It started kind of like this: I was just minding my own business, going to my favorite book store, but my bookstore wasn’t a bookstore anymore, it was now a Starbucks. Feeling very put out, I decided that I would give the smiling lady at the counter a piece of my mind.
I glared, I scowled, I told her all about the lovely bookstore that was now gone because of her employer. And then I ordered a vente, skinny, mocha with extra whip. (Well, I was there anyway, and I was a little thirsty).
And that’s when I really noticed it, recently one by one all the little locally owned businesses were being bought up by national franchises in my town. The Lincoln Auto parts was now a Baxter’s Auto parts. The neighborhood vet was torn down and was now a McDonald’s. My town wasn’t dying, there were no streets lined with empty store fronts (which would have been so much easier to notice) it was being taken over with a completely different spirit, as if it were un-dead.
I remember a few years ago, when national chain stores first started moving into the area, I was actually excited. I mean, back then almost every store was family owned and unique in my town. And in case you missed this in first grade, when everyone is a unique little snowflake, no one is.
But now unique and family owned anything seems to be on the endangered species list.
And I’m really starting to miss the old stuff. I miss the funkiness. I miss the grubbiness. I miss the grumpy old guy at the cash register. And what’s most worrisome for me as a writer is, how am I going to stay inspired and imaginative in a town that is now so, so,
I mean, half of the side characters in my stories are based off of the people I’ve met around my town. The surly old lady at the ferry docks in my book Driftwood Island, was based off of an equally surly old lady that I met at a corner store. Is a perky little teen barista going to be able to fill this new character inspiration void?
I don’t think so.
What I would once have called a staffing up grade, now just makes me feel grumpy and old.
Maybe I can sit behind a cash register and inspire somebody else.