Friday, May 2, 2014

The Old and The New

Next weekend our little town will again put on a local musical theater production, "You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown." What a classic! I recall our school's teens putting on this production when I was a little girl in Hopewell, Virginia.
I'm helping by playing the electric keyboard along with musicians on the piano, flute, drums, and electric bass. We're filling in the various orchestra parts and having a wild time. Julia is helping with the stage props and set-up.
Our town theater is a few steps down the street from our house in our quiet neighborhood. What a lovely addition to the town! Folks volunteer their time (and lots of it) to give shows like this and keep the theater running. Sometimes the theater will bring in a professional act. In the summer they offer children's theater camps. They also show movies on Friday nights monthly, for a paltry $5, which includes all the popcorn you can eat. It's delightful.
For a town of less than 900 people, we have lots of arts going on!
On a slightly more sour note, in the past year Oriental learned that WalMart wanted to install a store in our town. Many townspeople fought it, signed a petition, spoke against it at town meetings, wrote letters, and otherwise voiced their disgruntledness. All to no avail. This morning the local WalMart Express opened. I drove down just to check it out, purely from curiosity. Cars were parked all along the road!
Clusters of WalMart executives huddled in and out of the store, probably discussing where they'd eat for lunch.
A WalMart Express is a little store with a mix of groceries, some hardware, and dry goods. The prices are low. I wanted to tell the men oohing and ahhing about the meat prices, "Hey, do you know this meat is a whole grade lower than the lovely meat they sell down the road at Ruth's grocery, which has been here for almost 50 years?" But I didn't.
A smiling Wally's employee served sheet cake to the crowds at 8:30 in the morning.
So many WalMart employees occupied the limited space that it was hard to negotiate the aisles. I picked up some freebies but didn't buy anything this time -- I didn't want to fight the crowds at the checkout.
They gave me a free shopping bag! I'll use it at Ruth's. :)
As I left I noticed the ubiquitous Oriental bicycles already parked right next to Wally's bikes-for-sale. "Hmm," I thought. "This will be an issue. This place will be swarmed with bikes every day because it's Oriental. Half the population bikes all over town."
So I went back to the door and found a young man with a WalMart name tag. I told him the store should look into designating an area for bike parking, hopefully with a metal parking rack, because this is rather unique to Oriental. He smiled and thanked me. But this is WalMart we're talking about. If it's not done as a standard corporation policy, it's probably just not done. One thing WalMart does not do is "unique." I'll be surprised (and pleasantly so) if the bike parking is provided.
Many people will be happy the store is here. It was erected just outside town limits, so Oriental itself will see no tax revenue from the store, although we will provide them with services. But the tax base for our county schools will be richer. And the employees have already buttressed local businesses by living in Oriental hotels for the winter during construction and eating at local restaurants. In the end, it's not much different from having the Dollar General store across the street.
I'm not glad WalMart came here; Oriental is not a Wally's kind of town. But now that they're here, I'll probably shop there some. I'll still support Ruth's because her meat is better, and her veggies, when on sale, are cheaper than anything. And the checkers there know me; we chat and joke. WalMart excels at cheap and quick. But Oriental is a retirement, vacation town. People don't come here for cheap and quick. The county is poor and will shop there. The town itself is wealthy and leisurely. People move here or vacation here for the atmosphere of the slow boating life. We'll see how this latest addition pans out!


  1. Keep on shopping at Ruth's, sweetie! Wal Mart has overtaken the country and so many little shops are no longer around because of this. Yes, I do shop at WM sometimes, but I wish that the little businesses could still be around. Their personal service, charm, etc. will never be replaced. Lori

  2. I hope Ruth's survives!

  3. Ahhh...the Walmart dilemma. Feeling your pain!

  4. Enjoy your local shops. I'm not a Walmart fan, either.

  5. Walmart prospers not only because of what they wish to do to Ruth & kin, but also because of what they do to their suppliers under exclusive contracts. North Carolina is full of such tragedy.

  6. We went through the same thing in our town with Walmart. They won out and since our county is poor, too, people shop there. Terrible service, terrible produce, shelves half empty, yuck!
    I love your theater! Sounds like such fun.
    I remember at age 21 auditioning for a part in Your A Good Man, Charlie Brown! at our community theater. I got the role of Lucy, but chickened out because I didn't think I could memorize all the lyrics of a long song she had to sing. The girl who took my place came on stage with a notebook in her hand so she could read the lyrics!!! I've never gotten over that, lol! :) Well, it's sup, sup, supper time for me!

  7. Oops, I think I pressed enter too soon. I can count three walmarts in probably a 7 mile radius from my house and that does NOT count the one they building right across the highway from our neighborhood and a "market" going in just a few blocks away. That will be FIVE stinkin' Walmarts super close to me. Isn't it just so disgustingly excessive? I have not heard of an Express before. That said, I do shop there some for a few specific items, but not regularly.


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