Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Why I Say No, Thank You to Wal*Mart

My house has been in my family for four generations. It was built in 1850, so it has seen its share of amazing things... If only these walls could talk! It had its start as a boarding house for the Factory workers, until my Great Grandparents came over here from Italy, bought the property, and started a restaurant and bar (we won't discuss their indiscretions during prohibition...)

Generoso and Rose Siano were the first generation of small business owners in my family. They had a few children; you may know Ralph Siano who owned a sausage stand across the way from the beer tent that was a fixture at the Saratoga County Fair for over 80 years. My grandmother was Florence Martino. She was the second small business owner in Ballston Spa in my family line. She owned a Candy Store out of her home. My dad, Jimmy Martino, was the third generation-- he had a hair salon on Front Street for over 20 years!!!

I have dreamed about working for myself and owning a small business in Ballston Spa my entire life. If you look at my family history, it's kind of my destiny. So, maybe my reasoning for not wanting Wal*Mart is selfish, I want to be a small business owner in Ballston Spa some day. I have been doing a lot of research about what happens when Wal*Mart moves into small towns like ours. I think that everyone should do their own research and come to their own conclusions, so I won't divulge, but I will direct you to a documentary on YouTube called The High Cost of Low Prices that is a good starting point. It's also available on Netflix.

The biggest argument for Wal*Mart is that we need a grocery store in Ballston Spa. The argument that has been made is that both Hannaford and Price Chopper both said "No" to building here. I don't know if you have driven through the Town of Ballston lately, but there seems to be a lot of farms there. Wouldn't it be a better resource for both the farmers, and the people who live here, to build an indoor, year round, farmers market on the property? Wouldn't it be wise to work together to solve the issues that our town faces, in a way that is sustainable for future generations, and that keeps profits in the local economy instead of in a billionaires pocket? Because when is the last time a Wal*Mart has built a playground, or a pool for a village?

Why do I say No, Thank You to Wal*Mart? Because I want smart growth in Ballston Spa. I want to see local families succeed, I want our local economy to grow. I am not afraid of change, in fact, I encourage all of the changes that Ballston Spa has made as long as I have been alive. It's become a hub of creativity, of music, good food, hard work, friendship, and working together.

90% of Americans live within 15 miles of a Wal*Mart store. Wal*Mart is not a rarity, it's not an unattainable place from Ballston Spa. It's even on the bus line... Do we really want one to be right on top of us? 

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