I am pretty sure I was born to be a shopkeeper. From being related to a retail giant (Sears--and no, they don't give me a discount), to a childhood spent putting price tags on items in my bedroom, to teenage years not full of angst but full of trips to shops, decorating my bedroom--no, what I really did was merchandise it, to learning the joys of antiquing and painting furniture, I have always been destined to have a shop. I always will, one way or the other.
I was thinking of the early shops I loved that are no longer in existence. My love for vintage Christmas was discovered at age 15, in a cigarette smoke-filled basement, at a little shop called Fireside Antiques. I wonder if anyone else remembers it. It was in Chelsea, on M-52, in a ranch house that is now gone. It is just an empty lot now. You'd go down to the basement, and the walls down were lined with vintage pictures. It was owned by a lady who smoked like a stove and read novels down there. It was dark and gloomy, but for me it was filled with magic. My mom and I would spend hours there Christmas shopping, while the gal smoked and smoked. I bought antique postcards and Christmas ornaments there, and a wonderful little silver tree. And I don't think they smelled like smoke, either!
When I was 13 (c. 1991) my mom and I loved to visit Manchester, and the old Mill there. It was also filled with shops. Being 13, I loved the one that had candy, but the one that impacted me the most was called April Victoria. It was owned by a young lady named April, who put herself through college with the money she made from her shop. OH, to have a shop in the 1990's! She made lots of things with dried flowers (this was when dried eucalyptus was at the height of fashion), and soaps, and brownie mixes. She crafted fairy houses, and I remember one was $350, and it was something else! I would buy Victorian stickers and Flower Fairy books and potpourri made with dried lavender buds. I would so love to be able to transport myself back to that time, being 13, in my favorite Guess jeans, ha ha, strolling about that shop again. I had never seen anything like it.
People wonder how do I 'do' this shop. I get prosaic questions about how I dust (ya know I just love that one, eh?), how do I keep track of it, where do I find this stuff, HOW DO I DO IT?!?! said with looks of utter confusion.
Everyone was born to do something. Shopkeeping is my thing. It just is. It's what I am. I hate retail sometimes. I never hate shopkeeping. I hate bitchy customers, credit card processing fees, and inventory that arrives broken. I never hate shopkeeping.
All that old magic that I felt in my younger days, I feel in my shop. I try to make it magical. I hope that I am impacting some people the way those other shops impacted me. Maybe I will inspire another young girl, one who will grow up into a time when she can put herself through college off her shop--goodness knows you can't do that these days!
I like it when people feel the magic here. I don't really have much use for the ones who don't. My shop is definitely different, yes. It's not a retail conglomerate or a faceless corporation. My shop is for the Kindred Spirits who "get it". It's on a completely different level than merely being a 'store', much like those other two shops were for me.
That's what I am thinking about today while putting out some lovely vintage Christmas candy dishes. Photos to come...