A Tale of Two Stores

Ithaca Reuse Center. Photo courtesy ithacareuse.org
By Arleigh Rodgers

Over the past week I visited two different businesses in Ithaca that made an impression on me – the Ithaca Reuse Center and Wegmans.

I visited the Ithaca Reuse Center with my two roommates, one of whom was looking for a new mirror. She had broken the last one in an accident, when it slipped off her shelf in her bedroom and met the floor, shattering. So perhaps we all walked into the center with my roommate’s bad luck hanging over us, and the clutter in the store seemed to suggest that same bad luck would prove victorious over our search for a new mirror.

But Maya quickly found a new mirror. It was clean and the exact size she wanted. I dove into the box next to the mirrors — framed pictures — and wriggled out a framed, seemingly hand-painted picture of the Golden Gate Bridge. The framed picture was a lucky find and was exceptionally inexpensive.

Next up was the Ithaca Wegmans. I did my grocery shopping, observing the people around me while I picked up a packet of raspberries or chose the best sweet potato. I grew up going to small grocery stores my entire life. They were never larger than an average supermarket and certainly never neared Wegman’s colossal size. The experience at the Reuse Center was still in my thoughts, and I compared the sifting through the clutter of used mirrors and framed pictures to the perusing of the organized vegetables and boxes of different pasta shapes at Wegmans. Everything was new in the supermarket. The produce all looked fresh and delicious.

It would not have been odd to see a well-used desk and chair smack in the center of the Reuse Center, the contours of the swivel chair perhaps asking customers to seek it out in the labyrinthine maze snaking through the store. Wegmans is labyrinthine too, but the rows are labeled and organized according to their similarities. You can get lost, but there are signs that point you to an escape.

It’s simpler and more familiar to enjoy the carefully curated shelves at Wegmans than dig through the boxes in the Reuse Center. Perhaps the uniformity of the grocery store is more appealing. But still there is something exciting and beautiful, maybe, in the Reuse Center’s clutter.

Arleigh Rodgers is a junior English major at Ithaca College. She is currently the assistant Life & Culture editor at The Ithacan, Ithaca College's student-run newspaper. She enjoys reading, playing the piano and visiting the Ithaca Farmer's Market every weekend.

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