Thursday, August 6, 2009

New Inconvenience Store Opens on the West Side

The west side of Spartanburg, it is said, has been overrun with big chain stores, and corporate franchises much to the dismay of some local grassroots enthusiasts. For those that still take the initiative to support locally owned businesses, there is one more addition to their list of homegrown shops.

Local entrepreneur, Ben Stevens, recently opened up a shop on W.O. Ezell with a unique theme. He hopes to compete with the big name stores with the help of locally minded folks here in town. His 'inconvenience store' is probably unlike any other you've ever seen. Boasting the lowest prices in town, we caught up with him yesterday where he explained how he maintains such bargains.

"Seeing how it's an inconvenience store, lowering the expectations of service allows me to cut corners and pass the savings along to the customers. This way I can stay competitive with corporate chains." explains Stevens. "For instance, we sell bags of ice for almost half the price of our competitors, the only thing is you have to go into our freezer and hack away at a block the size of a car, and bag it yourself."

When asked to elaborate on what else is unique about his store, Stevens replied, "The price of cigarettes have skyrocketed this year, but ours are always less then a dollar. Although we're sure not to have your brand, or any brand you've probably ever heard of for that matter, it's just another way to pass along the savings."

After hearing that their store keeps their gas prices under two dollars a gallon, I was eager to hear how that was possible from Stevens. "It's simple." he replied, "We have hand levers located on the side of each of the gas pumps. It takes a little longer to fill up, but other then a few cases of over exertion and heat exhaustion this summer, people are thrilled to be saving money on what is probably their biggest expense."

When asked what is the most common complaint heard from customers, Stevens thought for a few moments and said, "Well, seeing how the entire shop is totally inconvenient, as in, you have to walk up three flights of stairs to enter the store, the front doors are extremely heavy and it usually takes two people to pull them open, our shelves inside are really high and customers have to climb a rickety old step ladder to get their stuff, which are not brand names and usually out of date, but one of the most common complaints I've heard, aside from the fact that our drinks are always warm, and there is no air conditioning in the store, is the excessive waits customers have to go through, taking a number and waiting for the cashier to decide when to finally ring them up. Another, I guess, is the Kenny G blaring through the store's inside and outside speakers 24/7, but sometimes we play it backwards, which makes it sound even worse."

I was wondering if all this was really worth the savings being passed on to the public, to which Stevens was quick to reply. "What choice do people have, they can always take their business elsewhere and get taken for all they've got, supporting 'the evil corporations' and all. In case you haven't noticed, prices are rising everyday. I think even with the inconvenience of the place, we are sure to have a steady clientele for a very long time, if for nothing else, then because people can't afford shopping elsewhere, and it's fun to see people suffer." Taken back by his last remark, I asked him if he was some sort of sadomasochist or something, to which he laughed and said, "Could be, I haven't thought about it that way, but our security cameras throughout the place are always recording, and I plan on making a compilation of the best reactions of the customers. The internet has opened up a whole new market for people suffering on film. I'll just edit in that Benny Hill theme song, and it'll bring in a little extra cash on the side, and that's always a good thing."

Ben Stevens' inconvenience store might have an inconvenienced clientele, but it seems his strange methods of passing along savings is a solid plan, possibly to be mimicked by other faltering locally run shops. If you plan on swinging through to save some money though, please make sure you have at least an hour to kill. Between literally pumping your own gas, hiking up a virtual mountain of rickety stairs, and waiting for the clerk to check you out at their convenience, you're bound to be late for wherever you're headed.

"I'd just like to add that we now are selling chicken in the store." Stevens bolstered. "You'll have to cook it yourself though, and you'll find it adds to the already sweltering temperature of the establishment, but it's only a dollar. You won't find lunch that cheap anywhere else in town, that's for sure."

So as prices rise along with unemployment, and the worth of our money plummets, you too may find yourself in Stevens' inconvenience store, sitting there for what may seem an eternity, listening to Kenny G, and hoping the clerk will eventually come back and call out your number.

Stevens' inconvenience store is open Monday through Friday, 4am, till 4pm. Mention you heard about their establishment from this article and receive a ten percent discount on everything in the store. Happy shopping.

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