NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


June 30, 2004

The state of Vermont is listed as one of the most endangered places in the United States, according to the National Trust for Historic Preservation -- and they point to Wal-Mart as the problem.

In 1993, Vermont was the only state without a Wal-Mart store, but preservationists worried that the hold-out state would not remain that way. Currently, Vermont has four small Wal-Mart stores, with plans underway for expanding two of the stores and building an additional seven "mega" stores.

But some towns, particularly in manufacturing states, are welcoming Wal-Marts and other large retailers for the sales tax revenues and jobs they bring. In North Carolina, for example:

  • Surry County (with a Wal-Mart store) reported a $600 higher per capita income than neighboring Yadkin County (without a Wal-Mart store), but almost $7,000 more per capita in retail sales.
  • Surry County ranked 23rd out of North Carolina's 100 counties in retail sales per person, while Yadkin County ranked 83rd.

Opponents of "big box" retailers in Vermont worry about the impact of such stores on their communities, citing concerns they will consume farmland and contribute to sprawl, decimate small businesses and detract from the historic character of the state.

Critics claim that in a state with a population of only 600,000 people, the addition of seven more Wal-Marts would be the "critical mass" needed to destroy Vermont.

Sources: Rowland Nethaway, "Prices Falling in Vermont," Waco Tribune Herald, May 26, 2004; "American's 11 Most Endangered Historic Places 2004: State of Vermont," National Trust for Historic Preservation; and Lisa Hoppenjans, "Big-Box Benefits," Winston-Salem Journal, April 25, 2004.

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