August 14, 2006

What small shops?

One of the stupidest arguments in favor of the Big-Box ordinance in Chicago is that keeping Wal-Mart and Target out will allow the small shops on the South Side of Chicago to prosper. Dan Drezner dismantles this logic:

Barron seems to assume that without Wal-Mart, the whole of Chicago is this nirvana of small, quaint shopkeepers who provide a diversity of goods and services with a smile and a fair price. Having lived close to the area where Wal-Mart was planning on putting its South Side location, I can assert that Barron doesn't know what he's talking about. There are very few, "small family-run establishments" to displace. The absence of any big-box retailer between Roosevelt Rd. and 85th St. makes it fantastically difficult for the poorest members of the city of Chicago to buy low-priced goods. Barron's focus on unions and small merchants at the expense of, well, everyone else is more than a bit disconcerting.
Imagine if the only shopping destination in your area was an overpriced corner store and a couple of McDonalds. This is what many on the South Side face every day and while the Dollar Menu might be a cheap source of calories, getting groceries at Wal-Mart is cheaper and substantially healthier for a population ridden with health problems related to fast-food diets.