Walmart coming, Parsons Farms produce stand going: Go figure
The front page of a recent Lake Oswego Review informed us of two things: That LO would be getting a Walmart and that the Parson Farms produce stand located on Carman Drive will likely have to vacate that spot, perhaps soon.
The juxtaposition of these two headlines provides an ironic and sad commentary on the future of Lake Oswego. These events are not obviously linked, but their coincidence certainly represents movement in an unfortunate direction for LO.
On the one hand, we're acquiring a big-box (even if it's 'mini-fied') corporate store that offers cheap, mostly foreign-made goods, pays less than a living wage to most employees, sends its profits elsewhere, competes with satisfactory stores nearby, is discriminatory in promotions and will increase traffic at an intersection already near capacity.
On the other hand, we may lose a local family-owned business that offers high quality locally grown produce, reinvests its profits in the Willamette Valley, provides friendly face-to-face service and is an appreciated and welcomed presence in the community.
It may be said that this is the price of progress, but progress of the sort that brings an unneeded and unwanted corporate store into town and that dislocates a valuable local business is progress towards the continued corporatization and homogenization of communities all over the U.S. This just doesn't feel like something we want to happen in LO.
It may be said that Walmart has a right to be here, but what's legal is not necessarily what's good for the community. I strongly doubt there's sufficient demand in LO for Walmart products to warrant the negative impact that even a 'mini-fied' Walmart will have on LO generally and the Jean Road area particularly. Walmarts are better suited for strip mall areas with high traffic capacity frequented by bargain shoppers. That doesn't describe LO.
I have read the accusation that objections to Walmart are examples of NIMBY, but NIMBY refers to someone who wants a product (say, electricity) but doesn't want to suffer any of the costs of that product (like power lines). In the case of Walmart, I don't want the product (I certainly don't drive elsewhere to visit a Walmart) and I'd be perfectly happy if there were no Walmarts in anyone's back yard.
I hope that neither of these events is inevitable, that some accommodation can be made for the continued presence of Parson Farms in our community and that LO collectively makes enough noise to convince Walmart it's not welcome here. It will be a sad day in LO when either Walmart opens its doors or Parson Farms closes theirs.
Jack Bennett is a resident of Lake Oswego.