Thursday, July 16, 2009

Think Local, Assume Global, Return to Local

I grew up in a big Meijer community. That's where we went when, in high school, we had nothing else to do; where we bought everything we could sit on, eat, look at and play with; where we bought our gas and flowers.

My hometown of Greenville was also the birthplace of Meijer, so one drive down Main Street alerts visitors that Fred Meijer has Invested In The Community with sculpture, events and sponsorships. I happen to know that the Meijer family has given more than most people think to my hometown, as my mom is the executive director for the hospital's foundation and our family counts the Meijers among their friends.

I don't write these things to gab about my hometown or my family's connections. I write them to assure you that I love Meijer and all of its deals, contributions and, really, cute clothes.

I also love Target, but have no personal connections to the chain. I love it solely for acquisitional purposes.

Anyway, yesterday I had a list of about 300 things I needed to get, all at different stores, for our busy next few days. I took Marta and as I set out, I realized I could probably find everything I needed at one store if I drove the half-hour to Gaylord to go to their Meijer (Petoskey's Meijer is scheduled to be done in 2o10). I calculated it would take me the same amount of time to drive there, shop at one store and drive home as it would to drive to all the different places in Petoskey and shop at each one.

And I did find everything I needed. But it was different. I don't know if I'm changing or if the store was really and truly too big and too confusing, if there were too many people to distract me or if it had been winter I would have actually appreciated the one-stop shopping. I suspect it has something to do with the dairy counter which was NOT IN THE FOOD SECTION but in the middle of bedding, electronics and toys. When I asked a manager about this he said, "Now you have to walk through all those departments to get to dairy and you might want to buy things you didn't know you needed." Seriously, he said this.

And I did find organics, but I don't know the farms the fruits and vegetables come from, and I had to wait so long at the deli that I gave up and bought packaged meats and cheeses.

When I went to pay I held my breath because I bought a lot of things, but it wasn't too bad and I feel like if I had bought all of those things locally my bill might have been more. But how much more? 5 percent? 10 percent? I think it may have been worth it.

We like walking from store to store in our downtown. The clerks and grocers know my kids by name. I can always get help easily and I don't ever feel like I'm being tricked into buying unnecessary bedding.

I do wish we had a bakery, a butcher and a drug store downtown. Then I'd never have to leave my little mecca of shopping and park enjoyment. But I think that even my little box stores like Glen's and Oleson's outperform Meijer, deals included.

Realizing this makes me feel a little sad, relatively speaking, but also a bit more respectable in my small-town life, because I always felt like I was the only one in Petoskey who wished she were in Grand Rapids when she shopped.

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