From the sidewalk I looked in through the store window before noticing the open inviting door. A modest wooden sign above identified it as Nascent Discoveries. “This must be new.” I thought, and went in to check it out. It was amazing inside. The walls were completely covered with layered adornment, colorful drapes, posters, wooden, medal and ceramic objects, all an odd, seeming haphazard collection yet of a select vision expressing someone’s whimsical sensibilities. Large potted plants were all around and a sultry smell of incense wafted in the air. A man demurely approached me stopping at a comfortable distance. He was short but not slight, fit and athletic looking with fashionable hair. His arm tattoos were partially revealed by his doubled up gingham sleeves. He had a painful looking metallic tunnel in his earlobe. His professional presence was that of humble restraint though I suspected he harbored a suppressed playfulness about him.
With a slight bow and eyes looking downward at the floor, he spoke in a quiet voice, “Here at Nascent we firmly believe in….” he paused, distracted by a dead leaf laying on the floor near a jade plant. He stooped to pick it up and repeated “We firmly believe in…” but as he spoke he moved away absent mindedly to behind the counter where I assumed there was a trash can. After dropping the leaf he again remembered what he was saying and continued “We firmly believe in …” and again he seemed to loose his train of thought. I finally said “The Environment?” at this he looked at me seemingly pleased then diverted his eyes saying “Yes. Please freely enjoy our space and look around for something of interest.”
Feeling welcome I comfortably wondered through the store. Belying its eclectic casualness, it was thoughtfully organized with shelving neatly displaying used vinyl records on one side and used CD’s on the other. In the center there was a rack of Nascent T shirts containing exotic designs and colors. I discovered a secluded overstuffed chair with headphones and a CD player on the arm. It was inviting but I instead continued browsing the collected array of stuff on display. A sign in psychedelic letters stated “Everything is for Sale”. I wondered if that sign was for sale.
I took notice when a young couple came into the store. I watched as the proprietor approached them, having a chance now to study his technique. It was apparent that he adapted an Asian modesty and politeness. Although his voice was muted, I heard him speaking to them and I understood enough to know that he was again giving them the requisite greeting he had just given to me. I saw him bend to the floor to retrieve a pencil he had been holding. Then I heard the male customer with a more forceful voice interject “Retail Experience.” The proprietor dropped his gaze and said, “Yes.” I was dumbstruck. “That was not the right answer,” I thought. Then I began to comprehend the scheme. This distracted forgetfulness was an intentional ruse to get the customers to reveal their own priorities. I now understood that I had blown my chance to respond with a disarming response and regretted that I had given such a dopey, predictable answer. If I had only known I might have contrived a much cooler answer like “obvious hipness” or “baiting the customer”.