The big news in my northwest Alabama town this weekend — besides people having to cover up their pansies and azaleas for the Final Freeze — is that three chain stores are moving in to a deserted shopping center that recently housed Goody’s (a Southeast clothing company gone bankrupt) and a Toys “R” Us and Old Navy that apparently we couldn’t keep in business. My town also has killed a Pier One, Michael’s, Stein Mart and IHOP — who puts an IHOP out of business??? — and, then of course there was our Linens ‘n’ Things, which wasn’t our fault because nobody could save those stores. But now I have mixed feelings about Ross Dress for Less, Jo-Ann Fabric and Craft and Bed Bath & Beyond coming here. On one hand, it’ll bring much-needed jobs and taxes — and those are good things. On the other hand, we can’t keep the small hometown stores in business, either: I still mourn the loss of the restaurant-supply store my friend’s family owned and the gourmet kitchen shop parents of Younger Daughter’s friend had that couldn’t compete with the big-box mass-discounters. And our local family-owned and -operated string of three fabric stores is now down to one — and it specializes in home-decor sewing instead of handmade-clothing sewing. I’m just not sure what I think. Somebody tell me what to think. And is Ross Dress for Less anything like the shining star of discount style — T.J. Maxx? I’ve been in maybe one Ross Dress for Less – do we have to say the whole name or is “Ross” sufficient? – maybe one time so I’d love some guidance.
But there is one thing I’m certain of: I’m not a baseball fan. And not because of the reasons you might think. The truth is that I’m actually sort of afraid of baseball. I know, I know — weird, right? Read my weekly newspaper column to find out why — and to find out who the one person is I overcame my baseball fear for. You know who! http://www.timesdaily.com/article/20100409/ARTICLES/4095005