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.
Storytime. “My great great grandson wants to be an actor and I want to give him something inspiring,” Olive said as she inched her way into the shop using her walker. “He’s only fourteen but I want to give him something now to encourage him, something he will remember me by.”
I showed Olive the Pop! Vinyl we had of Lucille Ball in a classic I Love Lucy pose. “I loved Lucy, I did.” Olive’s eyes lit up as she admired the vinyl figure. “I’ll take it. It’s perfect. He’ll remember.”
People love giving gifts they are remembered for. This I Love Lucy figure is perfect for that.
We hear life stories at the shop counter that remind us how much we love retail.
Storytime. This one’s from many years ago. Beth’s marriage had ended unexpectedly and she found herself needing to learn to drive so she could ferry the kids around. After a frantic few weeks grinding gears and learning the road rules, Beth got her licence. I found out about this because Gary, her second eldest came in and told me. “I’ve got to find a card for mum,” he said, “she got her driver’s licence and us kids want to give her a card. Is there a card for that?”
I found the one card we had. “She’ll like that,” said Gary, as he pulled out a handful of coins to pay. He was thrilled to find a perfect fit card.
We still have a card for people who get their driver’s licence. We don’t sell that many, but when we do, people usually tell us the story. We love that.