Unlimited Coffee Doesn’t Pay The Bills

11048645_996381253719106_4106219762973711992_oSomething About Nothing by Julie Seedorf published the week of February 6, 2017 in The Albert Lea Tribune and the Courier Sentinel

Memories light the corner of my mind. Misty water-colored memories of the way we were. Those lyrics from the song “The Way We Were,” sung by Barbara Streisand,  brings to mind all those favorite places of mine that have closed over the years but hold precious memories. I remember eating at the Canton Cafe in Albert Lea and loving their pork tenderloin dinner along with a bowl of oxtail soup. What about collecting Santa Bears from Macy’s or Hanthorn’s Store, which we called the dime store, here in my hometown? I have precious memories of my dad’s successful hometown shoe store and the whirl-a-whips at Hanson Drug Store. Time moves on and businesses change. Some go away just because of time and change, and some go away because we are more mobile, more prone to buy on the internet than to be loyal to brick and mortar stores and our hometown businesses.

My community no longer has a clothing store or a shoe store. We are down to one drugstore. Our department store closed and a chain store replaced it on the outskirts of town. Kiester lost its grocery store and the city decided to revive it, but still it struggles. Our loyalty has changed, and we, the hometown consumer, are somewhat responsible for that change.

When a business in a small community closes, we hear various opinions as to why the business could not succeed.

“They were too expensive.”

“They didn’t have enough variety.”

“The service was terrible.”

“The staff isn’t friendly.”

“It doesn’t surprise me. They weren’t open on Saturdays or in the evenings.”

“The business was better when it was owned by the former owner. There’s too many changes. It needs to go back the way it used to be.”

I must admit I have probably said some of those things a time or two about some business or other in my community or other communities I have lived in. If I did, I apologize because I wasn’t being fair. I didn’t look at it from the side of the business owner.

I grew up the child of a small business owner at a time when people stayed in their communities to shop. People appreciated the businesses in their own hometown, and those businesses flourished.

I like to have coffee with friends in restaurants and coffee houses, but I haven’t thought about the cost to a small business owner for me to sit all morning and coffee in their establishment. I may have a cup of coffee and a piece of toast or a donut. The cost for that is probably around $2.50 in a community cafe. If I have 10 friends join me and we stay all morning and are waited upon by the waiter or waitress and have endless coffee flowing, the cost to all of us would be $12.50.

Think about the cost to the establishment. They are paying the service person, a cook and all the utilities, plus the cost of coffee. I don’t think what we paid would begin to cover the costs the business shells out to be there. We could add eggs and toast or a sandwich to the mix, but still we were sitting there swigging down coffee or pop all morning, and yes, it is easy to drink coffee for hours.

Many restaurants have specials. How many $4 burger baskets must you sell to pay the utilities and help and still break even? The same can be said for department stores, grocery stores and other businesses. We all want those bargains, and if stores don’t offer them we chose to find a place they do. As a consumer, I look at what it is going to cost me and don’t look at it with the business owners point of view. What does it cost them to keep the business open?

We have a new business in our community. It costs $5 to have all-you-can-drink coffee and unlimited sweet treats. The coffee is roasted at the business and the unlimited beverages includes lattes’ pour overs, hot chocolate, tea and other specialty drinks, but yet I have heard the rumor that people think it is too expensive to have an endless supply of those items. I guess it isn’t a $1.50 cup of endless coffee. Think about it from the owner’s standpoint. How many customers do you have to have to pay for the cost of the roasted coffee and unlimited baked goods? Will $5 do that?

I am good at complaining and my friends will tell you that. I don’t always shop in my community, but I don’t shop much. I stay hunkered down in my house, and if I do buy groceries out of town it is items I cannot get in town. The same can be said for our hardware store. We use it frequently, but for those items I can’t find there I do need to go out of town. So I do admit defecting from community businesses from time to time.

We had a wonderful department store for years, but a chain store was built in our community and people seemed to prefer that to a store that was established, and had the same variety and items if they would have taken the time to check it out. The store closed.

I am going to make more of an effort to support my local businesses and to be aware of the costs owners shoulder to keep their businesses running. I am going to try and complain less and not listen to unsubstantiated rumors. Rumors can close a business whether they are true or not.

We want businesses to be here when we want what we want, or when we feel the need to indulge ourselves in town. We complain when the businesses are gone because we miss them, even though we visited them on a sporadic basis. We can’t have it both ways. Which way will win out?

Proud To Be An American

I am grateful that I was born in the United States of America because my Polish Grandparents and my Great-Great Grandparents immigrated from Holland. I am here because they took the risk to come to a new country. This week is not only the week we vote but also the week we honor Veterans. My husband is a Veteran of the Viet Nam war. This week I will honor Veterans each day in some way on my Author Page and also on my personal page and my blog Sprinkled Notes. So Veterans, This week

is for you.

My column this week in the Albert Lea Tribune and The Courier-Sentinel

This past week my husband and I visited the VA Clinic in Minneapolis. Since the elections are tomorrow and this is also the week we celebrate our Veterans it might be fitting to write about our experience with the Veterans Administration and the Clinics and healthcare.

We have all heard the horrifying stories of the terrible healthcare and experiences people have had with the VA. But I am here to tell you our experience, and they are all positive experiences.

My husband didn’t get hooked up with the VA System until somewhere in the last ten years. We had an excellent Veterans Administration Officer both in Fairmont and Blue Earth that got the ball rolling for us. It didn’t take long, and my husband was in the system, and the benefits were available to him. He is a Viet Nam Veteran, and it had been hard for him to ask for help because of the stigma of the war. It was something he never talked about.

He was a patient at the VA Clinic in Mankato and then transferred to the Albert Lea VA Clinic when it opened because it was closer to home. We have always been amazed at the care of both places, the ease of getting an appointment and the excellent staff at both clinics.

The Veteran’s Clinic and Hospital in Minneapolis are amazing. They make it very easy to navigate and find your way around with all the volunteers they have to help those Veterans who come though their doors.

We had an appointment for a scan at 10:45. We were early and we checked in. We walked out of the doors of the Clinic at 10:46. And they had told us they were behind schedule. That is another thing we have found. If he has an appointment the wait is longer to get a table in a restaurant than it is to see the Doctor. This has been our experience.

This time at the Minneapolis Clinic I met another friend. Her husband too was there for a scan. I always meet friendly and interesting people on my visits there.  I learned about her family and she learned about mine. We shared experiences and we exchanged names and business cards to keep in touch. I suspect many other people’s lives touch at these facilities because they have a bond of a Veteran.

It is awe inspiring to see so many Veterans in one place, different ages and in different situations health wise. These men and women served our country. These men and women fought for our freedom. These men and women deserve our thanks and respect. These men and women all have lasting effects for their dedication to making our lives better.

The staff at these Veteran’s facilities also deserve our thanks and respect. They work day after day to make the lives of our Veterans better and also the lives of the families of those Veterans.

Does the system have flaws, of course, it does because it is run by human beings and we are a flawed creation. The media spends a great deal of time focusing on those flaws  but I would guess there are more heart and success stories than there are horror stories. We need to focus on the good these facilities, built for our Veterans, do for all of those involved.

 

It is Veteran’s Day on November 11. Thank a Veteran. Thank those also who work to serve Veterans.  Freedom isn’t free and freedom wasn’t meant to be abused. A Veteran protects and serves so those rights can be preserved.

 

When the peace treaty is signed, the war isn’t over for the veterans or the family. It’s just starting —Karl Marlantes

Love Yourself and Others On Valentine’s Day!

From my column the week of February 8 in the Albert Lea Tribune and The Courier Sentinel.

img011I love Valentine’s Day. It is my favorite holiday over Christmas and Thanksgiving. I don’t love Valentine’s Day because I get so many valentines, although my husband usually remembers the day. It wasn’t always that way in the early days of our marriage. He did pretty good the first year. He welded me a Valentine sign that said he loved me. It is awesome, and I still have it 45 years later. It is my favorite Valentine’s Day gift from him over the 45 years.

There were a couple of missed years because he didn’t realize how much the sentiment of love meant to me, but he does now and never fails to remember the day. I too, over the years have not always been thoughtful on the day either so we evened each other out.

In thinking about the day I have examined why this day is so wonderful in my mind and of course the answer is love. We all want love in our life. We all want to feel remembered and cared about. I also like the color red and love hearts, so that adds to my joy of the day. I also like the day because it is a great time to do special things for special people in our lives all in the name of love.

There is a downside to Valentine’s Day if we let it happen to us. On the years I didn’t receive any valentines from my family, kids or husband I felt let down, left out and unloved. They didn’t intentionally mean to make me feel left out; I made myself feel that way. In my heart I knew I was loved, but my head had the poor me sentiment. And I let it ruin my day. I finally realized my family is not into Valentine’s Day, and it was silly to have the attitude I did. They show me they love me all through the year.

My mom loved Valentine’s Day. I could always count on a card from my mom. I always gave her a card and something on the day. I think I got my love of holidays from my mom because she loved holidays. It seemed out of character for her, but she always wanted to celebrate the holidays. In fact, I know she loved Valentine’s Day because she kept all the old-fashioned valentines from the ’20s and ’30s and all the cards she got from me and my dad. When I realized she kept the memories, it made me feel loved.

Once I changed my attitude about the day I began to love Valentine’s Day. I enjoy the decorations, playing love music and sending valentines, and sometimes I even buy myself some candy or flowers — although I know I will receive a valentine from my valentine.

A few years ago a woman told me how she missed Valentine ’s Day. Her husband had died and now she didn’t get any valentines anymore. I guess this is what this column is about, sharing the love.

If you are lucky enough to have someone in your life to remember you on the love day, take time to remember and perhaps put a little love into someone else’s life who may not be remembered on the day of love. And if you are that person who is not remembered, love yourself on this special day. Go out to eat, call a friend, buy yourself some flowers or some candy or indulge in something silly and fun to make your day. Love yourself. It is not selfish or indulgent; it is a healthy pick-me up.

Happy Valentine’s Day.
“Don’t forget to love yourself.” — Soren Kierkegaard