Friday, August 7, 2009

Thursdays in the Shop with Macallan

A wonderful day in the shop yesterday.

I met a woman with a store outside of Philadelphia who appreciated the fair trade aspect of the products and also the beauty and craftsmanship of the jewelry!

I met three lovely young women, two of whom had lived and worked in Uganda for four months through their universities and one who had just returned from two weeks in South Africa. One of the women lives in Fishkill and says she often brings her friends into the shop. She is leaving in a matter of weeks for a year in Egypt and upon her return she will attend Pace University for her international law degree. Wow!

Julia Frazier came by. It's been far too long since we've seen each other. She was astounded by how "big" Macallan had gotten. She leaves for England to defend her dissertation and hopes to leave within weeks of her return to take a job with a nonprofit in the Congo!

Another encounter that makes me feel the shop is vital and worthwhile is when three women (and a man) came into the store midday. "This is my all-time favorite store" a beautiful woman who was impeccably dressed said as she escorted her guests in, "we just have to go in here!" Her one friend saw a bag (basket with straps to carry on your back) and fondled it briefly. "It's a shop full of African stuff," her other friend said. "and you're looking at a bag from the Philippines." This comment was made significant because the women were African American. They explored the store a decent amount of time and left without much interaction with me or Macallan. The one woman had apparently been in many times before and basically knew the layout better than I did. She guided her friends around like an expert - which made me appreciate my store manager, Portia, that much more. When "strangers" know your store better than you do, that means the store is in good (great!) hands while you are away. They left without buying anything, but I got much from their visit. By the end of the day, we'd had something like 70 people come through the door, not a bad Thursday with an OK sales total. And out of the blue, the three (plus the gentleman who must be a saint) came in with a flurry. I heard a voice proclaim, "If it's still here when I walk by, I'm going to buy it." As soon as she walked in the door, she could see it was still hanging on the hook. "I was going to get on that train (back to NYC) and be very sorry I didn't buy this bag." She told me with the basket in hand. "I know how that is." I responded. She bought it and was very pleased with herself and her purchase. "Thanks for coming by." I said to anyone who would listen. "Next time you come up" the leader of the visit began to say, but I didn't hear the rest since they were already down the block rushing to catch their train.

A great day because of the many wonderful supportive people we met and because I get to share it with my daughter. She probably will never inherit this business since she wants to be a veterinarian, not a shop owner, but she will inherit the goodwill fair trade practices bestows on the world for the women who produce, the women who shop and the women (Macallan, Portia and myself) who bring these values to the world we encounter daily - all of us doing our part to make a difference.

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