I have been thinking a lot lately about locally owned businesses… in this day of chain everything there is a uniqueness that is lost. Don’t get me wrong, there is something to be said for being in a strange town and seeing that familiar logo that tells you what kind of food you’re going to get when you walk through the door. But with all that sameness I fear we are losing something… something that is rather intangible but yet feels so physically present.
I offer up the following examples… I will never forget buying jeans and work clothes from the New Fowler Store on Water Street. I kid you not, I still have in my closet a pair of brogans (that’s work boots for you laymen) that I bought the summer after I graduated from high school, 35 years ago!! They had the best prices on Lees and Wranglers anywhere.. and besides those, what could you ever want except maybe a pair of Duck Head khakis or a pair of painters pants, right?
I loved to go into Chesson’s on Main Street and watch people buy stuff. It was always exciting when they did because there were no cash registers in the store… the would write up your purchase on a pad, take your money, put in this little box looking thing (that kinda resembled a roller skate without wheels) attach it to this pulley system that ran all over the store and the little box would go zipping around up to the office (kinda like those tube systems work now but this was all leather straps and you could see the entire thing)… the office lady would take everything out, make change, put it back in the box and zip! The box would come flying right back to where it was initially sent! It was like magic!
I loved to go over to Rucker and Sheely and ride the elevator up and down… don’t know why… just did…. There was Cader Harris’ Mens Store, and Hurdle Hardware, and Barr Brothers, Bradshaw’s and Louis Selig Jewelry Stores..
Each one of these places were so unique. They provided a lot of the same services but the character and knowledge of the employees was the best. And the fact that so many of them knew me by name or knew my family just added a real level of comfort that I just can’t find today.
Yeah.. chains are okay.. but I sure would love to go shopping for jeans back in the New Fowler Store just one more time….