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Playing Shop

On our way to our favourite doughnut shop this week, I asked my daughter "if you owned a shop, what kind of shop would it be?" This sparked a conversation about all the hopes and dreams my 10-year-old has, with her life stretched out before her. For me, it was a chance to imagine a different life for myself and indulge in a little daydreaming.

I know when I've asked people this, they look wistful, and their eyes sparkle with thoughts of what could be. My sister Catherine once said she would love to own a flower shop - selling tulips and teacakes, my sister Jo, would have liked to run a country pub, whilst my eldest sister Di dreams of being a skilled artisan on the BBC program The Repair Shop, Mine would be a soap shop, well to be super specific, a natural beauty apothecary in the picturesque harbour village of Salcombe, Devon. It would be called Soap & Co. and would sell all sorts of lovely, British made products, from soaps to creams, candles to perfumes. It would be like stepping into a spa, and give you a chance to look after yourself, support local business and reduce our impact on the planet. Not that I've given it much thought!

Playing shop is a favourite past time of many children. My daughter played pet shop with all her stuffed animals, and you could buy everything from a clown fish to a blue poodle! I on the other hand, used to play post office, and sit at my Nanna and Grandpa's open bureau desk, which smelt of old papers and sherry, and look through the post code book, using the rubber stamp and pretend I was very official and important. Another favourite game was being Teacher - writing out the register and calling out the names, making up sums and questions for my imaginary class to answer.

It is strange to think that I take the register and have classes of my own all these years later, and I wonder if what I played as a child stayed in my mind and eventually came through into reality. And as I've thought about what shop I would own now, as a grown up, it reflects the interests and values I hold, but also the ways in which I choose to escape and unwind. In fact, I would own a whole row of shops, selling everything from coffee and cake, plants and flowers, homewares, and lifestyle, to cards and stationery! Whilst this is all a lovely daydream, I am under no illusion as to how hard running a small business, let alone a bricks and mortar store, is today. Retail is filled w