Musings

Big Hulks and Little Gems

Simple. Little. I’m seeing a theme emerging.

It started with a bookstore that I went into over vacation followed by a big box store I went into two days ago.

One of my first posts on this blog was about the fact that I had all but boycotted Walmart. It got to the point where the place was making me twitch when I went into it. Big, fluorescent lights, cheap goods, etc. Well, the other day, and it’s been about two years mind you, I went back in. *Gulp* My daughter and I were planning to make a craft project for the first day of school that we found on Pinterest and the only place near us that I could think to get the three little items we needed was…Walmart. I seriously circled the parking lot about three times, brainstorming where else I could aquire what I needed. Or….should I drive several towns away for three measly items that would total probably six dollars? I’d probably spend more in gas than I would on the craft supplies and that didn’t seem smart. I was hoping for extra-points from the locovore-gods in that I was actually weighing this retail decision. Do I suck-it-up-cream-puff and *shiver* go into…there? 

I did.

I ran in, got the three things I needed (vase, pencils, ribbon) and ran out as fast as my little legs would carry me.

It was quickly reconfirmed to me why I don’t choose to shop there anymore. Not my thing. Too big. Too bright. Too impersonal. Too….blech…I don’t know the right word. Hyper-consumerism at it’s best? Maybe that’s it.

Counter that experience with a bookstore that my family went into while on vacation. We discovered it a handful of years ago and return each summer. It’s the best. A tiny, privately-owned bookstore (“bookseller”, as they like to call themselves) with lots of nooks and crannies. They have a good selection, a view overlooking the harbor and a sweet staff. They talk with you and make eye-contact. I have told them each year that I hope they continue to thrive in the midst of the big bookstores and Amazon extending it’s reach. There is a little cafe and by little I mean three tables.  My family members can each be found inhabiting different corners of the wee store when we are in there. The kids’ section has a window seat overlooking the water and is almost like a private library. I’m usually in the cooking or travel shelves (all six feet of them) and my husband wanders between mysteries and fiction, itself another nook with a window seat.

Here, I wanted to linger. We all did.

Fine, fine, fine. You’ll probably say that I’m comparing apples to oranges but it’s impossible not to. Our retail society used to be comprised of these little places, the mom-and-pops stores that sustained communities and even helped to ground them. Now, they are struggling to stay afloat while these giants lumber into town.

A friend of mine (“B”) will point out that I have a Kindle. Yes, I got one a few Christmases ago and really enjoy it. It’s the best thing to hit traveling since suitcases with wheels. I also like that I can throw it in my purse, it takes up almost less room than my cosmetic bag,  and I have reading material whenever I have a few minutes to spare. It’s the Kindles and the computerized word versus the printed word that are putting these little bookstores out of business. I (horrifyingly) realize that. I overheard the owner telling a rather elderly gentleman customer that authors are having a hard time making money because they don’t produce hardcovers as much as they once did. $30 hardcover versus the new $10 Kindle edition. No contest there.

So, while I eschew stores like Walmart and then turn around and own a Kindle, I try to make some amends. It’s hard to not get caught up in the “big” world, but you can pick and choose a bit. You have to, that’s all there is to it. I’m doing away with Walmart and it’s roll-back prices. I will, however, go into big bookstores AND small bookstore AND own a Kindle. I aim for more small bookstores than big, obviously, as I want then to survive. They really are such gems.

My only rationale here is that reading, in whatever the form, trumps a slightly smaller price tag on paper towels.

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