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The nation’s longest-running fight by a small town against the construction of a Wal-Mart is in St. Albans, Vermont, a town about a half hour from the Canadian border. People in St. Albans have been fending off the coming of a Wal-Mart since 1993, reports Sarah Schweitzer in the Boston Globe. (Opponents pictured above.)
“The duration reflects the high stakes: Should Wal-Mart win the right to build in St. Albans, opponents fear the retailer would be poised to proliferate in rural corners of a state that has resisted its overtures,” Schweitzer writes. “Vermont has the fewest Wal-Marts in the nation, with four stores, compared with 46 in Massachusetts, 27 in New Hampshire and 22 in Maine. Wal-Mart officials say the push for a greater market share in Vermont reflects the realities of modern life.”
The Wal-Mart fight in St. Albans has been anything but one-sided. Unemployment is over 10 percent and people in town complain there’s no place in the community to buy a pair of underwear. “The conflict has divided neighbors and families, as issues of class and values have come to dominate the debate,” Schweitzer writes. “Opponents say that supporters are being materialistic in forfeiting natural resources and the downtown for inexpensive wares. Supporters decry opponents as elitist for keeping jobs and cheaper goods out of a county that could use both.”