Sunday, February 5, 2023

Love of Cheese and Beyond


The response to yesterday’s blog post about The Cheese Shop in Wilde Lake was both gratifying and enlightening. For those who were lucky enough to shop there, the memories are still vivid. I also learned that the late HoCo blogger Dennis Lane worked there, back in the day. Many people remembered the smell of the store fondly. It truly was “all that” (as the young folks say) and more. 


Wallace enjoying cheese in “A Grand Day Out”

I wrote the piece for two reasons. 1) My undying fascination for how the love of this one store lives on locally after so many years. 2) To suggest that perhaps a store like that wouldn’t be commercially viable today because of how village centers have changed and how commercial retail has changed overall. In other words, is pining over a lost cheese shop more of a way of lamenting the passing of time and the disappearance of a way of life?

Everyone wanted to talk about the former. No one touched on the latter. And that’s a lesson learned, for me.

So, here’s my question. What is the store (or stores) in Columbia/HoCo that you feel that way about today? It can be a store or a restaurant, independently-owned or a chain. What place makes you feel happy every time you go there and has a sense of place that you connect with and want to be a part of?

Do you go there regularly? Do you spend money there consistently? What are the local places now that people will be remembering fondly in the future? Are they commercially viable? 

I had a wonderful experience at Feet First in Wilde Lake this week but it isn’t the kind of place that one goes to frequently, like a cheese shop, for instance. (I buy shoes no more than twice a year, to be honest.) Feet First needs to connect with a lot of people and ensure that most will be return customers in order to stay afloat.

Then there are the businesses that sell things we need more frequently. That market has been taken up largely by chains in Columbia/HoCo. Grocery stores like LA Mart in Oakland Mills, Dave’s Natural Market in Wilde Lake and Boarman’s in Clarksville are the exception. Wait, there’s also Roots and Mom’s to consider, I think.

Do you seek out places like that and shop there frequently, or are they special occasion visits?

Restaurants give us more opportunities to support mom and pop enterprises. For many years The Second Chance Saloon was my beloved local place. What’s yours?

We often love the feel of small businesses and yet still shop regularly at the big ones. They’re more convenient, easier. The price is right.

To sum up: tell me what you love. Do you spend money there consistently and do you go there regularly? Lastly: why? What attracts you? What keeps you coming back?

What stores get my money the most often?

  • Wegman’s 
  • Target 
  • Walgreen’s 
  • Clark’s Hardware is fast becoming a favorite 
  • Amazon, though less so these days
  • Chewy (for birdseed)
One interesting thought: the place that I visit the most frequently, receive the best service, and feel most positive about is the East Columbia Branch of the Howard County Library. 


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Village Green/Town² 

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