Last weekend, our older son moved to his new house in Charlotte.
My husband and I have spent much of our free time since helping Alex make his house a home.
Of course, that required many trips to home-improvement stores, discount stores for homeowner essentials and grocery stores to fill his refrigerator.
And since Alex is living in Charlotte, all our shopping trips were to stores in Charlotte. Although we bought everything he needed and had no problems, I really missed my shopping in Cornelius and North Mecklenburg/South Iredell.
For example, one day, on my way home from work, I stopped at a home-improvement store in Huntersville to get a match for the paint color from a small chip from one of the walls. I had done the same with a can of dried-up paint with a similar store in Charlotte.
In Charlotte, after waiting a while for someone to help me and telling him I needed the paint matched, the clerk took my paint can, looked up the color, mixed the new paint, put a small sample on the top of the can, handed me the can and said, "Goodbye." No problems, but no personality.
In Huntersville, the clerk said "Hello" and introduced himself as Chris as I walked up to the paint area. He asked me what I needed.
I handed Chris the carefully wrapped paint chip, which he scanned. Then he discussed with me what my plans were for the paint.
He mixed the paint, painted it next to my chip, and asked me whether it was a good enough match. When I didn't immediately answer that it was, he tried another formula and mixed me another can of paint (which ended up being a perfect match).
While the paint was mixing, he gave me tips about buying paint, then helped me decide what flooring to use in my own house.
I left the store with more than $100 worth of things Alex needed, and I'll probably go back there this weekend and buy the flooring from Chris.
I also went to a discount store in Charlotte and never spoke to another person the whole time I was there.
When I went to the Mooresville store of the same chain to buy more kitchen gadgets, not only did someone ask me whether I needed help, but she also said she had just stocked the item on the shelves and had even bought some herself.
She took me to the aisle where the kitchen gadgets were located.
I talked to my friend Jennifer Laquerre, who also lives up this way, and she agrees with me. We both try to shop near where we live, if at all possible.
Jennifer and her husband are raising their son, and another baby on the way, in North Mecklenburg.
"People here are more down-to-earth and friendlier," she said. "North Mecklenburg people are not pretentious, even if they live on Lake Norman."
I did go to a wonderful bakery in North Charlotte, where I was given suggestions about what to buy. The staff even offered to have a special cookie made for me.
Charlotte offers many things that the smaller towns in northern Mecklenburg and south Iredell counties don't have. But most of the people here are outgoing and treat each other like neighbors.
The mayor of Cornelius encourages us to buy from local businesses to support our town. I think we should buy from local business to support our town's way of life.