In the light of a declining economy, the shopkeeper may consider and reconsider if it is worth keeping the sign up over the door. He looks around at what he has done and what he has that remains. He reflects on why he began this path and where it has led him. He is now in a place where the memories are still strong and binding, yet the future is now a different place to what he once saw it as. He looks at what goods remain and catches a glance at a customer browsing among the reduced items, looking for a bargain or a special ingredient for a idea he has in mind.
The customers are different now. They are from another time, a new time. They see the world differently and know what they want. They always have, only now they come and go, kicking tyres and looking at their reflections in the shiny surfaces. Once, they would stop for a while, talk of the weather, lend their woes, stay long enough to leave behind a hint of perfume, a scrape of mud on the mat and a shake of rain from the sleeting storms outside. They were not just customers. They became familiar figure to the shopkeeper. He knew them by name, by nature, by the time of day. They came for more than goods and shackles. They came for company and comfort. They were never in a hurry. They had time beyond the requirements and rigors of the life outside the shop. The bell on the door would chime them in and out at their leisure. The lights went out when the last customer had finished. The shopkeeper would watch their figure pass through the doors to the waiting street, knowing they would return; possibly tomorrow, maybe next week or ext winter when they had once more run out of fire starters or canned soup. If they never returned he didn't worry. He would see their figure pass by from time to time, stopping long enough to catch a glimpse of the specials in the window. Not their time yet, the shopkeeper would think. Maybe next time.
Over the years some never did come back. They had moved to a new place: the brash supermarket down the mall, a new life in a new town, too old to walk the distance, or buried in a graveyard on the edge of town. No matter. There was always someone moving in around the corner who preferred to musk and dust of familiarity than the bling of teenagers dashing about the aisles at Morrison's.
Not any more. The shop is quiet now. The place is disturbed by occasional customers. They rush in for their cigarettes, a bag of crisps and to escape from the rain or police. They lurk in the store and the security camera, not trusting anyone, snapping at an offer of assistance, minding their own business.
The shopkeeper assesses what he has with a content and aging eye. He remembers the first customer coming through the door, wide eyed and eager to buy. More followed. There was purpose in what the shopkeeper had done. He felt good.
He is still content but knows he must move on. The customers do need more than he can offer now. He also needs to satisfy an inner yearning. Something personal and passionate gnaws at him. It's a hungry beast that must be satisfied. He has felt it grow from the embryo it was to the glutton it has become; selfish, demanding, relentless. It is build on his own desires and needs instead of serving others. They are simple ambitions now, but none the less in control. Mellow, resting, peaceful, quiet. A time to allow the gathering of thoughts and the accumulation of a lifetime of serving others into a moment of serving himself.
The door is locked, the lights go out for the last time. The shopkeeper is no more. He is now the shopper, on his way to the market where the shelves are filled with the future.
There are no regrets. Each of you will find another place. Each of you will continue your path to where ever it was you intended to go. We will pass in the street and nod as we did. We will pass the time of day and reflect on what we did. We will remember with fondness. That is why we did this thing.