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The Big Difference





Today was our shopping day, I guess. We took our regular trip to the Saturday market, and then we went over to one of the local shopping malls because the girls needed to get their gear for soccer this season, and I needed a couple of other things. On the second leg of our journey, I could not help but marvel at the vast difference between the two shopping experiences. Ironically, the two venues are in the exact same city. One is the old part of town and one is the new.

The downtown area in the old part of the city is experiencing an exciting new revitalization. They are currently working on building a new town history museum there. The area is filled with progressive merchants, and restaurants that are more health conscious than the norm. The city is working to promote all of its small businesses. Cyclists love the place. There are more than a couple of bike shops, and there is a beautiful communal area with a fountain that children can play in on the edge of the market. The market has a lot of vendors who sell locally made and organic products. My bee guy there sells me pollen infused local honey, and there is even a woman who grinds her own GMO free cornmeal. The attitude at the market is light and friendly and informational. There is always live music playing, and every single time that I make a purchase, I can’t help but feel good about where my money is going.

The shopping mall is located in the newer part of town. It sits right next to a bunch of very expensive communities and golf courses that have been built recently. The differences I saw there were honestly staggering. I saw more than one person speeding through the parking lot and blowing off crosswalks even though the mall was jam-packed full of people. The people looked a lot less healthy, and a lot less happy on average, than the people that we meet at the market. They were also a whole lot less likely to strike up a friendly conversation. When my kids and I tried to walk from one section of the mall to another, we discovered that there were no crosswalks. Essentially, this tells me that the mall planners did not anticipate that anyone would want to walk from store to store, but rather they would get in their cars to drive a few feet. When my children asked me if we were jaywalking, I had to admit that we were, but then explained to them that we weren’t really given any alternative.

I did not come out of the experience at the mall feeling very good. I guess that I saved some money, because we shopped around for the cleats, and I picked up a gift that I know the recipient will really love. The feeling that I got at the market was not there though. I think that the point of this experience is too remind me that whenever possible, I really do want to try and avoid the mall. I am proud of myself when I shop locally, it may cost me a little more, but at least I get to see the faces of the vendors that I am buying from, and I know that they are doing their best to pay themselves a good wage. I love contributing to that. I encourage everyone to make a point to try and shop healthy. I bet that it will make you feel good too.

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