Other Campuses: Wal-Mart nation

By Iowa State Daily

(U-WIRE) AMES, Iowa – Men and women fell over each other. Children ran screaming. Professionals and analysts looked on, both worried and excited. When the dust cleared, it was uncertain how much damage had been done.

No, it’s not the recap of your Thanksgiving dinner. We’re talking about the “day after tomorrow,” that all-important shopping day just after Thanksgiving, known as Black Friday.

It was a celebration of all-American consumerism. Big corporations ruled the day, drawing in cash-strapped shoppers with discounts and incentives that left smaller stores out in the cold.

People literally crawled over one another to get into the stores. Stories of shoppers trampling one another were common in local news across the country.

Retailers saw an astronomical $8 billion in sales on Friday alone, down 0.9 percent from last year. Economists grimaced at the overall picture, but several retailers found themselves grinning like Cheshire cats Saturday morning.

At the end of the day, it was clear the discount retailers had garnered the most sales. Wal-Mart boasted a record-breaking 10 million people had walked through their doors by noon Friday. They were drawn in by a blitz of television and print ads.

Boutique shops and even large specialty clothing stores – like the Gap – were unable to compete with 5 a.m. openings and rock bottom deals. Consumers flocked to the deals, the brand names, the big sales and the flashy advertisements.

It’s a story that should sound all too familiar here in Ames.

Our downtown district continues to struggle even as large-scale retailers, like the new Super Wal-Mart, move in. Smaller stores with greater local control struggle to compete against McDonald’s, Starbucks, Best Buy, Staples and the Home Depot. Designated festivals, parades and holiday shopping events are an effort on the part of downtown business owners to draw shoppers away from the large-scale chains to spend their money in the local downtown, instead.

As we saw Friday, Ames is facing a trend that appears to be nationwide. It is strangely comforting to know our own shifting economy here in Ames is being shared by our neighbors everywhere.

Staff Editorial