Real Brick N’ Mortar scrapbook stores are not very common in Sweden, so one have to order online most of the time. But it’s just so much better to be able to see the all the products in real life (and it just makes the shopping experience so much nicer). So when I go on a trip somewhere I try to find a craft- or scrapbook store to indulge in. One store I have sort of been stalking online for many years now is Blade Rubber Stamps in London. It’s been one of those shops I’ve been hoping to get a chance to visit sometime in my life. So when I had an afternoon to myself in London on our holiday a while ago, I of course went straight to that shop.
As I made my way to the shop I was sort of worried that maybe the store would be closed even though I’d checked the opening hours on the website, or that it just would not be there, that it would just be like a mythological creature that everyone says they’ve seen but you will never see yourself. It started to pour down rain. I hadn’t had breakfast. I’d forgotten my jacket at the hotel. I was limping (it’s a long story). I said a little prayer to the Epic Gawds of Scrapbooking and Crafting and Every Gluedot That Is Holy. But blessed be the hallowed Fiskars Scissors, I found it!
It is a completely wonderful shop, of course, just as I thought it would be. It has that sort of old-timey wooden store front in green, inviting displays in the windows, the shop name in golden letters above the entrance. Entering the store I was overwhelmed with the impression of shelf upon shelf with beautiful rubber stamps. I hardly knew where to start. But then I remembered I had both time and money to spend, so I took a deep breath and picked a spot.
Then I went through every item on every shelf. Mounted and un-mounted rubber stamps, clearstamps, hand carved wooden stamps, paper tape, embossing powders, and so much more. I looked at everything. I must have spent an hour in there, and I started feeling a bit self-conscious. But then a couple of loud ladies came in (also Swedish, it turned out), and I used them as a distraction to covertly look through everything again.
Yes, it is quite a process.
When I shop for supplies or tools for crafting I at least TRY to be a bit sensible. I really try not to grab everything I think is pretty and makes me squee. There is a whole process going through my poor little brain running several diagnostics and tests and analyzing patterns. Is the item something I have been looking for, for a very long time? If it has anything like a theme, is it something I am likely to use? Can I use the item more than once? Can I see myself using the item on a project I already have in mind? Can it be modified and used in other ways than intended? Do I have room at home to store it until I use it? How much do one person actually need?
Those are some of the questions I ask myself. There are more. My brain is like a frikkin’ multi-choice feedback form when I go shopping. It must look a bit funny, me starring at a stamp with glazed eyes like my mind is in another galaxy, before I put it in the basket. I have no idea how much time passes when I do that (Mr Boo probably does though… he has the questionable pleasure to witness it quite often). Maybe I should print a T-shirt that says “I promise I’m not mentally unstable, I am just a very strategy-challenged customer”.
But if I am actually on a mission to re-stock and update my stash, then I do allow myself just the one item that is pure oh-it’s-so-pretty-I-don’t-know-what-to-use-it-for-but-I-want-it. So there I was, with my little basket, a few things I felt were good choices, some planned for quite some time, and one thing that was a bit frivolous, and then I saw a girl in the shop holding a bunch of 12×12 patterned papers. I had not seen any shelves with papers anywhere in the shop, not thought much about it since I saw it mainly as a stamp shop, and wondered where she’d found them. So I looked around.
And there was a second floor in the store. That I had completely missed. In a corner next to the entrance there was a staircase leading down to a whole other room full of pretty things, among them the 12×12 papers. Including a series of papers I hadn’t been able to get my hands on anywhere, not even online, because they’d been sold out (“How can that matter!?”, one might think, considering the complete landslide of great papers out there, but these where papers with retro-looking cameras I’ve been hunting for ages).
So, I had to stuff a few more things in my basket.
I didn’t go overboard, I really didn’t, even if it may sound like it. I could have probably spent BOTH more time and money in that shop. I am trying really, really hard to distinguish between things I need, things I find very versatile and usable, and tings I just plainly want. Also, the golden rule is: “There will always be more stuff”. So I can’t have it all, no matter how much I plainly want it.
As I went to the cash register to pay, the woman behind the counter picks up the wood-mounted stamp with the rabbit from Alice in Wonderland, and says: “Oh great! You found the bunny! He’s my favourite”. This made me feel like the bestest customer ever, of course. Also, it got us talking for a bit. I confessed I had come all the way from Sweden because I’ve stalked… loved their website for ages, and she told me she was very happy to meet me, and that she was the daughter of the store owners, and that she hoped the shop was what I expected. I ensured her it was, and more.
Of course, there is always hindsight. And in hindsight there was another couple of stamps I wish I had bought. But: they have a web shop. So no worries. Or, I just have to go back to London and shop there again. There are always options.