It looks like an OCD nightmare – tins and barrels and baskets of plastic bits, wooden piano keys, yarn spools, picture frames, fabric remnants and any other little object you can imagine, all sprawled around the baby-blue space at 1914 Pacific Avenue. But for R.R. and Darcy Anderson, new entrepreneurs at creative reuse center Tinkertopia, it’s heaven – and the couple are hoping it will be for local artists, parents, teachers and anyone else who likes making things.
“Both of us are creative people and like to reuse things,” explains Darcy, a former pre-school teacher. “We were always fans of Creation Station in Lynnwood (another artist recycling store) but it was so far away.”
Then, when R.R. Anderson – a local cartoonist and chalk artist – lost his design day job, they realized the moment had come. The couple applied for the City of Tacoma’s Spaceworks Creative Enterprise program, which offers rent-free empty commercial space to start-up businesses on a temporary basis, and moved into the former gyro restaurant last month.
Since then they’ve been getting donation after donation: unused plastic slide holders from hospitals, tile samples from architectural firms, buckets of wood and plastic bits from the Creation Station, where the owners are retiring. Some of the weirdest offerings have been vintage bowling pins from Joint Base Lewis McChord, a vintage tennis racket collection, a set of Japanese flags and some red plastic bases for a snowshoe experiment that never took off. The Andersons are patiently sorting these into racks of brightly colored barrels and tubs, where they’ll be manna from heaven to anyone who likes making things.
Here’s how it works: Tinkertopia shoppers can fill one of three differently sized paper sacks with as much different stuff as they like ($19.95 for the ‘Humongous’ grocery-sized one, $9.95 for the ‘Large’ gift bag size, $6.25 for the ‘Small’ party treat size). Half the space is a craft-making studio, where for a $7 drop-in fee shoppers can use shared tools like paint brushes, glue guns, sewing machines and so on to get artistic with their purchases.
It’s a haven for artistic folks, but the Andersons see many other possibilities too: children’s craft-themed birthday parties, visitors from the Children’s Museum and Tacoma Art Museum, workshops on third Thursday Art Walk nights, homeschoolers, Montessori teachers, crafting groups.
“It’s a pretty fabulous space,” says Darcy, who’s planning on designing an attention-getting window installation from Tinkertopia items. “You can be artistic and save the planet at the same time.”
Tinkertopia will open sometime mid-July at 1914 Pacific Ave., Tacoma. You can call to have them pick up material donations. 253-778-6539, tinkertopia.com