change you can believe in



when i heard the news, i didn't quite cry, at least on the outside. on the inside, however, i was very sad. an institution, one i had enjoyed my entire life, was closing. to be torn down. and on the spot a new cvs to be built (does bay city really need that? they already tore down the old in and out mini mart where i played video games as a kid to build a walgreen's). now shipley's, the greatest donut spot on the planet, had a date with the wrecking ball.

shipley's never changed. you drove up to the window and a lady stuck her head out to take your order. she never wrote anything down: bear claws. pigs in the blanket. chocolate filled. chocolate milk. donut holes. if you went inside you saw old timers sitting on the same red tables that had been there forever. the place had a lingering hint of cigarettes and coffee. if you walked into church with a box of donuts from shipley's you were accepted.

shipley's corporation, i learned today, was founded in 1936 by mr. shipley. his grandson, mr. shipley III, is now ceo. still, one shipley's is not the same as another. some friends and i were in arkansas once for some reason and popped into a shipley's for breakfst. i asked for a pig in the blanket. the woman did not know what that was. let me say that again: at a shipley's in arkansas they did not know what a pig in the blanket is. mom said recently a salesman dropped in at the store, having brought in donuts and pigs from a shipley's in houston. they went untouched. the bay city shipley's was an original. the gold standard.

so often when the old is replaced, renewed, little is left of what made the place great. the name may be the same, location similar, maybe even the same staff is there, but the product and the experience is different. i know people naturally resist change-- the uproar over the new facebook is a prime example. so i reluctantly drove in to bay city a couple of days ago, uncertain of the new shipley's. when we were down for Christmas we had to get donuts from a pretender. i thought my boys would cry. i became hopeful when mom and dad said they had moved all the old equipment to the new place. james even slept with pepaw to make sure to get up early enough to beat the traffic. anticipation was high.

and it was worth it. the donuts, and especially the pigs, were dy-no-mite, as j.j. would say. the boys went back yesterday, and the only reason they did not go today was because they spent last night with their cousins in sweeney. no doubt we'll drive through on our way out of town tomorrow morning. sometimes we make changes for change's sake. sometimes we make changes to fit our own needs, at the expense of others. sometimes another company rolls into town, makes us an offer we can't refuse, and we turn that into an even better product. there are times when change is very, very good.

now if you'll excuse me i believe there are a couple of two-day old donuts around here somewhere...

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