Friday, December 16, 2011

"Not Just An Anonymous Number"

I'm not going to get too much into the whole online shopping vs. local shopping debate this holiday season. I've done plenty of both; the UPS man is making just as many trips up our driveway as we are out of it. For 10 years, though, I owned a small, specialty retail store in Downtown Memphis, so I have a soft spot for the entrepreneurs out there who have so much riding on every holiday season. My solidarity with them is also why this op-ed piece by the great Richard Russo for The New York Times (Amazon's Jungle Logic) struck home with me. Likewise, it's why I find this rebuttal by Farhood Manjoo for Slate (Don't Support Your Local Bookseller) absurd and argumentative merely for the sake of contradicting.

The argument and editorials have made their way around the internet quicker than a picture of a kitten in a Christmas stocking, so instead of opining either way I'll leave it with the great Paul Auster, not weighing in on the subject at all, but simply being interviewed recently for BAMcinématek (the Brooklyn Academy of Music). In speaking of the owner of a tobacco shop he frequents in his neighborhood to buy his Schimmelpenninck cigars (the place is the basis for Auster's short story "Auggie Wren's Christmas Story," which was the basis for the film "Smoke"), he hits the nail on the head regarding the importance of supporting local shops and shopkeepers. In my opinion anyway.

I started  thinking about him and how in neighborhoods in New York, in big cities, you have these relationships with people. They're not friendships, certainly not friendships, but they're warm acquaintance-ships that enhance daily life, make it better, make you feel that you're not just an anonymous number living in an anonymous Metropole; we had some very nice conversations.