Ah, nothing like going away... and coming back home again...
On Saturday, I crammed into a car with my parents and everything we'd need for 5 to 16 days (variable durations of stay depending on the person and the job they needed to return to). It was kind of like the old days. All we needed was my sister, and the ice chest between us and we'd be off. Honestly, I don't know how my parents took us on those road trips all those years (Montana, Maine, around Lake Superior... all without mini van).
On the way up to Door County, we stopped in DePere to visit the Assemblage Studio, a place that our customers regularly tell us we should visit. And, boy, were they ever correct!
It is PACKED! In fact, if anyone ever complains about how full our store is, if I had the ability, I would transport them to the Assemblage Studio just for comparison. The store is filled with inspiration and zillions of little trinkets and supplies for making your own projects - stacks and stacks of vintage cupcake tins and molds, filled with old jewelry, dominos and other game pieces, charms, beads, etc. They have lots more on the supply end than we do - I've always loved those stores with little trinkets in them but haven't quite figured out how I'd deal with keeping track of inventory and prices at check-out. The owner of the store makes these charming and whimsical assemblages and great altered books - if that's your thing, I highly recommend a visit. My parents were outside patiently waiting, but I probably could have spent another hour in there just soaking it all in. I've never been much for three-dimensional work, but I left very much tempted to make some little diorama.
Then we made our way up into Door County, coming to rest just outside of Bailey's Harbor. We spent the first three days mostly just relaxing: bicycling, walking, napping, lounging on the deck in the sun, lounging in the hammock, reading, eating. It was quite lovely to get away. I toyed with the idea of photo snippets of Door County but kind of petered out - mostly I enjoyed taking some scenic pics.
And then I laid in the hammock some more.
Took more pictures of rocks...
Sachi and her family came up late on Tuesday night and we two Komai girls spent all of Wednesday shopping. Some of my favorite Door County shops include: Viva La Cottage, Brilliant Stranger, Monticello. Then there are the inspiring places filled with things I can't afford, most notably Edgewood Orchard Galleries. Their sculpture garden is really amazing and totally worth the visit - you are welcome even if you aren't able to afford something. We always stop at Something Fishy (where I was first inspired to make my charming ribbon necklaces), Patricia Shoppe, Maxwell's House and Blue Dolphin, too.
There was a sweet little book shop in Bailey's Harbor so I bought a couple children's books. I had been thinking about the ways I would support the economy of Door County - food aside, I really have enough housewares. I did find a lovely necklace for myself made by a school teacher in Sheboygan, and I found one part of Sachi's birthday present at the book store, as well as one to add to my own collection. (The other part, I found on my way home when I stopped in downtown Appleton to visit Dainty Daisies - more buying local and handmade...).
I have to admit that I feel like Door County is missing an Anthology sort of shop. They do the fine art very well, but I think there is a lot in the handmade, repurposed and indie world that would be a good addition. Brilliant Stranger is a brilliant start, but there's only that one. So, a little part of me can't help scoping around for locations, even though the logistics would be kind of crazy. If I were less of a control freak, I could perhaps figure out some sort of co-op or something-or-other, but I'm not sure I am capable. I certainly have plenty of friends who wouldn't mind tending shop for a time - but you'd have to rent an apartment, hire some part-time help, not to mention find a space and haul all the goods up there. At the same time, I feel like if you are going to have a shop in a place, you should commit yourself to that place, and I'm not sure I can do that for both Door County and Madison. When are they going to perfect the cloning process, I want to know! I could use another of me.
While driving up and passing through various small towns and suburb developments, I was thinking a lot about the businesses that have closed since 2008, but also the economy in general - what do we individually and collectively need to do to foster a renewed sense of prosperity? In part, I am left with the feeling that we all overextended ourselves. I mean, are there really enough people to fill all those houses and condos? and enough people to support all those shops?
I, myself, since we've opened the store, have been dealing with my own budgetary constraints. I'm really committed to supporting local businesses, but I'm also constrained, or restrained, perhaps? In my younger years, I would shop like crazy - there was not a lot of mindfulness, there was some credit card debt. I'm just being more cautious. And I don't think I'm alone. So will everything bounce back to the way "it used to be" ? I'm not so sure. I'm not so sure that I want it to. I know this sounds strange for a shopgirl to say, but I was feeling very much aware of the... stuffness of everything. I mean, I know retail is about selling stuff, and maybe I just feel our store more personally because it is our store, and I know some of this is because of my personal situation - a reaction to the quantity of shopping that I used to do (perhaps even a little burn-out) - but I felt like a lot of the merchandise was missing a soul - had come over on a boat inside a box inside a box.... I don't know. Am I just getting jaded?
I guess the upshot of all of that is that I really like the life that I have made for myself here. Imaginging transplanting ourselves to Door County, having to drive everywhere or bicycle along the sides of the roads (golly, I sure do love our bike paths here) instead of taking the bus to work did not quite seem so charming. For its own sake, I hope that Door County explores what is going on in the indie and DIY world a little bit more, whether or not I have a place in that exploration remains to be seen.
Meanwhile, I'm committed to fostering creativity in the ways that I can, and supporting the wonderful local and indie crafters and businesses that I love so much. I was glad to come home and come back to my little shop.
“Why do you go away? So that you can come back. So that you can see the place you came from with new eyes and extra colors. And the people there see you differently, too. Coming back to where you started is not the same as never leaving.” Terry Pratchett