Saturday, August 15, 2009

Write about Something That has Closed

I walked by this store today, The Original Ornament, and saw the sign. I thought of the many times over the last fifteen or so years I have stopped in for a tiny repair job--a new necklace clasp, a back for an earring, a new strand for beads.

Most of what I bought cost about $1.35 and one of the clerks--usually a tattooed alternative type--did the job for me. I'm not dexterous and can't fix little pieces of wire. Everybody in there was always patient and helpful.

I thought about the time I hired folks from the store for one of my daughter's birthday parties. Each girl got a handful of little silvery and black beads and a coil of wire. They made snaky bracelets.

The store provided work stations and wire cutters and lots and lots of beads.

Here goes another small independent shop with excellent service, I thought.

So many stores have come and gone from this quaint "mall," the first floor of a converted cotton mill--with wooden floors, vast ceilings, and brick walls. The Original Ornament has been a mainstay.

I walked up and down the interior hall, reading shop signs: "20 - 70% off" "40% off." Many of the shops had no customers.

For some reason, I decided to head back by The Original Ornament and take a few photos. I guess I was feeling a bit sentimental.

"Why? The man!" A woman walked by and stopped to read aloud the magic-markered words on the leasing sign, explaining why the place was closing.

"Casey didn't close because of the man" the woman said to me. "She made bad business decisions--doubling the space. She was doing just fine in the smaller space. She owes all her creditors, big time."

I shrugged. Why was this woman railing at me about it? I have no idea who Stacy is. The owner, I guessed.

"Listen hon," she said, "it's all about business decisions--and when you make bad ones, well. I love Stacy. Really, I do. She just owes everybody."

The woman shook her head. "It's all about bad business decisions."

I wanted to say to her: bad business decisions? What about the American auto industry? What about the Walmartization of America? Every one of these stores in this mall is hurting--and probably on the way out. Bad business decisions up and down the aisle? Is that what's happening to all these small shops that offer boutique brands and good service?

I don't think so.


Michele said...

I walked by there yesterday before "the man" was lettered on the sign. I had a similar experience with the folks inside -- a few earring backs, a clasp. But I wondered how they could stay in business. Having run a business in New York City and seeing the size of space I always figured beading was a big business here in Chapel Hill. But now it seems it wasn't big enough.
Anyone who has ever run a business has come close to the edge: owing people money, wondering if she should close, rallying and fending off "the man," realizing that the love affair with our business wasn't enough to keep it going. We loved having a small business, the bead person and I. I don't know her or him but I know it hurts to see that sign on the door and the inventory sitting alone in the shop. Requiem for the bead store.

Carol Henderson said...

Requiem indeed. And that is such a strong image--the inventory sitting alone in the shop. I might write from the point of view of the inventory. "Where is everybody?" the beads are saying.