When I was my daughter’s age, I looked forward to visiting to the Alcona Beach hardware store with my mom. It was the biggest thing going in the rural area where we lived and it was located right next to a tiny restaurant offering giant servings of lemon meringue pie.
In the shop, hanging on a peg between the electrical plates and washers, were always three packages of Silly Putty, carefully placed by Harry the hardware store owner – a man who moved at the speed of an earthworm with the grace of a newborn calf. As far as I was concerned, Harry was approximately 125 years old and I – like all the kids who visited the store with their parents - adored him.
When it comes to my kid, it’s aisle three at a nearby dollar store that fills her with warm fuzzies because it is there – just past the resin garden gnomes and bingo daubers – where the craft supplies live.
The markdown marketplace may not have a Harry, but it does have a gaggle of cheerful ladies in red aprons who regularly stock the shelves and racks with colourful displays of fun felt, pom-poms, googly eyes and unnaturally dyed feathers.
And say what you will about the store where cheap crap hooks up with even cheaper crap and does unmentionable things with toxic dog toys underneath the vinyl tablecloths, but when it comes to certain art materials, you really can’t beat it.
Case in point. After a recent visit, we spent somewhere around $4.82 and came home with a sack full of possibilities. While I put away groceries, my daughter took over the table and proceeded to transform our haul of inexpensive craft supplies into stacks of handmade happiness.
Without a word of a lie, my child will spend hours - HOURS - cutting, designing and layering felt, pom-poms and pipe cleaners as she makes festive dogs, bears and aliens.
No instructions required.
Now, I like expensive craft and activity kits as much as the next mom. I mean, it’s hard to resist the allure of snappy cardboard packages with bright photographs promising hours of fun for the kids in your home.
But at the end of the day, I’d rather see my daughter delight in selecting her own supplies from aisle three so she can craft something that looks like it fell out of a Pablo Picasso painting.
Besides, the dollar store sells chocolate bars.
And Silly Putty.