Monday, July 9, 2012

Here and gone

Back to work today after a week-plus staycation.  Nice to be off work.

Writing this morning about things, particularly businesses, that appear to be here one day, and gone the next.  To wit:

I went to a bakery in an adjacent neighborhood on Saturday, hadn't been there in about a month.  On my way out of the shopping center where it's located I noted that a dry cleaner that had been there seemingly forever was now gone, space vacant and a "for rent" sign prominently displayed on the front windows.  Just down the way another business, which was an eclectic mix of gift items, imported decorative things and a small bistro was having some sort of "house auction" and apparently going out of business.

What I already knew was gone from this center was a high-volume discount gas station which has been located there for about twenty years.  This place was always open, and always busy, and because it was situated right on the corner of the intersection where this shopping center is located (along a pretty busy secondary road), always plagued traffic because of people trying to get into and out of this place.  The lot is now completely vacant, and it looks as though the gas station won't be rebuilding, as the tanks were removed from the ground shortly after the building was razed.

But the biggest shock in this category was that our neighborhood hardware store, which is less than a mile from our house, is going out of business.  Closing forever.  Lost their lease.  Everything must go.

Oh, my God.

This means I'll now be forced to go to a big-box home store, the next nearest place that has what a hardware store has, and troll the aisles hoping to find that odd toilet part or that package of nuts and bolts I need to fix whatever.  When we bought our house, this hardware store already existed, and I have continually told the owners how happy we are that they're nearby.

No more.

My wife and I have speculated that another tenant in the shopping center, an upscale steakhouse with multiple locations and several different dining concepts, wanted more space and that the other merchants who are scattered through this part of the center will likely be relocated to accommodate this restaurant group.

Or not.  Anything's possible.

The moral of this, I suppose, is that you can't really count on anything anymore.  At least not of a business nature.

Here's another example of what I mean.  There was a time that you could bank on your local phone book having complete and accurate information, particularly in the white pages.  Now?  Not so much.  The example I use is that our daughter misplaced an important item while she and her family were visiting with us over the past two weeks.  We turned the house inside out looking for this item, and began to retrace where we'd been with this item, hoping that perhaps it had been found and turned into the various establishments that were visited.  As we went about calling several of these businesses my wife used the phone book, and I used Google.  In several cases, my wife reported that there was no listing for places like the Disney Store, businesses that have existed for some time.  The funny thing is that we noticed over the last few years that the phone book we use (and the other half-dozen we routinely discard) had phased out residential listings, presumably because so many people no longer have a land-line phone and therefore they have no phone number to list (since cellphone numbers aren't available in such a way).  But you'd think that the business listings would be a little more accurate.

Is it a tragedy that a hardware store or a dry cleaner is closing?  It is to the owners and employees.  Always hate to see a family business go under, unless it's totally voluntary and deliberate, and not forced by other circumstances.  But life will go on, whether we like it or not.

Funny how that works.


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