- Big Box and the Small Town
- By KIRK CRIPPENS
- The 60th Missouri Photo Workshop / St. James, Mo.
Perhaps nothing is affecting small town American life more than the development and spread of big-box chain stores. When Wal-Mart Distribution Center #6069 opened in St. James, Missouri on September 11, 2001 it instantly became the largest employer in town, currently employing 750 in a town of approximately 4,000 people. The 1.2 million square foot facility and the land it sits on were purchased and built with a bond passed by St. James. Both are leased to Wal-Mart with a 20-year agreement. Because of this arrangement, the center avoids property taxes. However, they donate $350,000 to the St. James school system each year and are active in many community organizations.
The center itself, a bustle of machines and activity, runs twenty-four hours, seven days a week. Approximately four hundred trucks come and go each day. The general manager, Dr. Brad Frazier, has been in charge of the facility since it opened. He is proud of his employees, many of whom he has known for years. DC #6069, its machinery, and the people it employees are cogs in the massive Wal-Mart distribution chain.
A cart stuffed with goods waits to be emptied in the parking lot of the Rolla, Missouri Wal-Mart. The customer who made the purchases said, "There's no other place to shop."
- 1 of 11