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Spires: Community businesses - a missing part of our lives

Spires: Community businesses - a missing part of our lives

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For over 25 years of my adult life, I owned and operated my own business. I miss those days sometimes, but what I really miss is the family atmosphere that those businesses created.

That is a lot of what is missing from our society today, that family-owned business that became such a part of our lives.

In this hustle-and-bustle world we now live in, we don’t have time for the country store or the family-owned grocery store or the local gas station where we got our oil changed, windows washed and caught up on the local happenings.

There are still some businesses like that around, but not on the scale that we once had.

In both businesses that I owned, I became part of my customer’s family. I knew about their experiences because we talked at every transaction we had together. I was concerned about their children or Grandma.

They had similar feelings about me, as well. They watched my children grow up; they knew about my family sicknesses and deaths.

I’ve shared in family meals when they would bring me food. One lady found out I liked strawberry upside-down cake and regularly baked me one. Others shared venison with me or fresh smoked sausage at hog-killing time.

You don’t get that today from fast food restaurants, big box stores or convenience stores. What you get is cheaper products and quick service.

Times eventually forced me out of business. I could not compete with those big box stores and earn a living. Someone actually bought both of the stores I owned; however, both of them would eventually close the doors.

Another thing I miss about those days is the folks that just came by to visit, not necessarily to buy anything. That was alright by me as long as they didn’t interfere with business – and they didn’t.

I would venture to say that if you drive 15 or 20 miles in any direction (except on the interstate) you will encounter an empty storefront, probably more than one.

It says a lot about why our country is changing if you think about it. The last couple of generations have not experienced what I just wrote about. My generation is the last generation that was impacted by mom-and-pop stores as a way of life.

Now life moves at a different pace. People don’t have time to talk when they are in limited number of checkout lines waiting with a half-dozen folks behind them also in a hurry to get out.

One day no one will remember when buying something was part of your daily encounters with store owners or their employees, who were also your neighbors and friends.

Byron Spires is a retired newspaper editor. He has written dozens of short stories and serials in the Havana Herald. He recently published “The Curious Life of Marci Bell” in a series of three books. You can email him at



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