Monday, March 9, 2009

Another Reason Why Mega-Sized Retail Stores Are Bad For The U.S. Economy

"Although big-box stores may appear to have an ephemeral, disposable quality, these structures rarely just go away. They exert power over our communities long after the companies that built them have turned off the lights. Integrating these unwieldy structures into the commercial or civic life of our cities and towns requires ingenuity, but as the retail landscape of America continues to change, it is also becoming increasingly imperative." - Julia Christensen, Big Box Reuse, MIT Press.

Before we reach summer 2009, several major retail stores will shutter the doors on many of their huge, over-sized, mini-strip mall locations. Circuit City will be one of those stores. I just had a breathlessly mindless good time snatching up bargains at a closing Circuit City store in North Carolina. The entire first season of Damages for $8!!! Yes! As I left the store skipping and smiling with several hundred dollars of CDs, DVDs, and other knickknacks for a grand total of $52.80, I had a minor passing thought about how this gigantic closed up Circuit City building was going to become a ugly-ass eyesore in the middle of this newly developed strip mall and what in the hell are they going to put in it's place? It was a fleeting thought as I returned to skipping to my car with my goodies.

Many of us already have the abandoned eyesore of a closed Toys R Us, Walmart, Home Depot, Kmart, Lowes, or Target dominating an entire square block. People get all excited when these monstrous mega-stores get built, but never consider what happens to giant endless boxes when they go out of business.
Artist Julia Christensen takes a wonderful look at what some communities have decided to do with the abandoned big boxes. What do you think?

5 comments:

ch555x March 9, 2009 at 12:55 PM  

I never really got into CC. I can about count on one hand the number of times I actually walked into the store. Either it was overpriced or just didn't have what I needed. Missed the entire fire sale...

JD March 9, 2009 at 1:00 PM  

some pimp (preacher) will convert it to a mega church.

JD March 9, 2009 at 2:37 PM  

Frys should slowly expand into some of the markets that are just best buy.

msladydeborah March 9, 2009 at 4:38 PM  

This is a good point. Unless another mega retailer wants the space the building stands empty and useless.

just another opinion March 10, 2009 at 8:32 PM  

Well, that gleeful, skipping feeling you got is the reason why those stores were popular in the first place--they offered goods people thought they had to have more cheaply up front, no questions asked. But you either pay now or you pay later, and I bet a lot of communities--and the people who bought all that crap they no longer even have (check out http://www.storyofstuff.com/: "Guess what percentage of total material flow through this system is still in product or use 6 months after their sale in North America. Fifty percent? Twenty? NO. One percent. 44 One! In other words, 99 percent of the stuff we harvest, mine, process, transport—99 percent of the stuff we run through this system is trashed within 6 months.")--might be wishing they'd thought it through before they approved the planning for their own obsolescence. As consumers we are as responsible for the rise and fall of these stores as the corporations. They built it and we came.

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