I propose going into local businesses with the receptivity and curiosity we employ in cultural spaces…
I admit it. Sometimes I shop at big box stores. I put myself on hunter-gatherer autopilot and drone around hoping to find that one perfect thing I didn’t know I needed. But the pleasure of scoring that home-maker win is often overshadowed by unease. Maybe it’s the scale of these places, the monstrous quantity of things, the anonymity, or the high science of manipulation that governs their design, but I get the feeling of being swallowed by the maw of my own insignificance. Rendered a little less human. Consumed.
In contrast, the hardware store at the end of my street is like a little church. I go in for a putty knife and the offerings of friendly banter and hands-on assistance, combined with the feel of the place, renew my spirit. I am fed by a giving and receiving that extends way beyond the financial transaction.
To help counter the alienation we’ve accepted in commerce, I propose going into local businesses with the receptivity and curiosity we employ in cultural spaces, like a gallery or theatre. Step in with loose eyes; take in the light and the shapes; seek connections; ask questions; Soak up stories. Like the archaic definition of customer as “a collector of customs” suggests, participate in a cultural exchange. (more…)