Saturday, November 15, 2008

Retail Farewells

My good neighbor, Ron, is in the throws of the heartache marathon of liquidating his family business. It's been emotionally exhausting to take a community mainstay of 65 years through the process of closing. Having been raised in a family business that suffered the same fate, I understand the uncertainty, pain and sorrow. What do you do after the only work and professional definition you've ever known evaporates? King's Garden Palace & Nursery was a gardener's utopia.

Leaving my gardens behind in Maryland was traumatic. I wondered how I would start again in an area where it seemed my only choices were Lowe's and Home Depot. Not that there's a thing wrong with them as plant providers- I use them. But, there's a reason we use the term, 'garden-variety,' to describe the usual, the mundane, the dependable, though, nothing-special. Garden-variety is what the chain stores sell. If you're an avid gardener, the usual geraniums and ubiquitous evergreens simply will not do. A gardener is always on the hunt for the next fascinating specimen to invite through the garden gate.

When Ron and I were introduced, the Garden Gods smiled! He assisted in replicating some of the choices I had loved back home. If he didn't carry it, which wasn't often, it was ordered and dropped off at my front door when it arrived. There's service for you! He helped by talking over the differences of gardening in Western PA vs. Maryland. He supported my efforts to make my gardens individualistic, yet harmonious, in our intimate neighborhood.

The King Family's decision to close has made the papers in stories about the economy, the struggles of running a small business, etc. Ron is quoted about the uphill battle of competing against Big-Box stores. In our talks, that's come up as the major reason to close it all down. Sad. Sad for the family. Sad for us gardeners. Sad for the employees who depended on King's. But, truly sad for this community. Another employment opportunity lost. Another point of uniqueness gone. Another shopping experience- history.

Like most folks, my budget is an issue. I shop the Big Boxes to stretch it. I also know that if I'm frugal and use the chains, I might have money left to 'treat' myself at a favorite King's. But, what happens when our regular shopping patterns negatively impact a small business? If we abdicate our role of being 'loyal' customers, what then?

We find ourselves- bidding farewell to yet another local retail treasure. Being sad for our gardens. Sadder for a friend. Is it impossible for giant chain stores and solid small businesses to peacefully co-exist? Yes, if we don't support local establishments. So long as we make every purchase based solely on the criteria of price and convenience, we jeopardize the neighborhood businesses we enjoy. We have a responsibility to support area stores. The owners are often friends, neighbors or, at the very least, community members. We need to support each other.

Please, when possible, support your small businesses. They are what give your community its flavor and character. Wal-Mart can't do that. Neither can Lowe's or Home Depot. Taking nothing away from them, because I'm glad to have them, they are deliberately the same everywhere. Nothing unique about them at all. Wal-Mart will do just fine without your money; won't even miss it as a matter of fact! Your local merchants can't make the same claim. They rely on you and every transaction you make with them.

As to King's? Now, there was a place where your imagination could bloom with unique selections and a welcoming staff! I wish all involved, and most particularly my friend, Ron, the courage to stay positive and find easily, the next venue of professional satisfaction. Thank you for your contribution to this community. Whenever you see a beautiful garden, take pride in all your family's business did to make it possible! King's Garden Palace & Nursery will be sorely missed.

Namaste' Till Next Time,

1 comment:

chrisk said...

Thank you Holly. We loved and appreciated your blog.

Ron and Chris

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