Our Last Days on Carlaw
Last Saturday was our last day on Carlaw. It was a wild and emotional and hectic day, but it was so wonderful to see so many familiar and new faces coming by to say hello (and goodbye). It's always hard to gauge how things are going to go beforehand, even when you're offering loot bags, but it was absolutely a thrill and an honour to see how many people turned out to show their support for fountain pens and writing and independent business. Who says handwriting is dead? Hundreds of egg tarts! All gone! Some people had two, but I won't tell. I left these really great and elaborate tape arrows on the floor to indicate how people should line up and I had to work really hard on not letting my feelings get hurt after everyone ignored them. It was nuts for the first half of the day, and then slowly tapered off. There's only so much you can do in preparation, and it's mostly about organizing delivery for lunch for the staff. We reminisced about our warehouse sale in August, and the sweltering heat only partially abated with dripping popsicles, and so on our last day here, with the crowds, we were mostly glad for the cool weather. We also set up two check-outs, like at Scriptus. One of the first customers in line said the crowds were a fitting send-off, a tribute to the three years here, and I loved that. I tend to be a bit dramatic, but it was really lovely to see so many folks coming by one last time. People wishing us luck with the move and set-up, sharing stories about their first time finding us down the laneway, customers and friends who have been with us a long time, but wanted to come and celebrate by waiting in a long line. It's really something else, to know that people will wait in line for ages, and yet be so friendly and polite and eager to share their stories. Torontonians? Fountain pen users? A delight. I left Caleb to "man the snack table" and I returned to discover him luring other children in the somewhat murky area below the stairs, under which fit only tiny humans and cats and possibly spiders but I'm certainly not looking. Sometimes other mamas (bizarrely) feel like I seem to have it together, and I need to remind them of moments like these, when I've left my quasi-latchkey child under the stairs, scampering around with a crushed egg tart in his hand.* After we closed down just after six, we locked the doors and got straight to packing up the shelves. We are a small business by every definition, and we really needed to keep our down time as short as possible so we were packing the minute we closed down. It was one long night of boxes and tape guns and markers and piling up things here and there. The next morning, Sunday, movers came with two big trucks and began carting everything away. We'd gotten these movers on recommendation from a friend - they'd been on the money to another of our friends about some movers Chicago when they were crossing the border, and it worked out fine for us too. The staff have really been superstars through this entire move, with heavy boxes lifted, furniture pushed this way and that. Sunday and Monday were the big days when we moved basically our entire shop and warehouse, and I can hardly believe it all happened in two miracle days. One last Lamy ring! I have a box of them somewhere that I've been hoarding since the early days of the shop (it's no secret that I'm a big fan of Lamy Safaris, and slightly less so, Al-Stars), and I'm keeping my fingers crossed that someone packed them up for the move, and they haven't been chucked into the recycling. One day I'm going to string these all together for a necklace, or perhaps put them into a box and squeeze my hands in there for some glorious stress relief. One day! I don't think I was quite as sad to say good bye to 906 Dundas West. Here, it was strange and emotional to see all of furniture being picked up and cheerfully marched off by extremely friendly and professional movers. I wonder how often they move things for people who don't really want to move and whether or not they have a sixth sense for people who seem like they're about to lose it. Caleb, at least, had the time of his life watching the trucks and everyone moving the giant pieces of furniture around and getting in the way with his dolly. I mostly stood around, holding the baby, weeping dramatically on the inside. The end of an era, that's for sure.
***In other news, we've been keeping busy setting up the new shop. Lights are in and mostly turning on, the warehouse is mostly being put back together, although everyone has been avoiding the boxes of the miscellaneous things that have just been piled in, and I continue my general stance of holding the baby while watching all the action. In the time I've been here, I've experience a tasty burger (Rudy's), tasty noodles (the ramen place on the corner) and a tasty fried chicken sandwich (the tiny place beside the theatre). If you end up going to the ramen place, right on the corner of Clinton and College, I've had the Shoyu (whole egg noodles) twice, and I highly recommend it. They also offer these slightly spicy bean sprouts as an appetizer which are very good. We're vaguely on track to have the shop open again this Saturday, May 5th, although if you want a sneak peek, we may very well be ready by Friday for you to come in and say hello, if not everything is back on the shelves yet. We had a few disappointed customers stopping by even today, and I'm sorry to say we are really still in the thick of getting the furniture set up, with electricians and contractors taking things apart and putting things back together. Fingers crossed, Friday! I'm hoping to share more pictures soon of the progress and details of all the excitement for our opening day. Jon is "open" to getting balloons for Saturday. In the last five years, I have gotten more helium balloons than I ever would've imagined, but there is nothing as cheerful as a yellow balloon. Please come by. You can reassure me that Everything Will Be Alright. The baby and I have been traversing the city in our trusty Subaru that someone backed into while parked on College, with Jon to the shop, picking up things from hither and thither, back again to pick up Caleb after preschool. I haven't spent this much time in the car in a long time, and while I don't want to jinx anything, I'm sort of enjoying the relative peace of an audio book and a coffee, once everyone is strapped in. The baby is not quite enjoying it as much as I am, having previously been used to maybe half an hour in the car a week and now not really a fan of the tight space, but I thought I would share this photo to where I caught her reading one of Caleb's books to pass the time. She's getting ready for renovating her own shop. *Caleb is well-loved, and actually in a very unique position of having grown up with many adults around to gently nudge him back to safety when needed.** **Sometimes the gentle nudging is more like "Caleb Chan get off that table right now or else."