Big Box Retailers: Benefits and Drawbacks to the U.S.

Topics: Big-box store, Shopping mall, Department store Pages: 6 (2305 words) Published: May 16, 2002
America has always been a country where freedom has been treasured. Freedom is the most basic, valued principle that America was founded on. Whenever a threat looms, it is the cry and demand for freedom that pulls at the heartstrings of all Americans and moves them to action. Any threat to freedom is, in essence, a threat to America. This is usually interpreted as only a military threat, but there is another form the threat could take that is equally dangerous: an economic threat. This is why there are laws against monopolies – so that one company never has an unfair advantage over another. Freedom, equal opportunity for all. Enter the world of big box retailers. These companies are the biggest and most profitable there are to be found in America – the cornerstones of American economic prosperity. Some people, however, contest that the negatives of having a big box retailer in your town far outweigh the positives. Over the years and through many debates and conflicts it has become apparent that, no matter how beneficial big box retailers are to America, they have an overall negative effect on the American people.

Some of the negative aspects of big box retailers can be seen in the effects on the environment and economy.
Pollution has always been a big concern for anyone who has seen films or pictures from some of the Southeast Asian countries, where smog sometimes fills the whole sky of cities. Indeed, pollution is a terrible thing, but unfortunately it is a real concern for our modern times. There is always a price to pay for advancing, and in many cases that price is the creation of harmful substances to the environment around us, and sometimes even to us. One shocking example of this happened not so long ago right here in the United States, when one of the five great lakes, Lake Erie, was so full of pollution around Cleveland that almost all of the wildlife died and people could literally walk across the top of the pollution on the lake. Obviously, nobody wants anything like this to ever happen again. Fortunately, the lake was eventually cleaned up, but the damage was done, both to the environment and to the psyche and mindset of the American people. Some people see big box retailers as a cause of much pollution, and for some people that's all they need to hear in order to be eternally opposed against big box retailers. While the reality of the situation may not be bad enough to cause another Lake Erie incident, research has shown that enough pollution is caused by big box retailers to warrant some concern (Erlenmacher 10). Research has also shown that pollution in California from big box retailers costs $200 million every year to clean up (Smith 73). This number is way too large for many peoples' tastes, and it can be seen why there are people out there lobbying against big box retailers.

A second major concern centering on big box retailers is the amount of traffic they bring to areas incapable of handling it. Many times big box retailers build their stores in small towns that don't have any other stores like them. These towns aren't used to seeing much traffic at all, much less the traffic that big stores inevitably bring in. This increase of traffic causes long traffic backups, and causes a general headache to everyone unfortunate enough to be driving at the time, especially the people who happen to be living nearby. People with children have to remember to be much more careful than they were before the retailer moved in and make sure their small children stay away from the busy streets, and it makes life overall a much bigger hassle than it was in years past. It is harder for people to sleep at night or enjoy a quiet moment, and basically makes life more unpleasant. Jack Stong said in an interview that "living in a small town before the Lowe's moved in was almost everything I could ask for – peaceful and quiet. After the Lowe's came in, though, the noise level went up 100% and...
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