When I was growing up in Beverly, Mom used to shop at a locally owned grocery store, Belmont, where she could purchase all the food for the family each week – including terrific meat! She knew the butchers and the people in the produce department and the check-out people and the stock boys and every other employee of the store. In fact, Bob, my best childhood friend, worked at Belmont when he turned 16. It was a natural thing for him to do, given that his family also shopped there.
I guess I took it for granted that locally owned stores could thrive and flourish – boy, it was convenient and when necessity dictated it, Belmont would deliver groceries to our home. That’s the way it was back then. You patronized the local merchants and got to know all the employees who worked there. The same thing happened at the hardware store, the gas station and all sorts of neighborhood businesses.
When Janet and I moved to the western suburbs of Chicago, we missed the convenience of Belmont. While we tried to shop at smaller stores, it was difficult to find the kind of atmosphere we grew up with. That is, until we moved to our home in Carmel. Since 1982, we have shopped at a local grocery store, about a mile from our home. It was one of a small chain of stores and true to our nature, we knew the store manager, heads of the various departments and the other employees as well. In fact, for years we have purchased the kids birthday cakes and O’Malia’s has helped up celebrate more special occasions than we can count.
Then, a number of years ago, it was acquired by a large chain. We were concerned that the small store feel would go away, but the new owner was smart enough to leave our store alone and the community continued to support it. A real hidden gem in the neighborhood. Unfortunately, the chain was eventually sold again and this past summer, O’Malia’s shut its doors for the last time. Some of the employees found jobs with other stores, but there was no denying that the area lost a real gem. As I said, we started shopping there back in 1982, and we were considered newer arrivals…
But it was the first time since shopping at Belmont that all the boxes were checked – great people, great selection, wonderful meat counter, a terrific bakery and close to home. They even had Kenny and others who insisted on carrying your groceries out to the car. That, in addition to the fireplace, carpeted floors and coffee area were several other reasons to shop at O’Malia’s.
Then, since they closed, we have been going through something of a withdrawal. We really don’t like the large chains and the smaller places all seem to specialize in some areas, but are almost devoid of products in other sections of the store. So… rather than hold our breathe and fight the crowds at the big box grocery stores, we have chosen to do the unthinkable and shop at several different places. Friday afternoons have become our default shopping time and it is no easy deal. How I miss O’Malia’s!
We do part of our shopping at one store, then head down the street to a second grocery store to try and complete our shopping for the week. However, sometimes, we have to go to a third place to get stuff that is a little unusual and not carried in the smaller stores. And, on occasion, we have to go to the dreaded BIG store that handles almost everything under the sun. And even though it is less expensive, we just hate the crowds and how long you have to stand in line at the meat or deli counter. Our weekly jaunt to O’Malia’s could be completed in under an hour, but that’s not the case these days. I can figure on more than two hours to complete the rounds and get back to our home. Then, the unpacking.
Every Friday, I have to remind myself that I need to develop PATIENCE! It is what it is and unless another store would rise up to meet all our needs, I am afraid that this is the new normal. Rather than hate every minute of the shopping, I am learning to enjoy the experience and I am even meeting new “friends” in the various departments. Ordering a turkey for Thanksgiving was difficult this year – the last 35 have come from our old store and I am finding it touch to trust a different place.
The verse for this evening highlights the fact that I need to do better with being patient. That has never come easy for me, but the apostle Paul reminds me that patience is a virtue. He tells us, in Colossians 3:12-13, “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.”
These are important words, especially as we approach the Christmas season. my encouragement this evening is that God loves it when we live according to His will for our lives. My prayer is that you will do a better job with patience than I have done! It has never been easy for me but I am a work in progress and I have to admit, shopping on Fridays is getting a little easier – have a great day in the Lord, grace and peace…