One of the advantages to owning a small business is the relationships that form over the years with customers and vendors.  In the close to 7 years I’ve owned Benjamin Twiggs, a few of those are unexpectedly sweet.

For many years, E. has dropped in from time to time to peddle pins that his daughter makes.  Not cherry themed, they weren’t a good fit for the store.  They were cute but I really didn’t want to carry them, but something told me that I should buy a few dozen.  So I did.

As the years went on, his visits were like clockwork, and I continued to purchase some just about every time he stopped in.

The past 2 years, I noticed that he was aging significantly between visits.  I would give him a hug, chat for a while, and then purchase a dozen or so pins.

Last year, E. told me that he’d be gone for many months because his wife was diagnosed with cancer and they would be spending time in Arizona with family and at the Mayo Clinic from time to time.   His body language spoke volumes about how devastating this was to him.  His visits to Benjamin Twiggs had evolved into a sweet experience for us both as he always told me first how his family was, and then brought out the pins.

Last fall  he returned again, and he told me that his wife was doing poorly.  Hug.  Pin purchase.

E. dropped by again yesterday.  I went over and gave him a hug and he said, “thanks, I really needed that.  My wife passed away”.  He went on with some details how how and when she died and spoke of going home to an empty house.  We chatted for longer than usual and my heart was just breaking for this sweet man.

And yes, I bought some pins.  And will again when he comes back, but only after he gets a hug.