While this is a relatively old story, since Wal-Mart is in the news again, it's worth revisitng it just to see how devastating Wal-Mart can be to a local economy:
“It has been great for us,” says Pierre from the comfortable confines of his huge RV, parked in the corner of the Wal-Mart lot in Renton. “We stay at Wal-Marts all the time. They are very convenient.”
Pierre and his wife, retired French Canadians from Quebec, are on an extended trip across the US. Besides their spacious home-on-wheels, they piggy-back a full-size SUV behind. The mammoth outfit which results requires a truck tractor with a powerful diesel engine to pull it all. Pierre admits they could afford to stay in pay-for-use parks, and sometimes do so, but, “because we are self-contained, this works out fine for us.” They can go a full week before needing to empty their waste tanks. Besides, they like Wal-Mart’s prices and are happy to spend their money there. “Why not, if we are right here anyway?”
If you read the entire article, the effect of this Wal-Mart-based RV culture starts to become obvious:
- Local retailers will suffer since those travellers will clearly find it more convenient to shop at the Wal-Mart.
- Local RV parks will suffer since they have to pay taxes based on their business, while potential customers will pass them by to stay overnight at the Wal-Mart instead.
- Given that, according to the story, one woman has been living in a single Wal-Mart parking lot for two years, it's likely she's not paying anything like property tax.
Wal-Mart. Not exactly the definition of a good corporate citizen.