In this wild world of shopping these days, I find myself reflecting back to the good old days.
Do you remember when holiday shopping was a lovely ritual? I would head out with my mother or meet my aunts or my friends and we would dress nicely and plan our day out. We would head to a quaint little town or for a walk around Boston to go into all of the stores and poke around trying to find just the right gifts.
We would look at the decorations, listen to the holiday music, go out to lunch with our bags and bags of baubles and gifts and head home after a full day exhausted but excited to hide the gifts somewhere before we made the time to wrap them.
It was a day filled with connection, tactile stimulation, excitement, and joy. As I got older and we all realized that we didn’t need as much stuff, we found ourselves buying far less, but still keeping the ritual alive with lunch out and window shopping. In some ways, the experience grew richer because we removed all of the pressure of finding the “perfect” gift.
Then Shopping Changed
The demise of this lovely experience started when stores got the bright idea to start opening on the eve of Thanksgiving to get a jumpstart on the wild day after of markdowns and sales extravaganza. Then online shopping sneaked into our lives when we weren’t looking and the rituals of going out to the little stores in our little towns became more of a novelty than a directive.
It was hard for the small boutique stores to stay in business so we started to see more of the box stores opening in what used to be lovely little towns filled with unique shops. When I think about my local area of Rhode Island and Massachusetts, we still have lots of lovely little shops that have not been taken over by the Gaps of the world.
In Rhode Island- Bristol, Warren, Wickford, Tiverton Four Corners, to name a few, the shops remain. I went with my friend to Concord, Mass. and the shops were plentiful. And busy. It felt like a blast from the past as we made our way into store after store for a pre-holiday adventure like things were normal again.
And Now a Pandemic
Lately, Covid is starting to feel like a backdrop more and more and less of a main event. But, for business owners like me, who have navigated and redirected on a moment to moment basis for the last eighteen months, the almost PTSD of the experience lingers.
My friend Stacey, a fellow business owner in Vermont, reminded me, in our almost daily conversation, we are part of a club now. Like going to a 12 step meeting or having cancer, or any other life altering event that lands in our lives, we look knowingly at each other when we are part of something traumatic. No words are necessary, there is just an innate knowing of each other’s experience.
I find this comforting. For my business owner friends who are still standing, who have done the dance of pivots and shifts and changes that are mind and heart altering, we all get each other and we are connected for life in ways none of us ever imagined.
I try really hard to shop local whenever possible, but sometimes it is just not that convenient in the new world where ordering anything and everything can be had at the push of a button in the comfort of your jammies with a cup of hot coffee by your side.
I know in my business, I have not made walking into it easy for my customers. Covid has changed the way I want to live my life. I don’t want to be chained to anything anymore so creating an online business model has been a welcomed change for me. I receive my ten or twenty orders, I take my long walk to work, (downstairs from my second floor to my first floor), with my cup of coffee, pack my orders with the love and care like a customer was standing right in front of me and drive off to the UPS store to send them to the happy and often surprised recipient.
For the first time in my life, I don’t want to record all of my systems, I don’t want to hire a ton of people to do the job. I don’t want to scale this into some gigantic thing. I have found myself really enjoying packing the daily orders and the discovering of small boutique brands to carry each company with their own stories I get to be a part of when I order from them.
Sure I have some loose semblance of a plan, I know that this new company has to have enough growth to sustain me. I have to keep my expenses in check, my inventory up to speed, both in creativity and quantity.
This Is A Unique Time
What I have noticed in this unique time in so many of our lives is that I am in a unique situation of being able to offer both an online experience and a brick and mortar one. What I have also realized is that in my old way of doing business, I never considered the bounty of business possible outside of my brick and mortar.
Shopping online makes it far easier to offer my brand to way more people. My challenge is getting people to head to my website and look beyond the skin care portion of it and play in the messiness of the rest of it. I realize it is not as easy as it looks when purchasing online from someone else. We have mostly become an impatient society- we want it like five minutes ago.
I have constant revelations about how to make my site better. It has kept me up at night, and gotten me out of bed at four am almost daily to work on it.
If you are willing to take the time to move around the pages of my site, there are so many fun items to shop for. When and if you decide to do this, you can feel confident that you are shopping a real life small business who is still standing. If you need guidance or want to set up a virtual personal shopping call, you can do that here. I will be open for walk-ins sparingly, but I just added a slew of dates you can schedule for private shopping and bring some friends along.
I am excited about all of this change. I am exhausted from all of this change. What I do know with all of my heart though is that I still love my business more now than I did when I opened twenty years ago. I have gone back to small, back to my roots, two treatment rooms, three employees, and lots and lots of retail. Where I started back to the good old days.