Archive for Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Impact of store closing depends on perspective

April 2, 2008

It is said that Robert E. Lee's last words were "Strike the Tent." I first heard the expression when the circus came to town and it was time for the big top to be taken down and packed away for the next town. Robert E. Lee apparently looked forward to closing down shop in one place and opening it in another; or dying here, living on eternally.

I thought about that expression recently while walking the aisles of a grocery store, one of many to be sold in this area; this particular one simply closed.

I know this store like I know the back of my hand. I have been blessed or cursed, depending on the circumstance, with a photographic memory. Been there, done that, emblazoned in memory; kind of like gum stuck to the bottom of your shoe.

I could literally - though I have not done so - walk this particular store in the dark and find fresh produce, honey, jugs of water, bread, chocolate candy, milk, paper products and fresh fish. It is especially for the fresh fish that I began shopping at this particular store in the first place: dependable, reliable, fresh fish.

On the corner of 75th Street and Quivira, this store has been an anchor. Slowly other stores have settled around it: a book store, Starbucks, florist, liquor store and down the street a Panera Bread Company restaurant; making it easy to grocery shop, pick up a bottle of wine and have a light lunch.

I have followed the growth of the liquor store, run first by the father and now by the sons.

I visit with the son and chart the progress of the family's newest addition, a boy. I shop there during the holidays, to purchase wine for a holiday open house, but to catch up with the family as well.

The corner is a neighborhood; a small village. I wonder what will happen when the grocery store closes its doors for the final time this week. I asked one of the employees, at the fish counter, where she will go. She tells me she will move to St. Louis where her sister lives and where she is originally from. She describes the move as bittersweet. She worked here fifteen years, and now she's moving home.

In a way, she is like Robert E. Lee, ready to "Strike the Tent." She's ready to close one chapter and open another. Change seems to come in two ways - like a whisper on a cool morning or like a rolling ball of thunder in the night. Whether it is a cool breeze or thunderstorm seems to be a matter of perception. There are those who believe great good can come out of change, and there are those who believe change is simply the end of something good and nothing good can come from it. I am someplace in between, taking pictures in my mind.

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