Ever go to a local, non-chain liquor store? I always do eschewing chains. Crow’s is another one that relates to the northwest side of Fort Worth by the way.
Before I met you, I sometimes visited King’s Liquors on I-20 and Old Granbury Road. You sometimes went into Crow’s Liquor at White Settlement and 820. After we married, we went into Crow’s on several occasions when we were out driving around or shopping. Both of those booze bastions were places I really enjoyed visiting. While I also liked going to the large chains like Majestic due to their selection, I really preferred the independents like King’s and Crow’s when I could go there.
And why was that? The big chains were typical fare on the menu of the American retail industry. They were huge, well-decorated, and full of stuff they were pushing or on special. Every location was very much the same for the most part. While the shopping experience at such places was good, there was nothing unique about it—there was no “art” in the soul of such a store, only the science of mass retailing.
King’s and Crow’s were the opposite of their more glitzy competitors. When you went into either of these stores, you were treated to something much different that harkens back to an earlier age in our commercial history. For starters, decoration and fixtures were minimal and functional. Sometimes beer and wine was simply stacked on the floor and wasn’t on a shelf. The buildings were not in the endlessly multiplying strip centers in the newer areas of town. They were in older retail areas away from the rush of a mall or mixed-use development swollen with cars. In the end, they got your attention if you drove by since they were not hidden in the faceless, cookie-cutter forest of stores.
In short, such stores are unique. They are run by a family or by a sole proprietor who knows his or her merchandise. This type of store may be short on fancy décor but are long on customer service and good products.
This setting also brought back memories of the grocery store my dad’s parents owned. It was small, not fancy, but it had the basics. And it had some character, too, like the back room, warmed by a space heater, where old men played dominoes each day. Such places, therefore, offered up more than just the goods they sold, they also brought us memories and stories to tell.
Hopefully, as our culture changes, this type of “mom and pop” outlet will see a new resurgence and become widespread once more. Such places are more than just a place to buy things at. They are a signpost of our community and its life, which provides much more than just a six pack of beer or a case of wine.
These individual fortresses of commercial activity, standing against the assaults of mass retailing’s hordes, provide real enjoyment and even create memories one can value and treasure—unlike what one usually receives at faceless places like Wal-Mart and its everyday low prices. Thus, stores like King’s and Crow’s show you that price is not everything and that true value is measured in ways other than just dollars.