The Town That Lost Its Walmart

For a small town in Texas, the three-decade presence of the world’s largest retailer was a point of civic pride. Then, 18 months ago, all that changed.

Comments: 259

  1. Love it or hate it, Walmart, Amazon, offshoring, NAFTA, millions of illegal laborers, all biting into the American Dream of millions. Not sure Yang's UBI can make up for a meaningful job that supports a middle class life. When even the bad jobs leave, there isn't much left.

  2. @somsai Nor will it help at all without some active restriction on spiraling housing costs. What's that? Your UBI checks arrived? Good, since the rent just went up by $900.00/month...

  3. @somsai Yang's UBI would be putting $1,000 a month, every month, into Old Sam Walton's pocket. And all of his kids and grandkids and top CEO's, etc., etc., ect. Sorry, but I can think of dozens of people I personally know who NEED money for medical care or even a dozen eggs. Why Yang wants to give a thou a month to the top 50%, I haven't a clue. Yang's UBI is loopy. Trump will be thrilled to get it.

  4. @rosa Sam Walton's kids would lose a lot more via the VAT than they'd gain via freedom dividend. Meanwhile everyone you know that need $ would be getting a thousand a month. $2400 for a couple, $3600 if they have a kid 18 or older at home. That's a mortgage payment most places.

  5. Great story -- I appreciate the thoughtful reporting.

  6. Walmart is like the GOP. It tries to put everyone else out of business as it concentrates all wealth into the hands of a single owner. Whereas a more fair and evenly distributed economy, brought about by having many different stores, with many different owners, is not only more Democratic, it's more sustainable. And like the GOP, no one really needs a Walmart.

  7. @Chicago Guy - Something not mentioned in this piece is the super aggressive stance Walmart, and other big box stores, take regarding breaks in local property taxes for schools, hospitals, county roads, law enforcement, etc. Too often, these places add insult to injury when shuttering locations that had been originally lured by sweetheart local/state tax breaks, which had not been made available to the longtime local businesses they were replacing.

  8. @R. Law Kind of like sports teams that insist that the local tax payers buy them a new billion dollar arena, give them 50 years years of tax free operation, and then expect those same tax payers to fork over $100 for nosebleed seats, or they will, "Just go somewhere else!". To which not enough cities say, "Well, there's the door. Best of luck!". BTW: How much did Amazon want to put a new headquarters in New York? Wasn't it about 3 billion? To which the people eventually said, "Enjoy New Jersey!".

  9. @Chicago Guy Accoclades and admiration are heaped on "disruptors" Like Jeff Bezos, Kalinek, the Uber guy, Musk and others by Silicon Valley and the "venture capitalists" If you read the history of Sam Walton's start in merchandising, he had to fight against the big wholesalers that would not sell to him. He managed to buy overstocks and bargains to bring back to the dime store he was running in a small town in Arkansas in trailers or a pickup truck. His customers benefitted. He was one of the original disruptors. People who critcize and ridicule Wal-Mart think nothing of buying from Amazon. Jeff Bezos became the richest man in the US in part because internet companies like his did not have to pay sales taxes. Employees in his warehouses earn low wages and working conditions and job security are poor

  10. When Walmart declines to answer questions as to why the store was closed, you have to ask yourself whether the store's contribution to the town was taken into account. Is it just the bottom line and profits that the company cares about or does it value the contribution it makes to society in general and this town specifically. Is it a computer program using mass data and AI or is it a human being?

  11. @Nick Those same questions were asked when General Motors abandoned Flint, Michigan. They got the same answers too

  12. Just like the oil and gas or mining companies. Strip the profits out and bail as soon as something offering a slightly higher return comes along. Never mind what you leave in your wake.

  13. @Igor It's the capitalistic way!

  14. An excellent report Mr. Corkery. Thanks. Hopefully smaller businesses will spring up now that Walmart has departed.

  15. When Walmart came to another small Texas town, Bonham, up north of Dallas and close to the Red River, the impact on the local retail stores was dramatic and rather faster. The 'town square,' literally the square of streets around the county court house, changed with the departure of a women's clothing store, a drug store, auto parts store, all locally owned and operated, then a classic old Penny's. There was a story about a local small gadget entrepreneur who made a big sale to Walmart, then was ground down on prices until he was no longer able to make a profit. Bonham survived, even prospered in that small town way. Now their Walmart is a SuperCenter, and is probably a lasting bulwark against the Internet killing local jobs. I hope.

  16. Too bad bc Bonham unlike Edna was charming.

  17. Dependence on one customer or one store, no matter how good they/it are, Is riskier than depending on 2 or 3. Glad to hear the good folks in Edna are still making it.

  18. Maybe Amazon will open a 4-star store?

  19. Thank you for this story. I grew up in a small Texas town, but now live in the SF Bay area. Many of my otherwise well-informed friends have no idea of the challenges faced by citizens in small communities. Awareness of how the rapid changes in our economy have impacted all of us, in both urban and rural areas, is important so that we can work together for just solutions. I appreciate the NYT for covering this story.

  20. @Debra Witter This is true.

  21. Considering the fact that these communities shoot themselves in the foot by electing Republicans, I have no interest in helping them.

  22. The nearest Walmart is about 22 miles from Edna, which for the average car and driver is about 50 minutes and two gallons of gas round trip. When I hear these stories I wonder what Edna would be like today if Walmart had never come to town. Rural America has been propped up to some extent by Walmart, but would the small, local businesses displaced by Walmart have been able to thrive without a strong economic base (in other words, good paying jobs)? Probably not. It is easy to demonize Walmart but I'm not convinced that our nostalgia of rural America before Walmart was ever all that real. It has always been a hard life there, no?

  23. I’ve been there. Nothing there.

  24. If Walmart has never come to Edna, it would still be more Pottersville today than Bedford Falls. Yes, the retailers would have hung on for a few years but they would inevitably close- tired of hearing their customers gripe about high prices and poor selection compared to the wonderful Walmart in the next town over.

  25. @Michael This is exactly right. The Walmart in Edna drew in people from all over the region and this benefited Edna. Retail taxes may not drop that much right away but those extended shoppers will transfer to the alternative Walmart and no amount of wishful pie in the sky hoping will keep those shoppers in Edna.

  26. I grew up in Lolita. I have seen how local stores had to close when Walmart came in, then what happened when they left. It is heartwarming to hear that Edna seems to be coping. I hope the stability continues.

  27. While it may be painful in the short run, it’s probably the best thing to happen to the town. Walmart’s move out will enable all sorts of new businesses to flourish.

  28. That rarely seems to happen in towns where Wal-Mart has pulled out after killing local businesses.

  29. @BR In a town of 5,000?

  30. @BR In a town of 5,000?

  31. Dollar stores, bail bonds, check cashing and payday loans- that is the GOP legacy to small town America. Keep wishing for smaller government with fewer services while we indenture our children for overseas boondoggles.

  32. @Jackson vey clear if you drive 8 hours in any direction......all manufacturing small towns look exactly as @deirdre described

  33. @Deirdre : in what do overseas boondoggles -- and I do agree that the endless wars in Afghanistan and Iraq are that -- have to do with DOLLAR STORES? Do you think the government runs Dollar Stores? or the GOP? Do you they run bail bonds companies or check cashing outlets? Come on, that is ridiculous. Those are private businesses run by individuals and corporations, with nothing much to do with GOVERNMENT. BTW: I had a friend who worked in bail bonds. He was a Democrat.

  34. @gideon belete This is correct - and I especially noticed it driving through Texas about 3 years ago. Not exactly high end retail.

  35. "stack 'em low, stack 'em high, watch those downtown merchants die!" And now, we gotta go!

  36. Sounds like a great opportunity to me!......for the people of Edna to start new businesses! Appliance store, pharmacy, hardware store, etc., etc.!!!! Don't wait too long!!!!

  37. Problem is all these stores will still sell stuff made in other countries because our oligarchs have sent all factories overseas. So, we are still stuck as being a retail economy brought to you by the GOP and centrist democrats, who have had all the (wrong capitalist) answers. We need to get our factories/manufacturing back.

  38. Sam Walton designed his first stores to be centered in small towns, and they were actually a boost to business. I ran a newspaper in one of those small towns and my arrival coincided with the grand-opening of the Walmart. When I drove into town, a noticed a sign on a local store that said, "Going out of business because of Walmart." The chamber of commerce hired a consultant to come in a give a pep talk to members. Publicly, he was entertaining. In the private meeting, he told members that any business that ran from 9 to 5 was "catering to the unemployed." In those days, a Walmart attracted customers from a 60 mile radius, and actually helped many of the small business in the community. When I left that community 3.5 years later, the business with the sign was still there. Since then, Sam Walton died and his family changed the business model. Times change.

  39. @The Perspective - Walmart is destroying cannabidiol??

  40. @tom harrison CBD - Central Business District

  41. @Steve Devitt The business model of destroying CBD in small towns has been a constant for the last 40 years.

  42. Walmart giveth. Walmart takes away.

  43. Pana Illinois. Walmart came in. Put every small store out of business. Left 25 years later. Now its a desert.

  44. @David I like Pana. Concrete lawn varmint capital of the Midwest, and the city park is home to a breed of swans that look like space aliens. It was a rail hub once upon a time before being marooned by the interstate system. It might be a fine place for a dispensary after 1/1/20. If you build it, they will come. . .

  45. @Luilekkerland And while they’re at it, bring back that railroad hub! We need to revive trains in this country too.

  46. It should be noted that American consumers voted with their wallets to give discounters like Walmart the $ billions that made them what they are today instead of supporting the often higher priced local retailers that often went out of business as a result. Local sponsorship of local sports teams disappeared, local newspapers lost ad revenue, etc. Then to make matters worse, the same consumers demanded cheaper and cheaper merchandise that could only be made overseas, so once again American consumers voted with their wallets to decimate the country's manufacturing sector. We did this to ourselves.

  47. @Eric T "We did this to ourselves." Give it a rest...many people are on limited budgets,,,except of course the arrogant coastal elites....right?

  48. @Eric T - Maybe; but hard to blame middle class consumers being hollowed out of a middle class lifestyle, trying to provide for their kids - at the mercy of the 'Greed is God', um, er, 'good' crowd of Wall Streeters in the '80s, '90s, and the '08 meltdown. It is of note to glance at the position(s) of the Walton clan on the Forbes 400 Billionaire$ List of Shame over the years, as well as checking the list of corporations who pay no federal taxes over the past decades. American consumers were undone by Wall Street's unrestrained Vulturedom, juiced by St. Ronnie's union-busting of the Air Traffic Controllers in 1981.

  49. @MM We did ok before Walmart. All Walmart did was give people more junk to buy, and people fell for it.

  50. It's not really up to me to tell people what they should feel and for what they should feel it. But civic pride ... Walmart?

  51. So the cycle continues. Years ago Woolworths a 5 & 10 store centered many towns with stools nestled next to the soda fountain bar. Then large department knocked them out. Then Walmart What will be next?

  52. @LJ I remember those 5 and 10’s! I’m glad I’m old enough to remember “how things used to be,” even as I realize we can’t go back.

  53. @Dottie Beck They're back! They just have a different name. Now called Dollar Stores. They create a danger to local grocery stores because they sell many grocery items. Customers will buy there for convenience items as soap and cosmetics taking away business from local grocery stores and even hardware stores.

  54. @Dottie Beck I remember spending a long, long time deciding how to spend my nickel!

  55. Before Walmart or any other big, national retailer gets the go ahead to open a location in a small town, they should sign an exit agreement. They should have to: agree to pay a severance to employees harmed by a store closing, agree to announce a closing at least 60 days in advance, give an official reason for the closing, etc. These corporations have an outsized affect on small towns like Edna. They need to be good neighbors.

  56. @Mitch And, in most cases, a small town or at least county is free to set those conditions before issuing a business license or a building permit. Their choice. And, note that when Walmart built this store, Walmart had less than 500 stores in 13 states. They now have over 11,000 stores worldwide. KMart, for example, had many more stores at that time. It was not obvious that Walmart would grow to the size it is today (they did so because they focus on offering low prices and being efficient while not nickle and diming when it comes to innovation and store upgrades - unlike, for example, KMart and Sears). So, perhaps every retailer that hires even one person outside of family should have to sign an exit agreement before being granted a business license.

  57. it's important to note that Robert Reich when he was Secretary of Labor under Clinton proposed that it should be illegal for states and cities to compete to attract businesses with tax rebates. They could compete with better prepared workers, better education systems, lots of other things but they couldn't just pay companies to locate there. This proposal went nowhere. All the lobbying maintained all the corporate welfare that are federal government seems to require whether it is a Democratic or a Republican administration. However, as Margaret Dewar's research back in the 1990s points out, no corporate welfare project like that has ever paid off to the city which bought into such a faustian bargain. Wal-Mart is but one example. How little the Walton family members contribute is just typical of many billionaire families. They do not use it to make jobs or contribute back to communities. They hoard like Scrooge McDuck.

  58. The Walmart giveth, the Walmart taketh away.... It's good that the people of Edna have regrouped, but the national problems of underemployment and food deserts remain.

  59. Have you been in a Walmart lately? The workers look absolutely miserable. The only smiling faces associated with Walmart are the ones in the commercials. Amazon and Walmart want nothing more than to extract wealth from communities so that people feel they don't have an alternative. It's a race to the bottom, and the people who make, sell, and buy the products suffer.

  60. @M At my local Walmart the workers seem reasonably happy. So, YMMV.

  61. @M I noticed that Walmart hired a cashier with severe facial scarring. I wonder if Macy's would give her a job no matter how much she smiled.

  62. Walmart bad opening in small towns. Walmart bad for leaving small towns. Can’t have it both ways.

  63. @KJ Yes you can. It's bad coming in because it destroys most of the local economy. It's bad going out, because it destroyed the local economy. This report is here because it's unusual. Most towns have problems rebounding. Some don't

  64. @KJ Yes you can: Walmart comes into a town and puts small business out of business. That's bad. Walmart shuts down a while later, leaving people unemployed and having to travel further to shop. That's bad.

  65. @Glenda They haven't rebounded yet. Just stuck in place.

  66. The good people of Edna turned their back on their local store owners in order to make billionaires richer and save a few pennies. Now they turn to other multi-billion-dollar corporations -- Dollar General and Family Dollar -- to help pick up the pieces. How 'bout they pull up their bootstraps, and open and support local businesses -- and their own community -- for a change?

  67. @Michael-in-Vegas Do keep in mind that Walmart was MUCH smaller in 1982 - they had 491 stores and only operated in 13 states. Now, the have about 4,800 stores in the US and about 12,000 worldwide. By contrast, KMart had over 2000 stores in 1982. So, in 1981/1982, it wasn't so obvious that Walmart was going to become the superpower that it is. Having watched both from afar (working for a company that provided innovative computer systems to both) during that general era, it was clear that Walmart was the more efficient and forward thinking of the two companies.

  68. @Michael-in-Vegas Small independent retail stores cannot buy many of the name brand items that large chains carry. The suppliers will not sell small quantities of specific items at low enough wholesale prices for a small retailer to even stock the shelves, much less compete with WalMart or Amazon.

  69. Everything has a life span and one of these first Walmart’s has outlived its. I can remember in 1941 driving 25 miles to go shopping every Saturday night. Besides with Amazon Prime why even leave home.

  70. I used to hear the same thing about a departing army or air force base. But also heard the same story of how the town/city repurposed itself.

  71. @Laurie Great. Doesn't kill the economic pain.

  72. Firstly, thanks for this article! Living here in NYC also means that I need more, not less information on what's going on in so-called rural America. So, thanks, and more of that, please! Regarding the town of Edna, and how they coped with the loss of their main retailer and the associated jobs: I agree that Edna did well; however, and it's a bit glossed over, they also had other, large employers either in town or close by, and thus weren't flat on their back when Walmart just up and left with little notice. That, I believe, is an important lesson for towns and cities big and small: diversify your economy however you can, so a move like that might hurt, but it won't kill you. Glad that Edna did come out okay.

  73. Small town America has been in a decline over the last few decades however the decline has turned into a collapse over the last 2 years. Why? Probably farm prices. The trade war has devastated rural America.

  74. I am old enough to remember small grocery stores, local hardware stores and other such businesses. Yes, for a small town a Walmart is a boon. Here is a lesson about the devastation Walmart can leave behind. So to all those capitalists out there, those who hate "liberals," how about you explain how unfettered capitalism is good.

  75. @Jackson Sounds like a lot of unmet demand wherever you're from. Capitalism hates a vacuum and the opportunity for profit on the other days and nights would have found many salivating entrepreneurs. If they didn't appear, something is wrong with capitalism in that town

  76. @bresson Yeah, the people there didn't want to work themselves to death every day of the week for your convenience. When I visited Germany many years ago, stores were closed on Sunday. People bought what they need on Saturday. Something wrong with capitalism in that place.

  77. @Jackson it was great

  78. At least the Waltons are super-generous themselves. NOT. The combined lifetime contributions of the second generation Walmart heirs and their family holding company to the Walton Family Foundation come to $58.49 million, or about .04% of the Waltons’ net worth of $139.9 billion. Lots of money to be made in destroying the retailers and grocery stores in downtowns across the nation.

  79. @The Perspective Yep - more plutocrats decimating the middle class and concentrating wealth in their own pocket. But don't get carried away with the charity escape - people who suck the middle class dry and give back 1% in the form of a library with their name on it.

  80. The issues with Walmart leaving Edna are similar to issues generated when large manufacturing plants leave large cities and send their business abroad, to plants in China for example. The process is the same and rooted in capitalism. How many plants (jobs) has Trump brought back to America after promising voters that he would do so? Edna has weathered its economic storm for now, which is great for Edna. However, the large-scale loss of manufacturing jobs has not been compensated for to the same degree. The Edna situation can and will happen again.

  81. More likely, other long term and wider factors such as the global economy and local decisions affected job losses and gains more. Just a suggestion but maybe it would be better to focus on those instead of throwing mud at each other

  82. You mean the ones that BUSH lost, of course.

  83. @Jackson I believe you meant to say Bush. You know, that whole financial crisis bit on his watch.

  84. I know that Walmart is not known for compensating employees generously, but I have to wonder: Those employees of the mom-and-pop retailers put out of business -- how well were they paid? I observed a slightly similar situation when I lived briefly in a Mexican town popular with American ex-pats. Word got out that Starbucks would be opening a store on the main plaza. A great hue and cry emerged, largely from those ex-pats, that locally owned cafes would be damaged. The owners of those locally owned cafes joined in. The employees of those locally owned cafes did not. They were delighted to have a big-pocket employer competing for their labor. I do not know what happened eventually. I do remember the Starbucks packed to the gills with tourists from Mexico City. Those tourists couldn’t sleep at the Starbucks, or enjoy a formal meal there; perhaps they spent their pesos at a few locally owned businesses?

  85. @Marty : Mom and Pop businesses have to make money for their owners or they will go under. And they are not government subsidized in the massive way Walmart is.

  86. Even the residents of the high plains dust bowl of the 1930s knew when it was time to move on. Until small town, rural people learn to accept there is no there, there anymore, we will continue to see/hear stories about the raw deal the "forgotten man" is getting and that will feed the cult of grievance and victim hood that fuels some many of the divides in America today.

  87. @Paul, try moving on with little money to areas with jobs—but no affordable housing. Try living somewhere with no friends or neighbors to help when you hit trouble. Easy to say when you don’t care about the facts, right?

  88. Here in Reno there are several Wal-Marts. About 10 years ago K-Mart decided they needed a presence. They went after local government for re-zoning, fought residents who didn't want a huge big box store in their neighborhood, sued to get their way. Today that big box stands empty, K-Mart having closed their super store for lack of business, leaving the neighborhood with a big, ugly vacant skeleton. Why? Whoever was in charge of all the planning for K--Mart didn't bother to look at logistics, how difficult it was going to be for people to get there from wherever they were. Access was a nightmare maze to be run through residential streets. Sure, the store was visible from the freeway, but almost impossible to access if you didn't have experience. With Wal-Marts so easily reachable, no one shopped there. It was one big "duh".

  89. This is so great to hear, I am so happy for the town called Edna. I had just heard more details about how the Walmart business plan destroyed local business and our tax money was used to make up the difference between their paying workers as little as possible and not give benefits. And yet this Walmart family I think is one of the three families that Bernie says has more wealth than all of the lower 40 percent of us combined. Such great Americans gaming the system and using our tax money to get so awfully rich. I think I read that when they hired you they gave you the forms to get food stamps if not other government aid. Nope they could not be budged to actually pay their employees a living wage. That may be changing I think I heard after Bezos was shamed and made to raise his wages to 15 dollars an hour. Anyway I think when Walmart leaves anywhere it will be a blessing and towns will thrive in a better way. Really how many billions does one family need at our expanse?

  90. The photos in this article are amazing. The portraits seem to let us see the people clearly. Every one of them is a gem. Thank you

  91. Big box stores killed local small business and the middle class they represented. Glad to see a positive post Walmart recovery story.

  92. I know what I’m about to say is not popular to most people [yet]. I studied town planning in college. I continue to be intrigued by how a community becomes a community and what are the ingredients that make one successful while another fails. With populations in decline, immigration slowing rapidly, good jobs being centered around education hubs, young people moving away, the future of farms trending toward smaller farms to support local areas, the soon-to-be hyper growth in plant based meats, the destruction of wildlife and wildlife habitats across the country, the increase in robotics, and the cost of living becoming out of reach for most all are the ingredients that will kill small towns for good. We need a radically altered planning and zoning renaissance in our country. These small towns all across america that can no longer support fire, police, library, post office, infrastructure and a basic economy really, need to be given back to the earth. Relocate the people, to nearby medium sized towns/cities and let Mother Nature take back the land. It’s going to happen anyway, the Government should proactively do it before they fall into total disrepair, addiction and need to be subsidized.

  93. Marcus, just so you know, Vermont is not on the coast. Whether or not “they like it there” or not, isn’t really relevant. We don’t want communities to fail and people to be destitute, and thats what will happen. It’s as obvious as anything can be. And why is it our collective responsibility to subsidize them when they are? Being proactive to address problems before they become a crisis and making hard decisions like this one, is what politicians used to be elected for.

  94. @Dan : Odd that you study this, but do not recognize that some groups do not want police, fire, hospitals, schools, etc. and will vote over and over not to have any of that.

  95. @gratis. People would vote against healthcare, insurance, road repairs, sewage, clean water etc. It’s because Americans are so short sided they only think about the now. “My house isn’t on fire today, why should i pay for those expensive fire trucks!” “I can defend myself with by shotgun, I don’t need police!” Until they do. Then they sue the town because they didn’t have a police dept. This is the thinking that got us trump. The lunatics are running the asylum.

  96. Walmart has some of the lowest margins on goods imaginable. They can out compete almost any local store. The fact that they could not maintain a profit says it all. No one is moving to this small town. It's just going to get smaller and older and poorer and the preacher will keep preaching to his ever aging parish that 'God will see them through' even as every young person leaves for a place with actual economic opportunity. You know who would move their? Young immigrants looking for any kind of work. The author's conclusions are premature and almost as delusional as the preacher quoted in the story.

  97. @Steve Undoubtedly the Edna store was profitable. But closing it and divvying up its sales among the super centers, or simply investing more in the super centers, was deemed more profitable. It is about more, not some.

  98. @Art in the business world 'not maintaining a profit' is always the same as 'not large enough profit'. Businesses are almost never closed because they are actually insolvent. It's almost always because they can make a higher profit elsewhere. The effect will be the same.

  99. Walmart wreaked havoc on the fragile economies of small towns In the 1980s, causing the death of the locally owned businesses that had been the mainstays of main streets for hundreds of years. And, as you may recall, the big pitch from Walmart was its “MADE IN AMERICA” merchandise. Once all of the locally owned businesses folded, Walmart was king. The towns’ character changed because the local entrepreneurs were gone. I congratulate this Texas town for weathering the storm. There are other communities across America with similar experiences that were bowled over by Walmart, only to be devastated when the so-called purveyor of made in America products pulled up stakes and moved on.

  100. @Gene Reed I had an interesting conversation with someone from upstate NY. He and his neighbors were thrilled when Walmart showed up. He felt that the small storeowners in the local towns and villages had high prices and limited variety in the goods they carried. I expect it was easy for Walmart to put most of those places out of business since Walmart prices could be so much lower. I'm not sure how they felt when it closed down.

  101. 26chuches and only one grocer. Something seems out of balance. Dollar stores are designed to make a huge profit off of extremely low quality products and deceptive packaging. Could zoning or other city ordinances limit the size of employers so that if a business closes it would not take the town down with it? The closing of the EDNA theater meant the loss of perhaps five jobs and the existence of the town was not threatened. Taking on a single large employer puts everything at risk.

  102. Shoppers idling in the parking lot, no less scrolling through Facebook or some other social media garbage, waiting for their avocados that they ordered on their phone to be brought to them in their cars pretty much sums it up. The corporatocracy that we are living under is turning America into a social and environmental wasteland.

  103. @Layton Register This is why so many Americans are overweight. I park as far away from the store entrance as possible. Exercise and fewer scratches on the car.

  104. Great, a story about a store that sells and spurred on the materialistic American culture that accepts as a given that most everything this store sells is made in China. That with that real actual jobs that can sustain an American family left America and left nothing but retail jobs selling Chinese made cheap items and trinkets. And this was brought on by GOP, Walmart, Amazon, Home Depot, etc and centrist Democrats like Clinton. And most Americans just accept it. They accept that most every country has a trade imbalance with America and we accept that. We as Americans lie to each other everyday and we continue to consume these Chinese trinkets. We are not a smart proud people, we are stupid and accept lies that we think will make our life better. We have to really stop and think about how we vote and shop. Shop with our future in mind. Just some thoughts for my American Brothers and Sisters to think about.

  105. These events will NOT make communities stronger until we realize the underpinnings of what is broken across this country in many sectors of the economy - not just retail. Rural hospital health is becoming an oxymoron. Why? Profit & dividend returns for corporations & the richest. In April 2019 Walmart announced the introduction of robots in 5,000+ stores with more on the horizon. By Feb. 2020 they will have more than 8,000 robots performing janitorial services, shelf-inventory, and delivery sorting. That's just the 'trial phase' folks! The robot jobs will 'replace' (such a sterile word for human job loss) humans. Granted there will be humans, for now, who will service the automation & Walmart has argued the net employment will greater. But, if you believe that you probably believe Trump is 'draining the swamp'. And, that's only a chapter in this book of flawed capitalism. The book is about maximizing profit in all areas of our lives in the USA and justifying any action in the name of that profit. What the heck are we doing? We're profiting off of human suffering in our health care? We're giving proportionally greater & greater tax breaks to corporations and the richest while city govt. destroys shelters homeless men, women, and children try to create? And as inequality grows so goes our dignity, love, caring, and concern along the way. Enter despair, disregard, & hate as people struggle to survive. We're allowing our economic model to destroy quality of life for profit.

  106. @Chris Koz Look around at the faces you see, you have shown their hearts, sadness.

  107. While interesting, this article completely fails to mention Edna has an HEB which I imagine has the same sense of community the Walmart had.

  108. @Sean - I was going to comment on having HEB move in and take over. We have lived here for 21 years and always shop at HEB. Thanks for mentioning.

  109. Yes, there is an H.E.B., and yes, there is the same sense of community there. It's nice to have a grocery store to shop at without having to drive 25 miles to do so. But that is not the point. H.E.B. does not carry the same products as wm. Nor are they ooen 24 hours a day.

  110. @Sean What is an HEB?

  111. It would have been nice if you'd focused more on the positive changes in Edna that you just hinted about in a single sentence. Why Walmart left seems like less the story than the effect on the town. Just my opinion.

  112. The city has 5,700 residents and 26 churches. Not sure what that indicates.

  113. @Independent I thought that was quite remarkable as well.

  114. @Independent - "Not sure what that indicates." Well, its just more proof that prayer doesn't work or the Walmart would still be in Edna.

  115. @Independent Where I grew up, in Northern Ontario, there were 20 churches and 20 bars or so in a town of 20,000. It was a proper balance of the pious and the profane.

  116. If they've still got a What-a-Burger, they're ahead of the game!

  117. This is a difficult reminder of why we need small businesses. And now with the Walmart gone from this town, small business will have breathing room again. It will take a while to rebuild the stores, like a forest that has been clear cut and left to regrow naturally. I go out of my way to not shop at Walmart and to use local pharmacies, clothing shops, groceries, and the like. These small local stores together give the economy more stability than a big blockbuster ever could and unlike a blockbuster, small stores are invested in the community as long as we invest in them.

  118. @sarah - :)) You would have to go out of your way to shop AT a Walmart since there isn't one in Seattle city limits. I have never been inside a Walmart.

  119. It’s not to hard to leave Seattle too shop or continue to buy third party fake products cheap from A

  120. The solution to events like this, imo, lies in an admittedly radical change in American corporation law. Congress should preempt state-chartered interstate corporations with a new national corporation law—one which requires corporate duties not only to stockholders, but also to employees, customers and the communities where the company operates. No chance this will happen in the foreseeable future—but it is a way to create more publicly responsible corporations that spreads the benefits of capitalism far more broadly.

  121. For the small towns in America that are floundering, there is a shot at success for determined, creative entrepreneurs who can spot a niche marketing opportunity and grow it far beyond their city limits. A case in point is the Missouri Star Quilt Co. of Hamilton, Missouri, which has staked out a nationwide presence while reviving a moribund village in the U.S. heartland. Could Edna become the next Hamilton?

  122. In a decade (or less) there will be stories like this about Amazon. Unless they simply, as they wish to do, take over the world and we'll all be slaves to Amazon.

  123. @A2er I live in a rural community with few shopping choices, and have come to dread the trek into the nearest city, ~35 minutes away. For those reasons I'm rather fond of the convenience and ease of shopping at Amazon from the chair upon which I'm currently sitting.

  124. There are already stories like this about Amazon. For example when a warehouse leaves a town. If you are interested I’d recommend the Land of giants podcast as it talks about the devastating effects that closing a warehouse , one of its first, had on a community. In a way its similar to other industries, such as when mines close. Some places recover others find it more difficult.

  125. I grew up in a small town and have lived in in suburban communities throughout adulthood. Shopping is a choice. You don't have to go to a Walmart, you can choose whether to shop online, you can drive to a town to shop.

  126. Whether we like it or not, the world keeps changing. Before the industrial revolution, maybe 90% of Americans lived in rural communities. I was lucky to make a career in IT but I have moved several times in my career.

  127. I grew up nearby in Victoria. I remember when Walmart first came to the area. I remember small businesses closing downtown and in the smaller towns in the area. The local consumers were lured in by the lower prices. They are good people and they believed in Walmart. People spoke of it in familial terms. Unfortunately the people of Edna have been betrayed. They have clearly left expecting the good people of Edna to drive a half hour or more to shop. Kudos to those who have made the efforts to avoid shopping at Walmart. The surrounding communities should think about what Walmart has done and where they are spending their money. Who will be next?

  128. We lived in Nicholson pa Northeast pa from 1970 -89. We moved to Rehoboth ,De in 1989 . Walmart moved in to Tunkhannock pa around 1991 and Nicholson’s two main grocery stores closed down for good. Now Nicholson is just a place to live and die. If you are a senior and no car Tunkhannock is 15 miles away, Rural communities need to close down. You get old to quick in your towns and when the cold and long snow season comes. If Trump get elected again he wants to shut down your rural mail so you may to go many miles for it . You will reap what you sow. Country living is dieing.

  129. Edna is the county seat of Jackson County TX. In 2018 Jackson county chose cruz over O'Rourke by 65 points in 2018 In 2016 they cast their lot with trump by a 60 point margin. Can't help but think of the parallels between trump's tax cut to make big corporations richer and Walmart's financial decision. Both trickled down coal on the residents of Edna.

  130. @Lawrence: Edna has reaped what it sowed.

  131. @Pam Shira Fleetman But Edna appears to be doing just fine, according to the story. Is anyone reading the story? My gosh. All these comments predicated on Edna going down the tubes when the story shows it's the exact opposite. I wonder what folks in Edna, reading the comments on this thread, are saying to each other about liberals who read the NYT but can't appear to grasp the story's point.

  132. @August West We grasp the story's point just fine. As clearly stated, the sudden loss of Walmart was a blow to the community. We are very glad the town's tax revenue has dipped only slightly, but that only tells part of the story. How do people's incomes compare? Sounds like more people have to commute to other towns for work. And when Walmart came to town, it drove out a pharmacy, grocers, food and clothing stores. The point is, Walmart hurts both coming and going. One needn't be a "liberal" to glean that.

  133. That's why national retailers are NOT good for the country. They will move in, destroy your local, your 'Mom and Pop' stores, and they'll leave you in a heartbeat if their bean-counters say they can save a nickel if they close your store. It is not uncommon. Support your local stores, farmers, crafts, and more. Even if you have to pay a few dollars more, that is money that stays in your community, and likely, it makes its way back to you in some way (e.g., we have a local bank that pumps lots of money into the local scene; I wouldn't bank anywhere else).

  134. I have a friend who lives in Rural NC. Walmart came in and the local supermarket eventually closed. Then Walmart closed and left the town with nothing. I have a Walmart near me in suburban NJ. I won’t set foot in the place or spend a dime there.

  135. So Walmart’s the bad guy despite delivering superior products for lower prices for decades? How many dissenters ordered gifts for their loved ones from Amazon for half the price? Or who sent messages over Facebook for free? Please, save me the grief.

  136. @WL Superior products? What were you used to buying before there was Wal-Mart?

  137. Ah Republicans complaining about big business, you can’t make this up. Well at least they have “God” to help them.

  138. This story hits real close to home. For one thing, I grew up in a town barely more than spittin' distance from Edna. For another, my daddy was a small time entrepreneur who owned, with a brother, "five and dime stores" in three small Texas towns. Our home store in Bay City opened in 1935, five years before I was born. It did well until the late 40's, when not one, but two, better capitalized chains moved into town. When Daddy--an east Texas farm boy--saw the chance to buy 400 acres of good creek bottom land he decided to become a shirt-tail cattle rancher. Seemed like a great idea to everyone except my mother, who saw the new house she had been promised during WWII, vanishing like a mirage. At 9 years old, I was thrilled that I could have a horse! We did not, of course, have a crystal ball to show us the legendary drouth of the 1950's hovering on the horizon. Selling out our stores was a long and arduous process. As a teenager, I worked as a clerk, bored by the lack of customers, embarrassed to turn those still faithful away empty handed as stock dwindled. When Daddy (reluctantly!) obtained a government loan to finally build Mother her house, he had to report to an agent in--yes, Edna! An old woman now, I have lived to see the chains that drove Daddy out of the mercantile business suffer the same fate, struggling against Walmart's superior capitalization. You can guess. My heart is still with the local small guys.

  139. Walmart is so poisonous. Tragic that people like it and miss it. Hurray for the small businesses coming back to fill the void.

  140. Great photographs!

  141. @Profbart Agreed! NYT has the greatest photogs and graphic artists in the world. They deserve more recognition.

  142. So Walmart doesn't provide much value after all. Take heed, Walmart shoppers.

  143. Walmart jilted Edna, but Edna refused to give in to despair and moved on. It was hard at first, but now life is better. Sounds like the makings for a a good country tune. Of course, everybody really knows that Edna is better off without Walmart. Smaller local stores are coming back, and what you can't get there is available online. That's actually not a bad combination -- buy whatever you can from local retailers and backfill the specialty items from online sources.

  144. Walmart giveth, Walmart taketh away. When they arrived, I am certain, as the article indicated, that local businesses were squeezed to death in many cases. Now that they have left locals are on the ascent. Costs and consumer preferences for low prices seem to drive everything and I don't see that changing.

  145. There is another story about Walmart. The low prices they offer come at the expense of American jobs. Those low prices are possible because of foreign labor, first Japanese in the Fifties and Sixties, then Chinese, and then from other "emerging nations." Many of the products they produce so cheaply were previously produced here. We blithely buy Toyotas, for example, and wonder why areas of Michigan have been devastated for decades. I would guess 50% or more of the products we buy on Amazon or in Walmart are produced by foreign labor. So yes, closing the Edna store had a profound local impact, but so did those low prices offered when the store was open--lost local jobs and local businesses. Was it worth it?

  146. @Traveler1t You know Toyota (and other foreign auto makers) has plants in the USA? In Kentucky, Indiana, Mississippi, and Texas. We are buying Toyotas made in the USA. And many products have supply chains that are global.

  147. @Traveler1t The current auto industry, despite common perception, is not a particularly good example. A glance at many Toyota window stickers (Camry in particular) indicates US made. The largest BMW factory in the world is in South Carolina and most of those vehicles are exported worldwide. If one was to worry, however, that would be to wonder why US workers building the BMW's earn about 1/3rd that of their German counterparts.

  148. Sad but many small towns cannot survive in the era of Walmart and Amazon. I’m from a small town which is thriving because it discovered the winery business after the mill closed down. Some other towns do not have the resources or ability to grow. If a town has to depend this much on having a Walmart, it’s already in trouble.

  149. I once remarked to a colleague that I thought that economic efficiency is vastly over-rated. He responded with shock that I would blaspheme against the revealed doctrine of the University of Chicago Holy Prophets of Mammon. I think I nailed it.

  150. Here in Nelson many people don't like the presence of Walmart. In fact, some citizens bought land on which Walmart had planned to expand its current store, thus preventing the move. In fact we pride ourselves in keeping out the big corporations. The only fast food joints here are A&W and Subway (which at least sells healthy food and is relatively discreet in appearance).

  151. @Ambrose : Nelson is a tourism-based, chi-chi, very expensive town that caters to the ski industry and vacationers. It's not a good example of a typical small Canadian town. (What little most Americans know of Nelson comes from the 1987 film "Roxanne" with Steve Martin.)

  152. I have watched WalMart destroy “downtowns” and kill off competitors by offering cheap, inexpensive goods mostly made outside the US. Shopping at WalMart is interesting: I never seem to get exactly what I’m looking for but I usually find something inexpensive that’s close to what I originally wanted. Good luck, Edna, you’ll do just fine without WalMart telling you what you want.

  153. @Larry : Walmart did not invent "Made in China" and frankly, I'd love to see what stores you think are selling goods that are NOT made in China or some similar third world hellhole. Almost the only way to buy "Made in America" today is to buy vintage at thrift stores or rummage sales.

  154. Edna should be proud that it can survive and rebuild after this economic setback. Anyway, who needs Walmart? I frankly think it is a lousy store. I hope these fine people can regain their local character.

  155. Nice holiday story, lovely photographs

  156. Something is amiss in this article. Walmart simply does NOT close stores. When they do, it's because of the real threat of a Union coming in victoriously in a pro-Union vote among it's workers for that store. It's happened that way in the past, but the excuse has always been, 'they were going to close it anyway', etc. The writer of this piece says that 'they reached out to Walmart for an answer but Walmart didn't want to reply'. Or words to that effect. Nowhere in the article is there even the slightest, faintest hint that THAT could be a reason. Since NO reasons were given by the writer, I'm going to factor in 'Union' as a distinct possiblility.

  157. With a population of under 6,000 and other Walmarts within 25 miles, an aging store (size and features) may not be losing money but compared to Super Centers, has much smaller returns for the effort.

  158. For goodness sakes, a union shop in Trump-voting, right-to-work Texas? No, believe me, Walmart did not leave Edna, running away from the threat of unionization.

  159. @david Walmart DOES close stores. They closed two here three years ago and built a single bigger one (and a Sam's) a few miles away. Shame on them and their anti-union ways.

  160. A perfect story of small town ‘resilience’ in the face of corporate muscle-flexing to warm the hearts before the holidays. Long live the American entrepreneurial spirit!

  161. Somebody call Alanis Morrisette. Here’s an example of irony: Walmart, destroyer of “small town commerce”, is itself destroyed by “no town commerce”.

  162. But by all means, keep voting Republican! It's doing you a world of good, isn't it?

  163. If people would shop locally, there would be no Walmart and a real town would survive. This is, of course, assuming you can afford it. With billionaires taking in all the money, many people can't. But if you can, do it. Isn't it worth a few more dollars to keep your town and its people? There is a Walmart in my town. I have been there maybe five times, when no other store had what I wanted. One item and out. As this article shows, it's never too late. Boycott Walmart and your town can regain its stores and life. Happy Holidays to all.

  164. @akamai : OK, but do you tell that to those folks who shop at Amazon???? Because it's the same thing, only online. And it is destroying communities, malls, stores, etc. all over the US and much of the world. If you only say to Walmart shoppers, but give Amazon shoppers a "pass"….you are a hypocrite.

  165. American consumers decide from whom they will buy.

  166. Makes me want to move to Edna.

  167. A community of 5,700 and 26 churches! That's a lot of pews to fill every Sunday.

  168. @jmilovich We have less than 2000 people here, and 13 churches. Last time I counted anyway. We make Edna look agnostic, at least

  169. @jmilovich Welcome to Tx.

  170. @jmilovich no one said they were full

  171. On the surface, Walmart is the large, visible target for critics to point to when describing the hollowing out of America. In fact, Walmart is an interchangeable character in the story of rural communities facing insolvency. Investment in education and infrastructure at a local, state, and federal level is not only sorely lacking, what resources are available are divided disproportionately between rural and urban areas. Our country has created third-world communities within a first-world nation.

  172. I find it somewhat amusing (but also somewhat sad) that people in Edna feel "betrayed" by Walmart. Did they actually think that Walmart had come to their town to be a beneficent economic engine? Did they actually think that Walmart came there to give them civic pride, to be an anchor of their community? If they did actually think these things, then they deserve to actually be betrayed (and not just feel it), because they need to learn some hard lessons about how the world of capitalism, corporate largesse, and trickle-down economics works. They need to learn these hard lessons because they keep voting for people (and the party) that favors businesses like Walmart (and their rich owners who don't care at all about the welfare of the people in the towns where they build their stores). Maybe if they get "betrayed" and burned enough times they'll learn to stop voting for Republicans. But then again, that's highly unlikely, because as Pastor Schroer said: “God provided. I truly believe that.” Well, if they believe that God was tracking the plight of the denizens of Edna and actually interceded on their behalf, then trying to explain the downsides of capitalism to them probably won't go very far. Keep voting Republican; maybe they'll give you another plastics factory (while they take away your ACA healthcare).

  173. @Paul-A In case you hadn’t noticed, the Democrats long ago abandoned more than lip service to labor. AND they think the people of Edna are ‘deplorables’. So said their last candidate. (Yeah I realize she did not mention Edna, Texas by name.) So maybe the Democrats should recognize the changes they need to make to recover some of the votes they threw away .

  174. @Paul-A I enjoyed reading your post. I'm pro union and vote Democrat. Yet the Democratic party ( on the National level) has not been there for the working class.

  175. “God will find a way to provide what you need,” - the reliance on this kind of logic is the reason why places with 26 churches like Edna have as their  »economic engine » and « 24 hr social hub » a Walmart. They were doomed before Walmart ever moved in. Let’s not pretend otherwise.

  176. What stores were there before the Wal*Mart? Across the country small towns have lost their locally-owned businesses to this chain. They aren’t coming back.

  177. @Carmine Actually, from this article, small businesses DO seem to be coming back. Good on ‘em. Let’s hope more Walmart’s close and their townspeople step up to the challenge. Could be the saving of small-town America.

  178. “God will find a way to provide what you need,” Mr. Schroer wrote of the store’s closing. “You will live through it. You will live beyond it.” I find such theology to be shameful. There are many Christians and people of other faiths who have died horrible deaths while praying for divine intervention. Weren't those people loved enough by God, Mr. Schroer?

  179. Great article

  180. The good people of Edna with their 26 churches voted for Trump and Ted Cruz by 60 points! Then trump gave Walmart a humongous tax break and what did they do? Closed less profitable stores like.....Edna! It’s never enough and no sense of community responsibility which is why we need to stop voting republican.

  181. Before Amazon did its number on brick-and-mortar retail stores and, particularly, book stores, Walmart was the arch-villain. More small retailers probably have closed their doors because of Walmart and, later, the more upscale Costco, than because of Amazon, although Amazon has not hit its peak. There are other “bad guys” in the picture. In small towns, locally own pharmacies shut their doors when CVS and Walgreen’s moved in. Whose fault is all of this? It’s our fault, the customers who made the short-sighted decision to save $15 and put a local business out of business. The irony is that for every $15 saved, we spend another $20 buying something we do not need and do not really want.

  182. @sdw Who is forcing anyone to spend $20 buying something they didn't need and don't want? In all of my experiences with Walmart and Amazon neither has ever held a gun to my head and forced me to buy anything I didn't want. True, sometimes they, esp Amazon, offer more selection and I will buy something that I want but simply wasn't available in "mom-and-pop" type stores with more limited selection - but that doesn't mean I didn't want it.

  183. @Bob Richards No need to be defensive. It is not a sin to fall for a splashy display at Walmart or on the Amazon website. It does not doom you for eternity to partake of the "special sale" items by the checkout lines at CVS or Walgreen's. Relax, Bob Richards, take off the dark glasses and shop.

  184. @sdw I would love to be able to use a local pharmacy, but my Medicare prescription plan has a contract with CVS, so I'm forced to get my prescriptions there. It stinks, but I don't see an alternative.

  185. Put all your eggs in one basket America. What's more important? - The themes in IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE - in which it is pointed out that our security and prosperity is wrapped up in each and every member of our own community's success, or in getting a few cents better from a big corporate monopoly with no skin in the game and nothing but profit in mind. You asked for this. You got it.

  186. Walmart's long-term planning for small towns is generally poor. They first ran out small retailers and got local tax breaks. They then built a store in our community that is sized for a customer base of 200,000 but at peak season our town has only 35,000 people. To adjust for their errors they employee nearly everyone on a part-time basis but with no set work schedules so it's difficult for them to hold a second job. And the pay is only $10.50-$11 per hour. Then to reduce cost, after they announced a $1000 bonus- which most employees did not get-they added 12-14 self checkout machines and laid-off a number of employees. Stock keeping is done mostly on the midnight shift so during the day there are many empty shelves. Yesterday at 2 PM there were only 5 or 6 bags of 5 lb sugar in the store. I've seen this same scenario in many "small-town" Walmarts.

  187. Yes, but they aren’t planning for the towns, are they?

  188. A question asked in a few comments is where have the customers gone? I work in the retail real estate sector and this is an answerable question. I enjoyed the article and am happy to share come insight with NYT readers. About one-half of the foot traffic that was visiting the Edna Walmart has split between the H-E-B grocery in Edna, and the Walmart in El Campo, on US 59 heading toward Houston. It also appears that a lesser number of customers now head to the bigger Supercenter in Victoria. H-E-B also opened a new pharmacy in October 2018, likely in response to Walmart's closing. For every window shut, another opens. Happy holidays to all.

  189. @Bill Don't worry - Amazon will kill off those retail outlets soon.

  190. 26 churches manage to eke out an existence In Edna but leadership decided it can’t survive with both a Walmart and HEB.

  191. This is an example of crisis becoming an opportunity. Communities must come up regulations to prevent the next corporation from making such a one sided financial decision. People get hurt. Shame on my liberal friends who blame a community that’s been hit by today’s super capitalism. Most of these people support Trump as a way out of their misery, not out of principle. What have we Democrats given them?

  192. @Daniel B If you think the solution is communities coming up with regulations, then you don’t know much about Trump country. Everyone there knows that regulations kill jobs.

  193. @kkseattle Regulations save lives, and keep the playing field fair. Not to mention keeping your environment cleaner which means healthier people. Spouting bumper sticker slogans doesn't help anything.

  194. Good riddance. I am so excited to see that someone opened an independent pharmacy, instead of just some CVS or Walgreens moving in. America got along fine without these big box stores and the associated sprawl before, and with online shopping as the new sears catalog, I don't see why we need them now. They look even worse in Europe, where a big Carrefor (Kind of like a French Wal-Mart) just blights the otherwise nice landscape of some areas.

  195. Enjoy buying stuff on Amazon? Like buying stuff on Getting a ride with Uber? Paying for stuff and having them delivered the very same day? It is a nice thing we have going. The problem? Look at the town of Edna. Where are all of these people going work? The town already has closed stores on main street- Thanks Walmart... A theater that is everything but a theater and a local lumber shop. What happens when everything possible can be bought online? We keep thinking that people like Trump are going to bring back all these high paying factory jobs-We all know better. Yet, I do have some good news! Soon you'll be able to pop down to your local store and have your clothing/shoes/all sorts of doodads custom-made- to fit your body and your needs- while you wait. Those factory jobs that once went to China and Mexico? Most of them will be coming back to the U.S.! It's always better to keep these things close at home- whenever possible. BUT! Most of those items -custom made!- will be done by a robot. All of those new factory jobs? They too will be given to robots. Automation, baby! Soon millions of Chinese and Mexicans will join the ranks of millions of Americans who are now out of a job. I just can't figure out who is going to be buying all of this new stuff when no one has a job...

  196. @Allen Yeager Did you read the story? Most everyone who worked at Walmart appears to have found employment elsewhere, a lumber store has taken over the old premises and the tax base wasn't affected. I doubt you've been to Edna. I'll believe the reporter. Is it just me or have a few of these commenters overindulged in Christmas anti-cheer tonight?

  197. Being a Native Houstonian it saddens me that this was not from our local paper. Thank You Michael Corkery for an excellent story.

  198. WM. A blight on America Just watch if you don’t understand

  199. Living in a mid sized city(Tulsa, Okla), I have many choices. I have a Walmart five minutes from my home, and shop there sometimes, but also go to the local grocery chain that has successfully competed with quality service and product. A late friend said that Walmart provides a variety of products to people at a price they can afford. This is true, but in a city, other stores can compete. In a small market, there may not be enough room for both. It is sad, but the world changes, it always has, and always will. We must adjust.

  200. We can have efficiency or community - but we can't have both.

  201. So much negativity about small towns here! Small towns flourished as regional centers before autos, cheap gasoline, globalism and industrial monocrop agriculture deprived them of their inhabitants. Their denizens are not inherently stupid or worthless, but they’ve been heavily affected by things beyond their control. It is possible to restore these communities and maybe the exit of Walmart and other corporate giants is a positive first step. Likewise a more broad-based regenerative agriculture instead of export monocrops, and some help from the government in them figuring out the best way to transition. Let’s include them, not scorn them. Yeah, these people voted heavily for Trump, but they are still citizens and they still can make a contribution to the future.

  202. @Stuart they have been scorning my family for 30 years. They have repeatedly told me my family aren't really citizens. I see no reason to help people who actively campaign to harm my family on a regular basis. They reliably and consistently vote to put people in charge of the laws with the expressed intent of telling others they aren't real Americans. Let them do something for the 30 years of scorn heaped upon the weak, poor, and marginalized of the country. They are reaping what they have wrought.

  203. @Steve Your post is very touching. I lived in the quintessential small town of the kind that draws scorn and now live in an urban area where people shun human contact. I miss that town so much I'm looking to return there. The transition was related to a change in employment.

  204. @HotGumption why? Not enough Trump supporters around for you where you are now? Want to move back to live among like voting people? Yeah, I'm certain it is a great place to live if you bring the right complexion to the neighborhood. I also have lived in many small towns like Edna. They have been mocking and scorning people for their entire history. You just aren't one of the people they scorn so you ignore it and pretend they don't do it.

  205. No one mentions that some of u s are lucky enough to live in an urban environment and shop locally in brick and mortar- a win win win, especially if we walk to it all.

  206. Walmart destroys local shops. Amazon destroys Walmart. Who is next in line to be destroyed?

  207. @Sirlar Amazon is pretty much the Walmart of the internet.

  208. @Sirlar Without Aldi and dollar stores, Walmart would have no competition. I wish Edna good luck and prosperity. I used to think (hope) that telecommuting would help people move out of crowded cities. I guess not.

  209. That is just not true. I can’t find many of the gluten free products at either Wal Mart or the locally owned shops in my town that my celiac disease requires me to buy (including specialty vitamins, as any medications I take have to be gluten free, and it’s no easy feat to find even common OTC products that are gluten free). Amazon allows me to locate and purchase these obscure items quickly and easily. Amazon is nothing like Wal Mart with its mainstream offerings. Many Amazon suppliers are small businesses, by the way.

  210. Hey, as long as you have a post office, a Baptist church, and a Whataburger you have a town.

  211. Less than 6,000 people, and they have enough money for 26 churches?

  212. In the South, there is a church and a gas station at every intersection.

  213. @Bubo one Pentecostal Church just for you

  214. Wallmart comes in, wipes out the local merchants, puts a thousand people on public services such as EBT, and then pulls out because it is more profitable to force the locals to drive 25 miles to the next Wallmart. Corrupt right wing politicians keep rural Texans destitute and stupid, and in return, rural Texans keep the corrupt right wing politicians in power.

  215. @Morgan Absolutely correct,but you'll never convinced the conned of your argument.Being made perfect patsies is a family tradition among them.

  216. @Morgan : there is no evidence in this article that anyone was forced onto EBT (electronic benefits transfer, i.e., usually SNAP food stamps or TANF welfare). They got OTHER jobs. And it actually makes sense for Walmart to put stores in regional areas vs. "every small town". It was not some plot to simply "make locals drive further". There are plenty of blue voters in Texas and many predict the state will turn blue in the next election.

  217. Big box stores and malls killed downtowns, e-commerce is killing big box stores and malls, someday virtual reality will kill the need to buy anything. Can’t wait!

  218. @Perfect Commenter Not Virtual Reality, but 3D printing, and then one day someone will come up with a Star Trek like Replicator in every home.

  219. @Perfect Commenter If we only purchased what we need instead of all the things we want, that would go a long way to saving both our sanity and the environment.

  220. @Perfect Commenter Many town cores crumbled because they were no longer neighborhoods. Without residents, commerce slows after 17 o'clock, as all the workers go home. Down town used to have the good restaurants, the live entertainment, the bars, but without people living there, those establishments moved out to places with lots of parking. Landlords refusing to update housing, lack of off-street parking, and the automobile are the more likely causes of small-town centers drying up. Then there is the decline of the family farm, and youngsters not wanting to stick around. Things change, that is the only thing that we can be sure of.

  221. I still spend up to 30% more for groceries at my supermarket because it employs union workers. It's also next door to Target which half-heartedly sells food but sells some useful items cheaper than my supermarket or the chain drugstores. Don't need Walmart.

  222. @ogn As long as we had a unionized grocery store in town my wife and I only shopped there and never at Walmart.The unionized chain was bought out by a non-unionized chain who treat the workers as bad as Walmart treats theres.Living in a rural area we have no choice but to shop at Walmart or the other non union place.

  223. I wouldn't shop at Walmart if the goods were free. That people were reduced to thinking of this store as the center of their community in so many ways is incredibly sad. Order everything online and get your community from those 26 churches or by, you know, talking to your neighbors how about!

  224. @Mr. Adams I'd shop anywhere where the goods were free. Mama didn't raise no fool.

  225. @Mr. Adams Shoppers in Walmarts do talk to their neighbors who are also shopping there.

  226. Lots of WalMart hate in the comments. Where is the hate for Amazon? They’re destroying what’s left of retail with equally anticompetitive practices and are equally poor to their employees. It seems to me that if you hate one you have to hate the other...

  227. @Perfect Commenter ...well, spread the hate, then! Don't be bashful, now.

  228. @Perfect Commenter Oh, I do! There are no Walmarts where I live (NYC), so that solves one problem. As far as Amazon goes, I only use them as a last resort when I can't find an item elsewhere. Luckily I have only had to do that about 4 times since Amazon came into existence, and returned two of those items, so I guess you can say I do fairly well without the twin evils of commerce. In my experience Amazon does not necessarily offer the best prices, so there is that as well.

  229. @Perfect Commenter Fair enough -- I have long despised Wal-Mart for many reasons and more lately, Amazon for essentially the same reasons-- ruin competition, expect too much of employees, overly dominant, two-faced, suffocating to local businesses and a long list. Frankly, I can't imagine how any Wal-Mart would become the "life blood" of a community as it apparently did in Edna. I would be quite happy if both companies disappeared and locals came back as merchants.

  230. Until a couple years ago I would avoid Walmart. The only ones in town are at the outskirts so it was easy to. However after seeing Amazon's grasp on the market especially during the gift buying season, I'd rather buy at Walmart than Amazon. Walking around the block it seemed every other house had an Amazon box on the door steps. So much waste.

  231. So often lately I’ve been saying that Amazon is the new Wal-Mart. There’s a Wal-Mart about one mile from my home and in 20 years I can count the times I’ve been there on one hand. At least two of those times I came out empty handed. Thankfully we still have a locally owned hardware store in town that continues to fill my needs. Losing a Wal-Mart could bring about a downtown renaissance for Edna.

  232. @Ahimsa "So much waste." As opposed to the waste of gas and time involved in driving to a Walmart and walking around for hours to find (or not) the items you need? And then having the stuff you bought put into plastic bags? Corrugated cardboard is actually both reusable and recyclable, and at least where I live the delivery company trucks are already out there every day - and paying their employees way more than Walmart does.

  233. Not sure why any town would regret losing a Walmart. They are messy, dirty and often sell inferior products. Their huge parking lots are impervious to drainage. Totally disgusting retailer.

  234. One down, 312,882,884,982 to go.

  235. The life of Edna circled around Walmart. It was Edna's soul and blood. On a macro scale, it is similar to how our country had begun to wrap around China. Our entire country would have gone through the agony that Edna did. Trump got us out. History will judge that we, as a country, dodged a bullet. Thanks to President Trump.

  236. @Bhaskar Please explain. Give details. I need to know how such a miraculous event occurs.

  237. Oh, puh-leeze. Nothing positive can be attributed to that crook, regardless of what his gullible supporters think or say. It's time for a reality check, people.

  238. Walmart, best place in the world to buy cheap junk from China.

  239. @Doremus Jessup No, Amazon takes that prize.

  240. @Doremus Jessup Not necessarily. Cheap junk is everywhere. I go to Walmart 4 times a year to fill 3 generic prescriptions for $10 each. This is the only way many people can afford to fill their prescriptions.

  241. Lots of urban hate here for a rural about doing that thing of walking in someone else's shoes for a while? Or else get a life, folks.

  242. @Bbwalker What urban hate? I don't see any. Are you paranoid or just jumping to your own biased conclusions?

  243. I used to live in a small coastal town in North Carolina. There wasn’t much, but we still had a local pharmacy, grocery, and hardware store. Then Walmart built one of their Express stores. After six months, the pharmacy, grocery, and hardware stores were all closed. Then Walmart went through corporate restructuring deciding to close their Express locations, leaving us with nothing. Within one year, Walmart irrevocably damaged our town. These were not just business, but places were people came to socialize and feel part of a community.

  244. The reason it didn’t effect the tax base is all their property values went up the day that Walmart closed.

  245. At least with the government you have some say. A corporation had the right to up and leave when they please.

  246. What struck me : population 5700 - churches 26. Walmart survived, made $$$ and skipped town. What about the churches? 26?

  247. @Welcome Canada Forget churches, this town still has a newspaper, one that has to worry about competitors and so hustled the Walmart-is-closing story into publication so it wouldn't get scooped. Twenty-six churches. Folks who miss Walmart. Town doesn't take a financial hit when the store closes and no one ended up unemployed. Perhaps it's time for some of us to start questioning assumptions and stereotypes.

  248. @August West 2020 . . . don't forget to vote

  249. @Welcome Canada I thought the same thing. Insane, no property tax there either! People can't get along so they start their own church. Well, more and more people are getting that many of these churches just want you to tithe and provide nothing in return. Believe me, I've seen it over and over in FL.

  250. This is what historically low unemployment rates and rising wages will do, and it, also, is why no Democrat currently in the race can beat Trump. Doesn't matter that he's a lousy president.

  251. @August West It was the democrats, liberals and unions who pushed and achieved wage increases. There is massive unemployment for jobs that pay the bills.

  252. @August West Bush II also boasted historically low unemployment'. At least until it wasn't. Seems to happen with deficit spenders. Same as it will happen with Trump.

  253. @Fatima Blunt Sorry, the numbers don't lie, and this story appears to be true. You can't make something true by wishing it. Like it or not, the economy is thriving and wages are going up because of low unemployment that forces employers to pay more. And the number of unionized workers is a tiny fraction of the workforce. I don't like Trump, either, but please don't shoot the messenger.

  254. Sell out your town's soul for the Walmart-China price manipulation and you expect sympathy when they make good on their fleece? Think again oh righteous ones.

  255. @J When Wal-mart first comes to a town their registers always have cashiers behind every one.Once Wal-Mart has driven out the competitors the lines get much longer as only some of the registers are open.They are also trying to push everybody into using self-check-outs.Being as I don't get paid by Wal-Mart I refuse to use the self check-outs.

  256. @RJM I also refuse to use self-check outs at every store that has them. I'm not paid to bag my own groceries. Hire cashiers.

  257. Not paid to bag your own groceries? It's beneath you? I'll bet you don't tip that minimum wage worker either, do you? I'd rather save the money from bagging my own stuff. Since you're so concerned about the workers, why not avoid WalMart and shop at Albertson's where you get 1/3 the groceries for twice the price.