The other day I was walking to a major grocery store and as I walked, I noticed the many small shops and businesses. I thought of Stanley, a fifth grade character that I created for the short story, “Thirteen Bread Days in December” (Traveling Streams). As he delivers bread to the local businesses for a Christmas school project, he sees people working in a variety of jobs. The experience offers him exposure to a host of professions and leaves him thinking about his future possibilities.
I had done a couple of walks before and if I had been driving, I would have missed these places that help make this a truly viable community. Here is a composite of what I saw and heard on these walks. Once, I heard an instructor, loudly giving instructions over the playing music. I later saw that it was a cycling center and I am sure that the students were enjoying their session as they were spinning.
I moved onward and walked pass a lumber store. It quickly took me back to my childhood days, when we lived close to a lumber yard. Nothing like the smell of freshly cut wood! To this day, I still like good, wooden pieces of furniture.
I continued on my journey, made it to the grocery store and left with a light load. I took an alternate route back home. There sat a Fiat and Nissan car dealership. I enjoyed looking at the cars and thought of my old Fiat Spider. It was baby blue with a drop-top! I then saw two men carrying a rolled up rug to a delivery truck. They were coming out of the Persian rug store next door and on their way to put a big smile on someone’s face.
I saw thrift and consignment shops on both sides of the street. In the window of one thrift store, I saw a nice set of China plates that seemed to be calling my name. Though they were not yet open, I said to myself, “I will be back.”
As my journey continued, I noticed people seriously engaged as they worked on laptops. It was lab and the sign said Members Only and I thought, ‘Okay.” I later looked into it and found that the members can use their space and equipment for individual or collaborative work. Nice concept!
Then, I saw the public library truck with its logo and the employee went into the small library branch. It was not yet open and the lights were still out, but he was doing his early morning chores; maybe deliveries or maintenance. It’s always good to have a library close by.
I went across the street to the well-stocked news store. I browsed the literary section and there were so many interesting national and international journals. I had to settle for a local newspaper but vowed to return on a more prosperous day and rack up!
I went back across the street and here are some notables; a post office, as American as apple pie; a jeweler wearing his magnifying tool to assess the true weight of gold; a major fabric store; a small bank; a beauty shop where teen girls anxiously waited to get their ‘hair done;’ a large Laundromat that always seems to have available washers and dryers and a barber shop where young boys were getting that fresh hair cut! It seems to always bring a positive attitude adjustment. I have seen it over and over.
I pause. So much. This is only an overview of the many shops along the way. As I walked by the cleaners, the woman who worked there was on the phone, smiling and enjoying her conversation. And last, before I turned that last corner, there is the neighborhood grocery store. It is a gold mine. Not only did I get chips and a coke, but I got a winter hat, a small purse and even a water pail to mop up the debris.
As I headed into my place, I felt like Stanley did after he had visited the places in his community. Small businesses and its shopkeepers are gems! The shopkeepers are gifted and they know their crafts. Those quaint settings still offer us a personal touch along with that special recognition!
Lynn December 3, 2014