Recently I opened a shop called Happy Things in beautiful Bishops Waltham - a fair trade shop of ethically sourced gifts, clothing and soft furnishings. I truly didn't mean to! I'm a transformational therapist, spiritual guide and life coach and I love what I do. This opportunity fell into my lap thanks to an unexpected conversation, an unexpected good feeling within and two well-meaning friends who have never met doing unexpected things that paved the way for the shop being born! It obviously makes no sense to open a little 'non-essential' shop in a small town (or as we locals call it, a village) in the middle of a global pandemic. Especially when I truly thought I believed I never wanted to be a retailer again. I don't know where it takes me but the feeling is that it is somewhere good and I had to follow it. This is the facebook story I posted from the heart.
The Advent of Happy Things
“It’s an absolutely perfect time for opening a small non-essential shop in premises set back off a main road with limited parking options nowhere near any other shops during a global pandemic” – said NO-ONE EVER!
I feel so blessed with my encouraging friends who have woo-ed about Happy Things and wished me well – THANK YOU! And especially for all the lovely folk who have come out of their way to investigate and support the business, I so appreciate it, THANK YOU! And I also feel blessed by the many who’ve wished me luck with the head-scratch edge of “Because you’ll need it”, or even with the obvious vibe of “But you can’t make it work in this financial / online / pandemic climate” or simply, “Oh dear, poor you!”. It’s ok, I can feel it! We all know they are perfectly valid opinions which need little depth of thought. Indeed, if Happy Things had been borne out of some dream of making millions, then no-one would need to book my bed in the asylum, I’d do it myself. 😊
The Shocks & Surprises
Just to back up the sympathies of my apparent delusions, Happy Things was due to open on 5th November first day of second lockdown! Having found myself – like so many of us – in an extra challenging financial situation this year, you could say that was terrible luck. But, frankly, I could only find it fascinating timing to add to an unexpected situation. Truth is, I’m an ex-retailer who thought I’d become ‘allergic’ to retailing. Only weeks ago, I admit I would’ve balked at the suggestion of having a shop. And, as an occasionally sociable aspiring hermit, working from home suits me.
So, with everything inside and outside seemingly stacked up against such a preposterous notion, how did I get here??...
Not for the first time in the last year, an unintended, serendipitous two-minute conversation with a dear friend was a life-changing moment. This one unfolded into ‘Yikes, I’m opening a shop in 10 days!’. The biggest shock was that I felt so oddly excited about it! The following day I was off to a remote cottage for a week with no internet or phone reception. That’s a bit of bliss for me that I usually relish, but admittedly was rather inconvenient on this occasion. It left me 2 days, around other work and commitments on my return, to create a shop, only to find on the hour of completion that I was unable to open.
All these adverse situations, however, have only helped bring into focus what I was inexplicably excited about. It’s not being a shopkeeper with things to sell per se. Things are just things after all and frankly, I couldn’t be less interested in selling things for selling things sake!
Meanings & Feelings
While I feel so truly grateful for my home, furnishings, car, clothing, food and hot water, it’s the nature of those things; the essence of comfort, protection and beauty they bring to my life, that I deeply appreciate. And I realise it’s the same with the nature of the things in the shop and the essence of feeling that it all offers on a deeper level.
I don’t deny I need to make a living as we all do, but it couldn’t delight me more that almost invariably the first reaction I get from customers when they walk in is a big smile and a combination of, “It’s so calming in here”, “It feels so cheerful in here”, “there’s such a good feeling in here” and best of all, “You can feel the love in here”.
So, while it’s understandably considered a ‘non-essential shop’, isn’t that what we all need in these strange, uncertain and stressful times? - To feel calmness, cheer, goodness and love? Our feelings are the only things that are real for us after all. As a therapist I know this as well as anyone, and the entire purpose of my work is to help lead others to feel those good things.
The Value of Community
We’ve perhaps all discovered - more than at any other time in our personal history - how important it is to feel connection, love and a sense of community far beyond the value of our ‘things’. We can’t buy or sell those, but we can give and receive them. And promote them. Happy Things feels so good inside not least because of the conscious goodness behind the products; all made from upcycled/recycled and/or sustainably sourced natural materials, and skilfully handmade with zero child or adult slave labour. So, they’re kind to the planet and humanity while bringing a touch of happy hippy colour to our wonderful village. Everything is fairly traded with many suppliers who have their people actively helping build communities, providing healthcare and education where there was once poverty. We have a few locally crafted pieces too - and a number of happy community things brewing in the background as we negotiate 2021! I’ll keep you posted.
The shop supports Action for Happiness (www.actionforhappiness.org) and Charity:Water (www.charitywater.org) who work tirelessly to bring clean water to millions where it is needed around the world. Behind the shop – and at home and online - I provide a combination of healing therapies, hence, shop is currently open Wednesday to Saturday. I discovered that I can’t be in two places at once, despite being a woman 😉. Please come and visit and bring your own bags if possible. Stock will be changing so once gone, may not come back. But we’ll always, always have incense! And sometimes little to no sense!
In the meantime, breath, smile, 😊 count your blessings and give yourself a big hug of love and appreciation. You’re worth it!
Thank you so much to anyone who just took the time to read this. Wishing you a colourful, fun and lovely Christmas and hope to see you soon.
With love and best wishes