A New/Old World

Today MJ and I were in search of a lighter quilt. So we made haste to Bed Bath and Beyond. The Bed and Bath are self explanatory…but what about the Beyond? It was also time for me to purchase an anniversary card..tomorrow is our 43rd…which is a neat trick for we young people to pull off… I had not visited our mall, which is about 3 miles from our home, for over a year. What a difference a year makes. Our favorite burger restaurant, S & B’s, closed right at the beginning of the 2020 Pandemic and will not reopen. Aaron and Jonathon and I spent many an enjoyable Saturday sitting at the huge bar and sipping a Dragon’s Milk. I likened the bar to the television show Cheers…’Where everybody knows your name.’ I peered through the windows of the shuttered happy place…and was sad to see that it had been totally cleaned out accept for the marble bar. Just down from our closed restaurant is our closed Macy’s Department Store. My favorite occupant of the now vacant Macy’s space was the St. Louis based, Famous Barr, which had been a journey destination for our family when we traveled to St. Louis, Missouri. I recall attending the grand opening of Famous and Barr in our town. I pondered that the benefits of St. Louis had found the little city of Carbondale. Now I look through the glass front of the empty Macy’s and remember the many enjoyable times that I spent in the store. I was such a frequent visitor to the store in it’s early days that everyone truly did know my name…

Jonathon bought a Stratego Game and we played it yesterday. It is a game that I thoroughly enjoyed playing as a youngster. It is a game of military strategy. it is somewhat reminiscent of chess. Jonathon won the first battle…

Some of our businesses have closed temporarily…while other have moved away. I remember when our mall had a large Montgomery Ward Department Store and a Sears Department Store and as well as a multitude of clothing stores and restaurants and during Christmas Season you could not find parking and the police directed traffic. It was a main street under one roof. People went to the mall to see…and be seen. It was not so many years ago that Toy stores were in every town. We had a Ben Franklin Dime store in Eldorado and it was resplendent with toys and action figures and model kits of cars, planes, and monsters, and all manner of things for young crafts women and men to not only glue together but to also paint with little bottles of model paint of every color in existence.

Retail has changed dramatically with the advent of the internet and thus Amazon. Our 2020/2021 Pandemic has devastated small businesses. The reduction of students attending our University has diminished the support necessary to retain financial viability for many businesses in our town. Seeing problems is so much simpler than devising solutions. Souther Illinois University @ Carbondale is working and succeeding in a heightened recruitment and retention of our precious students. Small business successes is commensurate on offering something that your customer needs and thus far has not been able to obtain. Engaged and proactive customer service is more valuable than the Biblical Gold of Ophir! I have purchased items big and small… many times during my life simply because the person that waited on me was so nice to me…

Home is a wonderful feeling. When we feel at home…we feel secure and safe and wanted and loved and appreciated. Those businesses…and churches…that make us feel at home…we return to…again and again…

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