A couple of years ago, I was walking along Union Street in Plymouth (UK) when I saw this place…
Plymouth Play Association and Scrapstore.
Obviously a place for kids to do potato printing or play with bits of string. Obviously a place for beleaguered playgroup leaders to find things to occupy their classes on slow days…. Obviously, I mean, OBVIOUSLY not for me.
Then, on another day, I decided to look inside instead of allowing my preconceived ideas to sweep me past the doors.
I cannot overstate the importance of these places. It is a not-for-profit organisation with the community powers of a library.
And there are so many plus points!
First and most obviously, if you are in need of anything they have in their ever-changing stock, you can buy it at a beautifully accessible price. You see children go beady eyed as they fill a plastic bag with netting to use on a fairy skirt or an LP to slump in the oven to make into a fruitbowl!
Another mighty benefit, and only a subtle deviation from the ability to shop, is the content of the shop. The Scrapstore have carefully collected, cleaned and displayed all sorts of things for people to buy. Suddenly, “waste material” has not only a price, but a value. Noticing that – and encouraging children to identify it will change not only appreciation for the very little things, but also artistic ingenuity and flexibility.
The initial hit of colours and enthusiasm when you get through the door is also infectious. There is an air of family about the place and you want to stay. The first time I went, I had just received some bad news and I was pretty upset.
A couple of hours later, I was armed to the teeth with all I needed to get into a new project and had had a renewal of spirit. How can life be bad when there’s a place where you can get hold of scary little books about how to be a professional face-painter?
I also deeply appreciate their desire to source great materials. I have benefited hugely from the remnants left by sofa dealerships and leather work-glove manufacturers.
It’s fun there. It gets me out from behind the desk/workbench and out into the real world. And it helps everyone.
And the BEST thing is…. They are dotted about all over the UK. Find one. You won’t regret it!