Later this evening, on Christmas Eve, the doors of two businesses in Whitley County will close forever…Always Floral and Second Time Around.
This pains me greatly because both of these businesses are special and for different reasons.
Second Time Around, a second hand store in Columbia City for more than 30 years, operated in several locations over the years. I remember it best when it was in downtown Columbia City. There, I have fond memories of visiting the store as a child with my mother in search of “treasures.” A trip there usually resulted in some interesting items to take home – often new additions to my costume collection – and then a trip to The Nook for lunch, followed by some browsing at Our Compliments and other stores downtown. This made for wonderful Saturday mornings and warm memories of times spent with my mother and my sister.
As I got older, I became aware of the connection between Second Time Around and Passages, Inc. Proceeds from the sale of items in Second Time Around benefited the clients and programs of Passages, a non-profit organization geared at helping our community’s disabled citizens. Additionally, Second Time Around has been instrumental in reaching out to help other local agencies such as Helpline, the Lighthouse homeless shelter and the Red Cross.
I imagine things got difficult for Second Time Around when the Goodwill came to town a few years ago -- “big box” versus “mom and pop” of sorts. Casually, people began using the term “goodwill” interchangeably for “second hand store.”
Admittedly, I shopped both stores…but I could still make a distinction. I would only donate items to Second Time Around and I appreciated the fact that the items found in Second Time Around were local. I like that. I enjoy knowing that someone from around here once owned the items I was looking at. I think there were exciting things to be found in there that you would never, ever find in the Goodwill because a lot of that stuff isn’t local and a lot of the really good stuff ends up going elsewhere. The antique and aged-item area at Second Time Around was superior to Goodwill.
Always Floral, a creative endeavor for Joan Western and Kay Hurley, offered beautiful floral design work from their location on US 30 and Walker Way.
I will never forget after our blizzard last winter, driving past their mailbox, nearly covered in a giant pile of snow, I could see that it was decorated with the most gorgeous rose arrangement. I actually thought those roses were real until somewhat recently. I learned, too, that many people had enjoyed their mailbox arrangements along Walker Way and had ordered them for their homes too.
Always Floral was a true supporter of this community, giving so much to local organizations and non-profit events. They not only operated business here, they were involved and participative in what was happening here. Kay and Joan invested a lot of themselves in what they did and in being givers to the community. Their closure is a significant loss for this community.
In all of this, there is a bit of a cautionary tale for all of us. We have lost too many local businesses – those businesses that are owned and operated by local residents. Many others are likely on the brink of closing. Our locally owned businesses are what make us unique – they draw people to our community, the dollars spent there are reinvested in our community and, importantly, they support the other things we having going on in our community. They are operated by our friends and neighbors. Please, make a point of supporting local businesses with your dollars because ultimately, you’re supporting our community as well.