News from the Tennessee Valley Opinion


Wal-Mart will leave a void in Livingston after 25 years

Mike Colvin is one of the lucky ones, or maybe one of the smart ones.

Mr. Colvin has owned and operated Livingston (Ala.) Auto Parts for 30 years, according to The Associated Press. When Wal-Mart came to that Black Belt town 25 years ago, its competition killed some of his neighboring businesses. But his store wasn't hurt significantly, he says, because he sells enough items that Wal-Mart doesn't.

Now Livingston's Wal-Mart is planning to go out of business in January — not for lack of sales, but because the company will be opening a Supercenter in Demopolis and wants people to shop there.

Thus Livingston will experience a double whammy from Wal-Mart. Twenty-five years ago, it drove small stores out (but brought low consumer prices, along with jobs and sales-tax revenue). Now that Wal-Mart is leaving, many of the small businesses are no longer available to fill the void.

Students at the University of West Alabama and those who can't afford the 30-mile drive to Demopolis, among others, will miss Wal-Mart. But the change represents opportunity for Mr. Colvin and for people who may want to start businesses or move into the market. Maybe they can deprive Wal-Mart of some of the business that it expects Livingston residents to bring to Demopolis.

We wish we could say the change won't be painful, but that's not realistic for places like Livingston where big economic losses cannot quickly be absorbed. And towns similar to Livingston exist all across the Black Belt.

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