How delightful it was one morning last month to look up when a customer came into the shop--what a pleasant surprise! It was Anne, whose parents have had a 2nd home in Vero since 1981 (and perhaps earlier) when we first opened Needle Nicely for the winter in Vero Beach. I guess that she was about 25 years old and newly married when I first met her. Through the years we have experienced her having 5 children and have seen their growth to adulthood. It's really refreshing to have young adults come in who appreciate what they're looking at. And it's always nice to see the continuum of the generations. And now Anne is anticipating the arrival of a grandchild, for whom she will stitch a Christmas stocking.
I had a gentleman come in Saturday morning several weeks ago--and I recognized him. Well, not really. I recognized his resemblance to his mother, who had been a customer for years. How marvelous a feeling, and I think he thought so also after I asked if he were related to her and how was she doing. Sadly, she has passed on, but the memory of her personality lives on.
Someone came in the other morning to buy several skeins of DMC perle 5 cotton. She looked so familiar, but I couldn't come up with her name. While she was looking around, I finally caved in and asked her why she looked so familiar. As it turned out, she had been one of the health aides of a longtime customer who had developed Alzheimer's (but only forgot how to needlepoint for 3 months in the middle of the progression of her disease, and that was while she was recuperating from a broken arm!). Her client/patient died several years ago and she no longer had a reason to come into Needle Nicely. But she needed the perle 5 for a cross stitch project. I didn't miss the opportunity to give her a needlepoint beginner's kit!
One of my strengths is my memory. I remember many of the customers Needle Nicely has had over the years, whether it be visually or audibly. I had a hearing test several months ago when I was having ear aches. The doctor told me that I didn't have "good" hearing--I had perfect hearing. My employees will tell you that I can hear what they are whispering!! I can usually remember what customers have bought and where they're from. And, though I've never been known for my tact (check my high school yearbook!), I do try to refrain from mentioning embarrassing details. Or asking about that project they purchased 10 years ago. At least, I'm working on it.
The bottom line is, whether you like it or not, if you have ever been in Needle Nicely, or called Needle Nicely on the telephone, Mary Agnes will recognize you. So accept it (or run!), smile, and talk with her about old times.