Re-Thinking Big Box Stores

6 June 2017

Rethinking Big-Box Stores In her essay “Big Box Stores Are Bad for Main Street,” Betsy Taylor focuses not on the economic effects of large chain stores but on the effects these stores have on the “soul” of America. She argues that stores like Home Depot, Target, and Wal-Mart are bad for America because they draw people out of downtown shopping districts and cause them to focus exclusively on consumption. In contrast, she believes that small businesses are good for America because they provide personal attention, foster community Interaction, and make each city unique.

But Taylor’s argument is ultimately unconvincing because It Is based on nostalgia” on Idealized mages of a quaint Maln Street”rather than on the roles that businesses play In consumers’ lives and communities. By Ignoring the more complex, economically driven relationships between large chain stores and their communities, Taylor Incorrectly assumes that simply getting rid of big-box stores would have a posltlve effect on America’s communities.

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Taylor’s use of colorful language reveals that she has a nostalgic view of American society and does not understand economic realities. In her first paragraph, Taylor refers to a big-box store as a “25-acre slab of concrete with a 100,000 square foot box of stuff’ that “lands on a town,” evoking images of a monolithic monster crushing the American way of life (1011). But her Sanchez 1 Opening summa- rizes the article’s purpose and thesis. Thesis expresses Sanchez’s judgment of Taylor’s article.

Signal phrase intro- duces quotations from the source; Sanchez uses an MLA in-text citation. Marginal annotations indicate MLA-style formatting and effective writing. Source: Diana Hacker (Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2007). This paper has been updated to follow the style guidelines in the MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers, 7th ed. (2009). Source: Diana Hacker (Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2007). assessment oversimplifies a complex issue.

Taylor does not consider that many downtown business districts failed long before chain stores moved in, when factories and mills closed and workers lost their Jobs. In cities with struggling economies, big-box stores can actually provide much-needed Jobs. Similarly, while Taylor blames big-box stores for harming local economies by asking for tax breaks, free roads, and other perks, she doesnt cknowledge that these stores also enter into economic partnerships with the surrounding communities by offering financial benefits to schools and hospitals.

Taylor’s assumption that shopping In small businesses Is always better for the customer also seems driven by nostalgia for an old-fashioned Maln Street rather than by the facts. While she may be right that many small businesses offer personal service and are responsive to customer complaints, she does not consider that many customers appreciate the service at big-box stores. Just as customer service Is better t some small businesses than at others, It Is Impossible to generalize about service at all big-box stores.

For example, customers depend on the lenient return pollcles and the wide variety of products at stores Ilke Target and Home Depot. Taylor blames big-box stores for encouraging American “hyper-consumerism,” but she oversimplifies by equating big-box stores with bad values and small businesses with realities of American society today. Big-box stores do not force Americans to buy more. By offering lower prices in a convenient setting, however, they allow consumers to save time and purchase

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