The closest town to me, Poolesville, is a Mayberry of sorts. Small town, USA, on the outskirts of Washington-DC-Metropolis-from-Hell. (No really, that’s what they call it.) And since it sits so near to the county Agricultural Reserve, it is fairly protected from Urban Sprawl and its associated ‘progress’. The Ag Reserve is fighting its own battles to keep development and sprawl from infecting its pristine, rural heritage, but Poolesville is in an odd situation.
Since it can’t grow developmentally too much, which is a good thing in some respects, it also can’t grow economically too much, which is not a good thing. The price we pay for a small, tightly knit community, is that our businesses are struggling. We’ve lost several already.
And now, a big blow, we’ve just closed our one and only grocery store. A family run IGA that has been around for decades and decades and decades….closed its doors for the last time this weekend. Its name was Selby’s, after the family that started it so long ago.
And it started out as kind of a General Store, in an old building with wooden floors. Mr. Selby was well known and loved in the community, and his business was needed and welcomed.
Over the years, the town grew a little, the store moved locations, became an IGA, and it looked like it would be a successful grocery to serve a larger community.
But that community never grew enough, and other stores on the roads into Poolesville, like Safeway and Harris Teeter, began to take larger and larger pieces of the market. Selby’s was a straight forward grocery. They couldn’t easily compete with stores that had banks or Starbucks, or pharmacies. And, even though the Selby family supported the community in areas like the local firestation, town clubs, town athletic teams, parades, etc, the community just didn’t have enough capital to keep Selby’s running.
And now it has closed.
As you can imagine, the little town is upset. People keenly feel the Selby family’s pain. Change is so difficult, even in the best circumstances.
One of ol’ Mr. Selby’s granddaughters, Lisa, is a friend of mine. A harder worker I don’t believe I have met. Her heart was definitely in her family’s business. What could I say to her with the store closing? Everyone else in the community was saying all the sympathetic, loving words they needed to hear. But so much of it was piteous. Sad. Doleful. Dejected. I kept thinking, “That won’t help them move on.” Sure, it would help them know they were not alone in their disappointment. Literally hundreds of people were sympathizing. Appropriately so.
Yet it wasn’t what was in my heart to give her. I wanted to say something to her that would give her some light. Some optimism. A different perspective. Something hopeful.
On my living room wall is a cross-stitched plaque that was handmade for me by a friend when I was going through my extremely painful divorce years ago. It reads simply:
Every Ending Brings A New Beginning
So I sent her that thought.
I am so sorry the store closed. But I do look forward to seeing what paths Lisa and her family take in the future. The world is their oyster, if they can see it that way.
And when you think about it, that applies to all of us.