20 September 2007

Gotta Hand It To Wegmans

I'm a firm believer in keeping my money local, for a couple of reasons. My Baltimore City property tax obligation certainly reminds me of the importance of every penny of sales tax re-distribution. And owning a small niche business for thirteen years that was patronized mainly by non-city residents frustrated me because even my immediate neighbors didn't understand that supporting locally-owned neighborhood businesses builds community and raises property values. For these reasons, I refuse to buy anything outside of city limits that can be procured within them and I prioritize patronizing family-owned businesses. In addition, paying a few cents more to buy, say, a bucket at family-owned Belle Hardware in Bolton Hill instead of motoring out to the just-inside-city-limits Eastern Avenue Home Depot decreases my carbon footprint and actually saves me money once I figure in the cost of gas.

So it was an unusual occurrence that I ventured out to Wegmans yesterday. In my defense, I was there to meet a friend, so I browsed and did not buy. Talk about your self-restraint - to a foodie and accoutrement addict, Wegmans is nothing short of paradise. And it is a family-owned business - just not a Baltimore family - so I don't feel too guilty shopping there when they've got what no one else does, and they do in spades.

While perusing the knife case, one of their ultra-helpful staff, another great aspect of this store, asked if I were looking for anything in particular and I answered in half pantomime that I was seeking a foot-long magnetic knife rack. Somewhat amazingly, Wegmans does not carry such an item, but she noted that my gesticulations would have enabled her to understand my request even if she had not heard it. That launched a brief conversation about the American sign language classes taught in-house; it seems Wegmans has a number of deaf staff members and of course they have deaf customers. I know a few deaf folks and have tried, admittedly not hard enough, to learn American sign language.

Sorry I didn’t get her name, but she gave me a whole new perspective on this unique emporium and I'm looking forward to going back soon with acquisitive intentions. When I got home, I pulled out my guidebook to American sign language and practiced the alphabet. So although I didn't buy anything, I didn't walk away empty handed.

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