The Atlantic is running a piece that features the Western Mass town where I live. It focuses on the decades-long (and successful) effort to keep Walmart and other big-box retailers out, and what the author seems to think are the unintended consequences of this stance:
But Norman and business owners in Greenfield are noticing that the Main Street stores are now struggling in the face of another force that’s become more and more powerful in recent years: e-commerce. Many customers who kept shopping in Greenfield’s downtown because Walmart was too far away are now turning to Amazon and other websites that offer free and fast shipping for basic needs, sapping business away from local stores that had survived for so long. Facing competition from a company as enormous as Amazon, some local stores are having trouble staying open.
The implicit argument is that the town was stupid and naïve to resist the big-box retailers, because now it is vulnerable to Amazon and other ecommerce giants.
But for the sake of argument, let’s say we had welcomed Walmart. What then? They are falling to Amazon now as well and are closing stores across the country.
Had we gone bag route, we would now have a completely hollowed-out Main Street and a failing or empty Walmart on the edge of town.