By night, A&N is a bustle of activity. Shouting across the store, employees greet each and every customer the second they walk across the threshold, yelling over the background music. The bell that rings as the door opens is a friendly sound, the first signal of the complaisance that awaits the prospective buyer.
By day, the sunlight outside seems to be drowned out in the darkness of the small shop. No longer do friendly smiles and waves await the incoming customers. No longer is there a sense of familiarity between the employees and the buyers. No longer is heard the fast upbeat music in the background.
As I got out of my car into the brisk night air I could see the little athletic shop swarming with people entering and exiting. As I walked through the doors, vaguely hearing the little jingle of the bell that announced my arrival into the shop, I first noticed that every employee was conversing with at least one customer.
As I walked around the store, bits of conversations reached my ears, and I was startled to find that unlike one might think, the conversations were hardly the usual "Where do I find your running shoes?" types of questions. Rather, the conversations were full-fledged meaningful discussions of the latest events in their lives.
The discussions between the customer and employee far surpass the typical buyer-seller questions. At A&N, the majority of the nighttime workers have a personal relationship with many of their customers, whether regulars or tourists. Matt, an employee, always has a bright smile on his face and a friendly word for the customers.
Ernie, the manager of the night employees at A&N, strikes up conversations with every person who passes the cash register, occasionally walking out onto the floor to have a quick...