Chapter 5: Story of Steps

Where we find ourselves is a manifestation of the steps that we take every moment. There are no accidents. Just intentions. And steps.

I own a shoe store that exists in real time and the virtual world. That was intentional.  My online shop was launched in 2017. Before COVID, my online store was just a shopping aide. A catalog of our offerings.  

People came to my shoppe, allowing me the opportunity to offer a shopping experience that would be special.  We had a free coffee and wine bar, a luxuriously huge dressing room with perfect lighting, and an environment befitting of a big city  anywhere in the world.  My little shop located in a little prairie city, designed to inspire and rejuvenate, allowed guests to step away from the outside world for a brief time.  

COVID pushed life online. We work online. We live online.  And since COVID, most of our guests are now online. We think online is natural . . .

And I appreciate every single person who managed to find me in a sea of ones and zeros, because you are the reason my shop still exists.  

During the pandemic, visitors stopped visiting.  And I remember how empty and hollow my beautiful shoppe had become.  It seems silly to you, I’m sure, but I created ZÖE to be experienced.  That was my favourite part. 

We talk about the algorithm like it’s a person or place. But it’s not a place. Nor is it human.  It’s a  thing - a set of instructions designed by someone or a collection of someones (this is a bigger question) to create a desired outcome, which I assure you has very little to do with my little corner of the world or the importance of a local business.  The intention is to feed the machine . . . 

Clicks are the new steps. 

There are no accidents, only intentions, which lead to steps, and now, clicks.  We are standing in exactly the right place. The place we took steps to be.  Whether we walked or clicked with awareness or not.  Because life is a series of steps.

 Whether we are aware of it, or not, we collectively created this digital world, which, I like to believe, has great possibilities for connectivity and community, but I’m sure that the algorithm makers, whoever they are, are shaping a new economic reality that has very little to do with the survival of a little shop in a little city. 

As we allow ourselves to become the algorithm’s product, we are shaping the world and what it means to be human, with every click.  

So here we are.  Standing in exactly the right place, the place of our own making.  

April 1 the carbon tax will increase 20%, adding more pressure on the you and me’s of the world, which will make survival of a small shop in a small city even less feasible, unless we choose small, independent and sustainably produced goods over the global warehouse and stop feeding the factories that over produce, pollute the air and the oceans, and fill landfills.

I always remember this guidance of a mentor: we are how we do what we do.  

This week someone asked me if I closed the brick and mortar would I just continue online.

The answer is no for me.

I would rather see ZÖE put to rest than spend my life talking to the algorithm and not living.  

Thanks for reading. And shopping.  It really does mean the world to me.



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