Drastic Plastic is closing.

That doesn’t mean anything to anyone unless they are like me and still buy records and live within easy driving distance of Omaha, Neb.

However, the fact it is closing should bother all of us because it means another small business has fallen on hard times.

Drastic Plastic has two locations in downtown Omaha, one that sold clothing and one that sold records.

Those stores are being consolidated into the Monster Club, a bar and restaurant that will include the Drastic Plastic Vinyl Lounge, a section of the Club where records will be for sale.

So, in between cocktails and greasy food I can look for records?

The company’s spokesman called it a “natural evolution.” I guess I should be happy a downtown business still exists, but how long will this last? How long will it be before they decide records make a lousy appetizer?

In this day and age, when we can buy everything online, from groceries to furnace filters, we need to support the bricks and mortar stores and the owners who are brave enough to do battle against the changing tide of consumerism.

Who could have ever imagined we could have all our needs met and never have to leave the house?

Worse, who could have ever imagined people would be happy never leaving their homes, never interacting with others and all in the name of convenience?

We are becoming a society that keeps to itself.

We sit at our computers and shop, grab our phones to send birthday greetings, rant about politics and tweet insults at anyone who dare have a different opinion than us.

Funny how brave we get when we do not have to look someone in the eye and talk to them.

I know this makes me sound like an old man, but shopping used to mean strolling downtown or going to the mall. Even ordering something still meant getting it from a physical store.

Birthday greetings came in the form of an actual card or telling someone happy birthday in person.

Arguing and hurling insults might have meant a black eye, not being blocked on Twitter or Facebook.

I am not lamenting progress and technology. I love my phone for all it offers, and computers have made producing a newspaper so much easier.

The problem is when we replace people with gadgets.

It is all related. Fewer interactions with each other means fewer visits to stores, which means fewer sales and eventually fewer stores.

That is why we should all care a record store in Omaha is closing.

 

Patrick Murphy, editor-publisher of the Humphrey Democrat and Newman Grove Reporter in Nebraska, is a former assistant managing editor of The Telegram.