For over 50 years, South Broadway Imports - currently known as Ron Royse Imports - has been servicing lawn mowers, cars, trucks, vans, buses, and even human beings whenever they might need internal vehicle repair and/or maintenance necessities. Ronald Royse Senior, with the help of a few of his family members, opened up shop in the early 60’s in downtown Lexington, Kentucky. They found much-needed work for the people who owned brands of cars that only a handful of other mechanics in town would touch; the expensive imports like Volkswagens and older Toyotas. In the early 70’s, they began to gain much notoriety, locally, for their generous hospitality and ample skills in auto repair. Ron Royse Sr. and his brother knew they had a success on their oil-stained hands.
Eventually in the 80’s, as realty prices in downtown Lexington began to go into overdrive due to convoluted economic reasons, South Broadway Imports packed up and headed down to southern Fayette County to find more affordable dwellings. Tucked away in a quiet, private nook in the corner of Nicholasville Road and New Circle, they found a sweet spot for one of the busiest junctions in all of the city, and it paid off even more. As the years went on, and their relative success continued to stay consistent, newer generations of the Royse bloodline began to find themselves doing odd jobs for the shop; fetching a radiator across town here, sweeping up metal filings from a concrete floor there, and even doing some basic work on some of the vehicles, alongside those who had first created the business. A family tradition, a family legacy, a family held strong through honest and diligent work.
However - as time loves to speed up the faster you find yourself in its company - the world began to swiftly change in ways that were previously thought as science fiction or just satire by the major populace (except for a few people “in the know,” like Orwell, Twain, and Tesla).
Something called “the internet” was reaching far and wide into every household, crisscrossing around the planet like a web, and with it came big changes in how most companies would interact with their customers in the near future. Movie rental stores would soon be a distant memory, being replaced with online services that could digitally stream high-definition versions from almost anywhere on Earth though devices small enough to fit in one’s ever-consuming mouths. Fine-dining establishments, and even cheaper restaurants, would hire freelance, Uber-like delivery drivers to ferry their $30, lukewarm meals to their desired destinations for a subtle percent increase. Mere conversations and phones calls would be trumped by pages and pages full of dull-witted, text-based, two-way monologues with emoticons and memetastic image macros at the ready of their twitching thumbs. And then corporate gods like Walmart, Ford, Shell, and Disney would start to descend, far and wide, on the lesser mortals and their menial victories, snatching up and amalgamating any scraps that they might come across; mere pebbles in their path as they strut their stoic stuff through the wades of unexpecting, homebound hordes.
57 years later, in the coming dawn of a brave new world in 2020, Ron Royse Imports of Lexington, Kentucky - a business staple for the region in many people’s minds - is possibly looking at having to close their doors and shut down shop for good. A long, fruitful history of family-owned courage that stood the test of time through several wars, economic downturns, and even internal, personal perils. A history that, without a new generation of genuinely encouraged and informed customers, will not live to see a newer line of Royse’s at its helm. It will be snuffed out like the other 96% of newly created, small business all around the country in the past decade (and a modest percentage of old-standing companies, as well), and will not survive the coming times to witness the new breeds of vehicles on the horizon. With the newer crowd taking their vehicles to major dealerships instead of humble mechanic shops, believing the overarching stereotype that most homegrown mechanics will rip you off, possibly ripping a brake line or two in the process, betting on your continued patronage for the unforeseeable future as you fail to see the connection. People believing that major car insurance firms have their best interest in mind, as they raise the unassuming patron’s interest payments annually, with guile and shameless deniability. These naïve, yet good-hearted people are sadly believing half-truth propaganda spun with the backing of multi-billionaire dollar conglomerates that would like nothing more than to force everyone into the copy-pasted Wal Marts, into the high-priced Ford dealerships, into whatever crony-capitalistic machination they have conjured up to take your money, your power, your soul…
However - as time teaches us that humankind works in an ebb-and-flow pattern, always crashing down where it once just receded - this is where we, the homebound horde, the feeble consumer, the supposedly infallible customer, can finally fight back for one’s own control over their lives. Like with several other political and social movements in the history of our amazing country, where rights were won, respect was gained, and old, ancient habits would finally die hard (or so we had hoped); the people always had a choice. Like with the women’s suffrage movement of the 1920’s, the brave women who had fought and strove since 1840 to finally be able to vote in the country they shared with their more masculine counterparts; those women always had a choice to give up on all they had done in those 80 years, but they didn’t. Like with the anti-establishment counterculture of the 1960’s, the curious mass of Nirvana-seeking hippies generated a buzz of new energy into a country in desperate need of an artful injection after two world wars; those people always had a choice to stay complicit and creatively sterile, but they didn’t. Like with the indigo-swathed children of the modern day, arising from the ether with profound insights and innate wisdom to help guide the lost and broken people of a chaotic socialscape; these people could give in to the propaganda of their formidable adversaries, but that is, of course, up to them…as it is up to you.
As long as we perpetuate unregulated corporate greed and apathy through the services we consider using, the way we do our shopping, and the conversations we choose not to start, then we will continue to facilitate a monetary monster of epic proportions, one that even Gorge Orwell or Mark Twain could have never foreseen.
As long as we, the people of this unique country, understand our inalienable rights, we are able to “vote with our wallet,” choosing to refuse the funneling of our hard-earned money into the pockets of robotic suits with not-so hidden agendas and some serious short-circuiting.
We have the choice of being able to go back to the better basics of giving our patronage to smaller businesses who are locally contributing to your community; this gives us control over our surroundings.
We have the choice of being able to have wholesome and long-lasting dialogue with the person(s) who actually, physically contributed something to the product/service that is involved; this gives us power in our relationships.
As long as we exercise the simple act of choosing how we personally manipulate our own capital, then we are always going to be empowered with a strength granted to us by those who, over 300 years ago, once fought just as hard for our freedom of choice as the hopeful activists of the more recent American century.
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