Sunday, October 4, 2009

Newsflash: Walmart Has Ruined Small Town America...

That's how I felt on my recent journey through Cheyenne, Wyoming and various small towns in Western Nebraska. Here were all these places with quaint, old brick buildings lining main street that had a sort of Western charm and yet most (if not all) of the shops were deserted. The only other people I saw during the day (though downtown Cheyenne does seem to have a nighttime cowboy drinking crowd...) were in the occasional car driving by. Where was everyone? I wouldn't have been surprised if I had seen a tumble weed, a la Hollywood, rolling down the street.

Some of what I saw bordered on the surreal, like this shop window of the same chair over and over in a now-defunct furniture store in Cheyenne:


Or this remains of an ancient piece of apple pie on a bench in Minatare, Nebraska where someone had propped a plastic fork:



Many of the empty businesses had signs in their windows like the photograph at the beginning of this post. Still, that one at least has a sort of irony to it. Some of the other signs were really sad, like the ones that thanked all their loyal customers for helping to keep them open in these hard times only now the shop is gone, a rolled-up American flag propped up against an empty display case.

Am I just an arrogant city slicker? Have I just become too European? After all, my grandma, a native of Western Nebraska, told me how excited everyone was when Walmart came to town. But these lonely, small town streets had such a charm; they still do, though now they are all the more desolate and melancholy.

But I did get some great shots, especially of this abandoned motel about 5 miles up the road from the farm in Bayard where my mother grew up:


Next to the motel was also The Chef restaurant.


Although the restaurant was closed too (it said in the window, Due To Uncontrollable Circumstances) and there was a for lease sign out front, all of the tables were still set, as though in eternal waiting for hungry diners.


Some of the motel doors were open but, though we were somewhat tempted, Jasper and I didn't go inside. We weren't sure who (or what) might be living there and besides, we were starting to both feel spooked. We had landed in a ghost town reserved as of now only for the dead or maybe just those merely forgotten.

4 comments:

jen said...

Those are really great shots, despite the circumstances. I grew up in small town america and remember when wal-mart came to our town. It WAS a great thing, but has gotten out of control. With the economy being what it is, people are torn between wanting to keep the little guy alive and being able to stretch their budget. I will never shop at walmart...Hubby and I (and most of our friends) are struggling to get by, but so are small business owners and we try to do our part by supporting them whenever we can.
It is sad, some of the turns consumers have taken.

Schaufensterbabe said...

Thanks for your comment. It was good to hear from someone who grew up in small town America. I can understand how people are torn financially, especially these days. People probably also don't think enough about it though, until it's too late. This is also definitely a problem in the Bay Area. There used to be so many great independent bookstores in the area that people were proud of, but when I was there I saw that so many (as in nearly all...) of them have gone out of business, even those that seemed like institutions. Truly a sad loss that will never be replaced....

Jenn said...

Great shots first of all! And I wish there was a way to keep small shops open but nowadays people are going to find the cheapest place. I would like to think If I lived in a small town, I would shop locally, but I can't promise I would. Would LOVE to live somewhere quaint though. Cities are overstated.

Schaufensterbabe said...

Thanks (and Thorngren, thanks for your comment too. I published it, but it seems to have disappeared....) Yes, it is important to try and remember to support small shops, but also hard when you know you could save money in not doing so. Quite a bind really, but I guess balance is the best to strive for...

LinkWithin

Blog Widget by LinkWithin