Sunday, November 27, 2016

I Blew it on Small Business Saturday

I just couldn't do it.
Saturday was "Small Business Saturday." I was supposed to go out and support local small businesses and snub the big chain stores.
But it just didn't happen.
I needed hardware for my new house - nuts and bolts, that type of thing.
Anybody seen a local hardware store around lately?
I ended up at Lowe's and got what I needed.
At least I didn't go online. Or shop at Walmart. Give me SOME credit.

Shopping local just ain't as easy as it used to be. Many small town stores just don't exist anymore. It's all Home Depot and Target and Toys R Us and Petsmart. The best I could do this past Saturday was have coffee at a non-chain coffee shop--A place with three chairs, a lady with braided hair and an espresso machine that sounded like a VW bug. But that didn't happen. I made myself Starbucks coffee at home. My home is small; does that count? It wasn't that long ago there were small stores for tools, electronics, pet supplies, sporting goods, and toys. Now they're like endangered species: Rare, specialized and really expensive to try to save.
I grew up in the 1970's and 80's in a suburb of Los Angeles. Even being that close to the big city, we had lots of small businesses to support. A few of my favorites were Burt's Pharmacy (I was too young for prescription meds, but they had LOTS of jawbreakers, lemon-heads and Snickers bars) and Marty's Hobbies. Only one of the two still exist today and it has added drones to its inventory. Poor ol' Burt probably got beat out by Rite Aid and CVS. I wonder if Marty is worried about Hobby Lobby coming to town? I remember back in the early 1980's Marty had a soda machine right at the front of his store. It wasn't the usual type of machine. It was a tall metal machine that dispensed bottled soda---grape, orange, cola, lemon lime. I think they were 25 or 30 cents--I can't remember--but you would put in your money and pull a soda out of what looked like a vertical wine cooler. It made a great ker-chunk sound when you pulled it out. Even better, it had a built in bottle opener and when you pried the bottle open, the cap would fall in a catch basin below. Soooo coool. The grape soda was the best! Sometimes I would just go into the store to get a soda and walk out. I wasn't much of a fan of the remote control cars or model airplanes. I preferred the music store just a few doors down that had cassettes and CDs in giant packages. I forget the name of this
store, but it was where I bought my first CD. I wish I could tell you it was U2, or Talking Heads, or Bruce Springsteen, but instead it was Falco. I know, it's a crying shame I saved all the money from washing Dad's car and scooping up dog poop in the backyard to buy a CD with Rock Me Amadeus on it.
Now I don't even buy CDs anymore.
I don't buy music anymore!
I have a subscription to Spotify and listen to Sirius XM in my car.
My how things have changed.  Even if I wanted to buy a CD this past Saturday, I would have been hard-pressed to find one. Does Best Buy still sell CDs? I had heard they were phasing out their CD department. Plus, I was not about to elbow my way around sleepy people carrying $40 ninety inch flat-screens to get Sting's latest album. Album? Speaking of album...
Remember record stores?  So maybe I am not old enough to remember the REAL record stores of the 50's and 60's with listening booths and rows and rows of vinyl, but I have perused a few pretty cool ones in Southern California. I have about 100 records in my collection and love the scratch the needle makes when you first put it on the record and the rush of warm nostalgia that flows out between the crackling of dust.
I should have hit some records stores on small business Saturday. It's just that I didn't need any more records and the things I did need, were not available at small stores anymore.
Small business Saturday. Shop local while you can; if you can! I didn't do such a great job this year, but I'm grateful my childhood was full of bottled soda and 10 cent candy in small cardboard boxes. I'm still sorry my first CD was a one hit wonder though. By the way, where is that thing? I might be able to put it up on Ebay.

-Hope A. Horner, 2016
Contact author on gmail at hopeh1122

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