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Lessons We Can Learn From Circuit City’s Demise

January 30, 2009

Martin Melaver takes a look at lessons we can learn from Circuity City’s demise over here. I was most struck by this excerpt:

Between 1970 and 1990, there were 25,000 shopping centers developed, or about one every 7 hours. Every hour of the day, something like 45 acres of farmland is converted to development, with more than a million acres a year lost to roads, urban sprawl, and parking lots. And what do we have to show for it but a tapestry of neon Anywhere-villes USA, with a loss of a sense of community and place, lives of ever-greater commuting and wastefulness, of carbon emissions and social isolation and declining health.

That’s an amazing statistic. This is exactly what I’ve been thinking for years. It’s doesn’t matter where you go in this country, it will took like everywhere else. Chain stores are so plentiful that every town looks like every other town. I currently live in Knoxville, TN. I moved here from Atlanta, GA. In my research on Knoxville to decide whether or not I wanted to move here, I checked the difference in the cost of living between Atlanta and Knoxville. According to several websites, the difference was substantial. Numbers I saw ranged from 15% to 20% lower cost of living in Knoxville. Now that I’m here and have been for 5 months, I feel like I can make a judgement on the cost of living difference. It’s no different than Atlanta. And I think the reason is because Knoxville is so full of chain stores that charge the same price here as they do in Atlanta. A Big Mac doesn’t cost any less here. In fact, it costs more, because sales tax is 2.25% higher here than in GA. Granted, I do take home more of my paycheck, since TN doesn’t have a state income tax, but everything I buy costs at least 2.25% more. I say at least, because in GA some food items aren’t charged as high a sales tax, but in Knoxville, everything is charged 9.25% sales tax. My rent is actually higher. My utilities are the same. Gas isn’t any cheaper either.

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