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Walmart Museum

Curt Sampson’s biography of legendary golfer Ben Hogan is choc full of economics:

 After 40 years in Dublin, the Hogans left the town in June 1921 for Fort Worth. It is uncertain if the Hogan children had ever been to the big city before, although Cowtown had a new attraction that was drawing people from many miles away – the Leonard Brothers Department Store. The Leonard brothers, Marvin and Obie, had invented the superstore – everything for the home, farm or ranch under one roof…

leonards Of course, Leonards is now in the history books. Notice how mammoth this store in Fort Worth was – it takes up over an entire city block, and is organized almost like the modern day Walmart. Notice the car traffic.  Did Leonard’s, itself a Mom and Pop, not displace other mom and pop stores? Why was it so popular and why is Walmart so disliked today? As I understand it, Leonards and Walmart were part of a suburbanization trend, each offered products at varieties and prices unmatched by its competitors, each encouraged use of the automobile, each dramatically changed the look of “Main Street” … and I am positive that Leonards did not offer any of its employees health insurance or pay all of them above the minimum wage (neither existed at the time) … but now places like Leonards are celebrated in museums? What an odd world. I have my theories as to why the different treatment. It would make a nice project to examine the history and development of establishments like this one or Orbach’s or Sears Robuck or JC Penney or Woolworth, etc. as they compare to Walmart. Any takers?

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