Something Good About Wal-Mart
Yes, I know Wal-Mart is ruining the American landscape. They’ve sucked the life out of small-town America by gobbling up all the Mom and Pop stores and siphoning most shoppers away from the town. The town I live in now has a very vibrant and lively downtown. There’s a Wal-Mart two miles away which hasn’t impacted the downtown area, and we’re all determined to keep it that way.
But, there’s one very humane thing that most Wal-Marts do. They allow vehicles to park overnight in their parking lot.
This article tells about RV campers who utilize Wal-Mart parking lots on their motor trips. (Local RV campground owners are less than thrilled about it.)
But this policy of Wal-Mart affected my family in a more personal way. We had a close relative (now deceased) who was homeless. This was in Sonoma County, California, which is gentrifying and sterilizing as fast as it can. Ten years ago Santa Rosa Avenue was full of cheap motels with weekly and monthly rates. In the past few years they’ve all been torn down or converted to upscale inns and bed & breakfasts.
Lots of people (such as our relative) get caught in the middle when a region suddenly decides it wants to be Beverly Hills. Rents skyrocket and become unaffordable to lots of residents. These displaced residents are now labeled as “undesirables” for not being upscale enough for the area’s new image. The Powers That Be want these “undesirables” to just vanish. Disappear! Go somewhere, anywhere, just leave and quit blighting our new paradise of vineyards, starter castles and luxury hotels.
(This was true of the Santa Rosa and Russian River areas; I can’t speak first-hand for anyplace else.)
Our relative had a van that he lived in; this was his absolute last choice after being unable to afford any motel or apartment in the area. It was difficult finding places where he could park and sleep without being harassed and/or arrested. Thank you Wal-Mart.
There were some commuter park & ride lots where he could sleep, but not legally. Overnight campers wouldn’t usually get hassled if they kept a low profile at the park & ride lots, but “usually” isn’t very comforting if you just want some sleep.
The Wal-Mart in Windsor, CA is where he stayed most of the time. The other Wal-Mart in the area, in Rohnert Park, didn’t allow overnight parking (I think it was because of a city ordinance).
So, for all the bad publicity that Wal-Mart gets — and most of it is probably deserved — we will always remember and appreciate their humane policy of letting people park overnight in their lot. It made a huge difference in some people’s lives. Thank you Wal-Mart.