I squinted and bent over, rummaging through the pile of canvas bags and children's artwork, frantically looking for my prescription sunglasses. I found something smooth and hard - my glasses case! But it only held a regular pair of sunglasses - for those days when I wear my contacts which is pretty much every day that I don't have a splitting headache.
I tossed the case back in the glove compartment and turned the key in the ignition. Sunlight streamed through the windshield, tightening the vise around my head. I ignored the throbbing and barreled down the street toward our 24 hour chain pharmacy - a written prescription for migraine medication burning a hole in my purse.
Sure, I could have traveled one town over, to an independent pharmacy. Two brothers own it. They know my name and my prescriptions when I walk in the door. They vote the way I vote.
And, they are closed on Sundays, before 9:30 in the morning and after 5 o'clock in the afternoon. It often takes them at least a day to get the medication I need. That means that if I hand them a prescription on a Saturday morning (or even a Friday afternoon), I won't get it filled until Monday mid-day.
I've tried to work around this by planning ahead. By counting leftover pills in a bottle or puffs in an asthma inhaler but sometimes, life happens. I've spent one too many weekends with a blinding migraine and no medication. One too many nervous nights with a preschooler whose inhaler was running on empty. And so, today, I pull into the drive-through at Walgreens. A nameless pharmacy assistant who has no idea who I am takes my prescription. I get a text message 15 minutes later than my medication is in - though I am advised to check and make sure it looks the same as last time when I pick it up. Big pharmacies are notorious for accidentally giving out the wrong medication. I check. It is the right medication. A half an hour later, I'm good.
Or at least the headache is gone.
But what about my commitment to support independent businesses? I walk into a nearby, locally owned children's bookstore and it hits me. I love this store. Their selection is wonderful. Their staff fantastic. They can recommend "read-alikes", new books, new authors. The store offers classes, parties, author readings. If they don't have what you want, you can order it in the store - or better yet, off of their website, which in and of itself is a font of incredible information.
It is important to shop local but, the truth is, local businesses need to adapt to survive. Natural selection and all that. This local bookstore is not the first on our street. Another went out of business after only a year. It couldn't offer the same selection. It didn't have a website. It couldn't compete.
To make this "buy local" thing work, we all need to change. We, the consumers, should go out of our way to support locally owned businesses. Independent businesses increase diversity in the marketplace, bring more money back into local municipalities, create meeting places, build community, discourage urban sprawl, and so much more. They, the independent businesses, though, need to constantly think about how to satisfy a consumer used to convenience, one raised on 24 hour service and Internet shopping. Those businesses that do adapt will be the first to get my dollar.
I bring my book purchases up the counter. The owner adds them up and then puts the tally with my frequent buyer program. Woohoo! I hit the milestone and get a $10 gift card back. Apply it to my total, have one of the books wrapped for a friend's birthday, and am on my way - feeling less guilty about the Walgreens prescription bottle in my purse and looking for more ways to support the local guys, without giving myself a headache.