One of the many marvelous aspects of living in paradise is the quality of the shops in town, and the level of service they offer. My sister Emily, who lives in the Chicago area, knows this, and takes advantage of it even at a distance. Vivian’s Florist (of Commerce) is on her speed-dial, and she astonishes her urban friends with conversations like this: “Hi, Vivian! Great, thanks — and you? Hey, listen, tomorrow is the anniversary of you-know-who-and-who. Right! Can you just send them the usual gorgeous arrangement? Right: no chrysanthemums. Okay, then! Thanks, Vivian. Bye!”
“Wait a minute — what just happened here?” the urban friends ask. “How did she know who you were? And who is ‘you-know-who-and-who’? And why didn’t she want your credit-card number?” Some of them have never had the experience of doing so much business with a merchant that they can say — as my dad used to say about the Deer Trail golf course — “I’m known there!”
And even Emily, who knows the blessings of shopping in Commerce, is caught off-guard by them sometimes. While she was here this week, I told her the story of my new chair. It began on a chilly rainy day in late summer, when I went to Sanders Furniture and said that I needed a yellow armchair. It felt like asking for the moon; I had never shopped for a chair in a real furniture store before. But “Pick out the style,” said David, the proprietor, waving his arm across a huge roomful of chairs and tables, “and then we’ll look at some fabrics.”
Sure enough, I found a big soft chair that would be perfect for curling up with a great book. But it was brown. Sarah, of the Sanders staff, came over with books of fabric swatches, and she and I looked at every shade of yellow there ever was, from gold to butter to lemon to lemonade, until we found the exact shade I’d envisioned. “Are you going to want the ottoman to go with it?” David asked. I said there probably wouldn’t be enough space in my tiny living room. “No problem,” he said. “We’ll bring it and the brown chair over and you can see whether they both fit.”
The brown chair fit, which meant that the yellow one could be ordered. The ottoman didn’t, so it went back to the store. But the brown chair remained, filling a hole in my décor until the yellow one would come along — which it did, about a month later. I was thrilled with it. “Oh, you’ve made my day!” I called to the deliverymen as they drove off up my driveway, taking the brown chair with them.
Two days later, passing David in the choir loft before church, I was stricken by a sudden realization. “David!” I exclaimed. “I never paid you for my new chair!” At this point in my chair story, Emily groaned. “I know,” I told her. “But David just said, ‘Aw, don’t worry. We’ll get it out of you!’”
“Only in Commerce,” Emily said, shaking her head. “Only in Commerce.”
She’s probably right. Where else could you go into a fabulous dress shop (Mary’s Fashion Corner) and tell the proprietor, “I’m leaving for Egypt tomorrow afternoon” — and come away with the perfect wardrobe for the trip? Or enter an old-time department store (Jay’s) and find up-to-the-minute styles at down-home prices, and have all of it rung up on the store’s original cash register? And those are just a few examples.
You hear a lot about the importance of supporting your local merchants, but if you want to try the lap of luxury, let the merchants pamper you. They’re so good at it!
Susan Harper is retired, lives in Commerce and volunteers for the Commerce Library Board and the Jackson County Literacy Program.
I formerly used Wal-mart for my contact lenses and glasses, but a few years ago, my family and I switched to Milford & Doss. (Dr. Doss is "our" eye doctor.) I cannot believe the excellence of the customer service. It's so nice to go in, be called by name, and to be treated as if they're genuinely glad to see us.
Thanks also to Jeff at Madd Whackers, the fine folks at Sanders furniture, the extremely patient men at McDonald Hardware, and the tellers at Community Bank & Trust. (These are just a few of the great experiences we've had since moving to Commerce. Apologies to those I've omitted.)