When you move away for college from your hometown, it's always bittersweet.
On one hand, it's the beginning of a new adventurous chapter in your life while on the other hand, it's also heartbreaking to leave the place you've grown up to love and know like the back of your hand. For some, leaving home is quite possibly the best thing but for others like me, it's one of the hardest things to ever do.
I'm from Oakland Park, Florida which is technically a suburb of Fort Lauderdale. (There's a very long history lesson about territorial lines that I won't get in to) It's about 15 minutes or less from the beach, Funky Buddha's Brewery is located here, and most importantly, it's home to Richie's Italian Ice––the best gourmet Italian ice––you'll ever have.
Richie's Italian Ice is a local business that originally opened in 1992 and has been serving it up ever since. Before I moved to Tallahassee it was a hometown staple and favorite. It's located near all the schools, right off of I-95 on Commercial Boulevard, and it was a place that made you feel comfortable. Richie's Italian Ice was just that kind of place; a place you go to celebrate, a place you go to after a bad day, it was the place to get an authentic cotton candy Italian ice. (my personal favorite and the best flavor)
However, recently an article appeared in the Sun Sentinel that announced Richie's would be closing due. When I first discovered the news it felt like someone ripped my heart out and stomped on it a million times. How could a place like this, adored by an entire community, announce it was closing? Well, it was revealed that Publix would be taking over ownership of the lot and Richie's was ordered to close indefinitely.
It's heartbreaking. There are rumors going around town that it may become a Starbucks, a parking lot, but whatever they decide to put there will never amount to the love that Richie's gave to this community. Since the community has discovered this heart-wrenching news, almost 6,000 individuals have signed a petition on change.org to keep Richie's open. Unfortunately, Publix stated that despite the overwhelming feedback from the community, they will continue to proceed with the closure.
For the first time, I really hated Publix. Their pub-subs, delicious baked goods, and $5 sushi Wednesday deal all started to seem like a facade for something much worse. But the truth is, they're just another big company killing our small, local businesses. Small businesses are 54% of all sales in the United States and yet, big companies are continuously taking over small business throughout the country.
It's important to support your local businesses, whatever it may be in your town. Unlike big companies, supporting your local businesses provide an experience you cannot replicate. It's a personal experience that I've never truly felt with big companies; not even at the local Publix that I've shopped at all my life. It's different. They remember my name and ask me how I'm doing in school whenever I come back home. They remember my order by heart and on my birthday it's "on the house." They helped me create a lifetime of memories with my loved ones and I am forever grateful.
Richie's, my local favorite, is coming to an end a part of me feels dead inside. Local businesses are one of a kind stores and posses a certain individuality and should be cherished for as long as you can.