Last year, by the middle of the afternoon on Christmas Eve, shoppers seemed to have completed their last-minute gift buying. Our tea shop was pretty much picked clean, except for one of our larger gift baskets that remained by the front window. Weary employees kept their eyes on the slow-moving clock and the front door, hoping we were ready to call it a day and let everyone go home to start their holiday celebrations.
Then, a Christmas miracle happened! Swaying a little with each step, a gentlemen opened the shop door, grabbed the large gift basket and pulled out a credit card at the front register exclaiming, “Looks nice!” On his way home from an office holiday happy hour, he was one gift short of what he needed and we were conveniently located across from where he worked and still open in his hour of need.
We completed the transaction with a little bit of guilt. Was our carefully prepared gift basket of teas and accessories going to a good home? This customer didn’t seem particularly attuned to the tea-drinking habit and there was no indication that the person he was giving the gift to was much of a tea drinker either. For all we knew, later that evening, the artfully arranged basket could end up being re-gifted at another holiday event. Yet, when he walked out the front door, the customer seemed quite happy and all we could do was hope for the best. Following him to the front door, we turned the lock shut and switched off the “Open” sign, joining merchants and their store elves everywhere in breathing a sigh of relief. We had survived another hectic holiday season.
Most tea customers are the exact opposite of our last customer of Christmas 2010. When putting a gift together, they carefully select teas, flavors, and accessories that match the preferences and the lifestyle of the gift recipient. This thoughtful gift giving doesn’t only extend to the selection of the most appropriate items, but they also seem to appreciate when a tea or merchandise program inherently gives back to the larger community in some way as well. There is a mindful quality to their gift giving as opposed to just fulfilling another gift-giving obligation.
That regular tea drinkers might make more thoughtful shoppers probably doesn’t come as a surprise to “tea people.” It is just one more extension of the good that comes out of the tea-drinking habit. Perhaps as the world gains more tea drinkers, there will be a little more humanity in our consuming. What a positive, healthy development to look forward to in 2012.