I took my last stroll through the aisles of the five and dime. It hadn't changed much over the past 40 years except that now, as an adult, I can actually see what's on the top shelves.
Everything a crafter could ever need or want lined the walls and shelves and I spent every Saturday there with my mom, the crafter queen. By the time I was 10 or 11, I figured out if I annoyed her long enough she'd buy me a ticket to the picture show next door and give me a quarter to buy an ice-cold bottle of Coke to take with me.
It was a time when it was safe to send a kid to the show by themselves and somewhat encouraged by the serious shopping crafters who didn’t want to have to contend with whiny youngsters who had nothing better to do than take up precious aisle space. I always thought the place smelled like moth balls and the stairs were spooky as they creaked and crackled with every step.
As a kid I couldn’t imagine ever wanting to be a crafter. I watched enough demonstrations and programs on everything from decoupage to wreath-making to know how to do it in my sleep, but left it to mom to make it. My sister and I own a wreath for every season and holiday, as mom became a master with the glue gun. She made us numerous keepsake boxes with decoupage of everything imaginable and sweatshirts covered with enough iron-ons to wallpaper an entire room.
Whatever the trend was, we could be assured we’d be receiving at least one finished project for every gift-giving occasion and sometimes for no reason at all. Whatever she wanted to make, the five and dime would always have what she needed.
As I walked down the stairs for the last time, I didn't smell mothballs nor did the creaking noises seem scary. I was sad it was closing, sad the lazy days of milling around a five and dime store no longer exist. Sad to think stores like these won’t exist anymore as shopping online has become the new trend.
I've been guilty of being trapped in the convenience of ordering anything and everything with just a click of the button although I do enjoy cruising down the aisles to be able to see and feel my purchase. The mom and pop retailers of our cities need our patronage and deserve it. What they have to offer can’t be found online. Besides having one-of-a-kind merchandise and offering a unique shopping experience, they take your satisfaction personal because it's their livelihood.
As I was pulling out my glue gun to begin decorating another wreath the daughters will never want, I realized, as much as I want to become the crafter mom was, I never will be. I would rather be mowing or gardening.
The five and dime may be gone, but at least I still have the local hardware store to cruise.
Sandy Turner is a GateHouse Media columnist.