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065eruer readers ore SMART PROGRESSIVE INVOLVED INFLUENTIAL GOOD LOOKING c$\(9 ore \(&server advertisers r Get noticed by Texas Observer folks all over the state and nation. Let them know about your bookstore, service, restaurant, non-profit organization, event, political candidate, shoe store, coffee house, boutique, salon, yoga studio, law practice, etc. TheTexas Observer ADVERTISE IN THE OBSERVER! REASONABLE RATES GREAT EXPOSURE Call 512-477-0746 and ask for Julia Austin ore-mail [email protected] 06server reoJersr Consider advertising your business or non-profit in the Observer. GOOD FOR YOU GOOD FOR THE OBSERVER TheHumanities Research Center at Rice University offers a weeklong public lecture series featuring speakers from a variety of academic and professional backgrounds to address the long-term social, cultural, economic, alucational, and demographic impact of Hurricane Katrina on the city of Houston. Humanities Research Center Free and ope to the public Before Wal-Mart’s arrival, Clarksville was holding its own. While it had never been a tourist town, miles from the interstate as it is, it had managed to retain just enough natives to sustain it. The town square, as I remember it, was full and diverse. There were clothing stores, drugstores, a hardware store, and a dime store. It’s a cliche by now, of course, but things began to visibly change within about five years of you-know-who’s opening, and the square has struggled for viability ever since. Today it’s a strange mishmash: an antique store or two, an Italian restaurant, a movie-rental shop, and a title company. Amazingly enough, a drugstore dating back to the 1930s is still there \(missing its soda fountain, but But the first thing you notice about the square now is its sense of general scarcity. It was revitalized in 2003 under the Texas Historical Commission’s Main Street Program, and while the aesthetic effect is nice, it’s hard to mask an absence of business with a fresh coat of paint and some new grass. John Nichols owned a ladies’ boutique on the square at the time of Wal-Mart’s opening. He closed the store in 1990, when it was no longer feasible to operate because most of his customer base other local business owners whose own stores had taken a hitcould no longer afford to shop there. He considers WalMart only the most obvious cause of the square’s demise, though, citing the lure of big-city shopping, increasing mobility, and changing business concepts as other contributing factors. Sometime in the early 1990s, Clarksville was deemed worthy of an upgrade, and Wal-Mart abandoned its original store for a bigger one, though not a Supercenter, on a neighboring lot. The old shell and accompanying parking lot still standtoo small for Wal-Mart, but too cavernous for any homegrown business; it serves as a monthly distribution center for the local food bank. The new store wasn’t given much of a chance when Supercenters began appearing menacingly close by. There are five Supers within 45 miles of Clarksville, in New Boston, Mount Pleasant, and Paris, Texas, and Idabel and Broken Bow, Oldahoma. Clarksville’s store was literally surrounded, and the gradual result was an inferiority complex. To local shoppers, their hometown Wal-Mart came to seem inadequate and outdated compared with the robust Supers. Sure, it would do in a pinch, but more and more, residents passed it by in favor of one-stop shopping down the road. For that reason, I think many residents feel some respon 30 THE TEXAS OBSERVER FEBRUARY 22, 2008