I consider myself told off.
And I’m not too thrilled about it.
Earlier this week, I wrote about the bad dinner experience for four of us at The Cheesecake Factory at the Syracuse mega shopping, dining and entertainment complex Destiny USA.
It generated a fair amount of commenting here on WordPress and on my Facebook page. Bravo. I love sharing conversation about our world. Thank you for stopping by.
I expected some disagreement. Of course there are people who’ve had great meals at this Cheesecake Factory or their own local version of this national chain.
I was somewhat surprised, though, at the folks hijacked this into a buy-local issue.
Some were polite about it, mentioning that I could have gone to one of many fine independently owned restaurants instead. Fair enough. I could have.
Some were adamant about it, declaring that I must never have heard about the importance of buying local. Not true.
Some were belligerent about it, suggesting that I got what I deserved for going to a national chain. Really? A pox on all national restaurants?
As for the buy local philosophy, let’s start here.
I get it. I agree that it’s important to support independent businesses in your community. I do not agree that it’s an all-or-nothing issue.
Here’s the shop in North Syracuse where I’ve gotten my hair cut and beard trimmed for more than 20 years. I’ve written about my friend Theresa Constantine and her Hairy Notions shop. She and the salon she owns have become an important part of my life.
I drove the extra few miles again for my every-four-week vanity appointment Thursday morning, bypassing the big national joint on the Main Street in my Syracuse city neighborhood of Eastwood.
Here’s the drugstore I’ve used for the last quarter century.
I started going to Dougherty’s Pharmacy regularly when I lived just up the block from the independently owned store when I lived up the block in Morrisville, N.Y. My golfing buddy, the late John Dougherty, sold the place to Jennifer and Chris when he decided to retire 20 years ago.
The married couple — they’re both pharmacists — wisely chose to keep the name that’s been a Morrisville village tradition.
They are my friends, too, so much so that even though I moved back to Syracuse more than a decade ago, I still make my monthly, 70-mile roundtrip drive to pick up my prescription drugs at Dougherty’s. Their service and selection surpass the chain stores that dot every corner here.
Sandwiches, I go to the Brooklyn Pickle, both locations, or A Taste of Philadelphia on James Street. Pizza? Twin Trees, OIP, Angotti’s. Charney’s is celebrating its 60th year of selling clothes to Syracusans, including me. For appliances, my favorite spot is Ra-Lin’s on Burnet Avenue, two consecutive LG flat screens worth. Beer, TV sports and bar food? Chadwick’s on James. Beer and local music? Shifty’s on Burnet.
My choices. And they make me happy.
But I also incorporate trips to the local Walgreen’s to pick up this and that.
I buy food and clothes and gear and, well, whatever I might need on any certain day, at chain supermarkets and department stores and sporting goods stores. And if a new chain restaurant opens that I want to take for a test drive, I make plans.
My choices. And they make me happy.
As I mentioned in a reply to one of the buy local supporters, these places also hire local people, and pay taxes to local municipalities for goods and services rendered.
To me, they are part of our community, too.
What a terrible blow it would be if nobody shopped at these places, they all closed, and unemployment soared. Locally owned stores would benefit, eventually and somewhat, but would they or could they hire as many people? Wouldn’t a lot of folks just drive to the next community to shop at the national places they prefer?
I do not want to see that happen where I live.
Do you frequent an establishment simply because it’s locally owned? Do you bypass national chains on principle? Is this a one-way-or-the-other issue to you?