I highly recommend stopping by Tinkertopia for today's grand opening or, really, any day they're open. I visited yesterday and was blown away. Miss Darcy and husband and local artist RR Anderson both greeted me with an excited energy I wouldn't expect after seeing how much exhausting work they've done getting the place ready for the public. Everywhere you look there's something to trigger your imagination whether your a maker, imaginative child, or someone who never fancies themselves a creative person. The endless vortex that sucks you in is the layer upon layer of imagination that's all around you in their unique shop. The items themselves inspire from vintage wood bowling pins from an old alley on McChord Air Force Base, a gleaming bin of marbles, a small box of Light-Brite pegs that bring back fond memories, and on and on! But it doesn't stop there. RR and Miss Darcy are the real item. Their inventive minds are on display everywhere from the LeMay recycling bins painted fanciful colors told hold items on the shelves, to the hand cut and lettered signage which doesn't just say "glass tiles" but something like "crystals of power from the planet Krypton". And all along the walls, in the front window, and even at the sales counter there are pieces they've put together to inspire anyone who walks in to the possibilities of creative re-use.
Anyway, I gush, but it's truly wonderful what they've put together. Here's a Q&A with RR to learn more and some pictures to show just what I mean.
What is Tinkertopia and who do you think will shop there?
Tinkertopia is a creative reuse center, kind of an alternative (alt.) arts and crafts supply store... like the Habitat for Humanity Used Hardware Store but specifically for arts&crafts, DIY backyard hobbyists + inventors. The closest comparison would have been the Creation Station up in lynnwood WA before the owners retired the storefront. In fact, many of the Creation Station materials were inherited by Tinkertopia. Anyone who looks at the world like one big lego set will enjoy shopping at Tinkertopia. You buy the stuff, but we encourage you to steal the ideas! Make art! Keep perfectly good materials out of the landfill and or great pacific garbage patch!
Where did the idea for Tinkertopia originate?
Ms. Darcy and I were long time fans of the Creation Station, the only thing we didn't like was how long of a drive it was to get there. I always played with the idea of quitting my dead-end web design day job and opening a "Creation Station South." Then the web design firm I worked for went into a death-spiral and suddenly I was free to pursue my dream. I still do graphic design, and illustration/cartooning freelance work too, but Tinkertopia will also be like an open studio for artists so we think it will be a good fit. Ms. Darcy has all the preschool teacher skills and training for working the kid angle in addition to her incredible fine art talents, I do all the marketing, web and illustration work. I always wanted an eccentric delivery van too. Our store cartoon mascot is a windup robot crab.
Where is your new retail space and when do you hope to open?
Smack dab in the middle of the bustling University of Washington Tacoma campus, across the street from the Union Station link stop, in between the new Savor crepe place and Subway. 1914 Pacific Avenue. Tacoma WA 98402. If you see the lights on come pound on the door for a preview pre-launch tour. Bring us coffee or snacks! Even so, our goal is to open early July.
Anything else you want to add/say?
Tinkertopia is made possible by the amazing Spaceworks Tacoma program! Spaceworks Tacoma is a joint initiative of the City of Tacoma and the Tacoma-Pierce County Chamber designed to activate empty storefronts and vacant space in Tacoma. The initiative makes no- and low-cost temporary space, training, and technical assistance available to artists, creative entrepreneurs, organizations, and community groups in order to nurture successful projects that transform Tacoma into a stronger, more active city.