Monday, November 26, 2012

tis the season to be thankful

The words that have been on my mind this week are grateful and  content.

As the avalanche of flyer's for Christmas shopping grows at my gate, and there seems to be more advertisements on television than actually programming (all which tell me I will be a better person/happier/smarter/more attractive if only I purchase from a particular store) I am reminded again of how easy it is to lose sight of the concept of being happy with what I already have.  And its particularly challenging having two small people in my house who are so easily influenced by the media.

Certainly it is unreasonable to expect a child to easily understand that they already ''have so much'' when they are subjected to this constantly, and also don't have a world view as broad as an adults.  And all children see more of what they don't have than what they do.

But Christmas is surely a time we should be taking a breath and remembering just how much we DO have and being glad for it.  Grateful for me means adopting some humility and being reminded of the abundance we live in as a society, as a community, and as a family. It means being thankful and gracious even when I don't necessarily feel like being either.   Content means being able to accept that I really do have enough - even though they may be times I still crave a particular thing or experience.  It goes beyond resignation (that will have to do), and  not as far as complacency (I no longer need to have goals or drive) and allows me to appreciate the small things in life that tend to get overlooked - especially in the crazy time that is December.

What are you grateful for this Christmas?  Can you look at your life and feel content?  What might need to change in 2013 to get you closer to this?

I am grateful for the amazing community I live in - the friends around the corner, the abundance of local produce I can buy, the incredible view of Mt Pirongia I can see every day.  I am content with my smallish house, my oldish car and my longish grass.  And this year I want to make a real effort (that's the non-complacency bit) to share that gratefulness and contentment with my family over the crazy pre-Christmas season.


Wednesday, November 14, 2012

perception is reality: a view from the shop front

I live in a town that has traditionally been a place of independent store owners.  Businesses that have been run by generations of shopkeepers and tradesmen, where everyone knows your name and shop fitouts are of an indeterminate age.
About ten years ago things began to change.  The ''big guns'' came to town - the Warehouse and its ilk, and of course we saw the birth of the sometimes described scourge known as the $2 shop.   There was an influx of national chains, mainly clothing and stationery.  There were cafes opening on every corner too and some of the long time retailers shut up shop.  Farmers closed its tired old store. As did Hallensteins.  The shops who appear in malls declined to come.  Things were looking grim.  A large format development was started on the outskirts of town.  McDonalds and several other takeaways turned up.

Fast forward on and we are now in a state of flux.  This month, there are 7 empty stores on the main street - all independent retailers that have shut down.  It sounds bad.  In some ways it IS bad.  But there's a hidden side to this story.

One of those retailers has moved to a premise 3 times the size of his previous building.  Another national chain has come to town and taken the old space.  Three new large businesses have come to town.  The stores that were high prices,  low value or low volume are finding it hard to compete - but the big shops ensure that our town is now competitive with the city just up the road.  And surely the fact that big players are coming here - employing locally, spending a heap on a shop fitout, and giving a streamlined look to our retail strip - suggests that they believe our town is worth investing in?

Sure, there's lots of vintage/second hand/op shops.  There's more than our fair share of cheap imported goods shops.  There's lots of low cost takeaway outlets.  But there's also plenty of boutiques, expensive hairdressers and gorgeous gift shops too.

Today GrabOne presented to a group of businesses.  We sat in a fantastic restaurant, eating great food and hearing about some real success stories - mainly, but not only, in retail, around New Zealand.  Then we talked about our upcoming Christmas parade, in which we expect 60 floats, and about 5000 people to come and enjoy.

Seems to me the economy is not as grim as one might believe.  It's all about perspective.

Tuesday, November 06, 2012

gimme gimme gimme

Okay, I confess. I lost the plot a bit on Friday.  I raised my voice...nay, shouted. Quite a bit.

It was Friday night.  We'd had a busy week, the kids and I.  Athletics, Guides, playdates, music lessons, the Light Party, a trip to BK.  Hardly a tough week when it came to kid indulgences.

Unfortunately for me (or them, as they pointed out), the circus was in town and we weren't going.  I'm not one for circuses myself, something about the clowns that freak me out, and so it's not something I am particularly excited about going to.  Especially at $35 a ticket - and that's not even a seat near the front.  They begged. I said no.  They pleaded. I said no.  They whined.  I said no, more vehemently. They told me Everyone Except For Them would be going.  That if I Really Loved Them I Would Take Them.  That they didn't get to go ANYWHERE and it WASNT FAIR.

I pointed out the previous weeks activities.  And yes, I'll admit it, my voice got a little louder with each thing on the checklist.  I reminded them that I Wasn't Made Of Money.  I explained my position.  I didn't bother with reasoning, I just put it all out there.

Finally, eyes agog as they witnessed me lose the plot on the fifteenth (or was that fiftieth) ask, they conceded that they wouldn't be going to the circus.

The next day one child went for a playdate/sleepover at best friends, and the other went to an all afternoon and most of the night birthday party.  On Sunday we had errands to do, but I added in Subway for lunch and a quick coffee stop at a kid-friendly cafe.  We saw more friends.  It was a lovely day.

Until, on the way home, I was told:  ITS NOT FAIR! WE STILL DIDN'T GET TO GO TO THE CIRCUS