The other day Kay and I went to "the big city" to do some recreational shopping (i.e., not spending any money) and to look for some one thing we didn't think would be available locally. She wore me out shopping (in her defense, it takes Very Little to wear me out). In the end she came back home and bought the item here in town.
Running into "the big city" for recreational shopping was not always so. Back in the day the City of Brazil was a boomtown of the highest quality. One local merchant or another met every need; and if all else failed there were the variety stores. Then the Interstate highway and Wal-Mart came and the world changed. The City of Brazil is certainly not alone in experiencing the changes which came with entering the 22nd Century. Somehow in all the change we got the idea we'd have to do our shopping in the "big city Mall" -- which was now only minutes away. But, even if Brazil ain't what she was, there is still plenty more to come.
There may well be things which can't be purchased locally, but there are more choices than one would think. When Tom Arthur was mayor he led in an attempt to promote business in Brazil known as Main Street Brazil. I'm not sure what happened to this initiative as I was not able at the time to continue with it myself (something about heart surgery, blah, blah, blah.). I did do some preliminary work on promotion and found that on National Avenue alone are small businesses meeting a very wide variety of needs -- plus Wal-Mart. In lists provided by the Chamber of Commerce I learned there are over 400 business entities listed in Clay County, including manufacturers, home and part-time businesses. Sure, with the passage of time the people have changed, and what a local business offers today may have been inconceivable 50 or 100 years ago. But, as long as there are this many small businesses in Brazil, we are still something of a boomtown. Clay County is dotted with "towns" that became merely crossroads when local business of the time lost its local support.
There is no reason, either, to think that if you can't find it at the local Wal-Mart you'll have to go to "the big city". Maybe it's just a matter of asking the local merchant for help. In his autobiography Made in America Sam Walton, founder of Wal-Mart, contends it is not really true local business can't compete with Wal-Mart. He says Wal-Mart can never compete with independent business people because Wal-Mart can never have specialized knowledge or extensive inventory of any particular product line. He says in part, "The little personal touch is so important for an independent merchant because no matter how hard we try to duplicate it -- and we try awfully hard -- we can't really do it" (pg. 229).
Recreational Christmas shopping can be fun enough, a lot of stuff is out there to entice. May I suggest, though, most of the stuff you really need can probably be found right here in our town. At least it's worth a shot. Buying locally adds to jobs available and taxes collected; and encourages even more small business to add to the local offerings. It seems to me anyone shopping in "the big city" for things as easily purchased locally forfeits the right to say there is no future for Brazil Indiana.
David L. Lewis is an observer of and sometimes commentator on life who may be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.