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Small Town Geography being reshaped by Mega Drugstores
Two mega drugstores now in downtown Mayfield
On a cold day in January, the downtown of Mayfield, Kentucky was being reborn. Two giant big box drug stores had their fix on this small county seat of Graves County in far western Kentucky. Walgreen’s and CVS were opening their signature brand stores within a ½ mile of each other along highway 121. This is the main highway running through the town and has Wal-Mart, Big Lots, Lowe’s, seven fast food chains and five large scale gas stations. In other words, this is the main drag.
 
What used to be the Central Business District now has one city block for a bank, city hall, antique shops, three vacant three story brick buildings, one city block vacant, and the new CVS on one city block. Of the six city blocks that touch or border the Court House center lot, there are only a small handful of traditional retail shops. Most have gone out of business or moved out to the “strip.” The major activities downtown are the business of the County Court House and the County Jail.
 
The opening of these two mega drug stores is part of a new movement within small town west Kentucky where the dominance of Wal-Mart is being challenged.  Ever since the 1970’s, Wal-Mart has been the retail king in rural Kentucky. Wal-Mart during the 1980’s went on a building spree with their Super Wal-Marts. These new super stores were located in a regional shopping landscape about twenty to twenty five miles apart. For twenty years,Wal-Mart ruled rural America.
 
In 2000 through 2009, Wal-Mart lost its hold on its primary retail geography. Dollar General came after Wal-Mart during this time period. They build stores on a site within seven working days and operational within three to four weeks. They hit Wal-Mart over price cuts. Dollar General targeted soft items like paper goods and personal items. These items were marked down 25% off of what Wal-Mart was selling them for. In 2008, Dollar General added food to their inventory.
 
Historians will probably point to the 2008-2010 time period as the point in retail marketing history when Wal-Mart’s regional retail empire suffer major earthquakes and cracks in its core foundations from not only Dollar General but also Walgreen’s and CVS drugstores.
 
The core business and government center of Mayfield share the realities of change. As extreme weather weakens century old buildings and they collapse, often all that remains will be vacant, uninhabitable buildings or parking lots.
 
 Last year several old brick buildings collapsed on the east side of the court house square and threaten to take several more buildings with them. CVS moved in and purchase the east side of the court house block. More old buildings were taken down. CVS built its now very modern drive through drug store and retail store complex on the east side of the square. Half a mile down the road on Highway 121, Walgreen’s just completed its 10,000 square foot super modern drug store and retail store complex.      
 
Both of these super stores have redefined the small town character of what used to be Mayfield. Big box retail stores like Wal-Mart and now mega drug retail stores are burying the 20th century character of casual southern living style with new 21st century speed shopping and drive through fetching retail. 
 
Mayfield now joins Murray and Paducah Kentucky as being yet another example for what passes for progress in an age of vast consumption. Benton, Kentucky is planned as the next small community to undergo this modernization of receiving mega drugstores.
 
Soon, all the towns will look the same and act the same. Somewhere along this road is a man in a black suit, telling us to slow down for we are entering the Twilight Zone, where we check in our individuality and become a part of the corporate plan for sameness.  
 
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