The other day, I went to see a movie at the Fox Bay Cinema & Grill – a local, independently owned theater. I love going there because not only is it a movie theater, but it also features a full-service sit down menu – pizza, salads, sandwiches as well as full bar. Shortly before the movie starts, a server comes by to take your order and your food is delivered not long after the movie begins. Now that’s my idea of a dinner and a movie.
After my last visit there, I thought about how places like this are a dying breed – there are just a handful of them around these days. Slowly the independents – the Ma and Pa establishments – get pushed out by the huge chains and then what do we end up with? A town that looks like every other town – cardboard cutouts.
While traveling, you can get off at practically any exit and find that the town is practically identical to the one at the previous exit, complete with a McDonald’s, KFC, Wendy’s, Subway, Cousins, Dairy Queen, etc. I ahve found that more and more, the small towns in America are starting to look identical to each other as the independents disappear and are replaced with the same old boring chains.
For this reason, I make it a point to frequent locally owned business whenever I can and will rarely dine at a fast-food joint or a restaurant chain. By supporting the independent businesses, we can help to ensure that the personality and charm of our towns doesn’t disappear. It is not the corporate chains but rather the local businesses that make our towns unique and interesting. I have been in plenty of towns where there is a noticeable absence of independently-owned business and they feel cold, sterile and generic. The sad thing is, is that these sorts of towns – those that consist almost exclusively of corporate big box chains – are quickly becoming the norm and not the exception.
Thus, it behooves us to try to support our local businesses – to help keep our towns interesting, vibrant and alive. I’m personally thankful that there is still a place or two where I can enjoy a cocktail, dinner and a movie – without having to leave my chair.