Within the span of two-weeks, my small town has gone from "small" to "a little bit bigger," due to the expansion and world domination plans of two mega-corporations.
Early reports from the newly opened McDonald's are showing long lines at most hours of the day, McTrash and McLitter starting to turn up in the gutters downtown, wooing of the local non-profits with unsolicited $1,000 checks being handed out to a select few "educational" based 501(c)(3)'s in town (including a check to the non-profit on whose Board I sit on - full disclosure here), and even a temporary shut-down for the first few nights of 24-hour drive through access due to the McKitchen actually running out of food.
All reports are pointing to the fact that it may take months, even years, for the local community to figure out that our McDonald's is the same as other McDonald's and that it is, in fact, just a McDonald's.
Fun McTrivia fact...our McD's was the newest McD's to open...for 4 hours. That's right, somewhere, somehow, someplace in the world, Ronald opens a new franchise in the time it takes me to download, install, cuss out, and trouble shoot the latest Windoze Service pack.
Want some fries with that?
If that wasn't enough to send the collective blood pressure of the 4380 residents of my small town into control-alt-delete hyperdrive, our newly constructed WalMart SuperCenter just opened it's doors to all the fanfare deserving of the low price leader in the retail industry.
Here too, people can't seem to get over the fact that it is, in fact, just another WalMart, as opening weekend aisle bombers and cart stuffers were in rare consumer driven frenzied form.
After school on opening day, I scurried the girls over to get C some AAA batteries for her short wave walkie-talkies, and no kidding, we saw a representative of just about every family we knew in town, pushing a cart and gazing in wide wonder at the feast of capitalistic trappings before them.
The lighting was hyper white - more than 8800 kelvin by the light meter in my eyes.
The cement floors were hyper polished - over 50,000 sq feet of floor space, beckoning the question of just how many more "accidental fall" lawsuits will they face this year as compared to their 20,000 sq feet of floor in the old Walmart?
And the shoppers were hyper excited - you know that look that your kids have in their eyes when they're walking down Main Street, USA in Disneyland for the nth time?
Same look, only toss an OU sweatshirt over them, add a few lbs. and put them behind a stainless steel Walmart buggy.
The excitement was tangible...and sticky.
Meanwhile, back at the old WalMart, the sign on the street was being painted over, the 15-foot tall white letters were being brought down off the store facing, and that night, the lights on their side of the parking lot, which they share with what used to be our one and only grocery store in town, were turned off - rendering the lot into 50% darkness.
I'm not looking forward to going into the grocery store later today to get some Halloween supplies.
The air of doom may be too heavy for me to endure.
But maybe I'm being paranoid. Lot's of small town grocery stores survive just fine when a SuperCenter moves into town...don't they?