The death of homegrown convenience

Wed Jan 11 '23

For as long as I can reasonably remember, Kim’s Grocery & Gas has been there. Open every day, like that Christmas morning when you got a remote control car but it didn’t come with batteries. The past five years have seen the same two people behind the till, day in, day out. Still stocking those Popeye candy cigarettes—they’re called candy sticks now—and at thirty years old you still pop one in your mouth, pretend to light it up, and go ahhhhh.

Now, it’s gone, probably to be replaced by some pristine apartment building, swallowed up by time, and somehow the only thing remaining online is this epigraph that falls laughably short at representing what this store meant to its community:

Kim’s Grocery & Gas

4.1 stars out of 5 (46 reviews)

This isn’t meant to be old man yells at change or a criticism of any business deciding to close. I don’t think customer service means putting the customer first, as in before your literal life. But I’m still allowed to mourn this change a little bit.

There’s something missing in the algorithmically-stocked shelves of 7/11, the pristine lighting of Petro-Canada, and the high turnaround of staff at Shell. The thing that’s missing is humanity, I think.

At Kim’s, there is all manner of treasures stocked in the shelves, and they’re hand-picked by the owner. The outside has about fourteen different floodlights and cameras and every night, without fail, the car gets parked expertly in front of the door to prevent someone from smashing in the front door again.

There are lots of other businesses like this, if you can find them, where you get to have a conversation spread over months, punctuated by swiping your card to pay. If you have one of these in your life, I think you should write them a card to say thanks. They may not be here later.

a nighttime shot in the rain of Kim's Grocery & Gas