I expect that many of you have muttered in frustration at the lack of gasoline available in Peabody. It pains me no end to have to drive to Florence or Walton just to fill up my gas tank. (And, yes, I know there is an alternative source just a half a block from Food Mart. However, we don’t have a card we can use at the Mid-Kansas Cooperative pumps. We are not alone in that.)
I have no idea why Food Mart doesn’t have gas. I am not going to speculate. I hope the situation soon is rectified, but I am not holding my breath. In the meantime, there are days when I am headed somewhere else and can get gas along the way. And, there are days when I smack my forehead because I am almost on empty and must unexpectedly detour to another town for gas before I can even start my day. I hate the inconvenience of not being able to get gas right here.
What I really want to say about this situation is that I hope all of you are paying attention. While Food Mart is not a victim of what happens when people don’t shop at home, the end result is the same. The community comes out on the short end of the stick because a product we need is not available to us.
We have lost many retail businesses during the years. Peabody has been home to jewelry, clothing, shoe, and music stores — even small department stores. We have had implement dealers and car dealers. There were times when several grocery stores, meat markets, produce companies, and bakeries were in competition with one another. Multiple restaurants, barbershops, gas stations, feed stores, banks, livery dealers, and drug stores have occupied business spaces in our community. We had a movie theater and a couple of hotels.
Times changed and the community business landscape changed as well. Many of those shifts were identified as “progress.” We became more mobile and a trip to a larger town to shop qualified as entertainment. Often we saved money shopping in a mall or super store. We were not particularly loyal to our local businesses. We figured they would be there if we needed them, but many left or folded. They will never be back. They became part of a vicious downward spiral. When people went out of town for gifts, jewelry, or clothing, they also picked up cleaning, bought groceries, got their hair done, or went out to eat. Local businesses got even less of the local discretionary income.
We currently have a good core of businesses in Peabody, but imagine what our lives would be like if we were to lose the bank or drug store? We are lucky to have a mechanic, a veterinarian, gift stores, hairdressers, and a bookstore. We have butchering and locker service, restaurants, a furniture and carpet store, some antique shops, and, yes, the card- operated fuel pumps on Ninth Street for those lucky souls with a card!
Any little Mr. Fix-it project that goes on at our house requires multiple treks to Peabody Hardware. I can’t imagine making a single successful trip to a store in Newton, arriving back home with everything necessary to finish the job. No way would that ever happen. If the Mister couldn’t “run down to the hardware store” every 27 minutes in the life of the project, it would never get finished.
I go to the grocery store nearly every evening because I am not a well-organized person. I fly by the seat of my pants. It rarely occurs to me on Monday that I will have to have something for supper on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and even Friday. At 5 p.m. Monday, I go to Peabody Market to find something for supper. I pay for it, go home, and cook it. Mission accomplished. We will never have to eat again, right? Sure.
So, it is my most fervent hope we can retain the businesses we have. They provide us with goods and services necessary to satisfy our most basic needs and wants. We must support them to keep them. I really don’t want to have to go out of town to cash a check, fill a prescription, or buy an orange. Do you?
I hope all of you will make it a point to visit your local merchants this holiday season and do some of your Christmas shopping locally. “Spread the wealth around” as the president-elect has been quoted as saying.
In the meantime, remember this one: use it or lose it.
— Susan Marshall