One of the things I struggle with in the modern world is who to patronize with the measly amount of dollars that I float back into the economy. I know, it’s not enough money to lose any sleep over, it’s the principle of the thing. I’m a recent subscriber to Amazon Prime and while I love the convenience of home delivery, it bothers me that I’m making the Amazon executives richer with every purchase. I’d really rather patronize a local business and help a family in my neighborhood, but sometimes the convenience of it all is just too tempting to pass up.
One of the things that I appreciate about my parents (both deceased now) is the example they set in this regard. We belonged to a local Parish in SE Portland, which in and of itself is a community of people who are like minded in certain ways. Mostly in religious beliefs, but also in things like child rearing, education, morality, and work ethic. Not 100% aligned, but to a large degree.
My parents patronized their fellow parishioners to a fault. They didn’t have a ton of money to follow this ideology. Dad was a teacher. Mom was a part time nurse. With 4 kids, there was, as Dad used to say, “A little extra month at the end of the money.” Nevertheless, they were extremely faithful at patronizing their fellow parishioners who owned local businesses. The gas was almost always gassed up at Pliska mobile on Division street. The weekly grocery shopping trip was always to Hebers, a very small privately owned grocery store on Stark — which also had a hardware store adjacent to it. The two stores were owned by brothers Ed and Fred which was a family business for decades until the larger chains forced them to sell. Make no mistake about it, the prices at Hebers were not favorable to what they could have purchased down the street at Fred Meyers. But they went there anyway.
When we needed a fence built, or something fixed in the basement, the local carpenter from the parish Chuck Higgins got the call. Every single time. Cost wasn’t every a primary consideration. It was the principle of the thing.
This thought process crossed into my consciousness this evening as we tried a new local pub for happy hour called Stickmen Brewing. We loved it! There are a few places around that are locally owned. Ancestry Brewing is one. Haydens Lakefront Grill is another. Anything but Applebees or Olive Garden please.
Donna and I typically give this issue some thought before we decide on where to spread our limited cash around and we try, but it’s getting harder. The big chain grocery stores like Safeway, Winco, Fred Meyers and New Seasons have pretty much obliterated businesses like Hebers. People call Geek Squad for technical help. I challenge you to find a TV repair shop. I found one in SE Portland a year or so ago and the crook still has my broken TV. We had a falling out over his atrocious communication skills.
This just makes me think of two things. First, I appreciate the example my parents set for me, though I was to blind to see it at the time. Second, I think it’ll be a sad world in front of us if all we are able to do is rotate between Costco, IKEA, Winco, Target and Wallmart for our personal shopping needs. We need to look out a little bit for each other.