Thursday, September 25, 2008

Going Out of Business

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.


Kate Coveny Hood said...

Can't help it - I'm thinking that she should have sold you the chairs. Bad karma on her part. But more likely it was just an economy that wasn't friendly to small business owners. My parents are small business owners with a home furnishings shop. They have dreams - but they would have sold you your chairs - for a good price.

Shana said...

yI live in "downtown" Vancouver, WA, or more accurately I live two blocks off of Main Street in the "Uptown Village" part of downtown. Lots of little shops and restaurants, and they ALL change at least every three or four years. It's pretty disheartening. I do my best to try to shop local, but sometimes the pocketbook has to rule and Target it is. I do my best to avoid Walmart though, mostly because the Walmart here is scuzz city.

My mom died three weeks before my youngest was born. She had been a daily presence in the lives of my other kids. So I've done the parenting of young'uns with and without the help of a mom, and man can I tell you that doing it without your mom sucks.

PS: she should have sold you the chairs. You are a kind person to not have had a tantrum : )