Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Citizens split on Wal-Mart in Maine ...

[Wal-Mart wars, continued …]

            Reflecting the diverse attitudes of the nation, a number of small cities in southern Maine have recently produced mixed results in referenda to impose retail size zoning limits, supported by opponents of Wal-Mart. The advocates say that they are trying to preserve local businesses and the character of their communities, of course.

These Maine downtowns are quintessential New England –- handsome brick storefronts pressed together in a pre-auto world, lovingly tended and bedecked with flowers in the short summers.  But look more closely and one finds that things have not been frozen since the 19th century –- most spots are occupied by boutiques, coffee shops, and tourist-oriented craft stores.  The hardware and clothing stores are long gone.  Are today’s mom-and-pops truly threatened by Wal-Mart? Or is it more the visual insult that bothers the big-box opponents?


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