Maricopa is for the Horde?
I live in Maricopa, Arizona — a relatively small town nestled between two Indian reservations, 30 miles south of Phoenix in the Gila River Valley.
Maricopa is what people in the metropolitan area refer to, derisively, as a “bedroom community”; that is, a quasi-urban sprawl of tract homes and very little else. There are currently two grocery stores on opposite sides of the main thoroughfare, State Highway 347 (the second deadliest road in Arizona!); a handful of fast-food restaurants; three sports bars; an Ace Hardware; and — I’m not kidding — the Maricopa Business Barn.
As its name suggests, the Maricopa Business Barn is, in fact, a barn. With businesses in it, including a second-hand clothing store and a full-service day spa and hair salon. (I’m not sure how that works, given that the barn backs up to the Union Pacific line. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want anyone anywhere near my face with a pair of scissors when the freight train comes roaring through town…)
Maricopa is a casualty of the housing market in more ways than one: During the boom, it was the third-fastest growing city in the nation. Its population quickly outstripped its infastructure, exploding from 1,040 in 2000 to an estimated 37,863 in 2007.
After the crash, it became a ghost town of foreclosures and abandoned rentals. Nightline recently profiled Maricopa, describing it as the “poster child of the housing crisis” — a reputation that the City Council is trying desperately to live down by courting big business to seed a new commerical sector.
The only success so far? Wal-mart … scheduled to open in May, 2009.
Now, the fact that Wal-mart is coming to town (even in this economy) doesn’t shock me. I expected it, sooner or later.
What shocks me are the responses the announcement has recieved on the local community forum. First, there were the usual criticisms of Wal-mart, its questionable business practices, and its reputation for attracting a lower-class clientele:
“I remember when the [Wal-mart] at Arizona Ave. and the 202 opened up,” one poster remarked. “For two weeks it was great … then the hordes showed up.”
Amidst the agreements, the disagreements, the accusations of snobbery and classism, there was this …
“Yeah, I don’t have a problem with the Horde showing up. For the Horde!”
“Do they sell “Pro Horde” bumper stickers?”
And, thus, I learned something else about Maricopa. Something I would never have imagined:
Maricopa is for the Horde.
Suddenly, the fact that my house is worth a third of what I owe and I’m trapped in this dusty little town until the market turns around doesn’t bother me quite as much as it once did. My neighbors are my kind of people.