In this month’s Richmond Magazine, between the full page ads for new housing developments, Richmond restaurants and retail sales was a short article questioning the necessity for this new construction in the
Richmond region. Janet Giampietro’s article “Conspicuous Construction: Does Richmond Need Another Retail Mecca?” asks important questions about what motivates new development and whether it really benefits current residents. She challenges the new retail development in
Chesterfield and Henrico counties and wonders about how this devouring of open space into retail plazas will impact consumers and the land. She acknowledges how the service sector is a growing employment base and how the population is growing in the region, but wrestles with questions of consumer habits and why so much retail space is necessary.

“My concern is not about the people working in these stores. It’s about all of us shopping at them. How many nail spas are too many? Do we need another entire emporium of perfume? Much less two?”

Giampietro is asking the right questions. The lifestyles of most Americans have become dominated by consumerism. We are bombarded by reasons to spend money, buy more things, want more possessions and to make a day of going shopping. Leisure time has been replaced by shopping time. This is evident in the pages of Richmond Magazine, and most other newspaper and magazine publications today, full of advertisements to save and spend. Giampietro reflects on why this has become a trend and discusses the need for people to challenge the consumer lifestyle by spending more time in natural settings and enjoying the company of friends without spending money to do so. She discusses how only a value-based approach will truly be able to challenge unnecessary retail construction and consumption. Of course retail development often goes hand in hand with residential development, which is actually the topic of a feature article of
Richmond Magazine, “Goodbye Varina, Hello Suburbia.” With the many new developments such as Rockett’s Landing and Tree Hill Farm on the way, it is necessary to question the appropriate proportion of commercial and retail space needed to accommodate these new residences, and if this even plays a role. Either way, it is up to the citizens of the
Richmond region to voice their opinions on what is happening to the open space in their region and question the effect of this development.