Without regret

Latest indications are that I’m on track to sell the shop. I’d say the odds are about 50/50 to reach some kind of agreement in the next month. They may not sound great odds, but they’re a lot better than they’ve ever been before.

I need to sell the shop, for a million reasons, including a few legal ones. I want to sell the shop, the sensible side of me anyway. Still, I feel a tinge of regret at the prospect.

It’s become such a big part of my life that it’ll be a wrench to leave behind. On the physical level alone it’s become such a part of my daily routine that if I were to let it go there would be a huge gap in my schedule. Psychologically it’s much more than that.

It’s only natural that an emotional attachment forms with anything you pour so much of yourself into. For a lot of the last 12 months it’s felt pretty life and death, and for much of it I’ve proceeded on a trial and error basis.

If I were to review my time here as owner I’d say I came in with unrealistic but interesting notions; that I then proceeded to struggle, managing the place poorly; before somehow hitting my straps. I’ve learnt a lot throughout the period, about managing a shop, about dealing with retail staff, about myself. For the last 5 months I think I finally found out how to do it. If I’m to leave it will be with the shop largely in good order.

We get almost universal good reviews, we’ve built strong relationships with local shops and community, we’ve elevated our profile and identity, the marketing is working well, the staff are excellent and happy, and even the most precarious part of the business – the finances – are much improved from what they were (albeit regularly alarming still).

You could look back and wish some things had been different. Maybe I’d have been better off never getting into the business – but then my life would be different. I don’t really believe in the notion of regret because there’s no such thing as a time machine to take you back to fix what you did wrong. You do what you do, and it’s your life – it may not all be good, but it leads you in interesting directions you might not have gone down otherwise. If you’re smart, you learn. I don’t know what my life might have been had I never walked in this door, but it doesn’t matter. What does matter is that I did walk in this door, and this is my life.

Taking this on and operating it for over a year now has made me vital. A lot of people don’t understand that. They check the bottom line and make their judgement.

This venture has kept me busy and involved. I’m doing something, trying something, I’m forging ahead with intent. The alternative is to stay home and read a book. Now I love reading books, and have set aside a good portion of my retirement to do that, but it’s a passive activity. This is enervating, particularly when you don’t know what you’re doing half the time. You never feel more alive than when you’re on the high wire, and running a place like this is much like that.

If it is to come that, and sale and end, then I’ll miss it. That’s a way off yet, and may not happen. If it does then I guess I just have to go on to the next thing.



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