I feel a little sad today. A friend of mine who has had a gift shop in the city for as long as I can remember, closed her doors today. The economic downturn got her good.
So many small business retailers are hurting in the city. When consumer confidence drops and people keep their hands in their pockets, it is the retailers who feel it the most. And even though our turnover drops we are still expected to cover all our bills.
When you realise your business cannot be saved it is akin to hearing you have an incurable illness. No amount of work or effort or even a rejuvenated business plan is going to make a difference. The ship is sinking and you’re going down with it.
Adrienne cried today. All that work and nothing to show for it. All she has ever done is run her own business. She has no formal qualifications and fears she is unemployable anywhere else. She wonders if she will be able to keep her house and the physiotherapist who works with her ailing mother. She is finding it hard to hold on to hope amidst such uncertainty.
In these situations it is the responsibilities one has that make the loss of income harder to bear. You can’t just pack everything into the car and drive away. There are ties that bind.
Adrienne and I talk of corporate greed and government bail outs. Who bails out the small business owner on days like these?
I watch as Adrienne walks away to her van. It is full of the things she didn’t sell in the closing down sale. What will she do with a van full of knick knacks now? She offers me a lift but I say that I will sit for a while.
Adrienne’s shop window is boarded up. The dust builds inside, almost audibly. There is a plaintive aspect that never was here before, like a sense of bereavement.
I am worried. Adrienne will not be the only casualty of this economic war. It could happen to any one of us. I walk along the street. It is a beautiful summer’s day. The sun sings of a promise of better things to come but there are stains on the ground, dark as blood.
I glance back, catching sight of Adrienne’s shopfront, leaning wearily in the sharp light. This will probably be the last time I see it. I cannot bear to pass it again, thinking of what was. I round the corner, saying goodbye under my breath. And it’s gone.