Monday, July 21, 2008

Big, Big Boxes

I was just over at the Middletown Eye when I read a post about a documentary film shot here in the city. The film is about the demise of the locally-owned, independent record store and one former Middletown business, the Record Express, is featured. The store shut down in 2006, and was one of the places I used to go whenever I took a walk down Main Street.

That same year, there was huge buzz about town that Target was going to come to the city, but planning and zoning rejected their plans to build a multi-level parking garage.

Earlier this year, residents of the town of Simsbury showed up in droves to P&Z meetings to protest the plans for Target to come to their town.

And in the past seven years, in my old hometown, Stop and Shop, TJ Maxx, CVS, Dunkin Donuts, and Starbucks have all moved in.

Big Box stores. Ya can't live with 'em, and nowadays, ya can't live without 'em.

Take Target (which I pronounce Tar-ZJAY), for instance. I absolutely love that store for its low prices and merchandise diversity. I go there to buy detergent and certain dry goods whenever they're on sale, because often the prices are better there than at my local Stop and Shop. I go to Stop and Shop for its convenience, but their prices aren't always the greatest. For good food prices and quality, I shop at Trader Joe's, but the nearest one is 20 miles away. And I buy my gas at the local Shell station.

That having been said, we all know now that Big Box stores are destroying local businesses. Middletown's businesses, like Record Express, are no exception. Whenever I can, I try to support the local vendors. I enjoy going to the natural food store, It's Only Natural, and buy various groceries there. When I buy a cup of coffee, I go to one of our Main Street coffee shops, either Javapalooza or Brew Bakers. I'm not perfect about going to local business, but like I said, I make efforts where I can.

My local business efforts increased recently when I signed up for my BThrifty card. I first encountered BThrifty at one of the Memorial Day parades I attended this year. There was a guy in a bee costume handing out environmentally friendly business cards. The cards advertised the new BThrifty website, and you could plant the card in the ground to grow wildflowers. I haven't planted my card yet, since I have a lousy record with plants.

Anyhoo, when the BThrifty ads appeared on TV, I decided to sign up. I'm still waiting for my card in the mail. The site doesn't officially go online till this Wednesday, but I'm looking forward to when it does. BThrifty has two goals: to reduce coupon printing and save trees, and to support local businesses. Hey, I appreciate saving trees and businesses!

And that's not all...BThrifty's giving away several hybrid and fuel efficient cars per year. Yay contests!

By the way, I am not being paid to advertise BThrifty; I'm just commenting on something interesting I just learned about. It'll be interesting to see what offers come about when it finally goes live.

I know that this won't help reduce the number of Big Box stores around, but it'll be nice to see the Mom and Pop businesses improve.

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