Among all the superstores and the online big names, do you have any favourite little shops you like to visit? I have a few, spread across a clutch of small towns. A particular favourite is a bookshop which also sells stationery and art supplies, and where the smell of coffee and the sound of cutlery tinkling on crockery in the tea room out the back welcomes you. I used to have other favourites, but many of them have closed down over time.
Last week I intended to visit a wool shop I discovered in the week between Christmas and New Year’s. Down a little alley, it was one of a few shops lining a courtyard. What a delightful little shop full of cross stitch kits and fabric packs, needles and hooks, ribbons and binding, and a veritable palette of colours in the form of balls of wool of various thicknesses,. How I kicked myself when the chap behind the counter told me the shop had been there for two years and I’d never realised! After visiting the shop a couple of times since, I was all set to go and find me a ball of chunky yarn and a larger crochet hook than I’ve previously owned.
Having completed my Mothering Sunday shopping, I victoriously trotted down the little alley, pausing briefly to rearrange the muddle of purchases in my bag. So imagine my disappointment when I turned the corner and saw the shop shut, large white sheets lining every broad window, all signwriting above the door gone and no sign of a notice of any kind anywhere! I couldn’t believe it.
Though out of all the Haberdashery shops and wool shops I’ve ever known in small towns, they have nearly all disappeared, this had completely caught me by surprise. I wonder if these specialised shops are among those with the highest rates of closures. It’s such a shame when they disappear because each of them is such a treasure trove of trinkets for people who are very enthusiastic about the related crafts, and they’re very useful for when a tool is needed for an emergency darn or mending.
Fortunately for me, I had a Plan B – a tardis of a shop, which I only visited for the first time a week before Christmas Eve. It may look like an ironmonger’s but it’s really just teasing you. Among all the tools, there are watering cans, enamel paints, pet foods, toy stuffing, stationery and the cutest little corner devoted to wool and haberdashery, albeit sandwiched between the wellington boots and outdoor lights. Some shops you appraise with a slight feeling of dread because you suspect they’re on borrowed time, in this current economic climate. I hope this little tardis of a shop doesn’t become one of them. At the moment it stands next to a small supermarket in a place that is hard to define as a village or a town. With a primary school and a high school, a doctor’s surgery, a new veterinary practice, a fire station and various small shops servicing a settlement of houses that is increasing daily, I’d like to think this shop stands a good chance of staying put and staying open. On the wall behind its counter hangs a framed black and white photograph depicting what the shop used to look several decades ago. I hope more photographs are taken of this shop over the decades, and that they are given pride of place along with the first picture.
So why did I visit that tardis of a shop? I wanted to make a Hexagon Hat! Please take a look at my Hexagonal Hat!. :)