the moment. Occasionally Lowes and Home Depot too. And the infrequent Ikea trip. Should we be boycotting the box store phenomenon? I know I could live without Costco and Ikea. Could my husband live without Lowes? Have the giant hardware stores put enough smaller stores out of business that we can't find a good local hardware store anymore? I know in small towns (where there isn't a Depot or Lowes) the hardware stores rock. They're not so big that you get lost, the people are super nice and helpful, and they have everything you need. Is there one of those in Kirkland? Bellevue? I imagine there must be one in Seattle, but is it worth it to drive across the lake for a hardware store? Where should we draw the line?


greyguitar said...

in my hometown (spartanburg, sc--in case you want to look at all of our box stores) they originally had a K-Mart. then, they demolished it and resurrected a BigK-Mart in the same place. then K-Mart went bankrupt, and they felt the need to remodel it. last fall, they demolished it again and as of last week, they have built a Lowe's and a Best Buy (in the parking lot)--which is quarter of a mile from another Lowe's and Best Buy--which is undoubtedly too old for their standards now.

and those old stores will probably sit abandoned..similar to the old wal-mart across the street.

an ongoing travesty..

countjrg said...

I don’t know Mandy. This may come as a surprise to you, but I like big parking lots with plenty of spaces (especially in Seattle/King County). I also like stores with wide aisles and cheap prices! The pros of big-box stores outweigh the cons.

mandy said...

Rob - I see that all the time here. Big stores opening new ones and letting the old ones go. Nothing else can afford to go into that space, so it sits vacant for years. A big empty box and asphalt in a place where we could have a park, a community center, or (imagine this) smaller locally owned businesses.

John - What? We disagree? We were on a roll for a while there... I do see what you are saying - it is convenient to frequent these stores. And it is capitalism, after all, right? I'm not saying we should go tear down all the exisitng stores (although Bodie may think that's a good idea), we just need to take a step back and re-think if we really need to continue building them at such a fast rate. I don't want to live in a solely big box community. Is this is my "liberal elitism" showing through? ;)

Bodie said...

I am tempted to fire-bomb them when I see them being built, but more importantly, if we can't find a way to re-use the vacant spaces (ie homeless shelters, indoor recreation areas ect) then they ought to be torn down. We don't exist for the benefit of corporations or the capitalist system. They are a construct which exists to benefit us, and when they cease to provide benefit they should be destroyed. I feel the benefits of most of these types of stores (and malls for that matter) are far outweighed by the negatives to society, the economy, and our social structure, and I wouldn't be sad to see them disappear.