Tuesday, August 15, 2006
[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?