Storytime: letter writing

Storytime. Hazel put 3 writing pad and envelope sets on the counter. “I’ll make letter writers out of the grandkids yet,” she said with a smile. “Even if I have to bribe them.”

Hazel’s plan was to give the grandkids a money gift for each letter she receives, up to $5 depending on how she rates the letter. They can send a letter each fortnight, no more often than that.

She writes back with the gift and a note of her own.

Hazel has been doing this for 3 months and it is working. The kids are getting better at writing and Hazel is enjoying going to her letterbox.

We love hearing how people are finding new ways to connect these days.

Storytime: magazine browsers

Storytime. Daphne is a perennial magazine browser. She’s been a regular for years, loving the craft and food magazines, often browsing for half an hour or so before choosing the ones she would buy. These days, Daphne is in an out quickly, because browsing is not encouraged by the health experts.

“It’s hard making a quick decisions,” Daphne was standing at the counter, wondering about the crochet and a food magazine on the counter. “I remember when shopping was fun and entertaining. These days it’s get in and get out.”

So much about shopping has changed. We loved people spending time considering their magazine purchases. These days, though, speed is key. We want everyone to be safe.

Storytime: 2020, corona and a trade and his dad

Storytime. “I don’t usually buy father’s day cards,” 20-something Jackson said with a wry smile, as he pushed a Father’s Day card across the counter, “but 2020 is a year of firsts.”

Jackson is a local tradie, he moved here last year when he started his apprenticeship. He’s not our usual Father’s Day card shopper. “I get on okay with dad, but we’ve never been card givers, we both prefer a beer.”

He’d chosen a fun card that said ‘Happy Father’s Day from the good one.’“ “The thing is, I don’t know what to write.” This is a common comment with Father’s Day cards. “Be yourself. Imagine it’s the last thing he ever reads,” I said, delivering our fine-tuned advice.

Jackson stood to the side of the counter and write his dad a note. I’m pretty sure I saw him wipe a tear, a happy tear, from his face as he closed the card to put it in the envelope.

This Father’s Day is different. The hugs being sent to dads will be cherished.

Storytime: grandparents, nursing homes and corona

Storytime. Through his mask, 70-something Walter spoke quietly with a tone of sadness in his voice. “I want to hug my granddaughter and tell her it will be okay. She’s in her last year of high school and we all know how that’s going this year.”

Walter was a long time regular, although not so much in recent months because of corona. “It breaks my heart what this year is doing not only to her but everyone.”

After a chat we found out Walter’s granddaughter adores pandas. Walter loved the card we had with a big fat panda on it. “I can’t hug you but this panda can,” he wrote inside the card. Walter left the shop to post the card, with a smile on his face.

People are finding other ways to love those they love in 2020.

Storytime: Father’s Day cards from a son to dad

Storytime. “I’m so scared for him, so scared.” 20-something Oscar was telling us about his granddad who was in a nursing home and on lockdown. “No one is allowed to visit, for obvious reasons.”

These days people are sharing personal stories at the counter more so than ever, even those who usually keep counter chats light.

“I spoke to him on the phone and he sounded so sad.”

I knew Oscar liked to draw because he’d buy sketch books from us, so I made a suggestion. “Mate, why not draw a picture of him and you together doing something fun.”

“That’s perfect. Why didn’t I think of that?.” Oscar headed for the door. He was on a mission. I called after him “let’s see it when you’re done okay?!” “Okay,” Oscar yelled back.

Storytime: locals buying from locals

Storytime. We had a string of new customers in last week buying different things. It was a thrill to see so many new faces. We commented to one that we loved seeing new faces. “It’s locals shopping with locals,” they said. They explained that they got the idea on Facebook where people were talking about supporting locally owned businesses, to support the local economy. We felt blessed for these angels spending money with locally owned businesses. #LocalsShoppingWithLocals Thank you!

Even in the middle of corona, we live in times of sunshine and goodness.

Storytime: Paris and missed plans

Storytime. I could tell eighty-something Nancy was sad as she looked at a jigsaw of Paris that we had for sale. I’ve known her a while and knew I could ask. “Why so sad Nancy?” “I put it off for too long, didn’t I?” “What, Nancy?” “When Terry died fifteen years ago, I said I’d go to Paris. I’ve never been and it had been a dream since I was a kid. I planned to go. Finally, late last year I booked, you know, on one of those tours, I’d be there now.” “Oh, I’m so sorry Nancy.” “Don’t be sorry, it’s my own fault. I should have gone sooner. Now, I fear it might be too late thanks to corona.”

Every day we hear stories of people with plans on hold, adventures missed, all thanks to corona.

When Nancy brought the jigsaw to the counter to purchase it, she was smiling a wry smile. “Never put off to tomorrow what you can do today, my mum used to say. She was right.”

Storytime: helping others help others

Storytime. A lady last week asked us to print copies of two resumes. It turned out she was helping her neighbours, a couple, both of whom have lost their jobs due to corona. One was on JobKeeper and the other was not. They have 2 kids, one with a health challenge, and a mortgage. “We are trying to help them find work,” she said, “there are plenty of others worse off.”

“No charge,” I said as I handed them the copies of their resumes. While it is cliché we do believe that we are all in this together.

One of the best ways to celebrate good we see in others is to amplify it when we are able.

Storytime: the news of the day

Storytime. I turn on the TV news at night and see stories about people misbehaving in relation to corona. While I get it that those stories are news, there are many other uplifting corona stories. Like the school teacher we heard of the other day who is now working 20 hours a week extra, unpaid, because of home schooling, and that they are paying their own internet access for video teaching of their kids.

I heard the story about a local mechanic who helped a young kid get their car back on the road for free so they did not have to travel on public transport.

Then, there was the story about the family that was cooking evening meals for the family of a single mum, their neighbour, who is a nurse and on the front line.

Our community is full of wonderful stories of community. These stories warm our hearts.

Storytime: an early Father’s Day card sale

Storytime. We had our first Father’s Day cards customer the other day. It was Vic. Before we put the cards out we called him because it had become a tradition.

For years, Vic would come and buy a Father’s Day card sit at the back of the shop and write on it before putting it in the envelope and sealing it.

Vic, who is in his 70s now, lost his dad when he was 30. Every year since, he has written his dad a Father’s Day card. He told us he keeps them in a wooden box his dad had made him when he was a kid.

Vic likes that we call him when the new season Father’s Day cards in so he can look through them before we put them on display. We are grateful to be part of his tradition.

Father’s Day is different for different people. Cards play different role. At their heart, they help us open our heart.

Storytime: the wedding postponed, again

Storytime. Ashley had been looking at cards for 10 minutes before asking for help. “My wedding has been cancelled again, because of the new lockdown,” she said, “it’s okay, I mean, I’m okay but it’s Ryan, he’s not a groomzilla or anything crazy like that but he is scared and I want to tell him that it will be okay, that we will get married, eventually.”

We had a chat about it. It turns out Ashley and Ryan had plans that were cancelled months ago and then cancelled a second time because they really want family from interstate from both sides to make it.

Ashley wanted to let Ryan know it would be okay. We proposed a 50th wedding anniversary card. She loved it and wrote these words: “I know it’s sad we had to postpone the wedding, again. So you know how I feel, I have already picked out the 50th wedding anniversary card for you. I love you Ryan.”

A card lets you say what you want to say in a way that can be kept forever.

Storytime: romance late in life

Storytime. Sandra and Barry had been friends since Barry moved into the retirement village. We’d see them out and about having coffee and lunch in local cafes. It was a sweet romance that we loved seeing. “I want to let her know I care about her, that’s all. I miss her.” Barry was telling me how he missed their coffee and cake together. “The lockdown means we have to keep to ourselves, for our health, we understand that.” I could see Harry was sad. “I’m not great with the phone so I thought maybe a card. I could slip it under her door.”

We found a card with the sun shining on the front, which Barry loved. “Perfect,” he said, “I’ll send her some sunshine.”

These days are difficult and any way we can find to let someone know they are missed and loved is wonderful.

Storytime: you are not alone

Storytime. Ethan has had a tough couple of years being bullied at school. His aunt, Teresa, a regular in our shop, wanted to send him a card to let him know that he is not alone. “I was bullied when I was a teenager too and felt so lonely,” Teresa told us with the pain of the memory clear on her face. “Even though he lives interstate, I figured a card is a good way to let him know that he’s not alone, that I care.”

Teresa found one of our R U OK? cards from Henderson. On the front it said You are not alone. “This is so perfect.” Teresa was happy with her purchase.

We get that a card does not fix a bullying situation. The “you are not alone” message could be comfort they need as those who support them help them in other ways.

We hear stories from our customers and the kindness in their hearts that guided their purchase. It is heart-warming.