Wal-Mart: Saved from the evil beast

I searched for many hours this afternoon for a simple wooden stool. Leon’s. Home Hardware. Birt’s. Large’s. None of them had anything close. Finally, with my tail between my legs, I went to Wal-Mart, Charlottetown’s newest urban sprawl, which I had heretofore managed to avoid patronizing. I needn’t have bothered. I actually believed that, if one could set aside the evil mega-corporate ugliness of Wal-Mart one would find excellent, friendly service. I imagined that I would gallop through the door and be greeted by a helpful senior greeter who would guide me lovingly to the stool section. The reality, however, was as bleak as Zellers: no senior at the door, no directions to the furniture section, no staff in the furniture section, no stools in the furniture section. So I left. Never to return. I finally found a stool, nice but expensive, at Bass River Chairs. I bought it.

My old colleague Mavis works at Bass River Chairs in the Charlottetown Mall. She’s great. Too bad they have such a horrible website!

John Prine and Purity Dairy

John Prine I can’t imagine a better person to run a dairy than Tom Cullen. We ran into Tom and his wife Beth tonight while wandering the streets of downtown Charlottetown and this feeling was only confirmed.

We first met Tom and Beth several years ago at a dinner party, and I spent a large chunk of that evening questioning Tom about various and sundry aspects of the dairy world; he seemed surprising unannoyed by this and, indeed, seemed to revel in talking about his world.

At that point in history, and probably still, (and sensibly so) Tom was quite unacquainted with the Internet; and so at the time in the evening when the fiddles would have been taken out were we more culturally capable, out came the laptop and a connection to the Internet, and a challenge to Tom to name a topic that he wanted to know something about. “How about John Prine,” he said daringly, “try and find out what he’s up to these days.” (Tom is a fan, you see.)

And so off we went. We were lucky enough to quickly stumble upon the official John Prine website and, on a lark, we sent a note of greetings to John Prine’s manager. Although not completely converted by this experience, Tom seemed a little more open at least to seeing some possibility in all of this newfangledness. And even more so when, a few days later, an email arrived from John Prine’s manager sending greetings back, wishing us well, and updating us on John’s life.

Purity Dairy Jug

In any case, Tom runs Purity Dairy just around the corner and up the street a bit from us in Charlottetown. Purity is one of the last independent dairys on the Island. In the milk business it’s awfully hard to differentiate your product from the other guy’s — it’s “just milk” after all — and so it’s really a business built on service and personality.

Tom knows this, and you can see and feel the result in everything that Purity does. In jaunty design of their new delivery truck. In their new recyclable packaging (pictured above). And in the simple fact that they’re all very nice people, genuinely interested in what they do.

It’s heartening to know that in this world where everyone is amalgamating and merging and comglomerating you can still operate a small-scale, family-run business.

Purity Dairy products are available in stores across Prince Edward Island, including Eddie’s Lunch. You can hear Tom and Beth’s son Timothy on Island Morning on CBC Prince Edward Island. Remember: Parents Prefer Purity Products.

More on the mystery envelope

I decided to email Saturday Night magazine and ask them how it was exactly that a picture of my letter to the editor envelope ended up gracing this week’s issue. I got back a friendly response from an Assistant to the Editor; she wrote, in part:

We choose the envelopes on a rather random aesthetic basis. Basically, as letters come in, we set aside envelopes we like and then may or may not use them in an issue. It’s not very scientific but hopefully it satisifies your curiosity.
Mystery solved. Sort of.

Saturday Night Envelope Big Time

Saturday Night Magazine Excerpt, August 26, 2000 Way back in May when we visited New York City for the New Yorker Festival, I visited Fountain Pen Hospital and purchased a lovely Waterman Hemisphere fountain pen. My first formal act with this pen upon returning to the Island was to write a letter to Diana Symonds, Editor of Saturday Night magazine, complimenting her on the fact that the relaunched magazine doesn’t use jumps (i.e. “Continued on Page 45…”). Lo and behold, an image of the envelope I sent my letter in — with address penned with my new Waterman — appears in the middle of this week’s Saturday Night. My letter itself, oddly enough, wasn’t included. I wonder: what did the envelope do for the 3 months it lay dormant in their offices before this weekend?

More on Bass River Chairs

I requested a catalogue from the Bass River Chairs website last week (see below for a critique of same). Today the catalog arrived, and it included a “wooden nickel” which is a $5.00 credit on a $25.00 purchase (everyone gets this, form letter suggests — not just people who think their website is horrible). So that was nice. But, alas, the catalogue itself has the actual prices of items included on a separate photocopied sheet rather than beside the pictures of the items themselves in the body. While this is probably cheaper, and gives them the flexibility to raise and lower prices without reprinting the catalogue, it’s user-hostile, and makes it difficult to browse the catalogue easily. Sigh.

Musical Coincidence?

Here are the opening lines to the song But I do Love You, popularized by its presence in the movie Coyote Ugly:

I don’t like to be alone at night
And I don’t like to hear I’m wrong when I’m right
And I don’t like to have the rain on my shoe
But I do love you.
Now compare this to the opening lines to the song I Don’t Like your Fish, which I wrote in 1991:
I don’t like your fish,
I don’t like them one bit
I don’t like the way they look at me
I don’t like the way the shit [all over the place]
But I sure, yes I sure, do love you.