Wake up and smell the customers

Published 12:00 am Thursday, May 18, 2006

I’ve got a bur stuck in my saddle this week.

For those of you wondering, the bur does not take the form of the Hertford County Board of Commissioners. More on them at a later date…as well as a look at the inner workings of county government in Bertie and Northampton.

What’s got me madder than Barry Bonds’ former steroids dealer is it seems local businesses apparently don’t want my business.

In an energy-depressed (that’s catchy; I just made it up) era where just pulling to the gas pumps makes my blood boil higher than the price of fuel, you would think that local merchants would be doing everything in their power to please local shoppers.

We have become extremely energy conscience, and well we should be. In order to make our family budgets remain somewhere between the poor house and barely afloat, we’ve been forced to take extreme measures.

I don’t know about you, but unnecessary travel tops my list. Unless it’s an absolute necessity, I refuse to travel out of the local area to shop. I’ve always been a friend of the local merchants. It’s a win-win situation; I earn my money locally and turn it over here at home. That helps the local tax base and keeps our merchants in business, who in turn have the means to advertise in this newspaper, which in turn keeps me gainfully employed.

But if ya’ll want to keep my business, you’re gonna have to keep a better watch over your inventory.

Since January I’ve looked high and low for a pair of blue jeans. No odd size, mind you, but just a normal pair of jeans. To date, no one locally carries my size (if you must ask, it’s plump and short).

Ditto for a good pair of shoes. Sure, there are a lot of styles here locally in my size, but I’m not in to blue leather without laces. Please, just stock some plain old “Hushpuppies” or a simple pair of Nike tennis shoes that are not endorsed by some overpaid superstar athlete and contain more colors than the rainbow.

And don’t even get me started on food. This is the absolute truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth n four times between this past Friday and Tuesday of this week, I visited

local eating establishments where they were each out of something I wanted.

Pizza with a medium style crust….sorry sir, we’re out. Isn’t all pizza crust made from dough? They had the dough to fix me a thin crust, but apparently the medium dough truck failed to arrive.

A chicken club sandwich….sir, we apologize, but we’re all out of bacon. The last time I looked, Ahoskie had four grocery stores. I’m guessing all had bacon for sale. For crying out loud, go buy some, fry it up and fix me a dadburn club sandwich!

On Monday, I ordered a steak sandwich for lunch. Guess what? Yep, you guessed it, no steak. I figured the beef cattle must have been on strike.

Tuesday night, I ordered a bake potato with my meal at one of my favorite Ahoskie hang-outs. Keeping with my recent string of luck, the waitress informed me they were out of baked potatoes. I began laughing uncontrollably, so much to the point where it became painfully obvious to the waitress that I had fell off the deep end. I’m surprised she didn’t call the padded wagon for pick-up. I composed myself and informed her I had to add this to my list. Of course she didn’t know what list I was talking about. She may know by now, if she reads this newspaper. And oh, by the way, the local grocery stores also carry baked potatoes. If you run short before the potato truck arrives, just simply fill the gap and purchase a few.

What’s next…no milk for my milkshake? No cheese for my grilled cheese sandwich? No gravy for my ‘taters? No beer to feed my beer belly?

Hey, local merchants, wake up and smell the customers. Hopefully, thanks to Mobil Exxon wanting to pocket a zillion dollars in profits this quarter, you have witnessed an increase in customers because they want to shop close to home. We all want stuff…we all need stuff. Your job is to get the stuff and we’ll buy it.

I have money in my pocket with your (local merchants) name on it. As mentioned earlier, it’s my desire to shop locally, but I can’t make a purchase on items you don’t have on your shelves or carry in your kitchen.

Please, don’t force me to spend money unnecessarily to travel outside of the local area to shop. This is a problem with a simple solution n just give us what we need.