I drove by a mom and pop jewelry store today and saw it was going out of business. I feared this would happen, as I had never seen anyone going in and out. A sign proclaiming “Body Jewelry” went up a few months ago, in an effort to attract new customers, but I guess it was not meant to be.
Do you have a store or a restaurant in your town that constantly changes hands? This jewelry store has been an antique/thrift store, insurance agency, wild bird food store, and, when I was a little girl, a pet store called “The Goldfish Bowl.” I know several restaurants that change every few years or so, too. It breaks my heart, because of course I see it as dashed dreams and mounds of debt. I guess I don’t help when I go to chain restaurants, Target and Wal-mart. Did I darken the door of this little place to help keep it going? No. I’m not even sure what body jewelry is.
I did have an interesting encounter with the place years ago when it was in antique/thrift shop mode. My kids were babies, and on a beautiful, warm fall day I was pushing them in their double stroller. I was feeling sorry for myself because I didn’t have a mom to help me with the kids, to give me a break, even for just five minutes. As I passed the storefront, I saw a sign “Opening Soon,” and, to my amazement, two very familiar chairs in the window. They were two chairs from my childhood home that I had sold years before for $10 each when I had to move out. Was this a sign?
Here I was missing my mom so much, and there were her chairs sitting in the window! I had always regretted selling them. Who knew rattan would be hot again? And, I felt comforted that my mom might be dead, but she was never far from me. I imagined myself going into this adorable new store, buying the chairs back for a semi-inflated price, and having a great story to tell when the kids got older.
A few weeks passed, and when the store opened I went in. A chat with the owner told me this little store was, indeed, her dream. I didn’t mention that that storefront had changed hands so many times she might not linger long. Never did the words cursed or blighted cross my lips. I hoped her dream would come true.
I did tell her the neat story about the chairs and how they had given me hope on a discouraging day. Could I please buy them back? No dice. They may have been part of my plans, but they were part of hers too. For 5 years they had sat in her shed while she plotted having a little shop of her own. She pictured herself and a friend sipping tea, sitting in the chairs, tending a quaint little shop one day. Not for sale.
What do you do when your dream is at odds with someone else’s? For me, I shut my mouth, bought a few small items (that were also "mine" from that fateful yard sale years before) and left. It was only a matter of months before the shop was no more.
Yes, I feel terrible when I see another “Going out of business” sign, and I fear we may be seeing more and more these days. And how I wish I had gotten my chairs back before that one store was gone.