For at least ten years, I've suggested that the signs of a region in decline are easy enough to see.  Part of it is enabling the dysfunction that's endemic everywhere.  Part of it is the retailing after the Bourgeois have left.  " I use the brevity of the store signs as an indicator of the local economy. {TAN. NAILS. TATTOO. CHECK CASHING. DOLLAR + wildcard} downscale."

When Britain's Guardian notices that the dollar stores move in where Walmart won't stay, or doesn't even try, maybe we have a phenomenon.  "Dollar General was not only a threat to all that but amounted to admission his town was failing."

Or perhaps we have a virtue signal.
Dollar General’s aggressive pricing drives locally owned grocery stores out of business, replacing shelves stocked with fresh fruit, vegetables and meat with the kinds of processed foods underpinning the country’s obesity and diabetes crisis.

Dollar Generals are frequently found at the heart of “food deserts”, defined by the department of agriculture as a rural community where one-third of residents live more than 10 miles from a grocery store selling fresh produce.
Yes, I understand that contemporary agriculture is primarily a wholesale enterprise, with factory farms shipping animals to feedlots and packing houses, and monoculture fields sold in advance to food or ethanol factories.  And yet,  "What is a farmers' market in a college town if not the place to get some smug with your artisanal cheese, or to buy a virtue signal with your free-range eggs, and all to the accompaniment of Bolivian folk music.  Now word reaches Intersectionality, Inc. that such food is more expensive than the processed stuff at the supermarket.  The horror!"

Yes, rural community governments ought think carefully about offering tax inducements to retail stores, as they're unlikely to pay off.  At the same time, Guardian readers might want to look in the mirror and see just who is responsible for the fresh fruit and vegetables being bid away from the hinterlands.

That is, if that's even what's happening.
With decent paying jobs increasingly scarce in rural Kansas, a good part of the population of Buhler and Haven work in large towns with ready access to a range of rivals from Walmart to farmers markets. It’s easier for residents of what have become bedroom communities to stop at a major store on the way home from work and only use the local grocery shop for last-minute supplies such as milk.
So much for stratification by trip purpose. So much, also, for the notion of food deserts?

More productive transportation, plus technical progress in gathering and distributing food, rendered communities located a day's journey by wagon and team from local farms to elevator or railroad station obsolete long ago.

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