Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Something Wicked
Yesterday afternoon, I was startled to hear this NPR story, "US is Losing that Small Business Feeling." It isn't so much a news story as a personal commentary, despite the dry title. The commentator, Angeli Primlani, begins by talking about her interesting childhood, growing up in her family's motel, helping out and feeling a sense of community with all the varied travelers that came through. She laments losing that feeling when her family sold the motel, but then talks about finding it again in adulthood at a bookstore in the Chicago area.

It was the mention of the bookstore that startled me. Because, you see, I already knew all about it, its owner, and the sense of community it instilled in its patrons. The store was called Something Wicked, and it was/is (for a while longer, at least) in Evanston, IL. It was my aunt Janice's favorite bookstore. It was where she discovered the historical action figures that amused us both so much. For several years, every single person in the family got books from Something Wicked. The bookstore owner was one of her most frequently mentioned friends in recent years. Janice could possibly have accounted for a substantial amount of profits for that store on her own, not to mention free advertising, from Chicago all the way to NC. And when I heard the story, I was immediately concerned about what Janice would do if Something Wicked closed, and wanted to call and tell her about hearing the story, and then I remembered I couldn't.

I'm sure she would have approved of the overall message of the story, though, despite the sad news about her bookstore. She liked to do her shopping locally, a fight others in our family have taken up as well. My other aunt on that side of the family, Linda, is now the executive director of Raleigh Unchained, and one of her first member businesses to contact was our own local bookstore, Quail Ridge Books. People should take the time to appreciate the community that can spring up around these kinds of businesses more.

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