When you own a shop, I think it can be easy to get bogged down by the consumerism of it all. I worked the Saturday after Christmas and warred against myself, first wondering how on earth people could still be shopping, then rejoicing, of course relieved that they were. It can be conflicting work, retail.
Then two weeks ago, my mom and I traveled to Atlanta for market, and we found some lovely, American-made lines for the shop: wooden blocks, book-inspired jewelry, delicious shortbread, those Annie B's caramels you all love. And somehow, our Atlanta trip made it all better: seeing the artists, meeting the people who make the goods we sell. It made me feel like we're making a difference, like we're doing a good work.
Growing up, my dad would pray before dinner every night, asking God to bless all the hands that helped our meals reach the table: the farmers, the truck drivers and delivery men, the grocers. It was a nightly reminder of where our food came from, and now, as a shop owner, I find myself appeased by the idea that we're helping makers and doers get their work to the masses (or at least the masses in Thomasville, Georgia).
Last Friday, my friend Sidney and I had the chance to drive to Bainbridge and meet with Jessica, the brains behind The Refinery candle operation. We've been selling Bainbridge-made Refinery candles in the shop since before the holidays, and we consistently sell out. (And before you cry, "BUT YOU'RE A BOOKSTORE," let's all agree sweet-smelling candles make for pretty cozy reading company, amen?)
The Refinery also supports Still Waters, a safe place and shelter for women and children in South Georgia. The women make candles every week, combining new scents, cutting wicks, stamping the signature tin tags. They take ownership of the candles and learn valuable skills for future employment.
Sidney and I were able to see firsthand the work The Refinery is doing, the beautiful making and doing these women are accomplishing. It's a pleasure -- a privilege, really -- to be able to share in their work, to bring their candles over to Thomasville. We learned just how hard candle-making can be; a thirty-minute project took us an hour and a half! So many scents, so little time.
These are the stories that make this job so much fun. It's getting to support the makers and the doers, the people are around us who are working hard to make their dreams happen. This is the part of retail I love, the part that makes owning a storefront so very worth it.
We had a blast following Jessica around, learning the amount of thought and effort that goes into each candle, and I'm pleased to announce we'll be carrying our very own Bookshelf- and Thomasville-inspired candles this spring. Freshly-baked bread and books, anyone?