Every time you can get away with paying $1.07 for a couple of boxes of lemon cake and sugar cookie mix, it’s a good day. Last week, though, I told the cashier when she rang it up it was pretty much breaking my heart.

Brace yourself, Amory, the heartache is coming your way soon too.

Last week, Aberdeen’s Fred’s location closed its doors as part of the first wave of corporate downsizing. Unless some sort of corporate miracle happens in the next few weeks, Amory’s location will soon follow suit.

No matter what financial reports indicate for underperforming stores, those suits at the corporate office in Memphis can never take away the famous tagline, “Fred, stop giving away the store,” as made popular by the company’s advertising years ago.

Aberdeen’s Fred’s was my first stop if I ever had a poison ivy, nasal congestion, hair dryer, dog food or toothpaste kind of emergency because of its convenience. It was even fun to start Black Friday locally last year, and yet again, it was my first stop.

Taking my time walking through those empty aisles last week reminded me of similar walks in recent months. Florence, Alabama’s Sears was awfully depressing just before it closed, and it’s still a gut punch seeing the one in Tupelo dark and gated up now.

I remember standing in long lines years ago when Aberdeen and Amory’s remaining video stores had their clearance sales before closing the doors for the last time. Now, if it’s not in the bargain bin or a recent release, I’ve got to scour through thrift stores and used DVD stores to look for some of those long-lost titles.

In the past few weeks, I’ve heard a couple of different people hypothesize one day there won’t be any brick and mortar stores because e-commerce is killing the scene. I don’t agree 100 percent but no doubt us window shoppers are going through some troubled times.

I wrote an homage to Toys ‘R Us months ago that played on the emotion of the retail giant closing. As Geoffrey the Giraffe was the poster child for the beloved toy store gone too soon, us southerners can relate to the stereotypical grandpa figure that was Fred.

Back in the ‘80s, his wife rounded out the store’s commercials with the line that still sticks in your head, “Fred, stop giving away the store.”

The ‘80s were simpler times with its generation one Walmarts with aisles of toys and even aquariums some places to keep us youngsters daydreaming and entertained.

Perusing the Transformers and G.I. Joes on the racks personified what we saw during Saturday morning commercials and in the Sears Wishbook. The best part was we could put our hands on them there.

The internet is great. The internet is horrible. The internet makes things not tangible. The internet makes things you can’t find anywhere else just one click and two-day shipping away.

The double-edged sword the internet is has proved to be the game changer to life today.

We love seeing the daily web hit reports when big stories publish on our website but hate to see the steady decline in newspaper circulation the whole industry is facing. The record industry and Blockbuster continue to adapt to others’ ingenuity too.

Video killed the radio star, and the internet is targeting down on a lot of what’s left.

In talking to Walter Lann recently, I asked him if he realized his Aberdeen hardware store is older than Amory and Nettleton. As long as something is proven to last, decades, social change, technology and economics can’t even tear it apart.

Do I think brick and mortar stores will ever completely go away? No. Do I think their golden age has passed? There are medical plazas where malls once stood, soooooo…..

Another thing I recently wrote was about how shopping local helps a town’s tax base, which translates to improved services. As the story’s sources suggested, shop local and shop often, because the future depends on you.

We can’t blame ourselves for losing Monroe County’s two Fred’s weeks apart, but we can realize history tends to repeat itself. We love seeing new stores open and hate to see established ones closed.

To the locals, shop local and shop often. To all the corporate suits out there, please, stop giving away the store.

Ray Van Dusen is the managing editor of the Monroe Journal. He can be reached at ray.vandusen@journalinc.com.

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