Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Try A Little Kindness...

I love to 'window' shop. It's one of my all-time favorite activities. I love the sparkle of creative merchandising-an art form in and of itself. It's a sensory banquet; I'm especially drawn to book stores, and of course I adore metaphysical shops and places that sell spiritual/religious goods.
When I come across something I'm not familiar with, I seek out a knowledgeable shopkeeper and pick their brain. No, not everyone is a genuinely knowledgeable practitioner of the occult, but because I've been around the block a few times, I can usually pick out the wannabes from the real thing. If nothing else, the wannabes are entertaining.

One of the most interesting places I've visited was a shop specializing in Muslim religious goods. I was intrigued because, well, frankly, my knowledge in Muslim practice is very general and limited. It was a great opportunity to learn, and the owner couldn't have been nicer. The majority of shopkeepers are accommodating and willing to answer sincere questions about the items they carry ( As they say, " The sales' the thing".) Their shop is their livelihood.

Several of my friends own and operate 'witchy' shops. Their merchandise is beautifully displayed, oft times in baskets or on open shelving. Seldom are things in glass cases, so they can be closely examined by potential buyers. Much of their inventory is one-of - kind or hand-crafted, which means they've not only invested a considerable amount of time and talent, but money as well. Unique items don't come cheap. They are unable to 'damage out' broken items like a department store can. A broken item is lost revenue and inventory.

What all of these places have in common is an atmosphere of the mysterious and sacred. Most of them offer classes or some sort of reading/consultation in addition to items for sale. The spiritual/ occult nature of what they offer demands a calm, focused environment for their customers to enjoy the experience of visiting their store for serious buyers.

Although it's fairly obvious, I feel I still have to point out that although a store is a public place, it's still a privately owned establishment. Shop keepers welcome potential customers into their personal domain. The basic rules of acquisition haven't changed over the years: if you want it, you pay for it, and if you break it, you buy it. Until then, everything in the store belongs to the shop keeper and is their property even though it's for sale. It is the ethical responsibility of a good customer is to treat the merchandise gently and with care and to be polite to the sales staff. If you have a child with you, a hallmark of good parenting is exhibiting responsibility for the safety and behavior of your child while in the store-just like everywhere else. That means keeping your child next to you and paying attention to what s/he is doing. Yes, that may sound old-fashioned, but your little one learns to be socialized  (and that includes impulse control) through example and tactful discipline. No, your child will not be emotionally damaged if they are told not to touch the displays, or otherwise " just looking". This is not the time to practice free range parenting.

The nature of metaphysical stores  and specialty shops is that they have a lot of counters, shelves and tables on which to show the merchandise, and rushing between them, grabbing things off them, or running into them while 'horse-playing' is dangerous and a there is the potential for injury. And no-the sales staff are not there to entertain your child or babysit. They are not responsible for your child's behavior...YOU ARE. If your child intentionally or unintentionally damages something, it is NOT unreasonable to be asked to make restitution and /or leave the store. It IS THE RIGHT of the shopkeeper to post rules of conduct and expected behavior in the establishment owned by them, and to enforce those rules. And guess what? You don't get to bitch about it if you don't happen to agree with those rules, because it's your choice to shop there or not to shop there. ( While we're on the subject, it is petty and poor form to post a rant on Facebook  or a product review website about how awful and unfair those rules are...because while you think you're vindicating your displeasure by declaring that the shopkeeper is a child hater,what you're actually doing by pitching a tantrum is showing the world how entitled you believe you are. Posting a fuzzy, scatter-shot condemnation of a particular shop (and having your friends who weren't even there join in with you) only enforces what an immature, butt-hurt asshole you are because someone told you "NO". The fact is that the people who are loyal customers of a particular establishment will continue to shop there and very few people actually read those review sites other than for entertainment.  All of my friend's shops have their detractors, and to be honest, none of the negative posts have been about what matters-like the merchandise or poor customer service. Whining is ineffective and a waste of energy.

In the Pagan/Witch/ Occult community, small specialty shops are dwindling. Online shopping is great, but lacks the heart and soul of personal connection.