The Urban Neighborhood Wal-Mart: A Blessing Or A Curse?

NPR‘s first of two-part series about Wal-Mart looks into the company’s push into cities with its neighborhood market stores whether or not local residents want them. Citing the need to fill the void of food deserts, Wal-Mart is aggressively courting grocery shoppers.

Most urban stores are 25 percent of the size of their rural and suburban cousins. They feature a slightly modified selection of products that caters more to a grab-and-go culture. That reflects a shift in consumer demand, as more Americans make their evening meal decisions in the late afternoon, says food industry analyst Justin Massa.

The Urban Neighborhood Wal-Mart: A Blessing Or A Curse?

[photo via Mike Mozart/flickr]

A Terrible Reason To Build A Park…

Spring Street Parklets

Dear City of Los Angeles,

I admire your aim to build parks, no matter how small, in order to give residents access to the wonderful benefits of more public space. There’s no need for parklets if you have permanent parks.

But that wasn’t your intent was it?

At least you’re honest in building these parks so that you can force registered sex offenders to move out of the neighborhood (and maybe out of your city entirely). One can hope, right?

But that’s an absolutely terrible reason to build parks.



[photo via waltarrrrr/flickr]

What Happens When We Lose A Video Store?

Blockbuster Video Store Closing

I just read an article on Indiewire titled “What We Lose When We Lose Video Stores” that was republished from Hammer to Nail about the closing of the neighborhood video store Reel Life in Brooklyn, and an interview by Alex Ross Perry with Reel Life store owner Joe Martin.

There have been plenty of articles recently that chronicled the falls of Blockbuster and Hollywood Video, but this time feels different. Instead of reading mostly about the might of big box stores on small mom and pops, this article highlights the positive effects that passionate business owners and passionate people can have on their neighborhoods.

You can head over the article to read it in full, but here are some interesting takeaways (including a bit about video collectors, which I myself actually was one):

– Economics of video stores
– Death of collector’s editions of videos and DVDs
– Loss of local film expertise and strong likelihood that hard-to-find titles WILL ONLY be found online
– Loss of video stores means yet another lost opportunity at human interaction (i.e., neighborhood space)
– Relationship between independent cinema and video stores

I leave with this standout quote: “I don’t want to consider a future populated by people who grew up without nice places to go and explore their developing interests with a stranger whose opinion they trust.”

Director Michel Gondry addressed this inevitability in his 2008 film Be Kind Rewind with Jack Black and Mos Def. It’s worth watching.

So to summarize: there are less local bookstores, there are less local video stores. What will fill our neighborhoods? There are only so many bars, restaurants, and art studios…

[image via Ocala (Florida) Photos]