With ice and snow on the ground and no treadmill handy, one’s thoughts may turn again to the possibility of mall- walking, an activity enjoyed by some older folks. Unfortunately, if there was ever a place where I prefer not to tread for any reason, it is “The Mall.” A mall exists entirely for the purpose of selling goods, and selling them at a price high enough to cover the appreciable costs of setting up there. (That this is a precarious way to try to make a living goes without saying, and for that reason alone I cringe when I enter such a place.) A mall may be designed and decorated attractively, and offer a vast range of items to choose from in relative comfort – but the atmosphere there I find inevitably ungodly, and therefore, to me at least, it is best avoided.
There is not a lot of difference in the atmosphere at a place like the market or bazaar at Old Jerusalem iin Israel, where nothing is priced and merchants pounce on likely buyers, plying them vociferously with invitations and offers that might or might not be reasonable. If no sales agreement is reached, they may decide to protest loudly. The process is not pleasant, though the “gauntlet must be run” if one is to come away with the prizes of some of the beautiful goods that are sold there.
I must confess I have to contrast the experience of such places with that of running a little business from my old, converted shed. By divine dispensation I was able to conduct it without the typical trappings of commercialism or concern over income. This meant being in the happy position of being able to concentrate on serving needs—the needs of beekeepers, who at that time had little alternative access to either information or equipment. I always tried to price the goods as low as feasible, for beekeeping can be an expensive hobby and I knew that people entering into it would prefer to keep costs down.
The rewards were many. I loved the wonderful sense of purpose: of waking up in the morning anticipating helping friends old and new to progress and prosper in this most glorious of nature-based pastimes. Even hauling a truckload of bees over the mountains from California under threat of withering heat or freezing snow; or physically helping unload a semi-trailer of wood hive parts, then having to move them all over again; or endless poring over orders, and the drudgery of packing boxes for shipping . . . these were all worthwhile because of the sheer delight of feeling one was serving friends, both human and apiary. The associations that were made were true, sure and lifelong—especially since we also maintained our little Beekeepers’ Association, which was such fun. When we sold “The Backyard Beekeeper” to go on a mission, it was sad to see this person-to-person situation abruptly dissolve, one reason being the advent of the Internet.
Would that each “commercial” experience might be as wondrous as ours was, for everybody who embarked on such. As for me, I will stick with my memories, and stay away from The Mall.