I just set down the 12/26 edition of the Washington City Paper and must say I was slightly disappointed with a couple of the articles. Perhaps the worst offender was “Mom and Flop,” an article disemboweling the mom-and-pop stores of 30 years ago that are for some miraculous reason still in operation. I was surprised to see such a strong inclination toward the chains, especially when in a preceding article, “The Ocean Liner That Never Arrives,” the old stores are idealized as being sacrifices to structures such as the convention center and the MCI Center.
These small, independent businesses have a very important one-up over the chains, especially in the field of drugstores. According to the staff at my local CVS, the pharmacists get rotated very frequently from store to store. This leaves the customer without a very valuable resource, a pharmacist who is also a friend and confidant. A friend who can give you informal advice while simultaneously giving you the stats of his family’s situation and the weather. In a CVS, you feel like just another number, which is not a good thing; at a local store you are part of a family.
Sterile, flat, and lifeless are not good adjectives for places of business; however, they are accurate descriptions of CVSs. Variety, family, friendship, and reliability are all accurate descriptions of independent stores. Your evening is always made better when you can stop into a place of business and hold a conversation with its owner. This is just not possible with the chains, which are just branches of a greedy corporation of no relation to you.
Your article on George Michael (“Bad Sport”), however, was extremely relieving after reading the atrocities about the mom-and-pops. George Michael is quite possibly one of the most obnoxious people in the news business. I was pleased to hear that there are others who feel the same way about this arrogant man.