Every day I drive past a gas station and convenience store, the Grocery Boy Junior. About every other Friday, I stop in to fill up my tank. A few weeks ago, I noticed something on the marquee outside of the building while fueling up and muttering about the high gas prices.
“HIGH GAS PRICES [A]FFECT EVERYONE
VOTE FOR THOSE WHO WILL DRILL”
The Grocery Boy Junior is an emblem of all things that embody the passion- and the pain- of small businesses today. Owned by a local businessman, I was intrigued by his marquee to stop in and ask to chat with the man responsible for this enlightened business. As I waited to speak with the cashier, I noticed something else.
“Socialism is a philosophy of failure, the creed of ignorance, and the gospel of envy, its inherent virtue is the equal sharing of misery.”
This profound quote from Winston Churchill is affixed to the register in the small convenience store with two small pieces of tape, positioned perfectly to be noticed by anyone making a purchase.
A few weeks later, when I sat down with Scott Byers, he grabbed a pack of gum and took a piece for himself. He offered me a piece and sighed. “10 years ago, this pack of gum cost about half of what it does now,” he began, “and people just don’t seem to realize that fuel costs are a huge part of that.”
The polite gentleman told me about his family, that he came from a military upbringing and attended a two year college. He is very involved with his church, working with several different ministries within the congregation. He has three children, and beams when he speaks about them. He has dreams for them like any parent would; but above all, he wants them to understand that they are responsible for their achievements, not entitled to them.
He explained that his income is now half of what it was four years ago, a sentiment felt by nearly everyone in the small business sector. He spoke with sadness in his voice about the heartbreaking decision to let go of employees that had worked for nearly a decade in his store. “It’s hard to hear people demonizing their bosses,” he explained, “because it’s not easy for us to make those choices.”
When I asked how he felt about local government and the bureaucracy endured by many small business owners, Mr. Byers perked up. The Department of Health told him he could not install and operate the hot dog warmer without having a grease trap beneath the building and two restrooms- one for men and one for women. Curiously, the coed single restroom that the store currently has was deemed insufficient for having a hot dog warmer on the premises. He noted that it seems like these departments whose intentions are to protect the people in fact make it more difficult for businesses to operate. “I would have to sell a huge number of hot dogs just to pay for the investment that I’d have to put in. It just isn’t viable right now.”
When I asked Mr. Byers what issues he was taking to consideration aside from the economy in this year’s election, he did not even blink. Education, he said, was the root of most of our nation’s problems in perpetuating the culture of entitlement that has plagued our nation. Secondly, of course, he continued, is the topic of offshore drilling. Mr. Byers rattled off facts that astonished me. After hearing him speak about drilling, I was ready to go drill for him. He noted that the environmentalists, much like the various Departments that impose restrictions on his business practices, have good intentions- but do not seem to realize that fuel prices affect the whole economy. High fuel costs do not discriminate, according to Mr. Byers. “It’s not just the middle class, it’s everyone. And people need to consider that when they vote.”
The Grocery Boy Junior is located on Lake Wheeler Road in Raleigh.