For the last year, my husband and I have run a small gift shop. Our items were not high-end, more cutesy than practical and we kept pricing affordable. A lot of our inventory was made in China. As we went along, we tried for more products made in the United States but found most people did not want to pay the higher price for the US-made items. Lesson learned.
In the year we ran the shop, we never were really busy. In our life we decided to downsize and get rid of unnecessary items. We learned that more and more people were doing the same. Many people came into the shop and liked it but never bought anything. The reason cited was they had enough useless stuff as it was and did not need more. Ours is not the only life overflowing with stuff and chaos caused by that stuff. Lesson Learned.
Some customers came in just to talk. They must not have had anyone to listen to them and as a shopkeeper you are a captive audience. I heard about operations, illnesses, deaths, financial woes, and a variety of heartaches. It is surprising how many people opened up to a complete stranger. My heart broke for them as we shared stories. Many tears were shared in our little shop and many a hug was given. Everyone has a story. Lesson learned.
As the reality of my Epic Journey started to take form, I talked about it more to my customers. I found that most women were absolutely excited about it. Many told me stories of travels during their youth, others told about travels they wished for but never lived. Traveling seemed to be a common denominator among many of my women customers. Countless women wished they could go with me and longed for their own Epic Journey. Travel, or the thought of travel, touches many lives. Lesson learned.
Many customers came back or friended me on Facebook. We still “talk” even though we may have only met once or twice. I never would have believed that connections could be made in such a short time, but I was absolutely, incredibly wrong. Some people just cross your path and you feel as if you have known them all your life. That still amazes me. I love the women (some men too) who wandered into our shop with no real intent but left as people who touched my life and, hopefully, I touched theirs too. I have learned that we are not all just separate beings meant to be alone in this world, we all long for those connections and they can appear in the most unusual places.
Thank you to everyone who has contacted me through the shop, through this blog or any number of other ways. Thank you for letting this shy, scared person know it is okay to open her heart. Thank you for sharing your life with me even if only for a short time. You have forever touched my soul and changed me. Lesson learned.
Blog Shout Out: Thank you to Holly at Ginger Lilly Designs (gingerlillydesigns.etsy.com) for stopping in our shop and allowing me to wear your beautiful handmade necklace. Holly, you told me to take this on my trip with me and know that someone was thinking about you. You have touched me. Thank you!