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Small Businesses

htoys.jpgYesterday was "Small Business Saturday." I didn't shop at all yesterday, so didn't shop at a small business. But even if I did, I'm afraid most of them have left in my community.

The most recent to go was a place called Handlebar Toys. Originally it was in a huge building where true to its name, it sold bicycles. After awhile, it focused more on toys than the "bikes and toys" model. That may have been because of a bicycle store that opened across the street. (Another bike place is down the road a bit; that place is where I got my very first bike.) But then a few years ago, it moved into a smaller space in a strip mall. And in April of this year, it closed after over four decades of business.

I felt guilty. All those times that I used my mouse to just click on an easy buy, I could have bought a nice toy from the local shop.

Handlebar Toys' departure prompted me to think about other small businesses that I enjoyed growing up, but are no longer around:

When I was very small, Scotty's Donuts was just the place for a weekend snack. Now that space is the post office. The original small post office lies vacant.

I can still smell Carl's Delicatessen, even though it has been gone for decades. I miss the orange push-up pops I'd get in the back. And of course I miss the salami.

One of my very first "I did it completely on my own" gifts to my mother was a cross-stitch pillow. I bought the kit at Upstairs, Downstairs, a tiny stationary and craft store. Next door was a tiny drugstore, the name of which I've forgotten. Alas, the old drugstore is now a hamburger place and a Subway (which replaced the fro-yo place I worked for as a teen.) There is a local pet store in that space, too, which is good. (And hey, I bought some beta fish there!)

There were plenty of food gimmick places that came and went. Pasta Stop was a nice idea: beautiful fresh pasta and sauces, soft-crusty baguettes, and plenty of fun toppings. Fantasy Popcorn was definitely an 80's child: tons of flavored, brightly colored popcorn. And then there was the hotdog place. All it did was hotdogs, but not in enough creative ways to keep folks interested. (I later visited a fabulous hotdog place while in college that definitely did the concept well.)

I get a tear in my eye when I think of Fashion Boot, the shoe store that kept my feet dry and warm for the majority of my childhood. It was a true "mom and pop." They knew exactly what I liked. In addition to the beautiful display of shoes, they had a row that read "Fashion Boot" in wooden blocks. Sesame Street characters lounged around them. I always wanted to grab the figurines off the shelf, but they were too high for me. I wish I could have said goodbye to the owners before they disappeared.

We used to purchase our bread at Leaven & Earth, and we'd then travel across the street to Noble Pies for some Australian-style pasties. It was so much fun to watch our bread go through the slicing machine!

So yes, Cyber Monday is tomorrow. But, I hope some of you folks find those gems in your community that are still open. That would be a holiday treat.

Update: Thanks to some Facebook comments, I now know the drugstore was called Charles Drugs and the hotdog place was Frankly Speaking. Friends also reminded me of Fudge Alley, which was an ice-cream place that I keep believing still exists, which is why it wasn't on my radar for this post. The proprietor, Frank, was quite a character. During our breaks in between dance classes, we'd go get candy at Fudge Alley. Wonder what our teachers thought of that? And then there was Pizza Junction, which was the place I first played arcade games. I loved that I got to make my own pizza during a "behind the scenes" tour I took while a brownie.

Comments (1)

What a totally sweet recollection that jarred so many of my own memories. I was so crushed when I went to my hometown to find the one cool clothing store was now an Ann Taylor, the hardware store was a Starbucks, the car dealership was a Gap and the awesome kids' shoe store was just gone. On the brighter side, there were new indie bakeries and kids' stores, and at least the best hot dog stand in the world had hardly changed in 90 years.


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