In one sleep, Zocalo will celebrate its 3,654th day of operation. Ten years is a milestone, to be sure. Mostly, it’s a story about gift(s).
The early days echoed with responses of “nice store, why here?” They said lots of other things too, as we did our best to listen. Experts advised, “in retail it’s all about location-location-location.” And they were right. To this day, we don’t think we’d have located anywhere else.
Community-centric, independent retail is a fledgling breed in Canada. Pedestrian-friendly streets give way to malls and supercentres. Mom and pop stores bow under the weight of 365-days-a-year worries and encroaching conglomerates that have more buying power and more resources.
But it isn’t all grim. Probably because we need(ed) to believe that beauty-in-community matters.
When you are small and independent, you have certain advantages. You can be nimble. Mistakes can be fixed quickly and pre-emptive manoeuvres executed quickly. By your nature, you have the luxury of being more creative, more energetic and generally, more fun. Your customers are loyal (thank goodness!), your suppliers helpful, your resilience—by necessity—is quick to mop up errors.
But you have to have passion for it. You need to believe it, because you know that this business can just as easily wallop your butt onto the sidewalk.
The steadfastness, the continuity of 3,614 openings, closings, cash outs, bouquet buildings, garbage taking-outings, espresso machine cleanings all add up to a heap of every-dayness that enables colourful creation. The rhythm of retail is in details; details like dollars and cents that (eventually) add up to pay the bills.
Some might argue that beauty isn’t necessary for living, but we’d counter that it is desperately needed. Indeed, everyone deserves the gift of live-giving beauty. And it’s built day-in, day out—one bouquet at a time—in the breathing repetition of affirming effort, it’s created.
As a place, in a Little Italy neighbourhood heeled with all sorts, we’ve settled in. There’s been physical and practical demolitions, renovations, rearranging and recreations that have settled us here. We’ve had the privilege of getting to know many amazing people, seeing different parts of the world, working intensely with great people, and sharing parts of our life with many in our community.
It is with humility that we express an incredible gratitude to our lovely customers, our neighbours and our helpful suppliers. There are too many to thank. John gave us the first $10 we made: it’s still sitting in our office today. It remains as a reminder. For we remain humble knowing that we rely on a large (hearted) community for our existence and continuance.
There is also huge thanks to the many people that have stepped up, and beyond, to cheer and assist us in practical and supportive ways. We couldn’t do it without our team of people—some who’ve been with us for a long time, some a short time—for their abundant efforts and energy.
So, this weekend, with thanks and optimism, we celebrate the continuity, the vitality and beauty of ten years. We aren’t pushing up daisies yet.