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I am a product of small town America.

When I was 7 years old my parents relocated to the mecca of Pickles and John Deere. That place could place could only be, Imlay City, Michigan.

Its Stars Hollow meets Pleasantville meets Hicktown, USA. Where there are few local amenities besides simply being a community that knows and cares for each other above all else.

This ‘city’ is actually not a city at all, but a town. Yes I am talking about the town, Imlay City.

Clearly the founders of Imlay ‘City’ had big dreams for this little town. They cast a large vision of growing leaps and bounds…and it has… but this shows how Imlay City is still just beginning to blossom and step into the dream that has been cast for this town.

The first business you see as you get off the interstate is what you would imagine you would see in most small towns across America, TSC…which off course stand for Tractors Supply Company. You can go here to get every small town need met, whether it be a new John Deere or the camouflage gear that hasn’t taken up residence in your closet yet.

Next you will look to your left and catch a glimpse of ‘Pamida’, Imlay City’s version of Macy’s/Target/Meijer/Walmart, all combined into one. This little beauty has community written all over it. It was founded by three men; Paul, Mike, & David. Now, of course they each wanted the other to have the recognition they each deserved so they took the first two letters of their names to create their brand. BRILLIANT! And this legacy is carried on into the isles of Pamida.

Its 9pm on a Friday night in October and a dire need has brought you walking through the front doors of Pamida. As you enter you see a well put together Lawyer in his three piece suit who has been working all day at high powered courtroom job, yet as he pulled into his town he remembered the message from his wife ‘don’t forget to grab milk before you come home’. Behind him are three high school student in their full football gear, re-living the games highlights and checking out with gatoraid and beef jerky in hand, every football players recovery snack. A little behind him you see Uncle Jebb meets Charlie Daniels meets Billy Joes cousin aimlessly pacing down the aisles.

Clearly, Imlay city draws a unique crowd. But the beauty in this crowd is that everyone is accepted. There isn’t a medium economic standard you need to meet. There isn’t a certain look your house has to have. There isn’t a select school that you need your child to be attending.

There’s just people…loving people.

I know if I would have walked into Pamida on that fictional night with my mom and brother, we would have chatted with each of those characters. Not necessarily because we have great friendships with them, but because I would be with two Imlay City locals that regards each person as someone who is known and loved.

If Imlay City had a polar opposite…it would be Chicago. I now am living in the center of that opposite. But I countdown the days until I get to jump in my jeep and make the 5 hour trek to my home.

I relish the moments that I can sit on my porch and chat with every neighbor that walks their dog down Grove Avenue.

I get excited thinking about when I get to walk into the house that smells of coffee and love and just wait for the doorbell to ring knowing that another person is here to say hi, and/or leave a bag of baked goods at our door.

It’s a town where people bless people. And its beautiful.

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