Over the past half century, the good ol’ USA has been moving toward becoming a homogenized culture. Where communities that at one time had quite individual characteristics, now have very similar development patterns. The national food chains tend to group together on main collector streets and are interspersed with the national retailers to create clusters of sameness. They appear to be the product of an economic cookie cutter.

However, here in Independence, we know that it is our unique businesses that are truly special drawing cards that also enhance our own quality of life. The old Square area has many such entities. Personally, I like the Scandinavia Place, the Rheinland Restaurant, the Western Army Store, Salon 208, Dave’s Bakery and Just Taffy.

But today, I want to recognize another local business that has chosen to be a partner within our community, the Nagels’ Low Vision Resource Center on Lee’s Summit Road, just south of 23rd Street. Like the other stores I named, it is the only one in the entire Kansas City area, and it’s a neat little place that has many things that might interest you.

I came across the store by coincidence when looking for a replacement for an old 5X jewelers loupe that my uncle had given to me. It broke when I dropped it. Rather than send my money out over the Internet, I decided to visit Nagel’s, and I am glad I did. They had a 5X loupe for less than $5.

But more to the point of this article, I had discovered a fully stocked store of items that would be beneficial and helpful to many of my friends and neighbors. I encourage each of you to go and see for yourself.

Of course, they have lots of standard helpers, like a hands-free magnifier, magnifying mirrors, pocket-size magnifiers, various types of monocular, jewelers loupes, large numeral clocks, and big letter calendars. They also have fun items like the adjustable eyeglasses for watching TV to make your screen image bigger and talking clocks, talking watches and talking calculators.

My favorite cutting-edge contraption (that you will want to know about) is the hand-held electronic magnifier. It allows you to capture an image of what you want to see – for instance, a label on a can of tuna – and then it enlarges the image. You can read any label with ease.

Once you finish with that item, be sure to take a moment to examine the “pocket viewer.” They tell me it is akin to a closed-circuit TV and it works very well for reading menus. When you pull that out to use in a restaurant, you’ll be ahead of the crowd.

As for me, I have really enjoyed the loupe that I purchased and would recommend it as a gift for people who want to see details. It is a great tool for inspecting the hilarious strokes of genius, as drawn by Joe Liccar, the Examiner editorial cartoonist.

And so, the point is, everyone knows somebody whose sight is aging, and The Nagel’s Vision Resource Center is just the kind of place we need to know about. It a business treasure and a community partner that quietly helped many of our friends and neighbors for more than 20 years.