“Another business closing” is a common phrase we are hearing all too often now. So much so, I am afraid people don’t stop to think about the human connection that a business may have to so many. It is not just about dollars and cents, and speculating the answer to why it’s closing, it is about what that business actually meant to people.
The Scotsburn Co-op has been a staple in the “Village” for decades. It is located directly across from my home. My home. The place my husband and I raise our family, overlooks the building. I see it everyday. People, many from my community, gather for a morning coffee just inside the doors at the little round tables. Often you will see a cookie package open, a welcome invitation to anyone who wants a treat. Men from the mill stop and pick up a paper then continue on to work. Farmers haul bags of seed and supplies into their trucks.
Men in coveralls, and women in rubber boots, happily walk in and out all day long. It is a farmer’s paradise. A place where you can pick up any odd and end that you need, and not only know your name, but your account number as well. On that note, where else do you buy milk, fresh blueberries and a horse brush, and simply say, “Put it on my bill” and walk out?
I think in a world that is always changing, the “old school charm” of this place, made it so inviting. It reminded me of my childhood. I will now drive by an empty building that used to be a place my daughter and I would pick up and go, just for the walk. A place where we could have a quick visit with a friendly face on a sunny afternoon. A place where my teenage daughter would get off the bus and run in to grab a bag of chips or a chocolate bar before walking in the driveway. The Co-op was many a time, a place my daughter and her friends would walk to, when they got bored, whatever the season.
I know this may sound strange but I remember going with my mom to the store in Westville, Wesley’s, I think was the name, and hearing my mom say, “Put it on my bill please.” As I grew up, and was old enough, I was allowed to go in and get mom’s few items and say those words, “Put it on the account please.” My daughter had just started going in by herself to the Co-op, as I waited in the car. I would watch her and smile, knowing how proud and old she must feel. It makes me so sad that the memory will end with her. She will not be doing that with her daughter, and that makes me sad. Her children will never be asked, “Is this on your account?” They won’t get to sign their name on the line, as Emma loved to do when she “bought” something.
It is not only my family and I that feel the loss, of course. In the first few days, I saw a customer in tears as they talked about the closing. I was waiting in line, and she kept repeating, “I can’t believe it, I just can’t believe it.” Her children, on either side of her, asked where they would be getting their ice creams from now on.
An older gentlemen asked his buddies while having coffee, “Where are we going to meet for coffee now boys?” I see them there so much, I wondered that question myself.
My daughter for the first time, held a baby yellow chick, and all she had to do is ask. Mike happily got down on the floor, opened a box of over eighty baby chicks, and passed her one. He then explained what kind of a chick it was and then picked up another and showed her the difference. Emma was amazed and never took her eyes of him as he spoke. She will always remember that day and I love that. Each person has a memory tied to a place. The Co-op is no different, it is full of happy memories.
I know that with change new paths will be forged, and new memories made but as the days slip by, my sadness grows. I am sad that a community will not be helping raise my child, as the old saying goes. I guess I really didn’t think about it too much, until someone told me the part of the community that tied so many together, was not going to be there anymore.
Goodbye staff of the Scotsburn Co-op Farm Services, my family and many others like it, will miss you terribly. You were unique and irreplaceable, and I thank you for that.