In the search for all that is new, you may be ignoring one of the biggest resources in your life. Your elders. In a small New England craft store, a woman teaches her customers to knit and crochet, for free. They buy materials, create their projects at home, then lug them back up to her to unscramble when they get confused.
She's been helping out her customers like that for years, even as her business has gone up and down with the influx of Walmart and other chains. Some of her customers who originally left for Walmart when it was new and cheap have now come back to her as even Walmart can't supply what they really need. Expertise.
A younger generation is learning to craft and do handwork now that didn't grow up with mom and pop stores. They are surprised that someone would care if they get a project home and can't complete it by themselves. And, that the same person who sold them the yarn would later actually help them untangle their mess.
Though she may not have the bankroll of Walmart, the craft store owner does have the respect and loyalty of her customers.
The Stuff Whisperer remembers her grandfather being a loyal customer of a mom and pop store in his own neighborhood and reaping similar rewards.
It was during the Depression and my grandfather didn't have a lot. Whenever he went shopping, he always said hi to the produce man. It was a ritual and they became almost like friends. I remember whenever my grandfather went in, he got to sample the freshest fruits hand picked by the one person who knew them best.
It's in small ways like this that we build a community, unknowingly trading a smile and a hello for a fresh watermelon or a knitting lesson.
We don't say hi to someone or ask how they are to get something back later. But, by doing that, we have invested something in them and begun to treat them as an individual. Whether that “hello” bears fruit later on or not, does not really matter. Either way you've done your small part to build a community around yourself.
Share your stories of community with us. We'd love to hear from you!