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Written by Caroline Frank
Published 27 Dec 2023
Life in 2023 is strange. The past four years as a whole have been surreal, traumatic, and dystopian-like. Everyone’s experiences during the Covid-19 pandemic have varied widely. My story during that period is drastically different from that of a frontline worker in a hospital, an isolated elderly person, a child who can’t see friends at school, and so on and so forth. I can only imagine everyone everywhere being affected in some way. To me, it has flown by yet also felt like a decade long. We aren’t out of the weeds yet with this virus, but I do see an end in sight. I wonder what it will look like living in a post-pandemic world. How will we connect with each other again?
Here at The Social Goods Marketplace, community is one of our core values. I have already met and chatted with so many amazing people in the community. We all have stories to tell, and I feel it in the air more than ever that people want to exchange these stories. I’ve noticed customers coming together in laughter about their shared experiences of “no longer having social skills” and “feeling naked without a mask”. I’m sure we aren’t alone in keeping hand sanitizer by the checkout, which wasn’t as common for businesses to do before Covid-19 changed everything.
Change has been a difficult concept to grasp, especially when that change has been global and irreversible. Some of what changed was temporary, but there were also permanent changes. Businesses closed, people lost their homes, and loved ones passed. Access to mental healthcare and medical healthcare diminished as our anxieties increased. Six foot bubbles affected people, especially those whose love language is physical touch. They created this sense of fear among not only strangers, but also the ones we hold closest. This was my experience, at least. I can’t speak for others. I’m sure all our stories are different yet somehow similar. Lives were changed forever, and the world will never be exactly the same as it was before.
There’s this weird dichotomy of connectedness and isolation. Digitally, we’re more connected than ever. In real life, we’re more distant than ever. I feel this social shift approaching in which people will feel so desperate for interpersonal contact that they’ll set down their phones, have a conversation with the person next to them, and maybe even make eye contact. That’s my hope, anyway.
Before I started working for The Social Goods Marketplace, I sat down with the founder and owner, Morgan Noll. She described her vision for the store, and it aligned perfectly with what I had in mind for the community on South Grand. It was nice to talk over drinks at The Gelateria, support a local business from their outdoor patio, and smile at the passersby. Connecting with people outside my social bubble has been a delightful and essential part of my healing and growth.
We humans are designed to connect with one another. This is why the art print we sell by People I’ve Loved spoke to me so much. It reads, “All the things that make us feel alone connect us”. That is so true! I feel as if, together, we can begin to pick up the pieces of the aftermath. Community is a key element in processing grief. Although it may feel natural to self-isolate during hard times, it is also healthy to let our tears be seen. Struggle is often what leads to empathy - the empathy we have for ourselves and each other. Maybe a silver lining of the pandemic is that we realized what’s truly important. Human connection is one of them, but there was also a lot of talk about “essential businesses” staying open during the height of Covid cases in the U.S. The Social Goods Marketplace was one of them.
Morgan shared that it was tricky opening a business during the pandemic. However, she noted that the business “wouldn't exist had it not been for Covid.” Many of us were stuck at home while our life plans were put on hold. Morgan used this time to work on her dream business, and after quite a few months of working on it, she decided to make it a reality. “I started the shop online and quickly realized I wanted a physical space for people to come visit.”
During a time when everyone was in survival mode, we were a place that offered basics such as personal care products, cleaning supplies, and kitchen items. We also provided a spot where folks could interact with one another during such an isolating time. Morgan went on to explain that the pandemic made it more difficult to interact with people safely in a public setting, “but it also gave people a deeper appreciation for what it means to connect in real life”.
This space is proof that there were good things to come out of the pandemic. Since we opened, we have already held so many community-based events: coffee + a concert, book clubs, mending drop offs, pop-up booths, local author book launches, plant and recipe swaps, fundraisers, workshops, and markets. Our hope is to continue finding ways to connect with ourselves and each other. Even when the world feels like it’s ending, there are still people and places here to meet our very basic needs. Yes, we all need toilet paper. But we also need human connection.
We invite everyone to drop by one of our upcoming community gatherings! Click the “Store Events” tab for more information.
We also have a selection of People I’ve Loved products in-store such as the art print pictured, “A Safe Space for Us” deck, and grief prompts that remind us to prioritize self-care and connection during this time.
About the author
Caroline Frank is a local writer, people person, and mental health enthusiast. Her creative spirit flows through her art as she aims to capture the human experience. She began writing at the age of seven and hasn’t stopped since. What began as poetry and prose turned into a lifelong passion for the power of words. She has professionally written for blogs, websites, and printed newspapers. She continues to perform her work at various open mic events around St. Louis. Her next adventure is the publication of her first book. Her work is currently available here. You can also follow her on Instagram at sage__aesthetic.