It’s been a while. Spring has sprung, sort of.

News this week that Creative Kidstuff is closing rocked my world. What the heck? It feels like this is a sign of a paradigm shift in the world of retail, a true reckoning between the traditional retail model and the world of ecommerce. I’ve seen signs of this at Heartfelt too. Our crafts are going strong but our product sales are down–way down.

We still see many new customers, some who have walked by the shop for years before venturing in. Some voice regret at having waited so long, especially moms with young children. We hear many comments about our cute and unusual space. And we have so many repeat customers, especially during these weeks of spring breaks–it’s been lovely spending time with you and your children.

And yet, we are in uncharted territory. I’ve been in retail since age 18 and my path forward has always been clear around what to do next to expand the business and ensure its growth. Until now. I have a few thoughts about what I see happening:

Marie Kondo–she is an influencer, especially since her TV show–people are decluttering, simplifying, buying less, spurred on by her ideas. Thrift shops are overflowing with donations. And the once counter culture minimalist lifestyle is becoming more mainstream, freeing folks from the passion to possess.

Shopping online has become our new way of acquiring things we want and need, instead of traveling from store to store, searching. When products I buy and use regularly are in short supply at my usual stores, I go online instead of continuing shop in person.   But the president of Creative Kidstuff says “It’s too easy to blame Amazon. Our world has changed, society has changed–we eat out more than ever, kids have cell phones, we spend more on lessons and less on play”.

That may be. But I see children immersed in imaginative play every day, making up stories to act out in our tree house, placing peg dolls and furniture just so in our doll houses, dreaming up new craft creations, or even just quietly painting at one of our craft tables. The need and desire for connection, time with family, time to just be seems stronger than ever.

So now what? I don’t always know but I am committed to steering Heartfelt through these sometimes choppy waters. We are adding puzzles and more craft kits–these make great presents and our gift wrapping is always free. And I’ve made a sizeable investment in expanding the shop, taking over the Christian Science Reading Room a year ago, with more space for products and parties. And we continue to imagine new projects every month.

What do you think? Tell me, I am all ears.

Lisa Signature New