The Studio Shop As Cave
The studio shop continues its half-life as a cave. With all the excitement of reopening the main shop, at the back of my mind, being coddled in the cobwebs and construction debris, is still the studio shop and what it will look like moving forward. Certainly it’s not going to be the same for quite a long time, if ever. Is that good? A lot of people have been talking about how the pandemic brought about much-needed positive changes for them, and how I should harness that energy in my life and business. Let’s just say that no one is harnessing anything here. In fact, we tried to harness Chicken the other day, and that was $18 down the drain. Before the pandemic we were open five days a week, for the full day, and when we do reopen officially, it will be likely just a couple of days a week, for a couple of hours.
These photos are from a little while ago. I had meant to post them earlier and then things got away from me. In a way, it is sort of pleasing to consider that, since then, some very small amount of progress has been made on the shop, cleaning, dusting, a few things back onto the shelves, although not much. I’ve been open here and there, and have been made delirious by the occasional sale that has come by, a local customer who can’t believe that we’re open, a few appointments with regulars or new customers for a pick up or a browsing that have turned into hour long conversations and reminiscing and the surreal sensation of normality, curious passerby wondering if we are from some portal from the past. No Turkish delight here, only stationery ones, and even those are in short supply.
This small tiny shop is a bit sentimental for me, which is to say that it’s not exceedingly profitable. That’s not great, not terrible, a sort of okay that’s coloured by the day of the week, the stage of the pandemic, the state of life. We’re in “it” (the stationery business? Independent family shop?) for the long haul, although that doesn’t mean much. What I really mean when I say that it’s okay is that I often contemplate, and during this pandemic more than ever, what we do as a business and how we spend our days as humans. There is work, some of it drudgery, some of it taxes, cleaning unpleasant things, the tediousness of inventory counting, and this is necessary and also every once in a while there is some joy to it, hands being productive.
But more than that is the fact that there’s no waiting for us to get rich and retire and then begin life. This is it right now, with the cranky cat and the children and the shops as they are. So how do I want to spend my days as a pen clerk? As someone who takes pictures and rambles on about unequivocally frivolous things?
We are hustling for every sale, but the hustle gets old. Here I am in my studio shop, with some of my favourite customers catching up on life after two very eventful years, with my babies before they sprout up out of my arms into the world, with my two shop cats, admiring and attempting to document their blossoming love, neglecting plants still, somehow, unfurling new leaves.