At the corner of a dusty county road and a state highway in northern New York, there lies a convenience store. Aptly named the Country Corner Market, it serves the population — between 44 and 200 people, depending who you believe — of my hometown. In October of my junior year at Notre Dame, my parents bought it.
It would have been a compliment to describe the building as dilapidated. North Country winters had scarred its siding, and the glow of the flickering road sign was barely bright enough to attract a June bug, much less a customer. Outdated pumps, the last of their kind in operation, stood in the potholed parking lot, sputtering toward their inevitable death.
Unfinished walls and empty shelves lined the entryway, and a stale corkboard advertised antique furniture and reduced-price hay from a pair of outdated fliers. Dim ceiling lights caused customers to stroke their foreheads, searching for forgotten sunglasses. A blanket of dust collected on neglected products that had long ago switched logos.
The cash register had no computer and couldn’t print customer receipts. Beside it, a stack of home-printed sheets listed the cost of rarely bought items and the names of customers who’d bounced a check sometime this decade.
It was a store I had known my entire life. It was less than two miles from my house. And yet, I had probably entered it a total of 10 times. When my parents expressed an interest, I expressed my doubt.
Read more here.