Thursday, July 10, 2008

buy, eat, live, love olympia.

on our winding journey from seattle to san francisco, i had to bring aitor to olympia. first of all, i sell to a fantastic shop there, dumpster values, that is run by a fantastic woman, kanako. my lack of preparedness got us to town only to discover that kanako is on tour with her band right now. no matter, really. dumpster values usually keeps well stocked with buttons. i am deeply charmed by the fact that they are just about the only of my stores that calls me to reorder. nobody calls anybody anymore.

with this store visit swiftly out of the way, we had a small bit of extra time freed up to lollygag around town. many of you out there will no doubt know olympia for its ample production of punk/indie bands throughout the 1990's. but olympia is also an inspiring leader in the realm of town-sized localization. in the world of handmade goods, this was most notably exemplified by buy olympia (now based out of portland and hosting vendors worldwide).

whenever i go to olympia, i also like to visit the spar. i'm not sure if this is a cool thing to do, as it is a slightly pricey place, but i discovered it with my dad a couple years ago when we drove from vancouver to los angeles together so it's been a little magical ever since. it's also an old 1930's logging-themed multi-use establishment with food, a bar, pool tables and an erstwhile tobacconist. i guess they were removing the tobacco counter the last time i passed through, as it seemed to be all boarded up and i thought closed forever. it's good to see it back up and running. however, i do miss the jars of tobacco. whenever i would pass through (which was frequently for a while), i would pick out some pinches of whatever sounded interesting and send them off to aitor for pipe smoking. i'm not smoking's biggest proponent, but there is something about an old-school tobacconist that i like the same way i like handmade goods - blends from all over the world sitting in big jars and being dispensed by a knowledgeable and slow-moving old dude. there is craft in tobacco curing and blending. there is ritual and skill.

the spar is also filled with great artwork. it is clear that the owners have worked with artists to create unique pieces for self promotion. these intermingle on the walls with historical clippings about the area and establishment and newer framed flats for things like sleater-kinney concerts. it's nice to see a place like this acknowledge that the present (or near past) are also part of a place's history.

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