One Small Change: Staying out of the boxes

My one small change for January was to stay off of "12A" which is our strip of box stores. I didn't stay completely away (I spent the ENTIRE first day at Panera in a work session and, prompted by a child wearing these duct-taped snowpants, ended up at Walmart after trying a consignment shop).

Here are some highlights--

One Friday, rather than heading to the Jiffy Mart for a bottle of wine, I stopped at the Taftsville Country Store. We had a lovely chat with the owner about our favorite local cheeses and he actually gave us a big piece of layered cheddar & blue. Our Friday evening appetizers felt warmed by conversation.

For 2 out of 3 grocery shops I managed to get to our Coop store. It takes about 3 times as long to shop there because you have to chat with the butcher in order to get your meat and the cheese lady to get the right cheese, etc. I also always run into friends. It's in a beautiful building designed to look like a round barn.

It is easy to buy lots in bulk there, which led to Nels reviving his granola recipe and Lou rediscovering that she loves tamari-roasted almonds.

Lou and I have begun a "sock-off" knitting challenge (more later). Rather than running to Joanne's to get a new set of size 2 needles, we stopped in at our local yarn shop. We had a nice long chat about yarn and Jane Austen (which strangely go together in our household). Lou surprised the owner by piping up that she loves Mansfield Park the most. I found out about a knitting circle and am thinking about joining it.

Finally, while I did spend one day at Panera, gritting my teeth at the constant sound of blenders, I also spent time working in a nearby library. It was so beautiful and even served coffee!

So, staying out of the boxes led to warm conversations, bumps into old friends, an inspired place to work, a possible new knitting group, and much healthier eating. My month was filled with so much more warmth and beauty.

I think I'm going to go for one more month of staying "out of the boxes" and see if it will become even more of a habit. I'm on the way.

Tammy  – (February 1, 2010 at 10:31 AM)  

I've always thought the idea of a knitting circle sounded really enjoyable. I hope you join! :)

Lisa Anne  – (February 1, 2010 at 11:44 AM)  

eww, my first comment went into the netherworld...Congratulations on one month of change!! I love shopping at coops for that feeling of community, I have had so many conversations with complete strangers in coops and yarn shops, I absolutely love it. The contrast is going to places like Walmart, people don't look you in the eye and if you were to talk most people would think you were strange, but places like that cannot be avoided completely these days...because they have everything when you need it!

Shaunta  – (February 1, 2010 at 12:44 PM)  

Going to the 'boxes' used to be almost entertainment for us. Something to do when we lived in Vegas to get out of the heat for a few hours.

Now we live 250 miles from anything even remotely looking like a box, and it's amazing. I'm so uncomfortable when I go into one during out of town trips.

Anonymous –   – (February 1, 2010 at 1:02 PM)  

What a great idea.. although it does require there to be alternatives. Our alternatives are so far away, and in the busy work season, seems so daunting. But this summer, I think I will have to try this... one month at a time, and see if I can get into the habit..

I love Mansfield Park the best too. Although, usually, I find whichever Jane I am reading at the time is my favorite.

Hip Mountain Mama  – (February 1, 2010 at 5:17 PM)  

This is so awesome. I just love chatting and visiting with friends while running errands. I really enjoyed reading your highlights and am so glad your month went well!

Dawn  – (February 1, 2010 at 7:20 PM)  

This sounds like such an enjoyable small change to make. I don't blame you for wanting to give it another month. Have fun with that knitting circle!

Redbeet Mama  – (February 1, 2010 at 7:39 PM)  

I like this change - I will need to think about it just to prepare myself of this kind of change - maybe I will be ready in March.

Your experience sounds so Little House on the Prairie and I like that.

Thank you.

Wendy  – (February 3, 2010 at 12:10 AM)  

Very cool--so charming. I enjoyed reading your results. Did you find a huge amount of difference in the amount of money you spent?

Sarah  – (February 3, 2010 at 6:29 AM)  

I didn't notice a big difference in my bills--I spent less at the COOP for food, but I was being careful as it is overall more expensive. The next week I went to our Price Chopper and spent about $25 more. It's one reason why I want to keep up the experiment.

Julie  – (February 3, 2010 at 9:26 AM)  

what a postive change - so many different benefits - it sounds really life affirming. We get the bulk of our groceries delivered by a leading supermarket, but I do try to shop in the local wholefood store and co-op for our little bits and pieces as the entire experience (given I always have a two year old in tow, and sometimes a six year old too!) is always so much more enjoyable for all of us. Can't bear the artifical lighting and the inability to see out of the door once you are in a giant supermarket. Congrats on making the change, sounds like you'll definitely be enjoying keeping it up, even if the occasional trip to the "giants" is necessary.

Meg  – (February 3, 2010 at 3:13 PM)  

We are off the big box stores too. It can be challenging, but I figured that what we spend on the spur of the moment purchase we can save and spend at our local, natural grocer. So far so good. It has inspired me to return to cloth diapering and be more conscious of what I throw out and how I might reuse it and has encouraged me to ask my friends for a long term loan on items I might have otherwise just picked up. Good luck to you and your family! Love the pics :)

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