The big chain stores have finally found
Thailand’s poorest province and
it’s provincial capitol of Nong Bua Lamphu.
My wife loves them; especially here in the Isaan where the stores’ air conditioning can provide much needed relief on a blistering hot day.
My oldest son and I have opposed “big boxes” (named after the structures built to house the big chain store) at various times in our lives, mostly due to the tendency of these businesses to drive out smaller, more indigenous, retail shops; what sometimes are referred to as “mom and pop shops”.
I think the Big Boxes have their place as long as they don’t directly compete with other, smaller businesses. For instance, when I neede to set up a home LAN (local area network; home wi-fi), I shopped at the new Tesco-Lotus (locals call it “Low-tut”). They had a better variety of models to choose from and a return policy that was fair. Many stores in
Thailand will not take an item back
once purchased, no matter if it’s brand new, you bought it that day or the day
before, and have a receipt. To me, that’s just bad business.
Remember when I wrote about the “building boom” going on? Our village is only about “seven clicks” (seven kilometers) from Nong Bua and only a couple of clicks away from the nearest Big Box. Consequently, a lot of the building taking place in our village is intended for housing of workers who will staff the Big Boxes. Basically, they are single room/bathroom apartments in unites of 5-to-8 clustered together here in the countryside.
I guess the presumption is that a lot of out-of-town labor will staff the Boxes. Presumably, also, this labor force will be young and single, or at least without children.
It remains to be seen whether young renters will want to be so far from the lights of the city, even if they are only using the apartments as sleeping pads. I certainly have my doubts about the viability of these rental units spouting up like crazy, not only from an economic standpoint (after all, I want our villagers to be successful), but also a cultural one. If these apartments do get rented out, how’s the character of the village going to change with so many young people moving in and out, who we don’t really know?
We will see.