Not Available in Canada? Think Again
In two weeks, we move houses. Our first move in seven years. Our first move with kids.
I’m a little daunted.
Not just by the chaos of packing up a life while still, erm, living it. Sure, I have nightmares about losing all the kids’ snowpants in the transition. (Actually, the nightmares are more like premonitions. It’s likely. Possibly inevitable. Perhaps my children should just sleep in their snowsuits the entire week of the move).
But our biggest challenge so far has been an unexpected one: the SHOPPING.
While we’re keen to do this move as economically as we can, recycling and upcycling and making the most of what we have, we’re still moving from 1200 square feet to 2200. And we’ve bought a house that has a particular style; a style we both love. It’s a Craftsman bungalow from the 1920s: a low, quaint, story-and-a-half home with strong architectural roots in the Arts & Crafts tradition.
We’re not making too many new furniture investments right now, but I was excited about sourcing some cool, era-appropriate accent items.
Well, source ’em I have, only to find out I can’t ship ’em here. Oh Canada. It’s all like a terrible flashback.
I’ve spent most of my life in regions of geographic underprivilege, when it comes to shopping. I grew up in Prince Edward Island in the ’80s. Vacation paradise, yes. Shopping mecca? Not so much. You remember those ubiquitous Benetton rugby shirts and Beaver Canoe sweatshirts that any girl worthy of her spiral perm was sporting, then? I coveted those. You couldn’t buy ’em here. And online shopping hadn’t been invented yet.
In my mid-twenties, I lived in the Arctic. You couldn’t buy a whole lot there at all, unless you had it shipped in on the annual barge. I owned a single frying pan and a very warm goosedown parka, and not much else. I would’ve been an excellent candidate for online shopping, except that my region, uh, had no Internet. FAIL.
Then I moved to South Korea. Plenty of connectivity, but Amazon wouldn’t ship there. Neither would most clothing companies. I learned to weep at the sight of those seven cruel words: “shipping only available within the 48 contiguous US states.” I also learned to read my own star chart, in excruciating detail: Astrology for Dummies was one of the few English books available in the local bookstore in my town. We Aquarians like to make the most of what opportunities we have at hand.
Seven years ago, I came home to Prince Edward Island, partner in tow, ready to build a longterm life here. Retail-wise, the place had improved drastically in the decade or so I’d been away. And my needs have been simple: baby items and books in English and clothes that fit me and the kids have all been bounteously available, both new and second-hand. Glory.
I’d almost forgotten what it felt like to feel on the outside looking in, when it came to stuff.
The Arts & Crafts movement was a reaction against Victorian overdecoration; its principles are based largely on simple lines, natural materials and William Morris’ famous dictum, “Have nothing in your home you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.” Words to live by, and ones that seem particularly wise as we sort and pack our current little house and the flotsam we’ve gathered over our years here.
Exhibit B: My new fantasy life, minus the, erm, “Intermountain West” part.
Photo credit: debaird via Flickr
But here’s the problem: the Arts & Crafts-style items that we’d love to buy to compliment the house? They’re not available here. They’re not, for the most part, even easily available in Canada. The majority of remaining Craftsman bungalows seem to be located in places like California and Chicago. Or the Intermountain West, wherever that is. So I spend hours sourcing pretty things like these:
Exhibit C: the most fabulous Art Deco house numbers EVER, from Oak Park Home & Hardware.
…and then sniffling into my coffee when we get to the shipping costs or even the possibility of shipping to Canada. If I see the words “shipping only available within the 48 contiguous US states” one more time, I’ll have to break out my faithful old Astrology for Dummies and see which upcoming day is auspicious for miracles.
It’s going to be hard to have nothing in – or on – my home I do not believe to beautiful if I can’t procure any of the items I want for it in this country. I have Googled myself silly: are there really no Craftsman or Deco-era house numbers available to Canadians? I mean, I just want to buy some, America. I’m not trying to steal ’em off the Chrysler Building, or anything.
Exhibit D: I wouldn’t steal them. They’re the wrong street address.
Photo credit: sfgamchick via Flickr
More sadness: our new back entry is in the kitchen. No mudroom. We’re going to be tripping on shoes like a clown show. But even the Craftsman-style shoe cupboard that’s mass-produced and mass-marketed through Home Depots in the US? The one at a sale price I couldn’t refuse?
Well, I had to refuse. They wouldn’t ship either. And when I talked to Home Depot here: they don’t carry that line, and have no intention of bringing in any Arts & Crafts, Craftsman, or Mission-style items, thank you very much. I weep.
However, as I said, we Aquarians do like to make the most of the opportunities we have at hand. When I signed on earlier this month to work with Used Everywhere, I wanted to spend some time exploring the usedpei.com site, getting to know the market and the community. And lo and behold, there it was. “Retro sideboard,” the ad read. Real wood, in reasonable shape, perfect for the era of our home and just down the road. We don’t have a truck, but the owner kindly agreed to deliver it for a few extra dollars.
There are downsides, sometimes, to living off the beaten path, even in this glorious age of internet. Major markets will likely always have more choice when it comes to new items and specialty items. But there are treasures everywhere, just waiting to be unearthed, and small upcycling networks and sites can harness access to these treasures. Turns out I’m no longer so geographically underprivileged after all.
Now, if somebody can just direct me towards some gently-used 1920s-style house numbers for sale, I’ll be golden.