Yesterday was North Country's last day open. I went there in the early evening. I'd been meaning to all week, but this stuff does get put off....
I was amazed at how sad I was. I've known this was coming for ages. Even officially. They announced they were closing a while ago. When the New Riv closed I found out cause I planned on going to lunch there that day. Much more of a shock (but also a long time coming..)
I'm mad that it didn't work, and yet I was part of it not working too. I haven't done my grocery shopping there in ages. It's a little further away than Seward Co-op, maybe a mile, and just that little bit harder to get to (at a weird intersection, with very little parking, sort of trapped between two highways and the river) In addition it sort of never had critical mass, or something. The produce wasn't as good, because it didn't have the level of turnover the other coops do, and so fewer of us bought it, making the turnover even worse.
I miss the community-ness of it. From the handpainted wooden signs which retained a little of the old co-op feel, to the signs salvaged from other closed co-ops that they saved, a bit of history. I wonder where they'll go now.
I know when I was more involved there was a sense of an "in" group. Working members and board members, lots of people who knew each other and were excited to chat when we saw each other. I think that created sort of an "out group" feeling for lots of people, and have heard that was part of what was alienating. Many of us would rather go somewhere where no one has much of a connection (though regulars will often know some of the cashiers, or whatever, anywhere), but it makes me really sad.
I got interviewed, along with lots of other people, for a west bank (the neighborhood) history project. I'll be interested to see that when it's up (I think it will be a website, I'll link to it) - I don't feel very articulate, but it was actually suprisingly healing to talk to this unknown young woman about my history of the place, and what it's meant to me.
Afterwards I swung by Seward Co-op on the way home. It's beautiful, with abundant, lovely produce as you walk in the door, lots of stuff, lots of lights, marketing endcaps. They're doing it "right". So right, in fact, that they're in the process of moving down the street to a much bigger place. The large parking lot is often filled, and the lines are getting long.
And they exist because in 1973 or whenever North Country was getting too big and needed to spin off another co-op. Weird.
I love Seward too, but it felt sort of soulless. I resented it, sort of like when my old dog, Patches, died, I resented my younger dogs, just for not being her, really. How could they ever compare?
I guess they won't. Something real is lost, and something else continues on.