• Stephanie Hinds

The Story of Stuart and My Three Lucky Coins

Two years ago, while on a day trip to Niagara-on-the-Lake with my mom and sister, I was pulled into a store called “The Shiny Company” by the laws of attraction, and the force of gravity.

Having not even known the name of the store at the time, too mesmerized instead by the African statues, Buddha figures, and beautiful, beautiful rocks, I just knew that it was my kind of store.

As I ooed and awed at the beautiful collection of worldly items in the store, the owner and I struck up a conversation. His name was Stuart. He spoke with an accent, English or British, one of those ones that make you want to talk with an accent too, which I did after a few minutes speaking to him, and he didn’t even judge me. He told me a few stories about the different countries he had travelled to, each item in his store carrying with it a different story, and a differentlesson.

That day, I purchased 4 things from his store. The first was a package of vanilla incense, which I burned sparingly, except for the very last stick which is still in my drawer, untouched. The second was a lucky coin, which I carried with me everywhere. The third was a pair of pearl earrings that made me feel like Queen Elizabeth every time I paired them with an outfit. And the last was a tiny little Buddha statue, meant to bring you goodness on your spiritual journey.

When I got home that day, after sharing hands-down one of the most enlightening, enriching, and passionate human encounters in my life, so powerful in fact that upon leaving his store I had been moved to tears by the experience itself, I put the Buddha at the highest point in my room. On top of my black cd case, almost as high as my ceiling, the Buddha sits, on the very edge, and brings me luck on my spiritual journey.

Well, I like to think so.

Yesterday, I went back to Niagara-on-the-Lake. I walked right into the store, saw Stuart standing behind his counter, just as I had seen him two years ago.

“Hi Stuart,” I said.

He looked up at me, a bit unfamiliar with my face. But the look of recognition took over his face immediately as he remembered who I was.

And who was I? Really? Other than a shopper in his boutique who had said a few words to him, as I’m sure many other people have.

We caught up, asked each other a few questions about how life had been since. While mine was full of exciting stories about growth, knowledge and travel, his stories carried much more sadness and worry.

Stuart shared with me that The Shiny Company wasn’t so shiny anymore. The night before our second encounter, he had been up worrying. This saddened me.

I wanted to buy everything in the store. The first reason being because I wanted to help Stuart get out of his rut. The second reason being everything in that store belongs in my home.

But I couldn’t afford it.

So instead I wrote this post. I thought about writing about my experience with him, his store, the lucky coin, the pearl earrings, the incense, and the Buddha. Just to pay homage to Shiny Stu.

We took a few pictures, said goodbye, and I gave him the best hug that I could ever give a friend. But as I walked away from his store, I felt that the one purchase I had made wasn’t enough. The hug I gave him wasn’t enough. And not even writing about my encounter with “Shiny Stu” would be enough.

So I turned around, ran back into his store, and gave him three lucky coins that were given to me a while back. Even after I had the one lucky coin I purchased from his store.

When they were given to me, I was told that I should keep them together at all times, because the best luck would come from them being in 3. The person that gave them to me, my former boss at a catering company I worked for, who was leaving to work for another company that day, suggested I put them by my school books.

But when I got home and placed the three coins on my textbooks, I felt like I didn’t want luck to get me through my studies, I wanted hard work and dedication to get me there instead. So I kept the coins in my

wallet for the last two years, hoping they’d bring me more wealth.

Within just a few months of keeping the coins there, I started making more money through working full-time. I was able to pay down some of my debt, and bought myself a ticket to Barbados.

Despite not being a millionaire (yet), I felt that I had received all the luck those coins could give me, and that maybe it was someone else’s turn to have the coins.

There had been a few instances that I wanted to give the coins away. One time was when a Chinese family came in to the restaurant I had worked at for a goodbye dinner. Their parents had retired and were going back to China to live. I was going to give the coins to the parents as they left, but I stopped and thought, if they’ve retired and going back home, I think they have all the luck they need.

But yesterday, I saw Stuart’s eyes. He wasn’t as alive as he was that first time I met him, two summers ago.

I wanted to bring Stuart back to life. I wanted each person that passed by The Shiny Company to be pulled in there by the same laws of attraction and forces of gravity that I was.

So I sprinted back into his store. I gave him the three coins and I said,

“Here Stuart. I want you to have these.”

When he asked me what they were, I told him they were lucky coins. He asked no more questions after that. He just reached his hand out, and as I put them into his palm, he closed his hand over them and held onto them so tightly.

I gave him the same instructions that I was given. To keep them all together at all times, and just hold on.

As I took one last look at Stuart before exiting his store, I realize that Stuart didn’t lose his shine. It just dulled a little bit. And really, we all lose our shine sometimes. We go through periods where we are less alive than we used to be. But then something happens and we are brought back to life. And because we are alive, we are able to bring other things, other people to life.

Two years ago, Stuart brought me to life. I left that store that day with a burning desire to live, to connect, to inspire and be inspired. Everytime I burned that incense, I thought of my conversation with Shiny Stu. Everytime I saw that lucky coin, I thought of him. And everytime I looked up at the Buddha, sitting on the edge of my black CD stand, almost touching the ceiling, I thought of Stuart.

I have no idea what those coins will bring to Stuart, but I know that they will bring him luck. Not because he has the coins, but because he now has the hope.

When I left the store the second, third time rather, I finally felt that I had done enough. I felt just as fulfilled as I had the first time I left his store, two summers ago. I felt that yesterday, I had given Stuart what he gave me.

A little bit of connection.

Something for the books.

A little bit of luck.

And a lot, a lot a lot a lot, of hope.

If you ever happen to be at Niagara-on-the-Lake, please stop by and see my dear friend Stuart at his store, “The Shiny Company”. Because everyone deserves to have a friend, a Buddha and a lucky coin.

And some hope. Everyone deserves some hope.

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