We had a busy week at the Op Shop or rather a busy three days as Wednesday was the last day of trading until after New Year. There was a sale on and plenty of people coming in to take advantage of the bargains.
Wednesday though was exceptional for some of the customers we met. First were a family who had just flown in from overseas for a holiday only to find that their luggage had gone missing and all they had were the clothes they arrived in. They were delighted to find we had a sale on and were able to buy enough clothing to keep them going for the next few days for just ten dollars. What I especially liked about this family is that even after a tiring 13 hour flight and the loss of all their gear they were still determined to make their unscheduled shopping trip a positive experience and actually seemed to enjoy themselves choosing some new things to wear.
It was an unexpectedly cold and wintry day. We had several customers who came in to buy warm jackets and jumpers because the chill had taken them by surprise. Some were backpackers who are starting to arrive for the cherry picking season and I heard several different European accents during the day. A few also wanted necessities like cutlery, drink bottles and plates as they were camping.
The most moving visitor of the day was an elderly lady who came in to collect a hamper. Our manager, Juarne, had heard that she was in need of a hand over Christmas and as the goal of the Op Shop is to support the local community she slipped out to buy a few groceries and goodies which we packed in a hamper. Later the lady arrived and hesitantly told us what she had come for; when she saw the hamper her hand went to her mouth and she seemed to be fighting back tears. Both Karen and I offered to carry the basket for her as it was heavy but she said she’d be fine. As she left Karen darted to a shelf and picked up one of the wrapped gifts we had on sale and followed her out to give it to her. I went to the door and watched as she caught up with the lady and gave her the gift. They hugged and when Karen came back I said “That is what Christmas is about.” we hugged too and as we both felt a bit teary ourselves we suddenly became very busy rearranging items on shelves for a few minutes.
I am glad that we were able to do a kindness for someone as I have found it a bit depressing this year that so many people have said that they would be glad when Christmas is over. I know Christmas is hard for many people who have no money or are alone but when I hear people who have their families and enough food in the house say this it does make me a bit cross.
Finally though our day came to an end or so we thought. There were a few people in the shop at three o’clock, our normal closing time so we let them stay because we would be closed until after New Year, We brought everything from outside into the shop, locked up and left around three thirty. On the whiteboard outside the door was a message to say when we would re-open and giving phone numbers to call if someone was in need of help over the holidays. We had not gone far before Karen received a phone call asking if she could come back to the shop. We turned around and found three young backpackers sitting outside. We opened the shop and waited while they looked for clothing. Finally after forty-five minutes they were ready to leave and so were we. Our long day had come to an end.