I lay awake most of the night, tossing restlessly, quizzing myself on prices and inventory, worried whether anyone would even shop with me or appreciate the food that I’d worked so hard to grow. At the same time, I worried that we might be so busy I’d need to serve two lines at once. The uncertainty only fueled my anxiety.
...Filled with nervous energy, we speculated about what the customers would think of us and reminisced about how far we had already come. I couldn’t ignore the butterflies in my stomach.
- Forrest Pritchard, Gaining Ground: A Story of Farmers’ Markets, Local Food, and Saving the Family Farm
The two of them enjoyed a long laugh, leaning against each other as they walked away from my stand. They didn’t buy anything. I ended up selling about sixty dollars’ worth of food that day, including three cartons of Itty Bitties [the pullet eggs] at a dollar apiece. I could have turned more of a profit selling grape slushies at the local convenience store.
My customers of the past 21 years, though, have been much, much more than merely buyers. Many of these loyal independent bookstore patrons have become good friends. Some live nearby, while others visit only once a year, but our various connections and reconnections through books and dogs and other common interests discovered in conversation mean a lot on both sides -- even (I'll be honest here) when we can't immediately recall one another's names.
What could be more special? Anne-Marie Oomen, Mary Ann Samyn, and Teresa Scollon have done readings with me in recent years past (follow links for each name to revisit their visits to Dog Ears Books); the other guest writers I met on Friday for the first time.
Faith, hope, hard work, and appreciative customers: these are what save family farms and independent bookstores alike.