Friday, September 26, 2014

Not Everything can be Bought Online - but would we WANT that?

I recently came across this discussion about hobby shops and model trains. Granted, that probably a fairly small niche which may be struggling to remain on it's feet - let's face it, when was the last time you saw an average kid who was into train layouts and building model villages and actually not looking at their phone? Yeah, I know....I almost hate that I just typed that because it disturbs me, deep down in a sad sort of way. I don't often want to hear the word "progress" because it almost implies that it's okay that we don't encourage this type of thing anymore, and that walking around like mini robots staring at a screen is the new normal. I'm not even 50 and I hate what I'm seeing.

But I digress. The comments from this particular individual underscore what you CAN get in a physical, brick-and-mortar store, that online warehouses or Amazon can never offer. Do we value that? I guess not as much as we once did, otherwise those giants wouldn't be thriving while small businesses are dying, and yet there's no replacement for standing in a little shop, with the smell of "smoke" in the air puffing from a tiny locomotive, listening to the whistle of the engine and the familiar, comfortable chat of the locals who come in to shop and gather there.

The poster went on to say: "The one that is still in business is in an Ace Hardware store. They offer discounts that make them competitive with the Internet dealers, or they would probably have also folded by now. They're 80 miles from me and are the closest even at that distance, but having an opportunity to see the item up close and personal instead of relying on a manufacturer's glowing description sometimes makes the trip worth while."

Ouch. It would be a damn shame if all of our small places where you can touch and feel and hear what something is like were gone....wouldn't it? If you are lucky enough to have independents still in your area, value them. There is no replacement for these icons and if we lose those familiar favorites and connections and people then our communities will be forever changed.

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