As I mentioned on the April post of afternoon gardens, the grammy, the daughter, and the granddaughter had a lovely shopping day. We went to two stores which we've visited many times since Margaret was little. First we went to our local health food store, where the owner, our friend, has been following Hazel’s progress on Facebook, and was eager to meet the little lady. We had a wonderful visit. I took some pictures and posted them on Facebook with the words, ‘third generation shopper.’ The occasion filled me with a new and exquisite joy - the pleasure of sharing my daughter’s childhood with her daughter.
We then proceeded down the hill for a bittersweet visit to our independent bookstore. Bittersweet because it is closing, and that very day was its last day in business. This store has been such a part of our lives. Forty years ago, Tom and I would haunt the aisles on a late-opening Friday night. By the time our kids came along, the store had moved to a bigger location, and also sold the most wonderful children’s books and toys. There was a toy creature that rode a unicycle on wire suspended from the ceiling, propelled by batteries or magic. There was a wooden train set up on a table at just the right height for little ones to play with while their parents were shopping. There were stuffed animals and games and tapes and just about anything you could imagine. The downstairs was given over to children, while the books for grownups were upstairs on the main floor. It was bright and cheery and welcoming. The clerks were knowledgeable readers, and there was a whole shelf devoted to employee recommendations. It was the ‘anchor’ store for Main Street, and such a part of the community. There were yearly contests in the schools where children would draw bookmarks, and the winning designs made into official bookmarks which were tucked into books bought at the store.
Some years ago, the original owner sold it, and gradually many of the older staff left. We got to know the new people, but the feeling wasn’t quite the same. And then of course the changes that were felt all through the book world began to happen. Internet shopping and electronic books began to gnaw away at the store’s business, and then the recession compounded the situation. I am as guilty as the next person. It was very hard for me to go there and spend $25 for one book when I could buy two online for just a little more. I’d still go in at Christmas time and buy presents but I winced at the price. They tried some new things to bring people in: a little cafe, some author appearances, a book club, and various classes. Finally the two floors were combined into one to cut costs. But in the end none of these things could save the store. And so, it is now closed, and Hazel Nina will never know it as her mother and I did.
Our third stop was to a delightful shop that a woman keeps in the front rooms of her house. It is packed with everything delightful, from jewelry to notecards, and candles to baby shoes. It is like an old-fashioned, much-loved living room. The woman is also a friend who has been keeping up with Hazel Nina on Facebook, and was overjoyed to see her in person.
Everywhere we went kind people flocked around, some we knew and others we didn’t. After hearing Hazel’s story, one man in his seventies said that when his sister was born, a wedding ring could be slid up her arm.