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The Perils of Wal-Mart Dependence

| Written by Stacy Mitchell | No Comments | Updated on Jun 2, 2006 The content that follows was originally published on the Institute for Local Self-Reliance website at

In July, the town of Homer, Louisiana, will become the latest in a string of small Southern communities where Wal-Mart has taken over the local economy only to skip town years later, leaving a withered tax base and no place to buy many staple goods.

Wal-Mart’s announcement that it will close its superstore at the beginning of July has spread panic among public officials in this town of 3,700 people about 20 miles south of the Arkansas border.

Wal-Mart accounts for 42 percent of the town’s tax base. Officials are predicting substantial cuts in town services and employment.

The store’s closure will also leave residents without local access to many types of goods. The nearest Wal-Mart is in Minden, twenty miles away. Local business owners fear a cascade of losses as residents buy in Minden even those items still available from stores in Homer.

A number of small towns, including Hearne, Texas, and Nowata, Oklahoma, have suffered the same fate. Twenty years ago, Wal-Mart opened a superstore in Bunkie, Louisiana. Nearly two dozen locally owned businesses folded and Wal-Mart became the largest taxpayer in town. Then, in 2004, Wal-Mart shuttered its Bunkie store to open a larger outlet in a town twenty miles away.


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About Stacy Mitchell

Stacy Mitchell is co-director of the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, and directs its Community-Scaled Economy Initiative, which produces research and analysis, and partners with a range of allies to design and implement policies that curb economic consolidation and strengthen community-rooted enterprise.  She is the author of Big-Box Swindle and also produces a popular monthly newsletter, the Hometown Advantage Bulletin.  Connect with her on twitter and catch her TEDx Talk: Why We Can’t Shop Our Way to a Better Economy. More

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