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No booze, no business?

COUNTRYSIDE: I was interested to read one subscriber's opinion about Ken Scharabok's difficulties with his bargain store. My hunch is that it may not have been a result of the "stigma" of dollar stores as the writer in the last issue suggested.

We have what I call the "cheapie mall" in our area. It is at one end of a large strip mall, about 1/2 mile from the "real mall." It has a no-frills bring-your-own-shopping-bag grocery store, a Goodwill-type store that sells donated items and a well-organized dollar store. The place is always busy when I visit, even more so than the rest of the strip mall. The customers don't seem much different from those I see at Wal-Mart or Target at the same time of day. I have seen newer Cadillacs and rusty beaters in the parking lot at the same time, as well as mini-vans and Buicks. No one seems to feel the need for dark sunglasses or paper bags over their heads when leaving the stores.

My hunch is that Ken's store may not have failed as a result of the stigma of bargain hunting, but because he didn't have booze, cigarettes and lottery tickets for sale. It never fails to amaze me how people with "no money" can find money for those items, and the cable tv bill as well. To me that is more shameful than wearing second-hand clothes or buying no-name cereal. For some people, no amount of money will be enough. I would much rather be rich in common-sense, creativity and can-do attitude like Virginia Weathers than sit around moaning about what I don't have and wishing things were different. Why should I be ashamed of adjusting my lifestyle to fit reality, and looking for possibilities and opportunities others ignore?

Hats off to Virginia, Lori Matheson Smith and others for sharing their wisdom with us and passing it on to the young people in their care. They offer hope not only for surviving but thriving in today's challenging times.

I remain a shameless bargain hunter!--L. Caffrey, Rochester, Minnesota

COUNTRYSIDE I am so very happy to receive COUNTRYSIDE magazine. With each issue, I start at the front and read everything in it ... reaching the last page too soon. I love the magazine.

This time, I read "The stigma (sic) of 'dollar stores.'" I certainly didn't know what to make of that! I disagree that frequenting a dollar store is "an admission of fiscal guilt." Our dollar store does a wonderful business. People of all financial types patronize the store. Another dollar store is being built just south of town. That one, in my estimation, will be a success too.

We have resale shops in town and they are doing exceptionally well. I frequent the closest one to my home very often, as does my daughter and granddaughter. It is my granddaughter's favorite store. The last time I bought clothes there, I spotted some CJ Banks blue jeans. They looked like they had never been worn and the costliest pair was $8. I'm not ashamed to admit I'm on the lower end of the poverty level. I'm certainly not ashamed to brag about my luck in shopping! I enter the shop and everyone is very friendly and we have a good "gab" session along with shopping. I never would be embarrassed to be seen in a dollar store or resale shop.

I don't mind telling people I can't afford to shop at Wal-Mart and about the great deals I get at the resale shop. I don't mind people giving me clothes. Heck, I sure don't mind letting them know I have no money except for my normal expenses. Hang in there--pride goeth before the fall!

My late husband and I were financially challenged (is that better than po'?) all our years of marriage. We made do. It was great to see what we could do with what we had. Our shopping depended upon want vs. need. Our needs were all met. I can't remember what our wants were. They were not important.

Our children learned the value of coupon clipping and buying store brands. The learned the value of home cooking, baking, etc. They didn't know we couldn't afford much. They remember that I was always home for them and remember coming home to the fragrance of homemade bread, cookies, cakes, etc. for desserts as well as the homemade meals.

Now, to me, that's the value of frugality.

Be happy you're not anywhere near the so-called "poverty line." Thank God for that. Those of us who are thank God for helping us get through bad times and rejoice when we have good times.--Judy Muelling, Phillips, Wisconsin

COUNTRYSIDE: I want to start by saying that we are relatively new to reading your magazine but have enjoyed the issues we have received. We especially enjoy the reader's comments. However, there was one in the July/August issue that no less than perplexed me. The writer commented on the stigma associated with shopping at second hand stores and equating them with shopping at a dollar store. I would rather shop at Goodwill or the Salvation Army than shop at Wal-Mart or any dollar store. Up until a couple of months ago we were business owners. We just couldn't survive in the current economy that associates everything with fast food, cheap food and Wal-Mart imports. I have seen one business owner after another go out of business in our town because of the mentality that Wal-Mart or the mall are the places to shop. People, wake up and check the tags. Just who exactly are those Wal-Mart purchases helping? If I shop at the Salvation Army or Goodwill I am helping local people who often can't make it even though they try hard.

We were, at one time, what would be considered upper middle class and made the choice to make changes that put us at the bottom of the middle class. Our lives were so hectic it was worth the trade off of less money for more life. I made a personal vow of conservative reclamation. Basically, I vowed not to buy anything new for myself, with the exception of under garments and shoes, for at least one year. One year flew by and I can't say that I miss the expensive shopping. I shop mainly at our Salvation Army and I get a lot of compliments on my clothing. I don't dress in rags or 20-year-old fashions. I often find name brand clothing and pay $2 instead of the normal $40-$60 dollars at the mall. I don't mind telling people where I got my clothes. If someone compliments my shirt that I paid $2 for then I am the smart one. I have found Levis and Dockers for my husband that appear to have never been worn and he is just amazed that I get them for a couple of dollars. I bought him name brand shoes that he previously paid $60 for and I paid just $4. Someone probably bought them and wore them once and never again, because they had no wear on them.

Yes, we are thrifty or frugal. I take materials that had a previous life and make pillows and tote bags to sell for extra money. We have our own garden and chickens and eat very well. I make 90% of the food we eat from scratch, which include breads. We eat no fast food. If we do eat out it is rare and then only at locally owned restaurants where we know the owners and know what we are being served. We do not eat at chain restaurants and pay the prices of their advertising and wasteful plastic usage.

If more "proud" Americans would stand up and demand local and use what they have conservatively America would rebound. Why do we ignore our local stores for the imports of Wal-Mart? Our local business people live in our community and put money back into our community. We need to stop being wasteful and feeling like it is shameful to be conservative with our earth.

Yes, we are frugal but we are not cheap or stingy. We provide what we can for ourselves and reuse whatever we can while thoroughly enjoying life. When we struggle or our friends struggle we are there for each other. A good harvest means great sharing. Where is the stigma in being frugal in America? There isn't one unless you allow there to be one! Being frugal is something to be proud of and part of our American roots. When was the last time your morn, dad, grandma or grandpa told you stories of how much they wasted in their youth or how they went out of their way to buy something that was not local? My great grandmother was in her 90s when she sat me down and told me of the times she spent days canning to have food for the winter. She had pictures of herself sitting in front of her shelves of canning in the root cellar. She was proud to be frugal and so am I.--Christine Watson, Kempner, Texas

COUNTRYSIDE: I am writing this in response to Yarn Teleatus' reply in the July/August 2007 edition of your great magazine.

She states that nobody wants to look frugal. She is so wrong in this statement. There are many frugal people, just like me, who love to shop in places where we can find the best deal. There is no shame in shopping at the stores she is describing. It is a game for me to see how inexpensive I can buy something.

Many frugalites belong to websites, such as, that encourage and help us find the better deal. Not only do these websites have a place for us to go to tell about our great deals, but they also teach us how to live paycheck to paycheck, and put money back for a rainy day. It is possible to do both!

We learn ways to teach our children fiscal responsibility. By teaching our children to be frugal, we know that they will survive in the day-to-day world with a "distressed economy."

Instead of being ashamed of being frugal, Yarn should embrace it for all it's worth. I challenge her to come to the website I listed to see that there are no reasons to feel as she does. It isn't the fact of it being a "need" to go to stores like Ken's. It is the fact that there are those of us who enjoy living the way we live. Frugality and homesteading go hand in hand. It is time to embrace that fact.

I also want to say that I love your magazine. The day it comes in the mail is one of joy to me. It isn't often that I will read a magazine cover to cover, but yours is certainly one that I do. I learn so much from the information. Keep up the good work!--Elaine Evans
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Title Annotation:Country conversation & feedback
Author:Caffrey, L.; Muelling, Judy; Watson, Christine; Evans, Elaine
Publication:Countryside & Small Stock Journal
Date:Sep 1, 2007
Previous Article:Corrections.
Next Article:Those were not "the good old days" for many.

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