Making a pie and I run out of cinnamon – ugh! What to do? No problem, I can just jump in the car and take a quick run up to Hufsmith to the general store, which is a lot better than having to drive all the way into Tomball to shop at Klein’s. Fast forward to early married life in the 60s in Schenectady, NY: baking biscuits and no baking powder. Again, how to solve this problem? Same answer. I can tie on my sneakers and hop on over to Dave’s Corner Store, just a block away. After all, this is city living. Every corner should have a Dave’s!
Presently, I am living in a rural mountainous area of Upstate New York. And, yes, we do have a corner store – Sullivan’s General Store. One can fill up a tank of gas, buy a newspaper, enjoy a delicious cup of coffee and some good fellowship, rent a DVD, and buy any number of small items that might turn up being needed on the spur of the moment. I have bought heavy cream, spices, bread, coffee, Olmstedville caps, maps, and other items – just what I needed at the time.
In addition to our four corners’ Sullivan’s General Store, I take advantage of two Grand Unions, which are small versions of the larger metropolitan mega-grocery stores. I understand that I might pay a few pennies more for items purchased in the Grand Union as compared to the Price Chopper or Hannaford in Queensbury. It becomes a choice of driving 8 to 15 miles to shop at the local Grand Union, as opposed to the 40 mile trek to the larger stores in the Glens Falls area.
So, why support the local Grand Union who, generally, will sport higher prices and a much smaller array of choices? Technically, the Grand Union is not a “corner store,” but in a very real, daily sense for those of us who live in an out-of-the-way place, the Grand Unions in North Creek and Schroon qualify as corner or convenience stores. Still, though, why shop there? Why not just save up my list of needed items and shop when I go to the big city?
You can get excellent sale buys at the local store every week. Just like the larger chain stores, Grand Union advertises weekly sales on meat, fresh produce, and other goods. For example, I almost squealed with delight when I found oatmeal for $2.39 per large box, regularly priced at $3.99. One can add savings up quickly with buys like that. I have never seen such a buy at one of the larger stores. Also, it is a lot cheaper, knowing that I get 30 mpg with my Chevy, to drive 16 miles round trip to No. Creek rather than 80 miles round trip to Queensbury ($1.50 in gas as opposed to approximately $8 per each trip). Third, people in the local store get to know you. They greet you warmly and are genuinely happy that you have chosen to shop in their establishment, rather than the larger store choices. You are a real person to them, not just a face of profit.
Honestly, I don’t know what I would do without our local four corners’ Sullivan’s and the small grocery stores in the two nearest small towns. It feels good to keep my money in my local rural community. It is satisfying to know that when I spend my money in a local store, it keeps the store running and helps to employ yet another individual in an area where unemployment can run high. For me, it is an expression of pride in my region. Our little mom-and-pop establishments lend character to a community. I will continue to support them, even if it means a few pennies extra leave my pocketbook. They are a few pennies well spent! And spending those pennies makes me feel good!
By Joy Healy