Tag Archives: small town life

As One Door Closes – - –

Jack’s weekly (kind of) guest post -

I have to admit that the sudden closure of the iconic ‘Mutual Pharmacy and Diner’ which features in The Little Bookstore, and in Adriana Trigiana’s Big Stone Gap series of novels, was a severe shock to everyone in our community. Wendy and I believe in places like that and so it hit us particularly hard. The fact that it was bought out by a well known national pharmacy chain (which probably needs to remain nameless, but is the only one in BSG) only makes it more poignant. Of course we are glad that said chain is re-employing some of the staff, but there’s a suspicion that it was all about removing competition.

But nothing lasts for ever, and that brings me to another point. Small towns have a USP (OK – I have an MBA so I’m allowed to mention a Unique Selling Point) and that is easily experienced, but very hard to define. It’s a mixture of architecture, culture, personality/character, position, dynamic and history (at least). Big Stone Gap has all of that in abundance, so I am optimistic about its future despite the closure of ‘The Mutual’.

Something else that the ‘Gap’ has is a growing number of people who realize that waiting for one of the existing established organizations to do ‘it’ for them is not necessarily a recipe for success. When Wendy and I travel around the country to other small towns we continually see that the thriving ones are that way because enough people just got together and did something. Sometimes that is centered on a business, but just as often it will be a farmers’ market, or a community yard sale.

Today I was doing my normal quick trawl through FaceBook and saw a post announcing that Bob’s Market and Family Drug was having a re-opening event. This is another long established local business. Bob has retired and everyone thought that was another one gone. But, no! New owners have taken over and are rarin’ to go – that’s great!

So, what’s the message?

All communities change and develop – sometimes much loved landmarks go; but sometimes enthusiasts like the new owners of Bob’s Market and Family Drug arrive on the scene. Their timing, in this case, was spot on! So to David Adkins, Kara Goins Adkins and Rick Mullins, I can only give the traditional Scottish well-wish: Lang may yir lum reek!

 

For more on the background to this post check out our friend Amy Clark’s op-ed piece in a recent edition of the NY Times – http://www.nytimes.com/2013/08/03/opinion/appalachian-hope-and-heartbreak.html?

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Filed under Big Stone Gap, Life reflections, small town USA, VA

She was HOT! He kept his cool.

Wes is our first call if we need a pinch-hitter for a day here or there in the bookshop. Those of you who read the blog regularly may remember that Wes married Rachael in a Quaker meeting at the bookstore last year.  IMG_3418He’s been invaluable while Jack’s in Scotland, because I’ve gotten tied up with some things at the college.

Today when I relieved him, a stack of J.A. Jance mysteries were sitting out of place on a counter top. Wes grinned when he saw me looking at them.

“Funny story about these,” he said, and launched.

A woman had come into the store with her daughter, who was the epitome of metrosexual beauty: lots of arm tattoos, her nose was pierced, and she wore a floral print mini-sundress.

“She was HOT!” Wes assured me, waving his hands in curves that, presumably, described the contours of her paisley pattern tattoo sleeves.

Hot Girl browsed classics while her mom surfed the mystery room. Mom emerged with the five Jance paperbacks, marked $3 each in good condition.

“That’s $15,” said Wes, smiling at the producer of Totally Hot Girl.

“What?” she shrieked. Wes, accustomed to people being impressed by our pricing, beamed, but Hot’s Mama continued, “I can get these cheaper someplace else!”

A few other customers in the store (who had also been admiring THG) began to studiously ignore what was going on. Hot Girl threw her mother an evil look.

Wes, however, has been hanging with Jack and me awhile now. With perfect dignity, he scooped the books from Hot’s Mama’s arms. “Then of course you should,” he said, bowing from the waist. “I’ll put these back for you.”

Out went Mom, back erect. Hot Girl waited until she left, then, according to Wes, “began grabbing classics randomly from the bargain bin. She bought $25 worth, and kept apologizing for her mom.”

Wes assured her it was not a problem. He invited her to come back anytime. “ANYTIME,” he emphasized, bagging her books. He probably carried them to the car for her.

It’s unusual that someone fusses about our prices–more unusual than a tattoo-wearing, flesh-piercing, breast-and-leg bearing Totally Hot Girl waking into our bookshop. Big Stone Gap isn’t as sleepy as people think.

And Wes? He’s looking forward to minding the store again tomorrow. I’ve told him my project at the college might take all week. He assures me this is not a problem.

Such a nice boy.

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Filed under Big Stone Gap, bookstore management, humor, shopsitting, small town USA, Uncategorized