Over the last three years I have been witness to the suffering and loss of small businesses that eventually had to close their doors.
These were the people that gave us the chance to make our wonderful products available to the public in general.
Most of these family owned businesses were built because of the love for people. Most of these small private establishments really cared for their clients, helped out with advice when the people came to them because they could not afford to go to the doctor and the rows at the clinics were just too long to wait for treatment.
I learnt to know these small businesses and the individuals that made a difference in the lives of desperate people and whole communities.
Over the last three years I have seen these small establishments suffer with their communities due to the slump in the economy. I have seen the sacrifices small business owners have made to assist those in need.
But one by one, some very small, some a bit larger, they had to close their doors for various reasons. Mostly due to circumstances beyond their control, sometimes mismanagement of large establishments, or pressure from new economically viable businesses that came into the area, drawing clients away because of the BIG BOLD business practices.
It is really a very sad situation for I was forced to purchase a product that used to be found only on the shelves of small establishments at one of the 'new' discount stores.
I felt trapped, with tall shelves filled with thousands of products around me, the impersonal atmosphere feeling sterile and cut off from human contact.
Eventually finding the product I needed for someone else, not even myself, it was time to go to the checkout point. Here you were herded through a narrow gap into a long crush, lined with all the unhealthy eats available in normal supermarkets. All the magazines and brick-a-brack to make that last sale, even if it is just to quiet the child screaming his head off for a sweet in front of you.
At the checkout point confusion reigned as people were ushered through by a mechanical voice over the loudspeaker, as if you could not read.
Four-by-two the cashiers were convened into little batches to optimize the space for the raking in of money.
Little steel rat-sized cages stood at the end of the cashier's till and on inquiry I was informed that the cages were for the dispensing of prescription medicines.
I looked at the cages stacked high in trolleys and wondered at myself how we could have allowed ourselves to become nothing more than trapped rats in a society where the public is considered only a number?
One might say that the economic situation drives people to go to the large establishments. Have you ever compared prices? In most regards the pricing is equal and in some regards higher than in other, smaller establishments. Yes, sometimes specials might be really good, but then you must have a steadfast nature to enter and only buy the items you intended. The traps to take more than you need had been carefully laid. Beware the buyer for the seller only worries about emptying your pockets.
My heart bleeds for the little guys, those that really make a community, and next time, I will rather seek out a place where I am a person and not just a number.
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