More than a store

More than a store

Sadly Ash’s beautiful store has now closed, it hurts my heart to write that, and to be honest I keep looking at this sitting in the blog folder thinking, “I need to address that” but I haven’t had the words.  I don’t want to delete this post either, because Keep was magic, and sadly this is reality. 

Places like this will just keep closing… what will our community look like? 

Small businesses will keep coming up against it… they can’t weather storms like multi-nationals can.

The interest rates, fuel prices, all the price rises…they hit twice, both personally and professionally.

And the emotional toll of owning a small business is heavy and complex, at best…

But these are the people we need…

These are the risk takers, the game changers, the dreamers…

They know the importance of looking after a community…and we need to support them.

Ash is such a lovely, light filled, giving human, the world needs far more like her, and I’m sure she will be back, somewhere, in some way.

But this is the thing, if we don’t get out there and support our local places, they will keep closing and those wonderful people, just like Ash, will lose a tiny bit of spark. And in turn, we will lose the sparkle that they give to our community. 

I know it’s not intentional, I know.

You think “oh I have to get to that place, their coffee looks amazing!”

Or “Man I really need to make the effort to go buy my skincare from *insert local small business here*”

But then life happens, and you forget, or you order online because it’s easy, or you go to the coffee place that kinda sucks and is the epitome of capitalistic hell…but they have a drive through you know?

I do know, I get it! I do it too…

So I beg you, if you have that place that you want to visit, the one you’ve been meaning to try. The place you want to support…GO, go this very weekend. Get there and support them, or you might just find them gone before you make it. 

 Jess xx

Walking up to Keep Eco Store & Creative Space on King Street, the glass slider is open and a soft curtain billows out the door in a breeze. Against the outside wall of the building is a trestle table heaving with fruit and vegetables, two women are working hard carting in load after load, I peek through the door and see another huge table taking up the whole middle section of the store. There must be about fifteen boxes atop and they’re being filled to the brim with all sorts of produce, bright orange carrots, big bushes of green celery and huge potatoes with browny red soil clinging to them. They’re packing boxes full of local organic produce for the co-op veggie boxes that get made up and collected every fortnight.  This is just one of the things that makes Keep more than a store.

Ash gives me her usual greeting, every time she says “hello” it feels she’s genuinely delighted to see you, and it takes a special person to make people feel that way. We start chatting and I explain to her what I want to do, a few minutes later another lady pops her head in. She’s got a giant box of material she’s brought down, it’ll be put to good use during one of the Keep Boomerang Bags sewing days, where a group of women turn recycled fabrics into reusable shopping bags. Everyones welcome to join, no sewing skills needed, in fact there’s plenty of jobs to be done away from the machines. It’s another thing that makes Keep more than a store.

 

While they’re chatting I have a look around, it looks completely different to the last time I was here, it was night time then, and in place of the tables full of farm fresh produce there was an amazing mandala of flowers, candles and stones marking the centre of a circle.  I was surrounded by about twelve women and experienced an evening of meditation, sharing, healing and connection.  We shared both tears and sorrow, laughter and joy it was an amazing evening, and another time Keep was more than a store.   

There’s often a whole host of different classes on offer that compliment and align with the low tox, light footprint life Ash leads - and wants to educate others on. How to mend your clothes with gorgeous (and simple) embroidery, Amish rug making, sewing skills, meditation, watercolour painting, journaling, tapping.  They’re small groups and so lovely to be a part of, there’s a feeling of community and connection within the sharing of skills. It’s more than just a class, just how Keep is more than a store.

It’s interesting because it’s not special, Keep is nestled in a teeny shop on King Street, there’s no reason for it to feel the way it does. It’s certainly not the area it’s in because I don't get the warm fuzzies walking into the Newsagent a few doors up.  Keep looks lovely, the products are not just good for you and the environment, but they’re aesthetically pleasing too. I’ve never seen such delightful toilet paper! But it’s not that, plenty of stores have amazing stock and a great fit out and they’re just not the same. It’s puzzling, but when Ash started to share WHY she created Keep I understood…

She hasn’t always lived in Redcliffe, or even on the North Side, she only moved here about four years ago and after a year in lockdown she was craving connection and community. Keep was born, she created her dream job, educating like minded people on how to tread lightly, providing easy swaps for people to make the transition easily, within a vibrant and inclusive community. The most important element, the thing that makes Keep different, is that Ash didn't create a store, she created the opportunity for people to connect, she created the opportunity for herself to connect with others.

 

 

  “I never could have imagined the way the community has embraced this magical little space & I thank my lucky stars every day for the incredible humans that walk through my doors each day wanting to great things for this planet!”

And that’s the difference, the reason it’s so special. You are part of it, Keep has been designed for you and for Ash. I don't think she actually thinks of Keep as being “hers” she treats it as though it’s for everyone, and she just has the keys to the door. That's what makes Keep more than a store.

 

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