Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Last Call

I was there on Sunday when the store employee held up his phone to play bagpipe music and tell people to bring their purchases to the cashiers up front. He had been doing that every Sunday at that time for many years, but this particular time it was different.

“Please bring your purchases to the front to pay. Thank you so much, and have a good evening. And a happy life.”

The customers laughed a bit, then applauded.

On a Sunday, March 25th, Daedalus Books and Music Outlet Store closed its doors for the last time. There will be no more browsing, no more discovering new music heard while shopping, no more great finds which snatch gift-giving victory from the jaws of defeat. The new owners will continue an online presence from their headquarters in Ohio but our hometown store will be no more.

We all know that, in the age of Amazon, bookstores are a dying breed. Yet somehow I thought that our little funky, off-beat local place would last forever. As a teacher I found books to use in the classroom and books to give as student gifts. As a parent I took my young child to their children’s department from strollerhood onwards. I remember afternoons of watching her gleefully explore their collection of beanbag chairs.

I bought CDs, DVDs, calendars, greeting cards, magnets, toys, crafts books, cookbooks, big, glossy coffee-table books about cathedrals for my husband. It was a place to “noodle around”when one just needed to get out of the house for a bit. One of the long-time employees was a former student of my husband’s at Towson University, so we always felt a sense of kinship there.

Those of us who manage to live in the affluent splendor that is Howard County by finding and prizing all the good bargains will find our lives diminished now that Daedalus is gone. Surely anyone who would rather pick up a book and flip through it rather than click a button online, and who treasures the joy of discovery, will find their worlds a bit smaller.

The bagpipe fanfare was oddly appropriate. We have lost an old friend. Farewell.

 And have a happy life.

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