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faded glory:
which way is the wind blowing?
by candy green gustavson

We are told the recession might be over. President Obama visited Wall Street and warned it not to do the dastardly deeds again. Toward the end of his campaign for President, from September to December, 2008, I was visiting family in New Zealand. I cried one day driving down one of the Four Avenues in Christchurch thinking about America's having her first African-American President.

By November, Down Under, news about the economic crisis in America was getting New Zealand a bit jittery, wondering what the effect would be on its economy. Kiwis and Ozzies wondered if America's real estate bubble had really burst. Had America's ties to China resulted in bondage? Was the glory of Consumer America fading?

During this time in New Zealand, I saw businesses and banks which were too heavily global, selling buildings, regrouping, cutting back. Reduced. Those that had been more conservative, whose assets were kept "at home" during the past 15-20 years, were doing just fine. Rising.

Even though New Zealand, like America, is a debtor nation, there has always been encouragement by its government for the citizens to stay out of debt. I am hoping Consumer America has learned some lessons because for many years we have been encouraged by our government to be in debt.

Throughout this ordeal, WalMart, not Wall Street, has become my barometer. I know, I know what you're thinking--but, suspend that unbelief for a minute: WalMart IS the general store. Until this July, we had to drive 25 miles to the nearest one. We didn't buy our meat there; that was reserved for the market in town that is a "cut above" the rest. But, WalMart is great for produce, the munchy stuff and picking up the every-now-and-then inedible goods. It's not a health food store.

To get to the closest WalMart, we had to drive in a straight line out of these mountains down a road that seemed like a bowling alley to me. I have hated that drive away from the mountains. The only good part was stopping at a salvage store on the way--my favorite store, I called it, because there always seemed to be something excellent to find there: overstocks, something that hadn't sold well, something that was past its "use-by" date--real bargains.

During the worst six to seven months of this recession--say January to June or July--the goods for sale at this independent salvage store were down. In fact, the place seemed kind of empty. Nothing new. The goods seemed to be staying at Big Lots or Rite Aide in the city and selling there; they weren't making it up the road. The ride down the bowling alley wasn't as much fun.

It was at this WalMart, in the early stages of this recession, perhaps in March, I overheard bits of a conversation. A young, what we used to call "upwardly mobile" mother and young daughter, both dressed a "cut above" the rest, were talking about a purchase which might have been made without thinking in different economic times. I heard the mother say to her daughter, "No, we're not going to buy that. It's not good value." She sounded like a Kiwi!

And I felt hope for Consumer America.

Late in July a Super WalMart opened in my town. It was under construction for almost a year. The big news around town was that the last six months were about stocking it--that was news worth spreading. Six months to stock a store! But, the actual building site, with all of its changes to the main road, came after a couple of years of rumors about where the WalMart would be built.

Land was even sold once, we heard, which would have put the WalMart at the end of a range of mountains where every eye could have seen it. This was too horrible to contemplate or speak about. If mentioned, no one picked up on the subject. Our almost famously religious and, until the last election, dry community, must have been silently and fervently praying because that site fell through. Too much granite to blast away. You could almost hear a collective sigh in the hoots and hollers.

WalMart found its spot across the road, on a lesser hill of red clay. It's right after the sign welcoming those coming north to our town which promotes itself as the gateway to the Appalachians.

WalMart actually did a decent job. The building is not too visible from the road; all the earth moving opened up mountain views which are astounding. I have some feeling for the more wealthy across the road on the original mountain site who, not only have a view of daybreak, but also WalMart's large parking lot.

We went to the opening scheduled to start at 7.30AM. We were spilling out the doors. The parking lot was full. Everyone who was anyone was there: the Mayor, the newspaper, the Chamber of Commerce, WalMart executives. All gave speeches. "We think we've got it right for you," the lady exec said. We felt special.

So, no more bowling alley rides for me. Hooray!

On the way back from church today, we stopped at WalMart to pick up some fruit. I told my husband I wanted to check out blouses I had seen earlier in the week for $5. 100% cotton. Nice detail and stitching. Pants, too, at a reasonable price. Waist band at a proper waist which, I have read, is the new fashion trend. Hooray again! The label was "Faded Glory," one that I seem to remember from other stores I can't remember, from another economic time. The cashier asked us if we wanted a WalMart charge card and we happily said "No, we are just fine without one."

When I got home, I read the labels more closely, expecting to see "Made in China." But, to my surprise, the clothes weren't made in China. The blouse was made in India, the pants in Bangladesh.

China, watch out. Consumer America's glory may be faded, but it's still global!


late bloomer, fontanelle of the baby boomers...full of hope, believing in life-long learning, mentoring, doors opening...mother of four, grandma of one: I cultivate gardens in both hemispheres of earth and brain...

more about candy green gustavson


how espresso got me into prison
by candy green gustavson
topic: general
published: 10.25.09

we've become complacement:
the freedom of thanksgiving or the bondage of slavery?
by candy green gustavson
topic: general
published: 11.26.09


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