Every morning my husband and I take our dogs on the same walk east on South Temple, north on R Street, west on Second Avenue, and then south until we're home again.
They're creatures of habit, those dogs. They like to sniff the same bushes they always sniff, bark at the same dogs they always bark at, roll on the same grass they always roll on, exchange threats with the same cats they always exchange threats with, greet the same people they always greet.
The dogs especially like John and Sue, who work at the Second Avenue Laundry. It's part of the daily routine to say a happy hello! hello! hello! to John and Sue before moving on. It's a little thing, I know, but it gives a familiar shape to everyone's days.
And then last week, the doors of Second Avenue Laundry were locked and everyone was gone. Instead, a sign hung on the door:
"Second Avenue Laundry is closed. Thank you for your patronage and friendship over the years. Sue and John."
I'll confess. The news made me sad.
Not that I hung out at Second Avenue Laundry 24/7, but it's been handy to have it so close by. I used to slip up there sometimes with a landfill's worth of boxers and socks when all five boys were living at home, just so I could get the laundry done all at once. I'd sink into an overstuffed chair and read City Weekly or Catalyst while the washers and dryers hummed a soothing song and the clean scent of detergent permeated the air.
Also (and for the record) Second Avenue Laundry had cans of Dr Pepper in the soda machine. Cans. Not bottles. This is a crucial distinction for me, since I like my Dr Pepper (not diet) in a can. Furthermore, the cans were the right amount of cold. Score!
Am I the only one who reacts this way when a local business closes its doors for good? Am I the only one who feels like there's a hole left behind in a neighborhood's fabric?
I still miss Eighth Avenue Market, which closed on Christmas Eve a few years ago especially the owner, Bill Spencer, who was there from sunup to sundown until the day he died. I miss the way he'd always say, "Hell, they're lucky to be out of this mess," whenever you mentioned you'd seen someone's obituary in the paper that morning. I miss how he'd tell you which way to cook your meat (he never led me astray) or how he'd ask after your kids and parents.
Here's something else I miss about Eighth Avenue Market the customers I saw there regularly. We used to chat in the aisles. Not for long. Just enough to get caught up. I rarely see any of those people now. The little Eighth Avenue community has disappeared.
Community. That's the operative word here.
A business especially a small business like a neighborhood grocery store or gas station or beauty salon can become a gathering place of sorts where both employees and residents bump into each other and connect, if only briefly, to comment on the weather and the economy and births and deaths and whether or not someone's new haircut suits them. (My husband still remembers the time he went to the grocery store in our old neighborhood and the cashier there told him that she liked the way I was wearing my hair.)
Anyway. I talked to John at Second Avenue Laundry just this morning. He was there, clearing things out. He was philosophical about closing down. Things change, he said. You move on.
And he's right, of course.
Still, there's always a loss associated with any kind of change even if things change for the better. So in that spirit I want to recognize the loss of another local business and to wish Sue and John the best. The dogs will miss them in the morning.
We will, too.