I promised myself that I wouldn’t get embroiled in the discussion about shopping locally and the struggle that local business people have here in Princeton. However, I do have some observations which aren’t scientific but anecdotal. They may give some insight regarding seniors’ needs. As we are a significant chunk of the population of Princeton and area, I think the information may be relevant.
First, let me tell you where I shop. Nearly all our food budget is spent in Cooper’s which is literally steps from where we live. I shop there because, for the most part, we receive excellent service and find the selection is varied and fresh. In late summer, we make a run to Keremeos and buy our supplies in bulk from a fruit stand that has a reputation for both consistently high quality products and respectful service. We preserve fruit and condiments for two years at a time.
For several years, I have been making bread for health reasons and to save money. Our next biggest expenditure is for fuel for our car and our van. We have a loyalty card so nearly always buy from the same gas station. Since the price of gas is fixed in the ether somewhere, there is no point in changing stations. Speaking of our vehicles, we use a local mechanic exclusively and buy our tires locally.
Next on the list is medication. That too we buy locally, not so much because of a loyalty card but because it’s so convenient. Very occasionally we buy a magazine, toiletries or a chocolate bar from the pharmacy.
Here is the discouraging part for the struggling small business person. Paul and I have both reached the point where only our food, our vehicles and our medication are the areas where we can conveniently buy locally. Our further needs are comfortable shoes, bed and chairs. These are things we must try out before we buy. Shoes must be obtained from a specialty shoe store which 2,700 people can’t possibly support. By the time we reach our age, we’ve wrecked our feet, our backs and probably a few other parts. We don’t need any more clothes and if we do purchase them, it will be from the local thrift stores. We are barely buying green bananas, let alone brand new coats and outfits!
Our wants are few as well. We are constantly downsizing, purging our closets and storage areas and trying to give our “heirlooms” to our children who have different tastes and wants. I am buying digital books now as they don’t take up space in our one remaining bookshelf. Gifts for our grandchildren consist of money sent to their parents so they can choose to buy something appropriate.
As for meals in restaurants, Paul and I are looking for simple nutritious food that is low in fat, baked rather than fried, and smaller portions of the same. Soup is good.
We appreciate friendly service and discreet consideration for the little problems that may come with our age, such as being slower than usual.
I do foresee that many of us seniors will need services more than goods. I also understand quite clearly that we are not the only people living in Princeton. However, when you remove our demographic, it puts even greater pressure on the struggling small business person to figure out how to survive and even thrive while serving younger families. I can’t presume to advise anyone how to start or run their business but I can offer information regarding the needs and wants of a significant segment of the population of Princeton.
To all of you brave entrepreneurs, I wish you well and hope you can find your answers!