Stories of Real Retail Customers: When I started writing a blog during COVID, with Bruce’s passionate encouragement, I NEVER thought I’d be here… right now… with a blog that reaches nearly 10,000 people a week! As a matter of fact, when I named my blog “Marianne’s Consignment Confessions” I was thinking, specifically, of writing this blog, the one I am composing right now. The blog where I’d be telling you the stories of my customers – both the good and the not-so-much. It’s only taken me more than two years and over 200 blogs to get to it, but here it is…
“Truth is stranger than fiction, but it is because Fiction is obliged to stick to possibilities; Truth isn’t….”Mark Twain
A few things in my life have amazed me: the birth of my three children is at the top, but following close behind is the reality of owning a retail store. People are absolutely great: greater than I could have imagined – nicer than I could have hoped for, and wildly and unbelievably strange in some of the most mind-bending ways. I have seen the best of humanity, owning a retail store, and I have seen the worst. Today, I’d like to focus on the former – the stuff that gets me up in the morning and gets me coming back – day after day. These are true stories of real retail customers. It’s the good stuff and I hope you enjoy these tales that I couldn’t possibly make up…even if I tried.
Real Stories Update
I am re-issuing this blog today… in honor of Anne (see below). She passed away this month. Her love with Arthur was inspiring to me. I am also sending love and prayers to her family. Rest in peace, good and faithful servant.
Can You Feel The Love Tonight? Stories of Real Retail Customers
Whether it’s Claire and Bill, Harriet and Mario, Anne and Arthur, or Faith and Ken they all have the same thing in common: they are my “most-in love” customers. They are my customers that make me believe that it’s out there and that it really does exist. They have inspired me, not only to look for it, but to know it when I found it in Bruce. When these couples come into the store you can feel it – the love.
The way that I like to look at it is that three of them come in. Yes, you read that right: three. There are the two people in the relationship and then there’s the love that they have for each other. These couples love in a palatable way. We, as the lucky retailers, get to see it each time they visit the store. They love big and bold in a sweet and quiet way. It’s there in the way they stand next to each other. It’s there in the way they look at each other, the way they refer to each other. Each of these couples has been loved for a long time. And two of them continue to love despite their partner has passed. They have patience with each other. They hold each other in the palm of their hands.
These couples are inspiring to people like me, and probably anyone else who takes the time to notice it. They are one of the many things that I am surprised by and inspired by in my retail store. It’s one of the many things that I couldn’t have even begun to imagine when I first opened my doors.
Real Retail Stories: This Is Exactly What I’ve Been Looking For – So I Gave It Away?
Elizabeth is one of my customers She comes in often. She is always kind and always friendly. She has been looking for “the perfect piece” for her living room for the longest time. We have been on the lookout for her and have called her multiple times with potential possibilities.
On the day that Elizabeth found “the one” at the store, she was beyond giddy – happy in that school-girl-crush kind of way. She took it home – her score – her treasure, and we all felt satisfied in a way that you only get in a small town, when you know your customer and are invested in their search.
The next time Elizabeth visited, I couldn’t help but ask her, “how’s it look?'” And then she blew my mind, because you know what she said, about that piece she’d been looking for more than a year? “Oh, yes, I loved it, but my brother, he needed something for his house. He’s been through a lot recently, so I gave it to him.” What?? It was a Gift-of-The-Magi kind of moment. She’d looked for it forever, but he was in need and she took the opportunity to make him happy by gifting it to him. It stuff like this… you can’t make it up.
The Tiffany Box – One of My Favorite Stories of Real Retail Customers
I sell a lot of things that come in that oh-so-special blue box – and almost EVERYTHING with the Tiffany brand sells – from jewelry to candlesticks. When I first opened it, a consignor brought in a lovely ceramic box, by, you guessed it, Tiffany. It adorned my case and got quite a bit of interest, but it was a little pricey and it didn’t sell. The contract had expired and the consignor didn’t come back for it, so I decided that I would donate it to a silent auction that was coming up for one of the local charities. The box was put in the back and I didn’t really give it another thought.
What Happened Next Blew Me Away
A few weeks later, I was closing up all by myself when a man, who was probably in his mid-forties, came into the store with minutes to spare before I locked the door. He asked if he could see the Tiffany box “that was in the case a few weeks ago?” It was no longer there, having decided to donate it, and he was dejected. “It was for my wife,” he said. “A gift?” I asked. “No, he said, choking out the words, “I wanted it for her ashes. She passed away last week.”
He explained that he would be giving her ashes to her Mom, but that he would like to keep some for himself as well. He said, “My wife loved Tiffany, and I thought it would be meaningful to use the box.” You could have knocked me over with a single breath. I was stunned. He was so young to be a widower and I could tell he was devastated at her loss. He started to leave… “Wait,” I said. “Hold on a second.” I went in to the back and retrieved the box. I handed it to him. He was stunned. “How do you have this? Where… what… how much… do I owe you?” he stuttered. “Nothing,” I said and he started to cry. As he left he said, faintly, and through tears….”Thank you.” It was the most sincere gratitude I think I ever experienced from another person.
Three Years Later
Three years later, I had moved my store to it’s current location and was running busily through my day when a man, whom I didn’t recognize at first, asked to speak to me. I came out from my office and yes, it was he. He came to thank me again, in a braver voice this time and to tell me that he was doing better, as were their children. He told me that the box was still beside his bed, holding her memory and that the “gift” that day… in the store… had meant something beyond what he could say… at that moment… and even now… in this one.
And that, my friends, is what keeps me going… through COVID… and floods… and staff changes… and inflation… and a myriad of other challenges every small business person faces. It’s the people… and their stories… and the bit part we get to play in them… that keeps me coming back for more. And because I couldn’t begin to make this stuff up… it keeps me wondering… just what could be next?
I hope you enjoyed these stories of real retail customers. If you’re looking for some more feel good stories, check out: A Love Letter to My Son on His Wedding Day and Best Graduation Speeches Ever. I hope you have a lovely day! Marianne