Behind the counter of Small And Able
I spend most of my week behind the counter at the shop. The shop is pretty quiet most days so I get time to work on freelance design jobs, HEY KUMO stuff and play some Candy Crush during my self-imposed breaks.
I guess our shop is quite the aberration in the Peninsula Shopping Centre landscape. We’re surrounded by tailors, travel agencies, camera shops, shops that don’t really open and shops that only open by appointment. We do get some foot traffic because the tailors in our area are pretty popular, but most of them just get pretty confused when they walk by our shop. We have the curious ones who craned their necks so long, had their feet two steps away from our door, or their faces an inch away from our display window. Some of them do eventually come in, but most of them stare for a while and move on (then as they make their way back to the escalator, repeat the gawking). Harmless folks, though sometimes I wonder if we really do look that unfriendly/unfamiliar.
We’ve been trying out different door policies. Well actually, just two. For the last few weeks, we kept the door open. We thought an open door looked friendlier and was a clear indication of whether we were open. Keeping the door open does encourage some foot traffic to wander into the shop (yay!) though it can get pretty noisy at times. Tell me, why do people think it’s appropriate to hold long, loud phone conversations in the corridor?
This week, we’re trying a closed-door-but-with-open-sign policy. It helps to keep the noise out and I can play some of my embarrassing music. We may lose a few wanderers, but we’d like to think people who are attracted to our shop will venture in anyway, door or no door. But mainly, it’s about my sometimes-90s playlist.
And it’s time for TOP QUESTIONS WE GET ASKED AT THE SHOP!
What are you doing?
This one perplexes us. It is a little discouraging, actually, because then we spend the next few hours wondering if our shop looks like a shop.
Do you hold classes?
We get this from mothers quite a bit. We currently don’t do classes (because we can’t instruct and don’t think we’re good enough).
I’m from X-X-X Charity Organisation…
I’m pretty cynical about touts in general, and we prefer to seek out charities on our own.
How much is your rent? / Can survive?
We’re pretty open about this. I shall not reveal our rent figure here, but if you ask me in person and are genuinely interested, I will probably tell you. Whether we can survive, I guess only time (one year) will tell.
Are you a fresh graduate?
I don’t mind this question, but it depresses me when I have to say “Nope, I’m not that young” several times a week.
Yesterday, a young man came into the shop with a big friendly ‘Hello’ and went about looking around at things. Later when he was paying for a wooden toy top, we chatted a bit. He happened to be passing by, and said that he liked the concept and the minimalist look of the shop. It turned out that he was buying the top for a friend who was leaving for Australia and hoped that the spinning toy would bring his friend a little solace if he/she gets stressed over there. A blue one, because it was a peaceful colour.
It was a cute story and it helped brighten up a somewhat dreary Tuesday. I do hope that the top brings the friend some joy. Bon voyage, stranger!