The pace of development drags in West Warwick, R.I., as in many other places, and the allure of a CVS drugstore grows. CVS, whose national headquarters is in Woonsocket, will not, it appears, even give special dispensation to a fellow municipal denizen of the Ocean State. The company insists on the ugliest architecture it can get away with. The Arctic Village Redevelopment Agency was recently turned down flat when it tried to get CVS to offer more embellishments for its proposed store in that community.
In the case of Arctic, it is supposedly the developer, who plans to build the building and lease the space to CVS, who is the villain. But if CVS raised the level of its architecture all across the board, not to good but to acceptable, it would still profit. The developer rejects improved architecture because it knows that’s the standard response at CVS to citizens who want to improve their communities. If developers insisted on something better, CVS would have to submit. If CVS insisted on something better, developers would have to submit. If citizens (customers) insisted on something better, both would have to submit. The cost of mouthwash might end up rising a penny. Or not.
On top of this post is a photograph of a decent CVS in Bexley, a suburb of Columbus, Ohio. At the bottom of this post is the CVS designed and pre- approved for Arctic – the one that the AVRA bent over backward to ask kindly for improvements. One sometimes has to resist the temptation to conclude that CVS hates the people and communities that are its meat and potatoes. Else why would it inflict this on them?
“On CVS, Ignorance, and Bad Formula Retail,” by Andrew Faulkner, is from a blog in St. Louis, nextstl.com, that follows CVS and other big-box retail trends. Here is a key passage from Faulkner’s article:
Bexley became famous in the mid-1990’s for preferring an empty porn shop to a new McDonalds franchise. In the end it took over a decade for McDonalds to open a location. Cognizant of recent history and focused on the location, CVS worked under a stringent set of local planning guidelines to open a location at 2532 E. Main Street in 2006.
If Arctic, and West Warwick, and any Rhode Island community wants to get some respect from CVS, it is going to have to dig in its heels and demand to be respected. Most other places cannot have their citizens travel to CVS headquarters and make a big stink. But people from Rhode Island can. And most people involved in the development process – private businessmen, government regulators, regular citizens – don’t like being obnoxious. But incivility is certainly getting a leg up this year. If citizens and their elected (and appointed) leaders want to free their communities from the crap that CVS typically offers, they’ll have to grit their teeth and act like jackasses. Otherwise CVS and its ilk will not give them the time of day.
Other communities with guts and moxie have done it. Rhode Islanders have a longer history of in-your-faceness than most other places (remember the Gaspee). Maybe it’s time to consider something along those lines. And perhaps not just in regard to CVS.