Eau Claire Market has always been my favourite spot in Calgary – either to meet friends for coffee at The Bean Stop (best coffee in Calgary – hands down! I recommend the Jamaican Blue Mountain), or to check out my favourite stores like the Tibetan Trom store.
There’s a little store with a tacky sign called Gift Plus, that in previous visits, I always walked past. It seemed messy and cluttered, and the window display of ceramic horses never impressed me much. Yesterday, when I found my usual stop Amos & Andes to be empty and closed 🙁 I decided to take a shot at Gifts Plus.
I walked around unimpressed for a few minutes – me and my judgement. It’s messy. The owner is reading a newspaper and not paying attention to me. Do people really buy ceramic frogs?
Then I came across a pile of art. It caught my eye because my power animal, the raven, was sitting front and center. (Pictured above is work by a Canadian artist Bill Reid).
The owner noticing my sudden explosion of interest came over and started to tell me about how he got the art, where it came from, and all about the artists, with rockstar enthusiasm and the kind of pride I only ever really see in small business owners.
My experience took a 180.
He continued to walk me around the store to show me other things that he thought I might be interested in (sans that awkward pressure to BUY). “I’ve learned your taste, I know you’re power animal. That’s what I do. I will show you what you like” he said. I couldn’t argue, he very quickly figured out my taste and it was nice to share the joy in Canadian Art with someone who knew their stuff.
Lessons from Eau Claire:
1) If you are a business owner, take the time to care for your context – whether it’s a store front, restaurant, or YOU! A little effort goes a long way.
2) If you’re a consumer, take a chance once in awhile and don’t always judge a book by it’s cover. Sometimes, it’s okay. 😉
3) Take the time to learn what you’re selling, educate your clients, and take the time to treat them well.
4) If you’re a consumer in Calgary, spend some time at Eau Claire market and learn from the merchants – they really know how to create community through business.