Two weekends ago, my girlfriend and I traveled to Staunton, Va. for her high school classmate’s wedding. I had been to Virginia only once before – I traversed the state’s narrow, western sliver without stopping on a 2005 road trip.
The ceremony was great, the drive was pleasant and Staunton reminded me of a bigger Zionsville. Similarities notwithstanding, I did encounter one striking difference between this place and that one: liquor stores do not sell beer there.
To repeat: liquor stores do not sell beer in Virginia.
You can imagine my surprise upon learning that fact from a southern gentleman named Warner, who must have noticed my increasing bewilderment during a fruitless search for Bud Light from behind his check-out counter.
“May I help you, sir?” he asked in a pleasant, southern drawl.
“Um, yes, I’m looking for beer,” I replied in a confused haze.
“Liquor stores don’t sell beer in the Commonwealth, sir, but I’d be happy to direct you to somewhere that does.”
“Sorry, I’m from Indiana.”
“Do not apologize about that, I have a cousin who lives in Indiana,” he mustered up with a smile, even though I was looking at him as if he’d just told me he was from Mars.
After he’d given me detailed instructions on where to find beer and how to get there, a woman waiting in line mentioned there was a Walmart across the parking lot.
Warner immediately lost his post-antebellum merriment.
“I believe Walmart is the spawn of the Devil ma’am,” he retorted in a rising voice, “and I will not send him there!”
The rest of the trip unfolded, but I kept thinking about Warner, Walmart and Zionsville’s upcoming decision. I’m supposed to remain impartial, but the direction this town should lean is clear.
On its face, Walmart is not bad – it simply boasts a business model so airtight it devours everything in its path, and that Sam Walton masterminded a flawless machine is no crime.
What is unfortunate, is that Walmart is the antithesis of everything the Village stands for. Walmart fills a need in some places – where else to shop for NASCAR merchandise without showering? – but it has no place here.
I’m afraid if Walmart comes to Michigan Road, domino No. 1 in the Zionsville-as-Carmel-2.0 plan falls. I think we should listen to Warner on this one … After all, he helped me find beer.