Earlier this week, I was hanging out with my friends, and somehow or another we ended up discussing the question of what now occupied the Service Merchandise store of our youth. When I realized it’s now an Old Navy and announced it, the entire table was deeply chagrined. Which, of course, prompted this tweet and an equivalent Facebook post:
When you sit around over beers and lament the fact that the Service Merchandise of your youth is now an Old Navy you know you’re an old guy.
— Jason A. Rust (@jasonarust) December 4, 2012
Said comment ignited a firestorm of department-store reminiscence from my Facebook friends and twitter followers alike, mentioning all the places of commerce (in Cincinnati, at least) fondly remembered though the lens of time. Such places included the aforementioned Service Merchandise, as well as Swallen’s, Rink’s, Gold Circle, Watson’s, and the much-loved Shillito’s.
Please note that all but one of those places has been made possessive, in keeping with Middle-American tradition. I have no idea if they should be or not (mostly because I’m too lazy to I can’t Google them because the Puddinpop has a basketball game in 15 minutes. At least that’s my story. My lack of enterprise notwithstanding, the point is that everyone should say, “I’m going to Kroger for a pound of braunschwager and a gallon of Moose Tracks so I can spend the evening trying to suffocate the voice of my shame.” But instead everyone says, “Kroger’s“, making me want to claw my own nostrils out through my eye sockets almost as much as hearing irregardless, which isn’t a word no matter how many people say it.
Ahem. But I digress.
At any rate, it was quite a list of stores that people seemed to recall happily from their respective youths, stores that aren’t around anymore. Which made me wonder: will anyone be nostalgic about the modern American corporate mega-store in two decades? Will anyone say, “Man, I remember going to Wal-Mart when I was kid. That as great.”
Somehow I doubt it.
Then again, it’s probably a moot question. Your Wal-Mart is likely to be exactly where it is now when I’m old enough to start shaking my cane at troublemakers on my lawn. For that matter, there’ll likely be 3 more Wally World stores near your house too. The future will be a desolate place, with Wal-Marts lined up as far as the eye can see. It’ll be both the only place to buy things – like, everything – the only place to work – but not full-time, because then they’d have to give you benefits – and probably the only place to eat out all. I’m expecting they’ll have chapels inside too, offering discount penance, where absolution can be yours, today, for just half the “Our Father’s” of your local priest. Plus, they’ll sin match with competitors!
I can only assume, having given up whatever shred of dignity I might have once possessed, I’ll be condemned to be your greeter. Can I get you a cart?
What do you think? Am I wrong? Are most people just as content with the massive bargains of today’s corporate behemoth stores as I was when leafing through the Service Merchandise Christmas catalog every fall?
It seems unlikely to me, but then I’ve been wrong before. So, then…
What store is better: the long-since-closed stores of our youth or the discount-heavy corporate stores of today?
Try not to disappoint me, internet.
Anybody going through poll withdrawal? Have I got something for you: