Friday, June 25, 2010

Dam Good Soap! keeps Steveston clean and lubed

June 20 was the second Sunday that Steveston's Farmers' and Artisans' Market was held under low threatening clouds. It didn't feel much like the day before the Summer Solstice.

But at 11:30 AM, at least at the corner of Third Avenue and Moncton Street, shoppers were eagerly chatting up the vendors. Two tents that were snuggled side by side drew quite a crowd - a white canvas advertised “Dam Good Lip Lube" in one tent while a black canvas promoted "Dam Good Soap" in the other.

“Ooh, these look good enough to eat,” a woman said to her cluster of friends. Hands big and small reached out for multi-scented bars that looked like chunky slices of colourful loaves.

I had heard about "Dam Good Soap" months earlier. A friend had raved about this Steveston-based company for its – well - d--n good soap!

The lady behind the counter explained that all their soaps were made with natural ingredients and olive oil. There was a wide selection of scents to choose but, for my dry skin, she recommended the Spa Baby, a scent free bar for sensitive skin. "Just use a wash cloth to work up a lot of lather," she advised.

When asked which were the big movers, she pointed out the citrus line, with such evocative names as “Lime Currant” and “Lemon Peel.” But what about “Monkey Farts?” I thought, that would have to be the bar of choice for all little boys.

Of course, if your intention was to entice youngsters to spend more time scrubbing behind their ears, you would be wise to go for their Soapsicles, or soaps on a stick, which come in mouth watering shades of yellow, orange, blue, and red.

And for you smoochers, keep those lips supple and smooth with Dam Good Lip Lubes, which are soothing tubes that come in Passionfruit, Vanilla Bean, and Peaches and Cream – flavours you won’t find in your grandmother’s medicine cabinet.

After a long moment of indecision, I decided to get a bar of the Spa Baby. While it was being carefully wrapped in white tissue, I asked another shopper, who appeared to be a devotee, how long a bar lasts. Oh, a long long time, she said.

At least for two weeks, I hope, until the Farmers' and Artisans' Market returns to Steveston. And, with luck, under much sunnier skies.

In the meantime, keep scrubbing and kissing, Steveston!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Crazy Mary adds exotic fun to Steveston

On June 5th, 2010 at 4:15 PM, I finally gave in to my curiosity.

I had to find out why Sara’s Ice Cream’s twin sister shop had such an unusual name.

The “Crazy Mary” sign - with its pair of curly-lashed eyes and green pig tails had intrigued me since I first spotted a couple sprucing up the shop for business.

So I crossed the street, determined to unravel the mystery.

Upon entering the door, I was immediately drawn to the boldly painted walls - swaths of bright orange, green, and burnt earth. You can tell the owner is not intimidated by a palette that others might find too aggressive.

I liked Crazy Mary already.

A slight young lady with sleek brown hair sat behind what looked like a work table. In fact, with the exception of a white couch, the back of the store resembled a design studio. How wonderful it would be to actually walk in on an artistic work in progress, I thought.

I found the layout of the store very conducive to browsing - with the collection of jewelry, accessories and gifts spread out in an arc that starts from the front door and circling counter clock wise back to the entrance. People were milling about their displays, in the windows, on the counters, and locked inside display cases.

The young lady is actually Mary's niece. They hailed from Brazil where I know, from personal experience, that people exude warmth and friendliness and speak as though they are caressing you with their words.

I asked her why her aunt had chosen such an unusual name for her shop. She laughed and explained that in Portuguese, "crazy" denotes a positive quality. Crazy Mary is someone is who is happy and fun-loving. I would have liked to continue our chat but some customers approached the till to have their purchases rung up.

Perhaps one day, I will be able to meet Mary in person and we can have a crazy good chat. Until then, welcome to the neighbourhood, Maria Maluca, and boa sorte com as suas compras!

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Crafts 'n More ...much much more!

In May, while my husband was sipping his cappuccino in Steveston Coffee, I decided to slip next door to Crafts 'n More and see if they had embossing tools.

I love this store - with the profusion of silk flowers tumbling at the front door, jumbles of fat balls of yarn crammed inside oversized baskets, and the most inspiring craft projects arrayed in the windows.

I meandered my way up and down aisles padded tightly with endless this and that. It's amazing the number of hobbies they managed to squeeze under one roof. It's sort of like your grandmother's version of Michael's - cozy, friendly, and personal.

A tall slim lady asked if she could help me. I stammered out something about embossing tools. She drew my attention to bottles of solution lined up like stern soldiers on a top shelf. She was no expert on the subject, she conceded, but her daughter used the product for her embossing project. Unsatisfied with what she could suggest, however, the lady beckoned an older woman over from the front counter. Given that they didn't carry want I needed, the three of us stood elbow to elbow and discussed my options.

It turned out that my interest in embossing came well after the rest of crafters had moved on to bigger and better things. Typical of me, I thought, always a step or two behind what's in vogue.

The older lady suggested Michael's but first she walked me back to the front desk. Instead of putting money down for specialty tools, she demonstrated how I could fashion my own embossing tip with a pen. Just be sure to place the paper you wish to emboss atop something soft, like sheets of newspaper, she advised. She proceeded to do an impromptu demo so I could replicate the process at home. They both waved good bye and good luck to me as I exited the store, taking nothing with me but a warm glowing feeling of awe and gratitude.

Wow, I thought, these ladies really cared! You wouldn't find that sort of service from a big box store.

Now I know what Crafts 'n More means - it means more care and attention, more sharing of ideas, and more of plain good old fashioned one-on-one interaction.