|Boho dress procured at Illahie boutique... a return to parochial shopping, perhaps?|
The floor space was so cluttered with stuff that you could barely move, but there was something exquisite about finding everything at your fingertips – trousers, shirts, tees, shoes, boots, belts, hats, wallets, Stanley knives... Bisley, King Gee, Polo Ralph Lauren, RM Williams – in that small space.
We walked out $150 poorer feeling chuffed – particularly with the two pairs of pants for the price of one. We shared our anecdote with my father-in-law, who knew the Buxton's name immediately. In small towns, places like that are known by everybody.
Buxton's is like a mini department store, the sort of place that once-upon-a-time attracted regular clientele who came to expect something of its service and reliably sufficient product offering; the unique retail shopping experience requiring limited expenditure of one's mental faculties because there is a limited but quality selection of goods.
The clothing store is part of the community, like the butcher, the post office, the general store. As an entity it is no more or less important than the other stores: it is there to provide practical clothing for the average working man.
I like to shop at places such as this, where the owner's name is familiar and the chances of finding something to your liking are high, particularly as there is no comparative situation in which to measure the goods up against, such as at a shopping mall, which frankly drive me around the bend because everywhere you turn there is something or someone coercing you to spend more than you really ought.
In small communities, or within a boutique store situation, what you see is what you get, but what you get is more than the good itself. It is in the exchange where the true thrill lies. You and your purchase (or intent thereof) are not taken for granted. Small business proprietors (good ones, at least) are grateful for your business, and so too are you for what they provide.
And the proof is in the statistics: in a quiet defiance of tough trading times, small business sales in August increased by 4.7 per cent relative to a year ago, with retail-related business sales growing just short of 2 per cent year on year in the three months to August. Not flashy, but not dismal either.