This is the interior of Surplus City in downtown Visalia, CA. (It turns out the store has closed since I was in Visalia last fall.) It reminds me very much of the the old Kresge store in La Puente, CA that I visited as a child. At the time, Kresge seemed like a giant space with endless options - ad at teh time I believe it was relative to other stores - and the coffee shop was at the front much like this one. I could walk to that store with my siblings and even though it was in a large strip mall there were many other similar stores (many independent, I think) that always seemed full of exciting stuff. (What is it about humans? Are we hardwired to want more stuff? I'm sure there's some evolutionary thingy involved here.) Is it dreamy romanticism to think it would be better if things were smaller again? Would I still get the overwhelming feeling of being a thoughtless "consumer" that I get in places like Target or Costco? Would prices at stores like this be higher? Is it a great accomplishment that I can toss out one trendy floor mat and buy an equally trendy floor mat for $9.99? Would it be that big a deal if I had to take good care of the floor mat I already have and maybe mend it and keep it for longer than one year?
Now I'm wondering if there are similar stores near me in West LA and if there are, why don't I shop there. There's an independent hardware store within walking distance. Why then did I drive to OSH recently to pick up some doo dads I needed to fix a drawer in the kitchen? Is it merely marketing or does OSH really provide something the small independent hardware store doesn't?