Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Rain+Coffee+Reading = :)

Splashing boots.  Toes wiggling in wet sandals.  Drenched Gortex rain gear. Mirage of colors resembling umbrellas.  Every other hand enveloped around a coffee...aah!  It feels a lot like the pacific northwest around here.  Those of you who know me will probably know that I often miss the west coast mountains and -- yes I know I'm crazy -- the gray, wet northwest misty weather.  I'll take a week straight of rain over the hot, humid sun any day.

Another thing that reminds me of the northwest corner of the US are independent stores, and Brookline, in this respect, is very much like that.  There are so few chain stores lurking around every corner here (well, until you hit the streets of Boston...).  There's something weird about one-stop shopping.  Sure it's convenient at times, but I don't think you have as many choices nor do you have the benefit of an experienced staff.  Need a game?  Stop by Eureeka, they'll be glad to demo a game for you.  Are you crafty with paper or want to try bookmaking?  The Paper Source is right down the block.  Whether on the go or hanging out, Peet's brews a fabulous cup of coffee -- with or without the fancy extras.  Ice cream?  There are quite a few places that have their own unique flavor and feel -- not to mention the bajillion wonderful restaurants around here.  And, of course, the Booksmith where we aspire to hand you the books that you want, not just the titles that are popular.

As I wandered around Brookline this past week doing various things, I realized that the collage of independent businesses really gives this town a unique appeal.  Imagine if every town was run by chain stores -- the same ones you have in your town, would be the same ones in your grandparents' town, and at the vacation spots you pass through.  Wouldn't seeing the same places -- all around the world -- get boring and repetitive?  I mean at that point, why even go out of town?  Part of the fun of traveling is exploring all the different places and stores.  You learn so much about the town that way!

I think independent and locally owned businesses encourage people to be themselves rather than follow the example of the greedy corporates who only care about your money and world domination.  Okay, maybe that's an overstatement.  Maybe...  But local businesses aren't cookie cutters.  (Did you know that the books at your local chains, like Borders and Barnes and Noble, aren't exactly influenced by the local public?  It's all popularity contests and overplayed marketing schemes.  Their merchandise is ordered in an office somewhere in a different state.  They don't even know their customers.)  Local stores let people explore the community, connect with others, and learn that long forgotten virtue of respect.  There's also that small town feel, where you can slow down and enjoy the moments -- something many frantic people should stop and experience -- in this crazy, fast paced world that we live in!

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