Every day of her adult life my aunt Minnie went downtown and visited all the shops. Admittedly downtown could not have been all that big as it was Missoula, Montana in the thirties... but it must have taken a fair part of the day. I wonder how her shoes held out.
I do not know whether she was looking for desperate bargains, or bare sustenance, or escape from the demons. There shouldn't have been that many demons in Missoula, though you never can tell - you wouldn't think there could be many in a lot of country towns in Australia but every year some ghastly newspaper story surfaces.
In any case she must have had a very good idea of the rise and fall of prices - of commercial trends - of the success or otherwise of national and local advertising. She would probably have been a good source of feedback for the Chamber of Commerce, if feedback was a word then. At least she would have been good for gossip.
I am reminded of Minnie when I see some of our customers visit us during their lunch hours. They undoubtedly have had a chance to read things on the internet ( I suspect there may be some customers reading this in the internet right now...) and see all the shiny new stuff as the manufacturers announce it. They might have trolled through the instant net shopfronts from Kurgistan that can offer the products even before the manufacturers release them...they may even have read Ken Rockwell. Somebody must - he's still there.*
But I guess they like to drift through with a sandwich and a big orange drink and heft the goods - and maybe discover a treasure from the fabled CE box 'o bargains. More power to them - anyone who relieves us of a box 'o bargains item has my admiration. I would willingly trade some of the stuff in there for the big orange drink.
* Oh, I don't mind 'Ol Ken - he is good for a laugh or a howl of pain now and then. And for the student of abandoned gas stations he is a constant fund of extremely saturated visual reference.