Thursday, June 3, 2010
When Home is... a Shop
When my sister, Justine Joffe, opened her vintage, retro and handmade store Retrospections a year ago she had no idea about the feelings the space would evoke amongst her customers. After years of working in a highly pressured environment, she was burnt out, desperate for balance and looking for a complete lifestyle change.
Her dream was to open a shop filled with collections of her favourite things: vintage ‘kitchenalia’; retro furniture; handmade toys, accessories and jewellery; and second-hand and new books. She stumbled upon a corner shopfront, full of windows and complete with vintage black-tiled walls in the Sydney suburb of Cammeray and immediately signed the lease.
She expected to love the shop like a second home; what she didn’t expect was that her customers would feel the same way.
‘The lovely thing is that most days at least one customer tells me how much they love the shop. Often they say they “get it”, it's all their favourite things in one place (which of course it is for me!).’
But for Justine one of the best compliments of all was when a lady walked in and said 'it's just like coming home'.
It’s not only the feel of the shop and the objects living inside its walls that has surprised Justine. It’s also the conversations that occur even between customers, ‘More often than not we are all virtual strangers, but there's something about the space and the objects in it that triggers memories, stories and feelings ... and people seem to just open up.’
Justine feels she learns pieces of wisdom and humility each day, ‘I have heard more unique stories of strength, courage, tragedy and love in this shop over the last 12 months than I did working in the publishing industry for a decade - and that includes all the fiction blurbs I used to write!’
On any given day she will have a story about making someone feel at home inside the shop’s walls. It might be the day she had a customer say she had been to the dentist for a horrible procedure and wanted to visit the shop on her way home because she knew just being there would make her feel better.
Or the day when a lady came in to have a browse and asked Justine why she had started the shop. After sharing her story the customer replied 'I think I was meant to come in here today, I am at a crossroads in my life right now and I think I needed to be here for some reason. Thank you.'
Customers continually come in and share very touching or sad stories. A regular customer’s husband is terminally ill and undergoing treatment so she pops in for a break from her current carer's life. Another customer came in directly after she had attended the funeral of a close friend and purchased a beautiful vintage crocheted blanket in her friend's memory.
‘When things like that happen it reminds me that everyday this place and these objects can have a lasting effect on people - more than I could have ever imagined.’
Retrospections is open Tuesday – Friday 10am-5pm; Saturday 9am – 3pm
498a Miller St