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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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.
Storytime. Young Leon was sent in by a local accounting business to order Christmas cards to send to customers. They start planning for this early. “They want cards with a snowman and traditional Christmas scenes. I want something that looks Australian.” Leon grew up here. He knew the importance of shopping local and we liked that. I showed him the boxed Cardpac Christmas cards with a cute koala on the front that we are getting as part of our 2020 range. “They are designed and printed in Melbourne.” Leon was sold. He was even more thrilled when he saw that they raised money for the respected Peter Mac Cancer Foundation.
Offering locally designed and made Christmas cards that raise money for a trusted local charity is important to us, and to our customers.
Storytime. “What do you give a mum who says no gifts?” Jess was frustrated. “Mum says she’d rather see us, which she can’t right now, of course, so I want to send her something I know she will appreciate receiving.”
Jess was a regular and I knew her mum had two dogs so I suggested our pet soap from The Soap Bar. “This is soap made here in Australia, in Queensland actually, by hand especially for pets. It helps deter fleas.” “Perfect!” Jess was happy. “I’ll take two. I love that they are easy to post.”
We love introducing our customers to Aussie made gifts that are also good for the environment.
Storytime. Regular customer Matt wanted to send his dad who lived interstate a gift for his birthday. “I don’t want to send money or a voucher, he means more to me than that” Matt said, looking around the shop.
I showed Matt the Sow and Sow seeds we had just got in from this local Aussie company selling safe seeds in beautiful and environmentally friendly gift packs. Matt chose Trio of Herbs and Sunflowers. “He’ll love these, especially the sunflowers.” Matt beamed, thrilled to find a perfect gift for his garden loving dad. “And they’re Australian made!”
We love it when our customers discover perfect gifts that are Australian made.
Storytime. Before corona, Annie visited her mum in the nursing home every weekend, often taking her out for a drive. Her mum, Pattie, loves the Australian bush. With the lockdown stopping the visits, Annie wanted to drop off a gift that could lift her mum’s spirits. She chose a Golden Wattle hand-poured soy wax candle made here in Australia, with natural Australian oils. It’s a beautiful candle that brings an authentically Australian scent to the room.
“This is perfect, mum will love it,” Annie said, “it brings the bush to her and its Australian.” Her joy at finding the gift was a treat to see.
We love the delight customers express when they find the perfect gift made here in Australia. We are grateful to have Aussie suppliers making these.
Storytime. A customer, we’ll call her ‘Tess’ for this story, bought one of our R U OK? cards a few weeks ago because she liked the design on the front of sending a hug in the from of a card. She also liked that the cards were made in Australia. She sent the card to her son with whom she’s had a challenging relationship. Anyway, ‘Tess’ was in yesterday and told us that her son had called her to say things were not okay. He’d been laid off and had some health challenges. ‘Tess’ was grateful that she has been able to reconnect with her son.
‘Tess’ told us the story since she bought on impulse from a display at the counter, and saw it was supporting R U OK?. “Serendipity,” she called it. The card opened a discussion through which ‘Tess’ and her son have become reconnected.
The R U OK? cards from Aussie company Henderson Greetings are helping people connect and reconnect in the most wonderful ways.
Old Harry is a regular. Every day or so, he is in for the paper, sometimes a magazine. Always with a smile. He’s a happy bloke. Yesterday was different. He was quietly looking at the new baby cards. He’d been in front of them for ten minutes or so, not moving. I could sense something was up. “Hey, Harry,” I said as I approached. “Oh, hi.” It was if he was lost in his thoughts. I took the hint. “I’ll leave you to it,” I said, and turned to walk away. “She would have been forty-five today.” Harry’s face was lined with sadness. He looked at the baby girl cards, reached across and placed his hand on some before speaking again.”Vicky we called her, Vicky. She would have been forty-five today.” Harry paused, looking to the ground. “She died during the birth. So, today’s her birthday, but it’s not.” “I’m so sorry Harry.” “It’s okay. Nothing can change it.” Harry tapped the new baby girl cards again, sighed and walked across to get his newspaper. I stood there realising, once again, that a shop is so many different things every day.
Customers tell you the most human and personal of stories sometimes. Sixty-something Tom was looking for a card. I offered help. “Don’t laugh or judge me but I need a card for my dad.” Oh, how old is he,” I asked. “He died a few days ago,” Tom said with resignation. After a pause, he added “there are some things, some things I never said, that I wished I had said, things I think he’d like to hear. So, I need a card that I can write on, and put in his coffin.” Tom swallowed a tear.
It turned out Tom’s dad loved penguins and we have a card with the most beautiful penguins on it. Tom was thrilled. “This is perfect,” he said, beaming, “he’ll like that.”
Every day, every day, real people, real emotions.