Up the street from where I work, over a dozen businesses will be bulldozed next month to make way for a new Walgreens, and while I’m not the activist type by nature, I am tempted to prostrate myself in the parking lot or go on a Gandhi-esque hunger strike in order to keep Walgreens and their big, bad corporate thugs from disturbing our quaint little Nuuanu Shopping Plaza.
Radio Shack, Subway, TCBY, Supercuts, and Dominoes Pizza will probably relocate without much grief, but the rest—the family-owned small businesses—will most likely fall into the growing pit of mom-and-pop-shop fatalities. The Hungry Lion restaurant with its ancient banyan tree growing out of its rooftop will stay, as will the beloved Bangkok Chef—the unanimously best-rated Thai food joint on the island.
Unfortunately Huckleberry Farms, a down-home, grass-rootsy health-food establishment didn’t make the cut. I have frequented this operation for over fifteen years, enjoying the country-bumpkin feeling it offered, not to mention the hearty homemade soups, sandwiches, and Greek salads. The thought of not being able to run into Huck’s to grab some fresh herbs and couscous leaves me with an unexpected surge of insecurity and loss.
I’ll especially miss the expert consultants who have been able to tell me which natural remedy works best for upset stomachs, migraine headaches, insomnia, and just about any other plague that strikes. I remember being advised to try gingko to cure writer’s block, which either worked, or at least I believed it worked, as I finished writing my third (still unpublished) novel. Will the new Whole Foods establishment across town be able to fill this void? I doubt it. Down to Earth across from U. H. is more likely to get my business, but their spacey New Age spin sometimes gives me the willies.
I went to Huck’s after work this evening, and when I wrote my last check to this humble little store, I noticed everyone wandering about the half-empty aisles with that detached gaze often seen at funerals. From my car, I took a picture, and my eight year-old son asked me why they were going out of business. “Thugs,” I told him. “Big, bad, Walgreen thugs.” I know he didn’t totally understand, but his reply was profound.
“Well, I’m never going there,” he said. “Nobody should.”