In a chapter titled “Community Life,” from Stacy Mitchell’s book Big Box Swindle, the following passage immediately made me think of downtown Carlisle’s landscape due to similar characteristics mentioned in the book and evident in the town:
“Mega-retailers have not only produced landscapes that are remarkably inhospitable to community life, but they have also severely compromised the vitality of our downtowns and older, ‘mixed-use’ neighborhoods by undermining the local businesses that were once their lifeblood. Walking is no longer appealing if most of the worthwhile destinations have closed and the streets are a dreary series of vacant and half-used storefronts… ‘Now there ’s no one. The storefronts downtown are still occupied, but it’s antique shops and tattoo parlors’” (95).
My intention is not to make Carlisle sound “bad,” nor do I want to imply that I think the downtown area is “inhospitable.” However, the things pointed out in the selected passage are visible in Carlisle. The big-box stores such as Wal-mart, Home Depot, and Lowe’s in Carlisle certainly took business away from the downtown are and have thus severely affected the towns’ prosperity and business. Going along with the rest of the passage, I am wondering:
1. Did sidewalk traffic in downtown Carlisle change once the big-box stores arrived? Was there even a lot of walking around the downtown area before the big-box store phenomenon?
2. There are two tattoo parlors and many antique shops in downtown Carlisle. Will they be able to survive in the future? How many antique shops can there be in one town before business slows down? Where there ever more antique shops than there are now in Carlisle?