Sprawl-Busters will publish eyewitness accounts of the impact big box retailers have had on hometown America. Here is a piece submitted by April Shepherd: ” I have lived in Rockwood, Tennessee since July of 1995 and am a medical transcriptionist.?? Rockwood is a small town about 40 miles west of Knoxville. I am originally from Toledo, Ohio. and moved here becasue of the small-town feel. If I had wanted convenience of shopping, I would have stayed in the city…but that’s another story. Rockwood has recently became the home town of empty shopping centers. When I moved here 8 years ago there was a regular Wal-mart and a Kmart (along with a few dollar stores and grocery stores). Now, there is a Super Wal-mart (which put Kmart and Ingles Grocery out of business) that was newly built. The old Wal-mart shopping center stands empty (along with all the barnacle stores that were in the strip mall next to it). There is also another store that was the 1st Wal-mart. That store is currently a Heilig Meier furniture store. The building sat empty for awhile, then a store comes for a couple of years, and usually goes out of business and sits empty again until the next one comes. There needs to be some kind of law against this! If there is a shopping center vacant, Wal-mart should have to expand it or move in as-is. Now we have the #2 walmart that is empty, an empty Kmart (which Wal-Mart put out of business), and the Kroger that was in the same shopping strip as Kmart said they may be going under also. I think my husband and I were the only people in town against Super Walmart construction …I am forced to shop there now or drive 40 miles to shop. What kind of jobs have they brought? The same kind of jobs that have been holding the Tennesseeans back for years. I think they look for poverty-ridden towns hoping to get employees with a desperation…too scared to start a union or fight for their rights. I hear that Lowe’s is beginnning construction next month in Mid-town (about 5 miles out of Rockwood)…when will it end. ”
For more background on Rockwood, Tennessee, and to contact April Shepherd, contact: [email protected] I you have a “hometown story” you’d like to submit, email it to the address above.