What Abandoned Stores and Secrets Have in Common


Worked at: unemployed. Studied at: School of Hard Knocks. In a complicated relationship. So begins the “About” description on Facebook for Axsom’s ShortStop, a long abandoned and dilapidated convenience store in my hometown.

My husband’s former co-worker, Susan Brackney, started a Facebook page in honor of the forlorn building. She posts from the point of view of the old store, trying to “balance mopey and hopeful,” according to a local newspaper article.

As posted on the site, here are some of Axsom’s New Year’s Resolutions for 2014:

“Be more helpful to others>>More than anything, I’d love to serve the public again. It’s been a long time, but I miss having people step over my threshold to buy coffee and stuff. Those were the good ol’ days. *Sigh*

Get organized>>Enlist the help of others to finally make something of myself.

Get a complete makeover?>>Fix my holes. Shed a few pounds of facade. Maybe readjust my stripes!”

Susan is trying to raise awareness for this eyesore through her Facebook page. Apparently, it’s working. Renewed interest in the location has occurred in the last year. The property has an owner, but the owner has no intention of selling the property last I knew.

There are people who would be willing to at least make it look more presentable, even by putting interesting, well done graffiti on the building, but that’s illegal. Because the property has an owner, that would be considered vandalism. What a quandary!

I began thinking about this property because of some research I’m doing on secrets. Time after time I’ve read about people who harbored various secrets for years, then found such freedom from sharing them with others.

That’s the interesting thing about secrets. Others can only help us if we allow them to. They may be completely unaware of our needs. Or, maybe our friends and family do know something is amiss, but even if they say something or try to help, nothing can be accomplished without our permission.

The only hope for renovation is in reaching out. The “owner” must hold conviction there is work to be done.

I contacted an author recently, Heather Kopp, about her book Sober Mercies. Heather was a closet alcoholic for years—quite literally. This is part of what Heather had to say to me:

“My perpetually messy closet was where I hid my alcohol inside my tall boots or wrapped inside old sweaters. I often drank there, too—standing in the dark, guzzling as fast as I could so that my husband wouldn’t miss me downstairs.

It takes what it takes for most of us to come out of hiding. But here’s what else I’m learning. Big secrets don’t matter any more than smaller ones. It’s not so much the surrendering up of salacious affairs or headline-grabbing hypocrisy that makes us honest.

What matters is one woman saying to another, ‘This is how I really am today. How about you?’”

So, do you feel abandoned on the corner? Maybe your mess isn’t on the outside, but on the inside. Reach out. Be honest. Find help.

Or, maybe you know someone whose life is a bit like the forlorn building on the corner of Rogers and Country Club. You can act as their Susan. Give them some encouragement, and let them know that you just want the best for them. Help them find the tools they need to improve, because you’d love nothing better than to see them restored to their former glory.

Here’s to cleaning up messy closets and bringing renewal to the beat up and broken down.


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Seltzer, Rick. “Neighbor Seeks to Spark Brighter Future for Blighted Building by Giving it a Voice.” Herald-Times Online 26 May 2013. Web. 10 January 2014.

First image by Susan Brackney

Second image from https://www.facebook.com/axsoms.shortstop?fref=ts

Heather blogs at Sober Boots. You can find a link to buy a copy of her book there.

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