“Tier 4,” Mrs S told us.
“What does that mean?” asked Holly. “All these tiers – they make me think of wedding cakes, but that’s not it, is it?”
“No Holly,” Mrs S smiled. “I know it’s confusing. Basically the virus is spreading very fast in this area and we are advised to stay home except for essential outings.”
We all sat around looking pensive as we nibbled at mince pies and sipped that organic cassis that’s kept us cheerful during our quiet Christmas. Were trips to the post office to ship our items around the world essential? Should we use couriers who would collect directly from Steampunk-Shrunk Towers? Should we give up and close down altogether for the time being? It was really Mrs S’s call. We, after all, rely on her to do the posting, since she is the only one of us not shrunk to 12th size.
“The way I see it is this,” she said, finally. “We’ve had an amazing autumn and winter – higher sales than ever before, working 12 hour days, piles of parcels to ship almost every day, and I for one am exhausted. I’m not in the first flush of youth – in fact about 10 weeks off reaching ‘clinically vulnerable’ according to this website I’ve been reading. Every journey, whether by me to a post office or by a courier to here, is not – in the strictest terms – essential and is adding to the risk of further infection spreading.”
“So we’re furloughed?” asked Serge. “I didn’t even make it into the shop!”
“Yes, Serge. I’m afraid so,” she sighed. “We will use this cold, dark time to create some new lines – items that can be posted in the postbox I pass on my essential exercise walks, we will stay open to sell all the smallest things to UK customers and of course the digital stock. Perhaps you have some ideas?”
“I was in five people’s baskets,” said Iris the Fortune Teller, wistfully. “Although how that was possible, when there is only one of me, I don’t fully understand.”
“They’re etheric baskets,” Henry explained. “Etherically you can easily be in 5 places at once – and here.”
“Oh I see!” she laughed. “Thank you, Henry. I more than anyone should have known that. Well then, if people are keen to buy esoteric items, let’s make some trays or little shelves with crystal balls, tarot decks, candles, pendulums and so forth.”
“Excellent idea,” agreed Charles. “I’ll go and find some wood stain.”
Keep watching the shop, dear friends! We are working to extend our range and adding to it all the time. However more time is being spent in quiet contemplation, on crisp winter walks in the Somerset countryside and on resting after the busiest season we have ever had.