Ben Nockels spends a good part of his days in Commonplace Books, a locally owned bookstore he helped start in midtown near NW 13th Street and N. Walker.
Monday, New Year’s Day, was no different for him and his big, white dog that silently glides through the bookstore surprising people with his gentleness.
Nockels was still there around 4:30 on a holiday many think of as one of those for-sure days off.
But the small, local shops are entering the world of 24/7/365 retail. That schedule was the special preserve of convenience stores and essential services like hospitals for years.
“It’s been nice and steady today,” Nockels said. “It was about the same number of people who come in on a Monday plus a few people visiting for the first time.
None of the other shops just to his south near the traffic circle at NW 10th and ML were open.
Would he open on New Year’s Day again?
“Absolutely. I think of opening as providing a service to the neighborhood.”
For Jenna Bendure, a cashier at Coffee Slingers near NW 10th and N. Broadway Avenue, it was another Monday.
“It really doesn’t bother me to work on holidays like this. To me, it’s just another workday.”
She and barista Samuel Wilson seemed upbeat and happy to be there as they did dishes after an afternoon rush.
“It was kind of slow to start in the morning, but then people started showing up in big groups this afternoon,” said Bendure.
“We saw quite a few new faces this afternoon in those groups,” said Wilson. “It might have been families or groups of friends out enjoying their day off.
They said Coffee Slingers is closed only two days out of the year – Thanksgiving and Christmas. So, they knew they were entering a constant business cycle from the start.
It was a part of their regular routine, the young workers said with a smile.
That approach at both shops pointed to a reality of successful small business, which is the relationships they foster with their customers.
To them, customers don’t seem like customers. They’re neighbors.