IGA FOLDS – WHERE HAVE ALL THE GROCERY STORES GONE?

The worst of the capitalistic system coupled with an unbridled planning commission that approves every box store and expansion will be on display Sunday evening as the IGA grocery store on Lima Road – a business open for 64 years – will close its doors. The IGA is one of the last small grocery stores to inhabit our City, but just like so many other small grocery stores, it will now disappear.

Capitalism allows no room for smallness in many areas of the business world. Yes, we will have our niche markets such as Fresh Market and Trader Joe’s, but those are not the same as the grocery stores of old. There will be those who shrug their shoulders and say “tough luck, that’s the way it is” in a competitive capitalistic system, and there will be others who cringe at the thought of losing yet another piece of our history – the old-fashioned grocery store. I am in the latter group as those of you who know me would expect.

I have an attachment to the grocery store world. I grew up in South Whitley, and our family owned a small grocery store. It was only 10,000 square feet – a mere midget by today’s standards. But it was our life, our livelihood, and our pride and joy. For 30 years – until 1978 – we served the people of South Whitley. We weren’t open every day of the week because back then businesses still respected the notion that employees should enjoy some time off and a business should close its doors to allow for some leisure time.

I was literally born into the grocery business. My Dad, Gene Weybright, bought the store with Gene Glassley, a distant cousin, in January 1948. The store was named the G & G Market – representing the initials of their first names. One month later, in February 1948, I was born.

Back in those days, the legal age to obtain a social security card and work for pay was 14. That didn’t stop my parents from putting me and my brother to work doing small tasks years before I reached the magic age. From about the age of 9 or 10, I worked at the store. I handed boxes to my Grandma Weybright – whom everyone called Rosie even though her name was Louetta. I helped stock shelves with Grandma and my Dad.

Early on I learned to count back change. Grandma Weybright patiently stood by my side as I struggled to hand back the correct amount – $1.23 + 2 pennies makes $1.25 + a quarter makes $1.50 + a .50 cent piece makes $2.00. Whew! Thank you and have a good day! But I learned to count back change – something that most kids don’t even understand in today’s world of computerized cash registers that impersonally tell you what to return.

Once I got my social security card at the age of 14, then I could work for real. My brother – who is a year and a half younger – and I were expected to work every afternoon after we got home from school. I was allowed to go to the drugstore with my friends for a cherry coke or an ice cream soda, but once I was done, I was expected to get to work.

My junior high, high school, and young adulthood years were spent in our world of the grocery store we owned. As I got older, I took on more responsibility – ordering stock, learning to cut meat for the meat case, wrapping produce, doing payroll, and delivering groceries to our older citizens. We knew everyone by name who entered our double front doors. Our motto – drummed into our heads from an early age – was the customer is always right. Sometimes we had to bite our tongues when we knew we were right and they weren’t, but God forbid if we challenged a customer on an issue.

The store exuded such wonderful smells. We closed in the evening at 6:00, so the store would be locked up for about 12 or 13 hours. Dad usually got around and went down at about 6:00 or 7:00 in the morning. After I got older, I would sometimes take Dad’s place, and open the store for business. I would unlock the back door, turn on the back room lights, and head up front through the rickety swinging doors that separated our back stock room from the actual store.

A smell of bananas, strawberries, and produce would greet me as I walked through the swinging doors. The produce was left out as it is today. But in today’s huge buildings, the vegetables and fruits have no identity – they are only a small part of a gigantic building that contains thousands of other items. In our store, the smallness of the building provided the perfect opportunity for the smells to congregate in the air.

We delivered groceries six days a week for free. It didn’t matter whether the order was two items or twenty items. It didn’t matter that we had a blizzard that left us without electricity. It didn’t matter that it was 5 degrees below zero. It didn’t matter that we struggled through two feet of snow or 90 degree heat. We still delivered. Sometimes it was the only contact our older customers had for the week.

When we delivered, we spent time talking to our customers and sharing their past and present. Many a time we would walk in and would be greeted with enthusiasm and the joy of telling us what a grandchild had accomplished or showing us a newly framed picture that had arrived and assumed its honored place on top of an old piano.

We ran charge accounts – something that today is unheard of.  Many of our customers struggled to make ends meet, and they needed help.  We would run a charge account for a week or two until they received their paycheck.  The books we used were the old-fashioned receipt books with the carbon paper in between the sheets.  Almost everyone honored their promise to us to pay for their groceries, and we lost very little in the way of unpaid accounts.

People mattered to us. We mattered to them. Today, when I do my grocery shopping – usually at Meijer – I know they could care less about my thoughts or concerns. Sometimes at the check out, the cashier spends time talking to a bagger and literally ignores me. And why not, the scanner rings up the groceries using the bar code, the card machine takes my payment, the swirling rack with the plastic sacks rolls around for me to unload into my cart, and then I am done. The receipt is hurriedly shoved into my hand with a quick “thank you – have a nice day”, and I am on my way.

The pieces of our history are slowly disappearing. How many today still remember the old grocery stores with the wood floors, the barrels containing crackers, brown sugar, and pickles? How many remember when the customer mattered and had a face and a name? What happens to us when we no longer have those memories and we no longer have that connection to our past?

I regret that I do not have any pictures of our old store. The pictures that I have are my memories, and when I am gone, those pictures will be gone. What happens when the generations who remember these parts of our history are gone? How do we keep our history alive, and most of all, how do we make sure that our history relates to our present?

The small, old-fashioned grocery store is but one fatality of our modern system of capitalism and Wal-Martism. The small stores can’t compete, and so they disappear, relegated to memories that someday, also, will be gone.

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About Charlotte A. Weybright

I own a home in the historical West Central Neighborhood of Fort Wayne, Indiana. I have four grown sons and nine grandchildren - four grandsons and five granddaughters. I love to work on my home, and I enjoy crafts of all types. But, most of all, I enjoy being involved in political and community issues.
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35 Responses to IGA FOLDS – WHERE HAVE ALL THE GROCERY STORES GONE?

  1. John Good says:

    What a great story, Char. I never worked in the grocery biz, but I spent many years in retail mgnt. I get all of your points.

  2. J. Q. Taxpayer says:

    Your story brought back a flood of memories to me. However my story is not like yours.

    My grandpa built a lake cottage up near Rome City. When we would go up to visit him, or the family of eight stayed a weekend, or the once a year week vacation we visted the little store in Rome City.

    It had all the things you talked about. The wood floor, the great smells that filled the building, and the fresh baked goods. I nearly enjoyed going to the store as much as I enjoyed fishing. I never missed a chance to go along with my parents to shop.

    It always amazed me when we went it there that my parents where called by their first names. I thought my parents must be someone special that these people we would only see six to eight times a year remembered them. Now that was cool!

    We always purchased meat there as my dad always said it was some of the best around. Mom compared their home made salads to her’s. I even have to agree that they where nearly as good as Mom’s.

    Sadly things have changed. It is just too bad my child never will know what it was like. I loved it, and miss it greatly.

    Thanks Charlotte for writing such a great column. It brought back some great memories.

  3. Steve Gordon says:

    That was a truly wonderful story. I think back to a little corner store at South Wayne and Cottage near South Wayne Elementary School. Nothing fancy about it. It did have the wooden floors. Kids would stop in there to buy candy before and after school. It wasn’t a huge selection. My favorite was a package of chewing gum that looked like little nuggets of gold. It came in a small cloth bag with a drawstring at the top. Funny how you can remember the oddest items. I don’t know who the owners were. The store no longer exists. But that store was my little slice of Americana.

    BTW, I know the owner of the Lima Rd IGA and he made an honest effort to make the store go, but was frustrated by the unchecked development in that area. This may be a wake up call to inrestrained development.

    • Diane Hershberger says:

      Just saw your July 2008 posting. I remember the little store at the corner of South Wayne and Cottage. It was called Reber’s Market (Grocery). The address was 3002 South Wayne Avenue. Next door, at 3004 South Wayne was Boerger South Wayne Pharmacy.
      One of my memories of Reber’s was the large screen door that squeeked when it was opened and slamed when it shut. One item I would buy is a a small (maybe three inch long) cardboard cylinder filled with peanuts (not in s shell) with a bright penny in the bottom. I believe it cost a nickel.

  4. My two oldest sons who were 12 and 9 at the time it was sold probably remember a little about our store, but my two youngest sons who were 6 and 4 probably have a limited memory, if any at all.

    We also had a small bakery connected to the store, and it was owned by the Gruwells. They made everything from scratch. I used to go back in the back part and watch the huge mixers working kneading dough and making icing and all those good things.

    Their white cupcakes were my favorite.

    Losing these things really is too bad, but unfortunately I am not sure there is a way to prevent it.

    • jim schumaker says:

      charlotte weybright–i ran on to your website strictly by accident. i was googling super valu. i grew up in chester twp.north manchester, in. reading your story about g and g supermarket sent me back in time.

      i worked for snyder iga in no manchester while going to manchester college. after college i went to work for libby, mcneil and libby as a sales rep.

      i called on g and g in the early 60’s and i remember gene. i also remember the gruwells. and had my last contact withe bobby g. some years ago, when he had a bakery in waynedale. the last i heard about him was that he passed away while living in arizona.

      after the stint with libby, i went to work for food marketing corp (now super valu). then with several other foor manufacturers. i spent about 20 years in the food business and finally decided that there were better places to spend my time.

      i ended up retiring as a truck driver. about 2 years ago. it has been a quit a trip.

      you mentioned small stores being shoved out of the marketplace. years ago there was a grocery on every two blocks or so, when the 10,000 square foot stores came into play it put a lot of the little neighborhood stores out of business.

      i guess that this is what we call progress, but is it really? i guess that i have rambled on long enough. hope you and your family have a merry christmas an a prosperous new year.

      jim schumaker
      fort wayne, in

  5. Steve:

    I certainly hope that losses like this create a new sense of awareness and the need to consider other businesses in an area. It seems like the plan commission pretty much rubber-stamps new construction. Many times neighbors to the potential new construction show up at the hearings to contest the issue, but the commission doesn’t pay any attention.

    It seems big business controls almost everything anymore.

    I fought for the longest time not to go to the big-box markets, but as more and more smaller stores closed, I ended up having to make a choice of where to shop.

    I do not darken the doors of Wal-Mart. The last time I was there was probably 6 years ago, and I went to see if their grocery selection was worth anything. I also do not buy from K-Mart or Target. I even wish I could get away from Meijer, but since I am a vegetarian, my veggies are extremely important to me, and Meijer seems to have a great selection of good quality.

    I would imagine your friend is so sad that this had to happen – not just the loss of jobs but the loss of his business and the knowledge that he will no longer be able to serve the people he has known as a customer base.

  6. Richard Boys says:

    Thanks for your excellent post describing your years working in your family’s grocery store. We will never see those real times again, as all of society become “corporate” and beholden to corporate intent. We are all being forced into a “Darth Vader” mold. The measure of the worth of our lives will be: were we genuine in our relationship with each person we met, or did we have an ulterior motive? Keep blogging and I’ll keep reading. Thanks again.

  7. You know Charlotte, I think I was born an old soul. The reason I say that is when I was a young pup and people would talk about the way things used to be – I got it. While others thought that these folks were stuck in the past or were against progress, really, their thoughts weren’t about stalling the forward march of the future. It was about holding true to some basic, foudational values – values that seem to have continued an erosion over time.

    Not once did my grandparents shun technology – they just never saw it as the magic bullet to get through life. Same goes for the new buildings, the new development – the new everything.

    Sometimes new (especially to them) was good, and the right thing. Sometimes, they saw it as a detriment to the community. It’s too bad that that same balanced approach isn’t common today.

    And speaking of today…when I spend time with those half my age, they struggle to listen for the message that’s being conveyed. I can’t really blame them. Somewhere along the lines, we raised an attention deficit society. More buildings and more nature preserves will go by the way side because only new and hip seems to be valued.

    I’m not certain how we make an impact. There are less and less of us that understand the bigger picture of why history has much for us to learn from…and how it should be in our thoughts as we move our communities forward.

  8. ice-ironman says:

    Great story. To answer all questions, the future relies on us. As Charlotte mentioned she shops at Meijer. Why dont we utilize the stores while they still exist? We are to blame, every one of us. We look around and say thats too bad but we created it. Hell half of us rejoice over going out of business sales! As for the generations to come- its not hard to figure out whats wrong. Parents are to blame. If a child doesnt respect nature- they learned it from somewhere. If they play video games inside- someone is letting them do it. To me, my children come first, outdoors, national parks, Hatfield McCoy trails, turkey run, Nashville In, Niagra falls etc. Historic and beautiful places they will remember, not X box 3. We make an impact by getting off our asses and spending time with our kids. There are not less and less of us, every child has a parent or two(maybe two men and a goat or chicken by the time the supreme court gets back)I guess I would blame some of the changes on the greedy side of us. We think we need two incomes to get by and the children suffer. Life isnt that hard to figure out, we just have to prioritize.

    PS. Never needed any Social Security card to bale hay 12 hours a day at age 12.

  9. Yep, wooden floors and all. What is being lost stems also from public policy–the Wal Mart, the Target, the big box store–how many people know that those stores can operate at a loss until they run everyone out of business? Or that a city council will cut them some slack on property to lure them in? If you’re not watching your city council day in, day out, they can do things like that to undercut locally owned small businesses.

    Replacing owners with employees has been the trend–proprietors are disappearing and they’re being replaced by managers who get bonuses through unfair or unsafe practices.

    Plenty of part time jobs with no benefits–that’s the story of America since the demise of unions and the start of the Reagan years.

  10. warrick says:

    Yeah, I hate to hear those stories, and in Australia we’re in a market that’s almost totally dominated by two major players who have squeezed just about everyone else out.

    Unless we support the small stores; the grocer, the local bike shop, the butcher, the independent book shop, we won’t have them. And everything will look the same and taste the same.

    I don’t know if it’s any connection but we still have our IGAs, and I was in there tonight, stocking up on milk and black cats!

  11. Karen Rice says:

    When I was little we had an A&P store on main street, where the clerk would grind the 8 O’Clock Coffee for my mom.

    When I was in high school I worked for a small Mom & Pop store and that is where I met my husband. We didn’t scan things, we marked prices with price guns – either with smeary ink or price stickers. Every week I had to know what was on sale.

    I loved working there and was heartbroken, along with other townspeople, when it burned down and was never rebuilt…even though I had long since moved on to different jobs.

    Even though there was WalMart by then, many people still preferred to shop in that little store on their way home from work. People would go back and hang at the deli counter and have a cup of coffee with Jack, the owner…or sit in the office and chat a while…it was a social gathering place as well as a place of business.

  12. To everyone who has responded:

    You have no idea how good this makes my heart feel (sounds silly, I know) to know that so many of you recognize and understand what I am saying.

    I truly feared when I wrote the article that it would bring the very reactions I wrote about such as “tough luck”, “too bad”, “that’s competition”, etc.

    This has been one of my highest drawing posts so far – outdone only by my posts about the earthquake and Cedar Creek.

    I am so glad that for many of you it triggered memories of grocery stores as you were growing up.

  13. Warren Street:

    You are absolutely right about operating at a loss. When we would run specials – they were called loss leaders – it was hard for us. Grocery stores only made about 1% to 2% in profit to begin with.

    The big box stores have the ability to “eat” the loss and skip right along. We couldn’t do that. Not only was it hard for us to run loss leaders but also Food Marketing (now SuperValu) charged us more because we couldn’t buy the quantities that the larger stores could buy.

    Sadly, you are also right about City Councils providing incentives to the big-box stores. I am not sure that these elected bodies stop and think sometimes about what the true impact is. They are supposed to represent everyone – not just the big businesses.

  14. Ice-ironman:

    Yes, it is the historic places our kids and grandkids will remember. When I visited my second youngest son in North Carolina a number of years ago, I had a choice on the way back to stop at one of two places – the Biltmore Mansion or Chimney Rock. I couldn’t work in both. The decision really wasn’t too difficult; I chose Chimney Rock. I knew it was the location for the final scenes in “The Last of the Mohicans” with Daniel Day-Lewis, which I had watched. The pictures in the movie were so breathtakingly beautiful.

    I made it to the top despite some physical problems I have. It was absolutely worth the climb. The view was just as I expected. Despite seeing a movie with such a beautiful panorama, seeing the real thing can never be replaced. I bought a souvenir cup and a magnet, which now resides on my refrigerator. Plus I took many pictures.

    The natural places will always trump the man-made places. Though we have the ability to create such beauty as can be found in cathedrals, libraries, museums, etc., natural wonders contain an element of natural peace that man-made creations do not.

    When I was growing up, we played outside all the time, even in the winter. We had three TV stations, and my favorite radio station was WLS out of Chicago. We would never have thought of staying in and being glued to a TV. I also read a tremendous number of books. The library was one of my favorite places.

    Computers, video games, X-boxes, etc., have become today’s baby sitters. This is a real shame. Computers have become such an integral part of our lives that we, as a society, have decided that they should be available to kids at younger and younger ages.

  15. Karen:

    You cannot replace human contact at a level where people really care. As I mentioned, I am just another “nobody” at Meijer. Yes, the clerks are pleasant to me, but if I didn’t return, they wouldn’t even notice.

    We knew every week who didn’t come in and who did. When we noticed an absence for even a couple of weeks, we wondered what was wrong. And it wasn’t because of the business – it was because we worried about what had happened to the person, and we knew if we didn’t see someone on a weekly basis something was wrong.

  16. Hi Warrick:

    I guess large businesses occupy every niche of our planet. I visited your blog. How interesting to have a blog about English and writing.

    I see the decline in our English and grammar skills on a regular basis as a department chair at a local college. The internet doesn’t help when we are allowed to write however we please. We shorten words, neglect capitalization, mismatch subjects and verbs, spell words incorrectly, and on and on.

    I do not take shortcuts, and I try very hard to use correct English, grammar, spelling, etc.

    We talk about how we are behind other countries in science and math, but what good will it do to catch up if we can’t communicate properly?

    Sorry, got off on a tangent, there.

  17. Richard Boys:

    I sometimes wish I could go back to those days in the old grocery store. We find ourselves saying “times were simpler”, but you know what – the truth is, they were.

    Sometimes I wonder if, at some point, Americans will revolt and start going back to the smaller way of doing business. The difficult part would be that smaller businesses usually must charge more, so customers are forced into a decision of honoring values that include small, consumer-friendly businesses or low prices.

    I believe in today’s world that the consumer will generally opt for the lower price.

  18. strider333 says:

    Great story and yes, I remember these. Here in our town, a local growing grocer is challenging the giants, and they sell a lot of local products that brings money back into the community. They offer such a great variety too! And to top it off, the place is completely carpeted. It’s not like shopping, it’s an adventure!

  19. PiedType says:

    When I was growing up, the nearest grocery store was three blocks away and yes, it had wood floors and everything else you’ve written about. It was a neighborhood institution.

    In the years that followed, as the city (Oklahoma City) grew and the store’s customer base shifted to the north, the store relocated to follow it. The new store looked very much like the old one, right down to deli, the meat counter, and the wood floor.

    As the years rolled by, the store relocated yet again, to follow the well-to-dos who had always been its loyal customers. I’m pleased to report that Crescent Market is still alive and well. It’s very upscale these days, with gourmet foods, carpeted floors, and a cheery fireplace in the winter.

    There are chain supermarkets all over the city, seemingly at every major intersection. And yet Crescent Market prospers. I thought you’d enjoy knowing that. They have a website at thecrescentmarket.com

  20. I believe in today’s world that the consumer will generally opt for the lower price.

    You know Charlotte – I thought that to be true also – but then recently, I revolted against shopping some place for the purpose of a lower price.

    Our Marsh stores, here in the Indy area, were bought out (bout two years) ago, by some big-no-name investment group. It didn’t really bother me. Marsh is close to us. Kroger is about 3 miles further down the road. We usually shopped at Marsh and I think because Fishers is sort of small (we still call ourselves a town), I became a bit attached to the store.

    I knew that the switch had finally taken place when we could no longer purchase the niche items that we grew to love over time. Honestly, I didn’t ever think of them is niche items (for instance – I love Annie Chungs White Sticky Rice). But when that kind of stuff was replaced with their generic brand crap (which was cheaper), merchandise was moved to places that made no sense, and even the personnel was confused by the direction that the store was taking – well – we just stopped shopping there.

    So even though gas prices are higher, I’ll drive the extra miles to go to our Kroger’s in Fishers. I even felt comfortable enough to ask the store manager if he would specifically stock some of the items I like – and he does. The pharmacist at Kroger – I’ve known him since the place opened up in 1998.

    So even though Kroger’s is a national chain, at least this particular one, seems to think differently – like they are an integral part of the community – not just another building pushing “stuff”.

    And by the way, Kroger does have their own generic brand stuff – and I do buy it when it makes sense – but they don’t eliminate other stuff that the community tends to want – in favor of their own brands.

  21. Kristina:

    Maybe I will try Kroger again. I see Kroger in the same vein as the big-box stores since it is the second largest chain in the U.S. Maybe I should rethink them again. I was not happy when Scott’s was sold to Kroger. I used to go to the one on West State. I also don’t particularly like the card idea – for any store. Just give me the prices without the gimmicks!

    I guess when I think of small stores, I think of those with independent names and not chain names. Even IGA stood for “Independent Grocers Association”, and stores were independently owned. But again, small stores such as Trader Joe’s and Fresh Market have their own names but are chains.

    For my birthday this past February, three of my girlfriends and I went to Indy for the day. We went to a Trader Joe’s which is on the line of Fresh Market. I liked it. I had written quite some time ago to Trader Joe’s corporate headquarters about locating a store downtown. If Harrison Square is successful, a food store downtown would be great. I would definitely trade there.

    I don’t have any Kroger stores close – the nearest one is out at the Village of Coventry which is much farther for me than the Meijer on Illinois Road. That is another issue I have – it seems that businesses want to relocate to the fringes of Fort Wayne and leave the urban core behind. That just forces us to travel farther and use more gas, but I am getting much better at planning my errands and trips now.

  22. Jody says:

    Char,

    Thank you for a nice article, which I totally agree with. I also want a Trader Joes in Fort Wayne. Although they are a chain, they did start small, building one store at a time and I became familiar with them when my daughter lived in Portland OR many years before TJS opened in Indy. Now they have 2 stores in Indy and one in Ann Arbor (my daughter now lives there). I don’t understand why they haven’t opened one somewhere between South Bend /Fort Wayne. When I visit my daughter now, I load up and hope to get back up there soon. I lived in Fort Wayne for 5 yrs, near Times Corners, and I absolutely LOVED the Fresh Market when it opened, although their prices are a tad on the high side, I loved the freshness of everything and the fact that I could find the unusual things there that the big stores never carry!
    I would also love to see Publix in FL expand further north, last time I checked, they were in the Carolinas. At one time I worked as a sales rep in the grocery industry and Publix was better than all of them, in the way they ran and kept their stores and the way they treated their employees. The employees actually owned stock in the store, so that made a big difference.

  23. I used to work at the local grocery store myself in the small town that I grew up in. We had four check-out lanes and none of them was an “express” lane. Everything was bagged in paper (which I still bag way better than plastic) and we didn’t accept credit cards. Our produce didn’t use the Unviversal codes, but I still remember that bananas are 109 and tomatoes are 226. I’ve haven’t worked there in at least 12 years. I worked through Soph, Jr & Sr. year high school and went back during breaks from college at least the 1st two years. I didn’t mind putting the frozen stuff into the walk-in, it was nice a quiet there.

    I always chatted with the customers and one day, one of my customers asked me, “You’re M’s sister, aren’t you?” and of course I was. He said that he could see the resmeblence. I miss those times, but like you, I now shop at Meijer’s, I go through the self check lane and bag it myself in the re-usable canvas totes.

    Wow… This is getting to be a long comment, maybe a post all by itself. thinking… That sounds like a plan.

  24. deanjbaker says:

    very interesting to see – thanks for doing this

  25. ice-ironman says:

    If you really want to step back in time for a refreshing grocery visit go to Slaters in Sidney IN N. of hwy13 an 14. Board floors creek when steped on. Fresh veggie and fruit smells fill the air so heavy, even if you dont like them youll take some home. Shelves are 4 feet high at the most. Fresh sliced ham and bacon right off the farm. Dont be offended at a little bit of dust on the old floor or shelves, they will get to that after the spend time actualy asking how you are and where you are headed. Prices are actualy cheaper than chain stores. DONT bring a credit card–they dont know what to do with them. In the spring grab some mushrooms found localy. In the fall grab pumpkins for the kids.

  26. Mal Bicker says:

    Charlotte, As a 75 year old, I remember well the little Mom and Pop grocery stores and I too miss them and the personal touch. Your blog brought back a flood of memories.

    As an active pastor of small rural and small town churches for almost 53 years, I too have felt the hurt of people leaving the little churches as they have been attracted to the maga churches with all the bells and whistles. Nevertheless, people have a right to go where they choose and I respect that.

    I have a difficult time trying to understand how you, a hard working Hoosier, and coming from a family who owned their own business, can be so hard on Capitalism. The only alternative is Socialism and I doubt you are for that. You mentioned that “Capitalism allows no room for smallness in many areas of the business world.” That’s like me saying that the mega churches leave no room for the little churches.

    Large churches have a right to draw people attracted to them. It only challenges me to offer people opportuntities that the large churches are missing.

    Give me capitalism and free enterprise over socialism any day. Go to Captialism.org for a great definition of capitalism.

    I invite you to visit me at my church web site
    http://www.alamedabiblechurch.com and go to HIDDEN TREASURES. Then go to AMERICA and CHARACTER for more on my philosphy of life.

    God bless you. Thanks for sharing your heart.

    Mal Bicker mgbpjb@msn.com

  27. Kristina says:

    I have a difficult time trying to understand how you, a hard working Hoosier, and coming from a family who owned their own business, can be so hard on Capitalism. The only alternative is Socialism and I doubt you are for that. You mentioned that “Capitalism allows no room for smallness in many areas of the business world.” That’s like me saying that the mega churches leave no room for the little churches.

    Mr. Bicker, I disagree with several of your points. Right off the top – comparing a church to a corporate or small business entity is not a valid economic comparison. Next up – the world isn’t that black or white. Even in a capitalist society, there is a balance for the sake of the greater good (i.e. the community). In order for a healthy form of capitalism to thrive, you have to have conditions which don’t give a leg up to one group or another.

    In other words – if you’re going to give the Marriot Hotel bazillions of dollars through tax abatements – perhaps you ought to give all of the little guys the same.

    Or here’s a thought – get rid of corporate welfare. Side note: is an abatement really socialist in nature or how would you label that?

    Just so you know Fort Wayne USED to have a TON of individually owned businesses and/or small businesses. In fact, there was a lot of pride in having Scott’s and Rogers and the individually owned IGA’s in town. This wasn’t the 50’s either. Even into the 80’s, it was this way. While every other large city was bending over backwards to get the big-named, generic retail places, we continued to embrace our localness.

    Local restaurants thrived in Fort Wayne. Local niche retail areas thrived in Fort Wayne. Over time, Fort Wayne and Allen County’s governments allowed for the environments in which local businesses thrived – to become very unhealthy. They were more into letting the Jefferson Pointes of the world happen (with no forethought into how it would continue to draw away folks from the heart of the city). And unfortunately, the citizenry wasn’t organized well enough to revolt (although in the Jefferson Pointe example – those Aboite folks sure did give it their all!).

    Now, Fort Wayne is paying the price – both economically and otherwise. Local government has to spend big bucks (see Harrison Square for proof) to counteract the Jefferson Pointes-like sprawl that they allowed (to happen) in the mid to late 80’s. Downtown is a shadow of its former self. Yes, even up through the early 80’s. I can name at least a dozen small retail establishments that I used to walk to (loved the Candy Jar). Now – basically nothing.

  28. Kristina says:

    Charlotte,

    I’m definitely NOT saying that Kroger is a good thing. In my particular case – in Fishers – the community is such (or so I believe) that we seem to be able to shape the attitudes and culture of even the big-name companies (or just a few I guess). With only 70k people – you can do that to a big-named business.

    I personally think that Marsh (in Fishers) will feel the pain because of the changes that they have made.

    I think that Kroger (again – in this community) is watching the Marsh negative progression and they are stepping up their game.

    BTW – there is also a Meijer and a Walmart not too far away from me. I don’t go to either for groceries (or much else if I can help it). If I want generic non-fresh, non-grocery stuff, it’s easy for me to order it online and get it shipped for free or for a price that justifies not spending gas money.

  29. Mal Bicker says:

    Kristina, All I am arguing for is FREEDOM. Freedom of religion, freedom of speech, freedom from big government and excessive taxation.

    I am against welfare in general, corporate or otherwise. I have seen it up closely, as able-bodied men turned down jobs in order to collect their welfare checks. I am not against helping the truly needy who are doing their best to help themselves. The Bible teaches in II Thess. 3:10
    that those who refuse to work should not eat.

    The son of missionaries, I was Born in Peru, S.A. and raised in Canada from grades 1-4. I learned these basic principles of life in a one room school house in Batesburg S.C. taught by a proud Hoosier school teacher, born and raised in Indiana, who was my teachers for 5th, 6th and 7th grade. back in the ’40’s. I think she taught me just about everything I know, including what it means to be a proud American.

    Getting back to Charlotte’s original blog, I too mourn the passing of small town America as I remember it with its small Mom and Pop stores and persnalized service and with telephone service where you could actually talk to people in English and not have to go in circles pushing buttons and getting no where.

    I’m not against progress. I’m glad I can drive my car for tens of thousands of miles, totally trouble free without mechanical break downs and blown tires. I’m constantly amazed at the power of computers and the internet.

    May God bless you all! We Americans are truly a blessed people!
    Mal

  30. Charlotte,

    My blog partner and I are right up your alley. We try to add local items to what we talk about and I’m always on the lookout for stories about austerity and how there are hidden costs to how we are evolving as a country.

    Grocery stores are anchors for neighborhoods–without them, it’s nothing but hardship for people to try and live. As we see more and more people forced to walk and use bicycles, the lack of a decent grocery store within that short radius of distance causes people a lot of grief.

    I’ve done some posts about people who are stripping out houses, about people who are literally grabbing scrap metal anywhere they can get it, and how the economy in particular has hurt Veterans.

    How did any of this move to Marxism? Is it because screaming Marxism is the age-old tactic of anyone who decried greed and screwing the little guy? Marxism is dead and buried and no one would ever suggest that better public policy in this country should or could lead to it. This is not 1967 anymore–the whole Marxism thing is antiquated and discredited.

    Smarter public policy can lead to people having small businesses and livelihoods–you know, owning something and having the incentive to grow it. If you institute a public policy that creates 100 small business owners but degrades a small chunk of something from Wal-Mart or Target or Kroger, without putting them out of business, what’s wrong with that?

    We have too many people with the talent to run businesses NOT being able to run them because of public policies that drive them OUT and let the big boys run roughshod all over them.

    The same thing has happened to the family farmer.

  31. Vince V. says:

    The passing of any small, family owned business is not to be taken lightly. The fine folks who have served their individual communities for years and years deserve the support of their fellow citizens.

    It is our duty as Americans to stand in the name of freedom and give these small store operators our business. Anyone can walk into a Wal-Mart and drop money like there is no tomorrow. Want to put American workers out of jobs ? Keep buying all of that cheap, plastic crap Wal-Mart sells by the truck loads.

    Outsourcing is happening on a monumental scale. The CEO’s are constantly seeking out the cheapest third world country to export American jobs to so you can get those cool sneakers at rock bottom prices. But as long as the consumer can get the cheapest price going and feed the out of control consumerism which plagues our country, who should notice ?

    But at this point in my post, I’m going to share my faith with you. I’m going out on a limb, and opening my heart up. I know it may not be the most proper thing to do, but I really can’t help myself from doing it. You see, my organization, the Church of the FSM, encourages us to seek out new members and show them the one true way.

    Here’s the website: http://www.venganza.org

    I am part of a growing and much needed congregation that emphasizes the one true faith in America. Don’t be fooled by imitations, this is the real thing. If you are feeling down on your luck or need someone to tell you how to live, please don’t hesitate to sign up. All are welcome. As long as you subscribe to our belief system, you won’t have to worry too much about alot of other stuff that boggs you down in your life. You will know the secret. A secret others won’t know unless you tell them about it.

    We hope very much to hear from you soon, and don’t forget, the Flying Spaghetti Monster cares very deeply about you and loves you just the way you are !!

  32. Jon says:

    I’m with you all the way, I can remember when you could walk into the old Safeway down on Broadway in our town and they always said “yes sir,” “yes ma’am,” and “thank you for your business.” The Safeway was a small grocery in a red brick building. We lived in a town where red clay was mined to make brick, even a brick making mill now closed down for good too. The Safeway was our proud supplier of goods for 50 years, then the town grew and a Buttrey’s was built now called Albertson’s. Of course a bigger store meant more goods, and slowly the Safeway was left in the dust. For five years the Safeway’s parking lot remained empty with very few customers. The paper came out one day and the main headline read, “Long Time Safeway to Close it’s Doors on Monday.” The old brick Safeway building sat there for eight more years before a hardware store was opened there. I was heartbroken when a loader pushed the Safeway sign to the ground, and Safeway signs were taken off the building and replaced with new Coast to Coast Hardware signs, now Tru-Value Hardware. I will never forget the days when mother would drive us down to the Safeway in that old Hudson Hornet dad had and we would go shopping, I miss that store quite a lot. Thanks for this article.

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