Story Time

Yeah, right, I'm going to visit Wal-Mart on my vacation next week

I start a 10-day vacation tomorrow. I can't tell you exactly what's on the itinerary. What I can tell you is, I won't be using Bob and Jan Wiley's new book, 2004 Wal-Mart Locator. The book was published to give vacationers and RVers easy directions to every Wal-Mart store in the country that is accessible from a major interstate.

Mr. Wiley states that "...finding a Wal-Mart on the road was close to impossible before the directory was available."

I don't know Mr. Wiley, but I'm guessing he's blind. How can a vacationer or RVer not happen upon a Wal-Mart in their travels? The stores are everywhere, at least it seems that way.

My idea of a vacation isn't traipsing across the countryside from one Wal-Mart to another. I don't dispute that you can find some bargains at these mega-stores. But when I'm on vacation, the idea isn't to scrimp and pinch save 14¢ on a tube of toothpaste. I'm looking for hidden getaways, away from the hordes who use the Wal-Marts of the world in their daily lives.

Unfortunately, those hidden getaways...cute little shops that sell the unusual and creative trinkets, those mom-and-pop dine on the street bistro-type eateries, the small market that actually offers fresh, local produce instead of vegetables and fruit picked two weeks early in some other state...are quickly fading off the Americana horizon. Why? Because of the Wal-Marts of the world.

These mega-giants set up shop in our communities. When they first open their doors for business, they offer prices that few can refuse. Slowly, but surely, those bargain prices start rising. But not until the local competition has dried up and blown away.

I guess it's the times. Small town America, being part of something unique, used to be considered a a positive attribute. Nowadays, everyone wants bigger and supposedly better. The focus is on growing, where cities and states want to entice more business into their area, offer more housing, lay more streets.

Americans are getting their wish. The Wal-Marts of the world are popping up everywhere. Just don't expect me to buy a map that points out where they all are.

. Bob Story,can be contacted at

(509) 837-4500, or e-mail him



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