My father’s family is from Arkansas. As a child, I spent every summer in Arkansas; spending hours outside with my cousins on my grandparents 60 acre farm. Life in Arkansas was so very different from my life in California. Catching butterflies, playing in the creek, riding a tractor were all regular activities each and every day. As a mother, I try to get back every couple of years now with my own children. While the farm is long gone, Arkansas still provides a different perspective on life that my children just can’t get living in a suburb in Silicon Valley.
I must have been seven or eight years old when a Walmart moved into a town near my grandparents. Everyone was so excited to have the Walmart nearby. My grandparents lived in a tiny town with a population of just a couple thousand. There was a Piggly Wiggly (yes, that is the name of a grocery store in the South) and a small downtown with a community swimming pool. Most folks had land that they either farmed as a business or farmed to stock their own cupboards. Most big purchases were ordered by catalog. Walmart coming wasn’t looked as a bad for the local business. It was welcomed with open arms.
That feeling of joy is quite different than how most Silicon Valley residents feel about Walmart. Yesterday Walmart opened a 92,000-square-foot store in South San Jose, inside the former EXPO Design Center location on Almaden Expressway. While a few of my friends (interestingly, all with Southern roots) are excited about the new Walmart. Most that I know have voiced critism about the new Walmart. While some argue that Walmart kills small business, it’s location is surrounded by other chains. Best Buy, Costco, Bed Bath & Beyond, Trader Joe’s, Whole Food, Yogurtland, Pinkberry, Buy Buy Baby are just some of the big chains in the same neighborhood as Walmart.
I can count on one hand how many trips I’ve made to a Walmart store in California. Yet, when we are in Arkansas visiting our family, Walmart is always where we end up. It’s not looked down to shop at Walmart in Arkansas. If the completely full parking lot was any indication, there are plenty of new Walmart shoppers in Almaden Valley.
In fact, the biggest thing that may keep me from shopping at Walmart is what appears to be a larger-than-Costco crowd.
Photo credit: Silicon Valley Business Journal