|Main Street in my home town.|
We’re in the big city this week, visiting colleges with my daughter and hanging out with my husband’s family. While we’re here, we're taking advantage of the shopping. If you’ve never lived in small town, you may not understand what a treat this can be. The closest chain store (other than the discount drug box store that’s in every town, no matter how big or small) is over an hour away from our home.
I appreciate our small town stores. The merchandise is unique, usually hand selected by the owners, and reflects the personalities they infuse in their shops. Last time I went shopping for my sister's birthday, I dropped in on Hope and Glory, a cute florist-slash-country-kitsch shop. Jerri, the owner, chatted with me about my sister, my kids, her kids, church and other random hometown happenings as I looked around and selected a few items. She even wrapped them up with pretty paper and ribbon so they would look nice.
While in the Big City, my 17-year-old daughter was on the hunt for a prom dress. Of course, while we were out, I had to visit the local big chain bookstore. It was wondrous with rows and rows of books and best sellers, cute journals and fancy pens, even a coffee shop and free wifi. But when I needed help finding a book, there wasn’t anyone to be found. When I finally flagged down someone walking around with a harried but official look, she told me she was busy with other customers and to please go to the service desk. When I went to the service desk, no one was there until the same harried and official lady came up to the desk to help the other three customers already in line.
Our Main Street has an independent bookstore called the Bookworm. It’s small and carries a few best sellers along with a couple locally published indie writers. It also has an eclectic stock of small gift items, postcards, and locally crafted jewelry. They may not have every book stocked, but they’re happy to order whatever you need or want.
At one point, craving a pick-me-up, we stopped in at one of those chain coffee stores that are on every block in the city. No kidding—there are more of these coffee shops per square mile than we have cows in our ranch town. The coffee always tastes a little burnt to me, and the menu boards carry the same stock items. It’s all good though, and the product is predictable and tasty. But I missed the college student baristas of my favorite hangout at home and choosing my selection from an artistically hand-written chalk board.
We finally found my daughter a prom dress. It was no easy feat. (People really spend $200 on a prom dress that’s worn once?) We had to visit three or four stores, but we found a dress that makes her look like a womanly princess and didn’t break the bank. Of course, there's no way I'm letting her go to a dance looking like this. I hear rumor they actually let boys go to these things.
While cruising through the stores, we saw lovely shoes, clothing, earrings, necklaces and other things I had no idea I wanted until I saw them. I’d forgotten the allure of stuff. It’s much easier to feel content with what I own when I’m not being confronted with all the things I think I might wish I owned.
We decided to cut our trip short and head home tomorrow. Turns out Spring is still fighting for life and Winter is still winning. Since our drive home involves a couple mountain passes, we want to get ahead of the weather. I've enjoyed my time here. It was fun shopping with my daughter. But I'm ready to get home to our slower pace and forget about the material goods I might have wanted to buy.
Next time I need a gift, I'll look forward to visiting Main Street. I know when I push open the shop door and a bell jangles my arrival, a familiar voice will call out to me, ask after my family and help me find the perfect little gift. It will take me twice as long to buy something-- I'll need to plan for visiting time. But I know I'll be in fine company.