In my town things generally chug along in an easy-going friendly manner. People stop to exchange hellos in the main street, you get to know the post office folk by name and it’s small enough for news to travel fast.
For instance, if you cared to know, the wife of the bloke who own the plumbing store ran off with another guy, and just recently a four-year-old boy went missing for over twenty-four hours. The boy was found unharmed. The deserted husband closed up shop, moved towns, and left the local trades men in a bit of a dither.
We have two petrol stations, five fish ‘n chip shops, two newsagents, several restaurants, and even a ladies clothing boutique, which does a roaring trade. But before I start parroting off the town’s itinerary of businesses, I’d like to skip down to the grocery stores.
We have two. The local and the corporate. The local store has been around forever, a locally owned franchise which had the whole town’s patronage for years. Then entered Mr. Corporate. He built the biggest building in the district, installed long wide food aisles, stocked multiple brands and speciality items and put up a neon lit sign, ‘Competition Has Come to Town!’.
These city guys aren’t dumb. They suck you in with visual appeal and time-saving convenience. Their floors are buffed and polished, their signs bright and eye catching. Mr. Corporate smiles lovingly at the frenzied house wife and says, ‘Come and enjoy your grocery shopping experience.’
When I was a teenager the flashy new store left the local one looking old and dorky. I knew without a doubt which I preferred to frequent. Several years on, my conscious has begun to make my weekly trek down Mr. Corporate’s aisle a mild personality crisis.
After several chats with family members and friends, I’ve began to realise Mr. Corporate isn’t the friendly nice guy he professes to be. Attractive home brands have started to infiltrate every shelf. Brands my mother and grandmother have trusted for decades are vanishing. Mr. Corporate’s mission for world dominance appears to have launched itself into the atmosphere.
So. After a couple of years of wrestling with a guilty conscious, I’ve come to a decision and put it into action today. Today, I drove past Mr. Corporate and his world dominating cackle, and took my shopping list to the little local guy.
Mr. Local Guy’s aisles aren’t as long, his floors not as shiny or his stock range as large, but he’s working very hard and giving service with a smile. I was surprised at how good I felt when I pushed my trolley up to the checkout. My conscious was happy and beaming, but more then that, I felt like I’d help someone out in a big way and they were cheering my name as I walked out to my car.
So this evening I’m waving the banner for all those little guys who have been around for years and are working overtime to keep it real. Next time you find the cupboards bare, turn that grocery shopping groan into a smile and go say hi to the little guy. You’ll feel great. It’ll be your good deed for the day. You’ll have the delightful opportunity to stick your nose up at people like Mr. Corporate.The extra mile is worth that.
xx The Girl in Trousers