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2006-03-12
Douglasville, GA. Wal-Martís Retail Musical Chairs

The following story, which was sent to Sprawl-Busters by Elizabeth Davis, narrates the intricate tangle of uncontrolled growth in a southern town under development pressure: "In the late 1980s to the mid 1990s, small businesses were booming in the small town of Douglasville, Georgia. One of the most successful businesses was Douglasville Books, having moved from its original location in the Kroger shopping center on Highway 5 to a larger location in the Wal-Mart shopping center less than a mile away. Their success took a downward spiral when, in 1999, Arbor Place Mall opened on Douglas Boulevard complete with a Borders Books. The bookstore discontinued sales of new books, became a used bookstore, moved to a strip mall, then to a smaller location on Douglas Boulevard next to the strip mall. However, Douglasville Books isn't the only small business to see sagging sales. When Arbor Place Mall opened, many small businesses couldn't compete with the mall. When the Super Wal-Mart opened, Cub Foods in the old Wal-Mart shopping center closed. Rhodes Furniture moved from the same shopping center to the Douglas Pavilion shopping center across from the mall on Chapel Hill Road. Chapel Hill Road has been the center of town politics for a decade or more. The Douglas Pavilion shopping center opened a couple of years before the mall did. The mall broke ground in 1997. Stores in Douglasville Pavilion included Media Play, Hallmark, Pier One, Bombay Company, a small independent toy store, PetCo, Office Max, Rack Room Shoes, Cato, Party City, and Target. Stores closed include Media Play (it couldn't compete with Borders and FYE at Arbor Place Mall), Hallmark (there is a location in the mall), the toy store (there is a KB Toys in the mall), and Cato (now JW Tumbles, a kid's gym). Ross Dress for Less opened in 2001 and Goody's moved from their location on Highway 5 to a location next to Ross shortly after the mall opened. When the mall opened, they also opened a shopping center called The Landing up the hill from the mall on Chapel Hill Road, which, by the way, was widened from two to four lanes for about a half mile where the mall is located. The Landing consists of the following: Logan's Roadhouse, TGI Friday's, O'Charley's, Circuit City, Toys R Us, Michael's (which moved from its old location after the mall opened), Asia Buffet, and a few more small stores. Souper Salad closed a couple of years ago. This leaves an empty shopping center -- the Wal-Mart Shopping Center on Stuart Parkway. This was once a hub of activity -- and the only place to be on a Friday night. Stores included Sally Beauty Supply, a store that sold dining room furniture, Cub Foods, Wal-Mart, a computer gaming store, Rhodes Furniture, and a dry cleaner. When the mall was announced, Wal-Mart decided they would open a location down the street from them. When Wal-Mart opened its superstore location shortly before the mall opened, it closed its location on Stuart Parkway. The other stores followed suit -- every single one. Now the only stores that remain are an office for the Douglas County Sentinel and a hair salon. The old Wal-Mart is essentially a vacant lot now and is a popular hangout for teenagers at night. The population has increased at least 120% in people over the age of 50 since 1999. The city's population is currently at 92,000 and is expected to skyrocket in the next few years. In 2000, the city's population was 20,000. In 1980, the city's population was just 7,641. There are more businesses opening soon. A shopping center is about to open down the street from the Douglasville Pavilion Shopping Center which will include the city's third McDonald's location, second Starbucks location, second Verizon Wireless location, and a couple of other unnamed stores (Krispy Kreme pulled out). In the other direction, three more shopping centers will open within five miles of each other. One will most likely have a couple of big box stores (though none have yet to be announced) because of its size. The second will include a Kohl's location and the third will be the fourth Publix location in the county. Another shopping center/hotel is currently under construction across from the street of a recently built car dealership. So where does this leave citizens who moved here twenty or more years ago, hoping Douglasville would remain a quiet, small-town community? Nowhere."

What you can do: This recounting of a Georgia town's retail movements is enough to make anyone dizzy. While the big chains moved about, the smaller establishments died off. Shopping centers opened and closed, and stores moved around like chess pieces on a crowded board. And somewhere in between the strategy moves, the small town of Douglasville, Georgia disappeared. To see Elizabeth Davis's blog about Douglas County's progress, go to:
_http://elizacountry.blogspot.com/_ (http://elizacountry.blogspot.com/)










 
 
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