One of the jobs I had after getting my driver’s license was a newspaper delivery route that took me into the rural parts of my county in Virginia. Every Wednesday I would pick up my bundle from the newspaper’s downtown offices and get in my car and drop off papers to small, old-time grocery stores in each of the surrounding small towns. I think the money I made per week was less than I spent in gas but it didn’t matter, I loved the job. I would crank up my Velvet Underground cassette tapes and drive by myself along the back dirt roads dotted with stone fences.
Each grocery store had its charm and was totally fascinating to me. The long dusty shelves filled with dated Tylenol packages and clutter that you knew had been there for years. I wondered how they stayed in business – relics but still relevant because modern convenience stores hadn’t overtaken the towns yet. At one stop there was always the same elderly man sitting at a table by the window.
So now, living within walking distance to three big box convenience stores in a bustling (albeit small) city suburb, I get nostalgic for that small town slowness. And, I appreciate all the more businesses like Avenue B Grocery in Austin, Texas when I come across them.