Saturday, September 7, 2002

We were driving around this evening running errands. Taking a bunch of stuff down to the recycling depot, heading down to the end of Mount Gardner road to drop off some resources for our start-up homeschooling learning centre and reflecting on the kind of community that exists here. It was timely that the conversation seemed to peak as we passed The Tacky Shop, with Caitlin openly musing what life would be like here without that little institution.

The Tacky Shop is a "store." Partly it is a store in a very traditional sense, in that it sells thing to people, and also forms an important node in the community, like all good old time stores. It is somewhat non-traditional in that what it sells is "junk," or stuff that people drop off there during the week. And it is non-traditional in that it is open only on Saturday mornings and it runs out of a garage/shed next to a house on Mount Gardner Road.

Parents especially love this place for the cheap kids clothes and toys. There is hardly anything priced above a couple of dollars, and on any given Saturday one can find almost anything big enough to move for sale. Clothes, toys and old kitchenware are popular, as are books, records, tools, furniture, and a myriad of other things that have been previously used. There is a sheen of the 1970s to a lot of the stuff, but that somehow doesn't stop the inventory from turning over.

The shop was closed for a while due to an illness with one of the proprietors but it's open again now and it's absence caused us to reflect on what it meant to the Island. Just by being there it changes things. We actually factor The Tacky Shop into our budgeting for kids cloths and we weren't relishing the prospect of going to the continent to outfit the kids for winter. But beyond the money aspect and the obviously valuable recycling job, it brings a smile to my face to see something somewhere that was bought there, and people talk fondly about having bits and pieces of their life scattered around the island taking on new lives and functions. Once formal clothes now get worn as work wear, old buckets get turned into planters and appear on roadsides, and earnestly acquired bead collections sell by the handful to become fancy currency and craft supplies for kids.

It's possible that stores like this can survive in larger communities, but I wonder how likely it is that they would weave an invisible thread between people and ideas in a city in the same way as The Tacky Shop does here. It literally invites us to walk in our neighbour's shoes, with the ever present chance that the neighbour will notice.

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