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Letters: On Graffiti At Town-n-Country
Mess or Message
November 3, 2015

t’s no longer just a boarded-up storefront that you see on entering Oriental from Hwy 55.

Those plywood boards were nailed in place late last week as the Town-n-Country grocery shut down after 4 decades in business because of insurmountable competetion from the WalMart Express, a few hundred yards away.

That saga appeared to have inspired the graffiti that appeared on the storefront’s boards on Sunday morning. Spray-painted across the front – “Welcome to Oriental” and “Thanks, WalMart” – while on the side entrances, more blunt messaaging.

Some readers wrote in to say they didn’t like it. Others saw it as inevitable.


Odd that so many of our neighbors would now guffaw at Oriental’s latest art installation. To this observer, the piece reminds us in immediate and brilliant fashion of the inherent economic dysfunctions that so often result from rampant consumerism and dog-eat-dog capitalism.

It now appears that those who enthusiastically greeted the Arkansas retailer’s sudden invasion and imminent pillage of Oriental’s local-grown and interdependent businesses are now, when faced with the newest exhibit of aerosol expression, feigning concern over the quality of life and welfare of our town.

Bravo, mystery artists — whoever you are! Bravo!

Brad Cecil

To the Editor:

The closure of Town and Country was indeed a sad event and the subsequent graffiti an added insult to the situation.

The arrival of Walmart was certainly a major driving factor in this business’s failure but there seems to be an underlying issue here. This is the short-sightedness of the leadership in the town. There was no consideration as to what the town would or should do to prevent another abandoned building.

There were abstract comments that alluded to some fanciful notion that Walmart would feed disadvantaged (who by the way seemed to frequent T&C until the end), arguments over water etc, but very little consideration to the overall impact to the town.

These sort of arguments missed the larger more pressing questions such as the abandoned building issue, the image of the town and what the leadership’s vision for the town is. These are things that effect all in the town and surrounding areas. At risk of bringing up a sore subject in Pamlico County and Oriental, I will refer to the saying “a high tide floats all boats,” meaning if commerce improves in the town it will help all.

Oriental is a town loved by many and confusing to many. The town wants to encourage balanced tourism, real estate investment and overall economic stimulation but is reticent to move in a deliberate manner to improve the towns longevity and charm.

I’ve seen towns all over this country fail do to so for a myriad of external reasons but they all had one internal thing in common. Lack of vision and the desire to make things happen. I don’t think that’s the case with Oriental but it is up to the town — no one else.

It is granted these comments are coming from an outsider in the suburban area of Greater Merritt so care should be taken in the consideration of this letter.

Juergen Miller

To the Editor:

The plywood covered windows of T&C, whether covered with graffiti or not, is a depressing sight. With Miss Ruth’s permission, I suggest that we (the Town or a group of individuals) hold a mural contest. Artists can submit sketches of their ideas for a mural to cover the plywood that reflects all that is positive about Oriental. Volunteers could execute the winning design at a Town event. The mural could become a “destination”.

Ken Laser
Oriental, NC

To the Editor:

I empathize with the letters complaining about the graffiti at Town and Country. It reflects poorly on the town. However, this is what comes with vacant buildings. The likelihood of a vacant building is one reason many people protested Walmart’s entry into the market.

The free market at work is not always pretty, but do people expect that the property owner who lost her business will paint over the graffiti each and every time it occurs?

Or will someone petition the Town Commissioners to take responsibility? After all, the Town Commissioners supported Walmart.

Jim Privette

To the Town of Oriental:

The invasion of Wal-Mart to Oriental naturally compromised its quaint character, many times preceded across the country. Who invited them in? Who patronized their business so much that quaint old respectful Town & Country was run out of business? Disgraceful, very sad, but unquestionably the natural outcome.

Susan Stephens


Let’s not add insult to injury. Renee and Ruth went to considerable expense to buy new plywood and have it installed to both protect the windows and the interior. That someone, either sarcastically or seriously, could use the words, welcome and thanks, in connection with Walmart on private property that for 45 plus years has served our community, is disgusting.

Rather than complain about the graffiti, for which the owners are in no way responsible and must hurt them more than any passersby, we need to find a way to help them cover over the insults. The best way would be to find the intruders and watch them paint over the words themselves. Otherwise we can have a fund to have it covered as recognition of Town and Country’s service to the community. Ruth and Renee and all their good employees, do not deserve this ugliness.

Grace B. Evans

Dear Editor:

On Sunday morning while making my way through town I was surprised to see the graffiti scrawled on the plywood covering Town & Country’s windows and doors. Its presence, regardless of the message or purpose, is disgusting and only adds one more obstacle to a beautiful town that is already struggling to attract business and tourism.

Oriental doesn’t need this blight and the authors, artists, or vandals, however you see them, acted selfishly when they put their own emotions ahead of the good of the town. Their support for Town & Country or anger with Walmart is lost in the disgusting mural created.

John Cassillo,

To the Editor:
I really hope there are immediate plans by someone to paint over the graffiti scrawled across the boarded up Town & Country…all of it. It is embarrassing to have this be one of the first things a newcomer sees as they drive into town. Despite how we may feel about Walmart and the loss of T&C this is not the image we want in Oriental. It feels like you are driving into gang territory, not the Sailing Capital of NC.

Carol Wright

(Photo: Ben Casey)

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