Wednesday, July 05, 2006

My first Blog

My name is Caroline M. Dunlap. I come from a small to medium town located in South Carolina called Hartsville. I lived there for 18 years up until I left for Boone in 2004. Hartsville is an ok town. Speaking in my own personal opinion I would never want to move back and grow old there. I still like visiting though. Considering other small towns around the area, Hartsville would be at the upper level of the spectrum. We have more than one stoplight, Coker College, a couple of nice restaurants, four grocery stores, oh yes and we can't forget the Super Wal-Mart. Which I think is good for the economy and businesses around it, but a very large threat to Hartsville in the long run. We also have a stable, well-rooted industry located in Hartsville. Sonoco Products Company (they make paper products) has been around for quite a while. Mills and warehouses have come and gone through out the history of my town, but Sonoco has been there for quite some time. Sonoco and the Nuclear Power plant, those would be the biggest employers.
These industries help keep Hartsville intact but in the early nineties Hartville got some major plastic surgery that made it such a better place to live. The downtown area was in desperate need of a facelift. The sidewalks were crappy, there were abandoned buldings all over the place, it was just ugly. A new guy got hired for the planning job, and he really did a nice job. Trees were planted along the streets of downtown. Where an abandoned building once stood, a city park was installed. Brick was layed for the sidewalks, and many other nice things. He did such a good job, Hartsville was even named an All-American city one of those years in the 90's. I forgot. Hartsville, has so much potential, and this change made its potential shine in my eyes. New businesses were popping up and old ones were getting a face life along with everything else. This was such a good time for Hartsville. Hartsville still looks good from this renovation, but things are beginning to change for the worse, in my opinion.
Things all went downhill with the introduction of the Super Wal-Mart. We had had a regular Wal-Mart before and it was just fine. Then we had to go and get one of those Super ones, which everyone was excited about. With the Super Wal-Mart came the long strip mall with the same old stores that are beside every super Wal-Mart, and then the fast food restaurants that pop up along the edges, oh, and the gas station too. I think they have some type of layout that they use everywhere, because I went to Newberry, SC a while ago and there setup was the exact same as Hartsville's, right down to the stores and everything. It was a little strange, and scary. Whatever happened to creativity? I hate that Hartsville has lost its small town identity to Super Wal-Mart and all of its excess baggage.
When I come home now, I can really see the effects of Wal-Mart and the gang to the actual downtown area of Hartsville. Many stores in the downtown area are losing tons ans tons of business. It is ridiculous. It is starting to look like a ghost town. The only thing that hasn't lost tons of business is the Sonic Drive Thru which attracts all of the teeny boppers and such. Many businesses have had to shut down, they just can't compete with a corporate giant like Wal-Mart.
It is really sad to see these beautiful historic buildings going unnoticed and slowly being forgotten, while the cheap construction of Wal-Mart and others are being worshipped upon. I used to pick cotton where those stores are located. There are still a few fields surrounding these stores, but they are filled with plastic shopping bags. It is disgusting.
If I had it my way, I would burn down Wal-Mart, but that is totally illegal. Seriously, something needs to be done about this. What can you do though? How can you get rid of a Wal-Mart without having angry mobs of people hunting you down. So, getting rid of Wal-Mart is out of the picture. What could I do to keep downtown Hartsville alive. Hmmmm. It would be nice to liven it up a little. Attract people to the area for different reasons than those that would usually result in a trip to Wal-Mart. I'm thinking, cute caf├ęs, ice cream parlors, art stores, eclectic coffee shops, revamp the movie theatre, antique stores, more bars for the college kids (the college is practically in downtown). I would like for Downtown Hartsville to be a place where you could walk to or drive and park, and relax, hang-out, and enjoy the ambience of the whole historic downtown area. A refuge for those who are tired of being controlled by Wal-Mart. It all looks so perfect in my head.

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