Before the car accident that initiated the carfree phase of my life, I was committed to certain things like buying organic or all natural foods and shopping local whenever possible. I frequented the farmer's market in Park Circle, and the Coastal Produce Market in Summerville, looking for locally grown produce. I refused to buy fish not from the U.S. or shrimp that wasn't caught right here in S.C. I made monthly trips to Whole Foods and Earth Fare looking for specific items I loved or wanted to try. And whenever I could I shopped locally owned stores instead of the chains.
Now that I'm living carfree I've had to change some of my habits, or work harder to frequent locally owned businesses. It's not easy going downtown to the farmer's market, and toting all those goodies home in this heat. Likewise going to Publix is a struggle. My "neighborhood" has narrowed to those places I can get to easily by bus, walking, or affordable cab fare. And yet that's not necessarily a bad thing, as it's reminiscent of the olden days when people didn't jump in their car and drive thirty-minutes to an hour away to go to a specialty store. When you frequent more local stores you're more likely to get to know your actual neighbors, whether they are the customers or the owners and employees.
So as I headed to the nearby Arby's today for a change of scene to work on my blog, I had a running argument with myself. I don't like fountain drinks, and wanted to grab a bottle of coke to go with the sandwich I planned to buy from the dollar menu, and the little strip mall at the end of Greenridge Road includes the Krishna Stop 'n Go. Yes, you did read that correctly! It is in fact a quite well-stocked Indian grocery as opposed to your typical stop 'n go that just offers soft drinks, beer, milk and cigarettes. I enjoy wandering around looking at all the different food items they offer, however the owner/clerk is not the exactly the friendliest of fellows....
So, do I grab my coke there, or go across the highway to the Little Cricket? My argument with myself included the fact I could grab a can of coke which would be less expensive then a bottle....but I knew I was just making excuses. So I skipped the Little Cricket and familiarized myself with what's offered at the Krishna Stop 'n Go. I had forgotten that they do in fact carry milk, and the butter I had once walked all the way to the Piggly Wiggly for! (1.5 miles in each direction!) An interesting variety of flours, spices, and whole milk yogurt in small and large containers, something else I buy often. I waited in line behind a young couple who purchased quite a few groceries and a woman buying her beer and lottery tickets. Mr Grumpy was behind the counter but I greeted him with my best smile, then thanked him and wished him a good day as I left.
Since I was already at the strip center I walked past the local bar and the empty health food store that moved away in 2008, then noticed that the florist was open. I couldn't help stopping in for a visit. A Bella Bouquet is a pretty little shop that currently specializes in custom orders from a simple floral arrangement to weddings and proms. They do plan on putting in coolers with loose flowers for purchase in the near future. The owners were friendly and showed me around while telling me about the business, with one working on flower arrangements and the other snapping photos as we talked. I'll happily shop there the next time I get the urge to buy myself some flowers!
So while my "neighborhood" has become more limited in some ways, it has in fact expanded to include local businesses I would have never noticed, or would have driven past going to my usual haunts. I'm networking in a new way, one that reminds me more of how things were in the neighborhood I grew up in. Other than what I want from the farmer's market, I can find pretty much every thing I need within a two to three mile radius. Now if I can just get the Piggly Wiggly to carry my favorite greek yogurt I'd be all set!