ACHTUNG: This is not a “fair and balanced” article. It is an editorial by the editor.
The startling sight of a couple of shopping cart corrals during the first week of the arrival of the new grocery store Leppinks in Dorr brings up a couple of issues — a slippery slope and Bob Dylan’s comment that “Money doesn’t talk, it swears.”
It should be duly noted that shopping cart corrals have been absent from the landscape of Wayland, Martin, Hopkins, Dorr and Moline. We rural folks might refer to them as “new-fangled contraptions”
And here they are, in the parking lot of Dick’s Market, witha local history of more than 65 years. Is this is sign of what is to come down the road? Are we truly unable to resist the inevitable changing of the times?
Though the corrals were conspicuous by their presence, a teen-age carry-out clerk told me it’s her understanding the youths will keep their jobs as personal escorts for customers approaching their cars.
This is where the slippery slope question comes in.
How long will Leppinks continue to provide jobs to these young people in the community? Will there come a time for downsizing them in favor of customers performing the service of transferring their purchased goods themselves and parking the carts in the corrals themselves?
I think it’s inevitable for Leppinks to go the same route as Meijer, Kroger, Family Fare and the like. It’s become commonplace on the Modern American landscape.
Self-service is nothing new. McDonald’s very skillfully encourages its in-house diners to bus their own tables and let’s not forget that long ago gas stations featured guys who would fill your tank, check your oil and even wash your windshield. Those were the days.
The business community, without a lot of fanfare, has persuaded the buying public to take over duties that formerly were performed by human beings in an effort to boost profits. The most recent example is self-serve checkouts that eliminate human cashiers, like at Wal-Mart and Meijer.
In the meantime, I hear, see and read comments from folks in this area who bemoan the inevitable loss of local small-town rural feeling of the communities in these parts, especially the assertions that “We moved here to get away from city life.”
Yet many of these same people will do business with the big box stores, the malls and big corporate entities 20 and 30 minutes away, all in the name of saving money, but at the expense of preserving that small town feel.
I’ll never forget my interview nine years ago with Jay L. Smith, last of the owners of a 105-year-old Wayland business, Smith Lumber & Coal, who said there were three reasons why he went belly up — Menard’s, Home Depot and Lowe’s.
Can his wisdom of the ages be applied here? We say what we want, but do nothing to make it so.