Christmas At The UDF Convenience Store

Be an elf to yourSelf on Christmas Day. Find the friendly world of the UDF cafe.
Be an elf to yourSelf on Christmas Day. Find the friendly world of the UDF cafe. | Source

Try Something New On Christmas Or New Year's

If you celebrate this holiday and are alone on Christmas Day or for part of it, the day and evening can be troublesome, even lonely or boring.

You may be missing family and friends across the miles, thinking of past Christmases, or unable to book a flight to a holiday gathering. Still, places to go present themselves, even if just for an hour or two. It may be a day to try something new.

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Plenty Of Time To Look Around

Some cities like mine have options for the single person alone on a holiday, but the streets are still nearly vacant and the shops dark and empty, except for those that leave their decorative twinkling lights switched on.

This makes a good day for window shopping without the distraction of open retailers that draw you in to spend money. By the time you have visited two or three stores, you are ready to go home. But today, you can walk down the block and see what is there at your leisure. There may be a shop, gallery, or small art museum you have not noticed before.

Some business districts are so busy during the November - December rush that one does not have the time to really look at the shops and see what is on the street. Parking is usually full - not a meter or a car park space to spare. Not so on Christmas Day! You'll have parking lots empty and parking meters free on the holiday.

A Place To Visit And Talk

In America's past, people gathered at the local town's general store to talk, play checkers, and enjoy companionship. Today's equivalent is the Convenience Store and some of these shops have hot and cold food and a small dining area waiting for passersby, even on Christmas and New Year's.

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In the 1800s and 1900s, people sat around a barrel of crackers in the General Store, talking, even on Christmas Eve.
In the 1800s and 1900s, people sat around a barrel of crackers in the General Store, talking, even on Christmas Eve.
In the 1800s and 1900s, people sat around a barrel of crackers in the General Store, talking, even on Christmas Eve. | Source
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What's Open On Christmas?

Going against the grain of American business practices, most places are closed on Christmas Day, at least in my city of over a million people.

Early in the morning, a few bars are open and some serve breakfast on Christmas, but Waffle Houses are open the entire day and evening. Other restaurants are closed, except for 20 larger, more expensive places and area McDonald's stores. Even 24-hour laundromats are closed.

Starbucks is open until 6:00 pm, but Tim Horton's and Panera shops are all closed. All the lines were long at all the Starbucks' drive-thrus I passed this year. Drive Thru beer stores were open, too.

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Short-term solitude can be refreshing.
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Short-term solitude can be refreshing.
Short-term solitude can be refreshing. | Source
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Everyone here is always fun, friendly, and helpful. They may not know my name, and I don't always remember theirs but I always get a smile and usually share a laugh.

— Laura F. of Erlanger KY, on YELP.com about UDF

Brightly Lit Gathering Places

A few tiny urban markets with barred windows on dim street corners are open on this holiday. Beer drive-thrus are open as well.

Independent neighborhood convenience stores look a bit seedy, but some of them are open, along with some gas stations and their cafes with bad coffee. Speedway is not bad, better than BP Duchess cafes.

The brightest spots in the city this year were two United Dairy Farmer shops with brightly lit cafes and large food service areas. The shop in the northeast part of town had gasoline at the cheapest price in the market area and its cafe was full of people talking over coffee. The shop across from the university campus had no gasoline pumps, but was full of people talking and reading, and enjoying food and drinks -- It was only a few doors south of the open Waffle House, which was nearly empty.

I visited these two happy shops after strolling through the life sized nativity at Christmas Corner downtown, sponsored by State Auto Mutual Insurance since 1931. It has grown to cover nearly 1/2 a square block, complete with Christmas carols to back up the scenes of shepherds and sheep, wise men and new-born King, angels, stars, and more. Dozens of trees were covered with multicolored twinkle lights at night and white spot lights bathed each scene as well as story boards.

It was a good day.

A Clean Well-Lighted Place

A well liked short story by Ernest Hemingway is entitled "A Clean Well-Lighted Place", written in 1933. It is about a lonely old man who finds that the cafe is the opposite of his feeling of nothingness. Read the full text at http://www.mrbauld.com/hemclean.html.

The New General Store

Even the holiday and ChristMas Store in Frankenmuth, Michigan closes four days a year, but not United Dairy Farmers stores. They ever close, are brightly lit and use bright colors in their decor and displays. Each has a small grocery department with cold cases and shelves of foods, some fruits, automobile needs, hot and cold foods to eat, hot and cold drinks, snacks, hand-dipped and packaged ice cream, and several other items.

At the UDF Store, 24/7/365

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Our UDFs have at least one large case of Krispy Kreme donuts.Several cases hold drinks in addition to the long counters of hot and cold drink stations.Special seasonal items are also available.Our university area UDF has a long counter and stools that are filled on holidays.
Our UDFs have at least one large case of Krispy Kreme donuts.
Our UDFs have at least one large case of Krispy Kreme donuts. | Source
Several cases hold drinks in addition to the long counters of hot and cold drink stations.
Several cases hold drinks in addition to the long counters of hot and cold drink stations. | Source
Special seasonal items are also available.
Special seasonal items are also available. | Source
Our university area UDF has a long counter and stools that are filled on holidays.
Our university area UDF has a long counter and stools that are filled on holidays. | Source
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The only way the old man can deal with his despair now is to sit for hours in a clean, well-lit café.

— Ernest Hemingway, from his short story.

Alone For Christmas Or New Year's? - Go To the UDF.

There is no need to remain isolated!
There is no need to remain isolated! | Source

Convenience Stores Increase In Number

UDF is headquartered in Cincinnati OH and operates stores known best for their ice cream, donuts, hot sandwiches, coffee bar, and giant cold drink station. The addition of of seating had led to mass popularity in the state. Other chains that began in Ohio moved to Japan and other Asian nations - like Lawson's, with nearly 12,000 stores. The iconic 7-11 moved its HQ to Japan as well and now supports over 59,000 stores.

Bright Spots Open 24/7 On Christmas Day - I Visited Two

show route and directions
A markerUDF 1680 North High Street, Columbus OH -
1680 N High St, Columbus, OH 43201, USA
[get directions]

B markerUSF - 1400 Cherry Bottom Rd, Columbus OH -
1400 Cherry Bottom Rd, Columbus, OH 43230, USA
[get directions]

United Dairy Farmers began as a milk delivery and ice cream production company, but now has 200 stores in three US States: Ohio, Indiana, and Kentucky - The Tri-State Area of the Ohio River.

A True Story Of A Convenience Store In Brooklyn

My Korean Deli: Risking It All for a Convenience Store
My Korean Deli: Risking It All for a Convenience Store

Ben Ryder Howe was a struggling senior editor at the "Paris Review" when his high-paid attorney wife bought her Korean parents a convenience store. Ben helped run it and lived in the in-laws' basement for while in this funny true story about hard work and the world of convenience stores and the quirky people who go there.

 

A Variety Of Attractions At UDF

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The UDF store has tons of fun magazines, newspapers, and books to read.
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The UDF store has tons of fun magazines, newspapers, and books to read.
The UDF store has tons of fun magazines, newspapers, and books to read. | Source
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© 2015 Patty Inglish

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Comments 8 comments

Ericdierker profile image

Ericdierker 11 months ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

Very cool. A treat to read. To my knowledge we have nothing like it in bigger cities here in the west. But there is always something if you go downtown. Petula Clark - Downtown. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8NaWP4z4GMI


Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 11 months ago from North America Author

@Ericdierker - Thank you for the fun reminder of Petula Clark's "Downtown!" I wish you and your family a health and happy New Year.


Jodah profile image

Jodah 11 months ago from Queensland Australia

I enjoyed this hub Patty. We don't have UDF stores here in Australia and there is not much open Christmas Day. I loved the photos particularly of the old general stores. Thank you for sharing this different Christmas hub.


Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 11 months ago from North America Author

@Jodah - Thanks for visiting! I've an old friend who performed with his band several weeks in Queensland about a decade ago - he did not want to return, fascinated by the exotic birds outside his door. I must visit one day.

These UDF stores usually have such friendly people -- One winter, a clerk came outside and poured a coffee pot of hot water over my car door lock to thaw it out! But this year, the temps have been 40 - 60 degrees and no ice.

Happy New Year to you and your Family & friends!


Rachel L Alba profile image

Rachel L Alba 11 months ago from Every Day Cooking and Baking

Those live nativity scenes are beautiful and remind people of why we are celebrating Christmas. I haven't seen a UDF around where I live either. I hope you have a blessed New Year.


MsDora profile image

MsDora 11 months ago from The Caribbean

This is refreshing, Patty. Window shopping on Christmas Day is a brilliant idea; we'll know where to go for the after Christmas sales. No UDF here, and the Chinese grocery stores are open but nothing fancy and relaxing. These ideas are themselves a treat. Thank you.


Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 11 months ago from North America Author

@Rachel Alba - I love the nativity scene in Downtown Columbus at the insurance company. The Christmas carols are played at a nice volume without booming and each part of the pathway to the manger in the stable has a spotlight and a plaque with information. Christmas night just after dark, about 40 people were visiting and all of them seemed happy to be seeing it.

UDF is especially nice because of the seating area with a large bay-window type of arrangement. I don't remember 7-11 ever having those.


Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 11 months ago from North America Author

@MsDora - Chinese grocery stores can be fun for us here and I remember that one of ours has a small bakery with seating, but it was closed on Christmas. I wish we had a Chinatown.

This year, on the way to friends', I drove through a historic district that was always jammed with traffic on other days. It was enjoyable!

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