Almost three years ago my dear hubby and I moved to the Low country of South Carolina. We left all that was familiar to me, the stores, the streets, my schedules, friends.
We made a decision in moving that we would take just one vehicle and ship mine at a later date. Fortunately, we were able to find a home fairly close to a shopping center with little shops to browse and a major grocery store. I started walking several times a week over to the shopping center to get my bearings in the new area, but also to give me something to do during the day.
A few months after moving a new sign appeared on one of the shops. It was a sign that intrigued me and made me anxious for it to open. The shop is For All The Right Seasons. How can a name like that not cause a woman to want to visit? I waited impatiently for it to open. Finally, in July of the year we moved the doors opened. I won’t say I was the first one through the door, but it wasn’t open long before I entered the shop.
Soon, visiting the store was part of my routine. The owner and I started conversations and found we had several things in common. I looked forward to seeing her and realized that she was the first person in this new place to make me feel welcomed and loved. Sure, I had met neighbors and church members, but they are sort of obligated to be friendly, aren’t they?
This pattern continued through the weeks and months. A friendship developed between us. A little over a year ago, the owner asked if I would be interested in filling in for her when she had to go out-of-town or needed some time off. She didn’t have to ask twice, it was a wonderful suggestion.
Since then, I have enjoyed being able to help my friend. Working in a little shop is much different from the administrative work I did most of my life. I have seen people come in and browse and have conversations.
A few months ago my friend announced that she is closing her store. She has only a couple of weeks left now. A closing sale is going on and people are steadily streaming through this shop. Items are being purchased, things long looked at, but never bought are now in the hands of people who are thrilled to have allowed themselves ‘a treat’ in buying them.
I have worked the store the past couple days. It has been interesting. Several people have come in not only to buy, but to let us know how sad they are in our closing. What occurred to me last night surprised me a bit. This shop has not only been a wonderful gift shop, it has been a safe haven. Women, like myself, have wandered into this place and have found friendship. They have had a listening ear in my friend. They have had encouragement and support. They were welcomed with a smile and given encouragement and care.
My friend has spent the past few weeks wondering why she opened this store only to close it eighteen months later. It has caused her confusion. I believe she opened this shop to allow her to touch people she never would have met. People who will enrich her life forever now. She has been a safe place to wander and visit.
I know people will find another gift shop. The owner has already lined up another job for herself. She is a teacher at heart and is going back to the classroom. She has missed the students, she has missed teaching. The educational system will be richer with her in the classroom once more. And for those of us who frequented For All The Right Seasons, we are richer also. We had the opportunity to meet and get to know this woman. The one who has an excellent eye for what will appeal to women shopping. I am grateful for having met her. I know that there are no accidents in meeting people, it is a divine appointment.