PORT ANGELES — In a cookie-cutter world where big box stores compete against each other to sell identical goods to the same people at a lower price, one local store boasts a unique inventory.
“We have items here that you cannot find anywhere else,” said Sheila Becker, manager of the Golden Crafts Shop on Lincoln Street in Port Angeles.
“Everything we have here is handmade and originates from the crafter’s imagination.”
The store is an anomaly in an age of consumer-driven electronic devices.
It refutes the idea that every meaningful connection travels through a USB port at one time or another.
Included among the specialty items are baby clothes that zip up the back and create hoods, miniature custom baby boots — and a doll in a bed that converts into a drawstring purse.
There are knit socks for golf clubs, and water bottle carriers made from recycled plastic grocery bags.
The window is filled with a selection of handmade wooden (yes, wooden) toys, such as a $29 working catapult.
And while modern kids stereotypically crave shoot-em-up computer games, here you can purchase a low pressure time-filler that requires children to find small objects in a sea of plastic confetti that is wrapped in a partially transparent pillow.
These toys require an active imagination, forcing kids to create a new world.
This is unlike other modern play media, where the fantasies are created for them.
Another difference is durability.
The catapult or wooden airplane could be passed on from a parent to a child, while it would be hard to picture any computer component achieving heirloom status except as a paperweight.
The shop is run by volunteers, and sells items crafted by an elite group — about 70 people, aged 55 and older, contribute items for sale and display.
Additionally, 17 people rotate as volunteer clerks.
While the store runs on a consignment model, the prices aren’t open for negotiation.
Craftspeople decide how much they want to get from a product, say $10, and the shop prices the item at about $14.
The artisan makes a small profit, with the remainder used to cover the shop’s upkeep costs.
This isn’t always enough, Becker said.
“Sometimes the volunteers are asked to kick in some money so we can keep things going,” she said.
The store was created in 1972 and has existed in four different locations.
It has been in its current spot at 112 S. Lincoln St. for about three years.
“Since we are a consignment shop, when someone raises the rent, we can’t raise the prices,” said volunteer Sharon Mathiesen.
“But we are in a good place right now.”
The store relies on word-of-mouth and referrals through its own network.
It has no Web page, nor plans to establish one — even though it could certainly find an online market for its handmade baby ware.
While the prices are reasonable, Becker admits that the items are available at lower prices at, say, Walmart.
But many children respond to the idea of a handmade toy or article of clothing.
“Kids can be taught to appreciate the value of handmade items,” Becker said.
“I know that my 6-year-old great-grandson gets it.”
Additionally, adults understand immediately how a baby gift from this store will be more appreciated at a shower than
another manufactured bib from the mall.
“There are a lot of things here that I have never seen,” volunteer Cindy Carvo said, holding a pair of brightly colored knit socks.
“Every time I come in, I find something new.”
The shop is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday. For more information, phone 360-457-0509.
Reporter Charlie Bermant can be reached at 360-385-2335 or at charlie.bermant@peninsula