Tag Archives: Shopping Locally

Grapevine Farmer’s Market

Last Friday morning I stopped by the Grapevine Farmer’s Market and loaded up on fresh produce. Jack & Racquel Morehead were quite nice and their son cheerfully carried everything to the car for me.

Why buy fruits and vegetables at a farmer’s market (in Oklahoma we call them fruit stands)? Why not? I was going to buy it at the grocery store anyway, and there was something really nice about walking around looking at the vendors’ tables and talking with them.

Good old free enterprise and small business – the backbone of the American economy.

Grapevine Farmer’s Market is open Thursday – Saturday, 8:00 a.m – 4:00 p.m. and they take credit and debit cards.


I took home one of these beauties.

Another vendor was a nice family selling beef. Their ranch is near Decatur. I didn’t buy any then because I wasn’t going to go home for several more hours and didn’t have an ice chest with me, but I plan to get some later.

Steve & Susan Beggs sell lean, grass-fed beef. Go here for their website. She told me that the produce market in Decatur (the one in the little stone building just north of Braum’s) also carries their beef.

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Filed under Food, Grapevine, Local Shopping, Texas, Texas

Trivial Vicissitudes

Somehow I didn’t think it had been so long since I’d posted. So it was surprising when I saw that the last time was June 2. Yikes.

We’ve been having computer adjustments. The laptop has a soldering problem, which Joe is trying to fix. The internet sites on that particular problem advise against trying to fix it without professional help. But as we are on a tight budget, I’m certainly not willing to pay for repairs.

(Joe thinks he can do it himself, and he probably can. He can fix just about anything from cars to washers & dryers to electrical wiring. And welders. One of our neighbors had a welder that needed fixing and even though he’d never worked on one, she asked him to look at it. He fixed it. He even plays a mean Chopin.

What a Renaissance man!)

After another computer virus on our main computer, we have had to make adjustments in the way it operates, learning new file systems. Actually, Joe figures it out and gives me only the information I need to use it. I don’t want to know all the ins and outs. But it has taken some doing to learn how to scan and use photos.

I am absolutely not superstitious, but that makes 3 mechanical things that have gone on the blink this year and 3 last year. The car I drive is inoperable – no way am I ready to spend the money that the garage estimates, and I even agree that it’s a fair price.

So, the math works like this:

1 broken car + 1 broken laptop + 1 virus ridden system = 3 clunkers – 1 new system = 2 trivial problems

Not having a running car is not a huge problem because I actually like being home during the day. Even before it quit, I didn’t use it much. It was lovely going to town sometimes, but no way do I consider it a necessity. (More on that in a future post.)

Last year bigger things broke:

1. Our 8 year old Amana dishwasher
2. The riding lawnmower
3. Our central air conditioner.

We solved those problems by:

1. Washing dishes by hand. Joe won’t buy a cheap dishwasher and I’m too cheap to buy a good one.
2. Bless his heart, he worked on that old John Deere all summer; he’d get it going and then something else on it would break. So we used our old power mower, the regular kind that you walk behind (it was the smallest one that Wal-Mart sold when we lived in the trailer park and had a postage stamp-sized yard.) When we moved out to the country we bought a used John Deere and it worked a couple of years, then it went caput. He was able to keep it going for another couple of years, but it took a lot of work and finally it just wasn’t going to make it. So with the small one, we just mowed enough to keep the varmints at bay.
3. No way was I going to go far enough in debt to finance a new central unit. (Have I mentioned that I’m cheap? Thrifty is a much nicer term, but sometimes I’m just plain cheap.) But air conditioning in modern life is almost a necessity because our homes are just not built to withstand the summer heat. Especially in Texas. So we bought a new Friedrich window unit (made in Texas) at McNeill’s Appliances in Denton. We looked at window units at Home Depot and somewhere else, which I can’t remember. We prefer to buy American made products and from a local business when we can. Going to McNeill’s was wonderful. It reminded me of the appliance store in That Thing You Do, which is the way Americans used to buy household goods. Click here to watch a trailer of it on youtube. It’s a nice tribute to the year 1964. Tom Hanks did a really good job with it.

We also had two small units that we put in bedroom windows. The surprising thing is that our electric bill went down from previous years. Significantly down. So while it’s nicer and quieter to have central, this was a really good and affordable way to keep cool during these Texas summers, or in other words, May – October. And they keep our home really comfortable.

In the long run, none of these road bumps are even important. They’re inconveniences.

When I think about my widowed great-great grandmother, taking her 5 children by covered wagon from eastern Tennessee to start a new life in western Missouri … well, these trivial vicissitudes are hardly worth mentioning.

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Filed under 1960's, 1964, Denton, Internet links, Local Shopping, Made in the U.S.A., Making Do, Texas, Thrift, Using What You Have, Vicissitudes of Life, YouTube

Some Family History & Shopping Locally


Both sides of my family have roots in small business. In the past it was groceries – the kind of stores that are now called “Mom & Pop”. My brother has always had his own business but is now retiring; my sister’s family has their own. Joe and I seem to be the only ones who’ve stayed solely in the corporate world.

My maternal grandfather had several different country stores – not at the same time – in western Kentucky. The last one was in Iuka; in 1937 there was a massive flood (I think 7 states were affected); when everything they had, including the store, stood under flood water for 2 weeks, he retired.

1937 flood at Iuka,Kentucky; White building is Sexton's 2 story grocery store

Bart Sexton at Sexton's Grocery, Los Angeles 1930s


My mother went to Arkansas briefly and worked in her cousin’s store in Wiener. Then a year in Texas and on to California to work in her Uncle Bart’s grocery store in Los Angeles.

 

Stella Sexton at Uncle Bart's store, Los Angeles circa 1939


There she met an attractive young man who would come in to buy a Coke. She said he would lean against the pop box and make one of those little 6 1/2 ounce Cokes last a long time. I can scarcely believe that Daddy was ever that shy, but he must have been because he got a friend to ask her if she would go out with him. Mama told Maxine that she couldn’t go out with him until he asked her. Daddy was back over there in 5 minutes. A few years later he proposed to her riggt before they went to the Rose Bowl parade and the rest is history. Well, family history, anyway.

 

Johnnie Edens at Mingo store,circa 1945


Eventually Daddy wanted to move back to Oklahoma. After a few years they bought the little store in Mingo that my Uncle Johnnie had built, but had gone through a couple of different owners by then. Even though poor by today’s standards, my parents were able to buy the business to provide a second income. People could do that sort of thing back then. My mother said that she let my 6 year-old brother mark the items which cost a nickel with a 5 and the cents sign. Now I don’t think you can even buy anything at a store for a nickel. This was about 1949. (Funny thing about that little frame building: it’s about the only structure left standing in Mingo after the airport bought everything and demolished the community.)

 

Then in 1970, my dad and brother quit their construction business to buy a grocery store and station across from the school in Mingo. Cortez Carnathan had built it a few years previously to replace his old wooden structure. It reminded me of Wally’s Filling Station in Mayberry. The new one was very modern looking with glass walls all along the front. It had several DX gas pumps (full service only, this was before self-service), a mechanics bay with a lift and a good sized grocery area. I was in high school and worked there off and on until it was sold a few years later.

It seems to me that I have a fairly good understanding of and sympathy for local businesses. I know that having his own business made the difference between scary lay-offs that Daddy had suffered at McDonnell Douglas Aircraft and finally, prosperity. He worked hard at that store, getting there to open at 6:00 a.m., washing down the concrete pad every morning; staying there all day until we closed at 8:00 p.m. But the day was not over until all the shelves were stocked and the floor swept and mopped. Every day. He was 61 years old when they bought it and I can’t imagine working that hard when I’m that age.

So, I have a real empathy for local business and try to shop at them whenever I can. There are bonuses for both the owner and me. The local hardware store here is a good example. A can of Bon Ami costs about 70 cents more there than it does at the IGA. But, when I called to ask the proprietor if she knew anyone locally that sold firewood, she said we could have all we wanted – free – from their acreage. They even gave us a key to the gate. My friend, Patti told me they opened up the store after hours one night for an emergency plumbing repair part that cost less than $5.00. Try getting a major chain to do that for you.

Now, we’ve bought a lot more in there over the years than merely tub cleanser. We’ve bought paint and plywood, a few gifts and some things for the kitchen. Joe buys as many car parts there as he can. We could get cheaper prices at Home Depot or Autozone – and we still shop at those stores when we can’t get it here, but we want our local store to stay in business. Home Depot is never going to build a store in this town, it’s too small. If we want the store to survive, we have to decide whether saving a few dollars is worth them going out of business because they can’t compete.

The produce stand down the road is struggling. Honestly I hadn’t shopped there in a good while, but I’ve started to again. Okay, their prices are a little higher on some things than the grocery store, but generally the quality is much higher. A few weeks ago I bought the best grapes there that I’ve ever had. When I was checking out, the owner gently pointed out that the cucumbers I’d bought were past prime and she asked if she could substitute 2 others. Then she said she’d give me the first ones if I wanted them. Joe was there buying some things one night about closing and she offered him a large bag (probably 5 pounds) of West Texas tomatoes for $2.00. They were good ones, just a little overripe. He came home and made some really wonderful hot sauce (salsa).

Now, I wish that all the local businesses were like that, but they aren’t. The feedstore owner doesn’t care if I shop there or not, so I usually don’t for anything but the occasional bale of hay. I had a really horrible experience at the local beauty shop and will never go back (I was with a friend who had just lost a son, and the yacky beautician would not shut up complaining about kids). The scrapbook store owner in a nearby town is so rude that she has a reputation as far as 50 miles away. Some of the shop owners in Decatur won’t even wait on me when I go in, so I don’t go back.

This is a mystery to me and I can guarantee you my dad wouldn’t have understood it. He was always polite to customers because he knew he wouldn’t have a business without them. As Dave Ramsey says, “If you’re not making money – it’s a hobby, not a business”. It took a lot for my dad to get cranky with a customer.

Local businesses are vital to a community. I’ve read that small business is the backbone of American employment.

All that said, I still love Wal-Mart; I’ve been shopping there for over 35 years. I can’t imagine all the money I’ve saved in that amount of time.

It’s so tres chic to denigrate Wal-Mart. And the funny thing about it is
that most of the critics I hear, shop at Target or buy Microsoft or pay way too much for a cup of coffee at Starbucks. You get the picture. The media, New York and California hate Wal-Mart and make the rest of us look like cousin-marrying rubes if we shop there.

Do they honestly believe that shopping at Costco instead of Sam’s makes them superior? One major corporation over another?

If major corporations are so evil, then maybe those critics should stop buying gasoline of any kind and walk everywhere. No more clothes unless they grown the cotton (no tractors) or wool and weave it themselves.

To sum it up: both small business and big business have vital roles in the American economy and life. I support them both.

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Filed under 1930s, America, Current Events, Family, Kentucky, Mingo, Oklahoma, Thrift