Amidst all the activity surrounding the start of school, the earthquake, the hurricane and ensuing power outages, some new signs have popped up on the windows of a vacant storefront in the Cape St. Claire shopping center. I only tuned in enough for it to register a couple of days ago. The red signs which I assume announce the arrival of a new business read, "Discount Tobacco." I saw some activity in the shop yesterday, but couldn't get a peak inside.
I guess a new Cape shop is better than a vacant storefront and, in this economy, we should probably be cheering for the success of any company. I've got to say, though, that smoking products are not up there on the top of my list of things I'd like to see open up in the shopping center. I can imagine that smokes are not cheap at Graul's, Bella's, and the Shell station but, frankly, I would like to see them cost a bloody fortune - not be even more convenient and cheap for my fellow Capers.
I don't mean to rag on smokers because I know it's an incredibly tough habit to kick. I can't even quit biting my nails, and they aren't jacked up with nicotine. I smoked cigarettes for a year or so during college after a semester abroad in England (where most of my bad habits either began or were amplified). The main thing that kept me from going past the point of no return upon my return to the states was the disapproval of my good friends and future fiance and the expense of it. It was neither socially acceptable nor affordable on my post-college, sandwich-making income.
Both of my parents were smokers from their 1950s teen years through their 1970s young married life. I can remember as a five- or six-year-old when they were finally successful in their joint attempt to quit, about the time my Dad finished his medical school residency. They excitedly put me on the phone to my grandmother 3,000 miles away to tell her that Mommy and Daddy had "kicked the habit." My Dad continued to smoke a pipe for a few years after that, but he eventually gave it up as well.
So, I'm familiar with how easy it is to pick up the habit in our invincible youth and how dreadfully hard it is to quit when we wise up and start to get a sense of our mortality. It just makes me sad and a little angry when I see teenagers smoking on the corner behind the high school fondly known as "The Pit." It's so darn bad for them and is going to cost them and us in the years ahead. For the most part, laws protect the rest of us from second-hand smoke in bars, restaurants, and workplaces, but it doesn't protect us from the heartbreak of losing a loved one before their time to lung, mouth or throat cancer.
That's why I guess I'm just a little dismayed at the notion of a smoke shop opening up here in the Cape. The health food store in the shopping center was short lived but I fear a smoke shop will thrive (how ironic is that). Perhaps the business will be more slanted toward fine cigars and pipe tobacco than cigarettes. I've been known to enjoy a good cigar on occasion. Still, I would much rather have seen a pet supply store, a bakery, a seafood market, a florist (used to have one of those), a FOURTH beauty/barber shop, a craft shop, a sporting goods store, maybe a bait, tackle and boating supply shop, or dare I even dream it, a bookstore to replace Borders...
There are still several empty storefronts down at the shopping center. If any of you could open your own business down there, what would it be? What are your secret entrepreneurial dreams? What shops would you like to see somebody else open up? What do you find yourselves routinely seeking out beyond the boundaries of the Cape? Let's hope this economy finds a way out of the muck before too very long so that business throughout the Cape shopping center can thrive and grow.