Dreaming of ‘Sanity Island’

This is a guest post by Brad Howard of Clever Mink’s, a quirky little gift shop at 711 Carnarvon. Brad’s offering 20% off anything in store until the end of February for Tenth To The Fraser readers who mention having read this piece. – Briana

I’m not taking a tropical vacation this winter and, who knows, maybe you’re not either. There’s a lot of that going around these days. So in my own little mind I’ve made Sanity Island my go-to spot for this winter. It’s located between St. Kitt’s and St. Somewhere and naturally it’s lovely with its brilliant beaches gently hugging turquoise lagoons while up behind is a towering but peaceful volcanic peak that is draped in orchids and the startling lush greenness that’s only seen in the tropics. Sure it’s pretty but the thing that really makes Sanity Island special is the rules. Odd, I know but it’s true.

No fretting, fear-mongering or fatuousness allowed. This effectively prohibits most politicians and news media. One night per week on Sanity Island might be given over to an evening debate of the main issues of our times which would then be discussed and dissected amicably, learnedly and with the interests of all given consideration. After that out come the rum drinks with the little umbrellas. And maybe a conga line.

No harbouring hatred, heaping scorn or hanging wallpaper. No room on the island for any of that. Go and have a long walk on the beach. Admire the mountain.

No treachery or turpitude or trolls. Sorry, Wall St. but Sanity Island is no place for you. It looks as if you may just have to go buy your own island with your big bailout bucks. Of course, your new island quite possibly could be inhabited by cash-eating trolls. Pity.

No braggadocio, no brutality and no buzzwords. By now it should be obvious that such things are not done on Sanity Island and no one while on the island need fear being told to think outside the box or to do anything synergistically. Think and do as you want so long as you follow the rules.

Thanks for joining me on a quick trip to my own wintertime getaway. Of course you may prefer to create your own slice of tropical wonder right there in your own cranium and unless you’ve heard something that I haven’t, it’s still a perfectly legal and ridiculously cheap vacation. And deciding who to keep out is almost as much fun as deciding who to bring along.

If you read this bit of doggerel or scanned it or at least read a line or two before moving on to something important and you happen to mention that fact to us at 711 Carnarvon St. then you’ve just earned yourself 20% off anything in the store until the end of February.

Working to make New West minksier since, well, last year.

Clever Mink’s

711 Carnarvon St. New Westminster

Ask for Nancy or her sidekick, Brad

Shopping local is good for the soul

This is a guest post by Brad Howard of Clever Mink’s, a great little gift shop at 711 Carnarvon St. If you’ve got an idea for a guest post, go ahead and drop us a line

Having never blogged before I found the idea daunting so I sought out some friends’ opinions. Some said you’ve got to open big to grab the reader. You’ve only got 4.3 seconds of their attention (that might be last year’s figure, this year’s is doubtlessly shorter) or they’ll move on to something splashier. Make ’em laugh or make ’em cry. Talk about how to get crazy good sex or how to lose weight in an hour or about how to find inner peace but in a really fun and exciting way.

Others suggested it would be better for me to start small but be authoritative by sticking to a narrow topic that I know extremely well. Cleaning out a cat box comes to mind as does muttering to myself when stuck in traffic. Hard to imagine though, how either of those will stoke the fires of passion and controversy that fuel this strange critter known as the blogosphere. Even the word “blogosphere” seems a bit foreign to me, rolling awkwardly off my tongue like when I try to work rechereche into a conversation.

I am non-digerati, growing up in a time when computers were only seen on TV shows where they always occupied an entire room, were covered in rapidly spinning spools for some reason, and were often at work in some nefarious world-threatening plot. Or sometimes they were saving the world from said plot but suffice to say there was generally a plot involved. Cut to the present and the whole computer thing turned out to be more about letting a bunch of regular people express their thoughts and try to be interesting doing it. I’m not sure I’m up to that.

Clever Mink’s is a gift shop with a funny name and, like as not, you’ve never heard of us. The fault for that is on us, of course, with our marketing plan that relied perhaps too heavily on mental telepathy and optimism. Nevertheless, we do exist and we do most of our existing right here in New West. Proudly so, not only as new business owners and residents in town but as new immigrants to this country.

We left the States, Bush refugees we have been called and worse, a tad over a year ago to venture into this lush green (sometimes white) land of yours with a plan firmly in mind to try to do something fun. And fun it has been, as only the commitment of a good chunk of one’s savings into a strange new business during the most perilous of economic times can be fun. Other words leap to mind as well but fun is really the pick of that litter.

We decided to open our humble establishment during the dead of summer and on a street, we only subsequently learned, that had a city-wide reputation as being a great place to avoid ever going. Luckily for us our new neighbors at The Hideout Cafe, Shamryn’s Hobby Shop, Queen’s Park Florist, and the many others hereabout have welcomed us warmly and made us feel at home in this spot. Best of all have been our great customers, those stalwart few who’ve bucked the area’s bad rep and actually managed to find us and have begun to spread the word about us far better than we ever could do ourselves. A big shout-out and thanks to you all.

Now I can’t say as it’ll improve your sex life or help you lose weight or give you that exciting version of inner peace you’ve been looking for, but shopping local stores is good for the soul, no doubt about it. And good for the town.

It may be an old idea but a town needs to be more than a mere collection of homes where working people rest their heads. Any town worthy of its name, especially one that possesses the rich history and character that ours does, needs its shops and markets, pubs, eateries, theatres and galleries in order to remain vibrant and liveable.

We like to think that someday soon all of us will look back at 2008 as the beginning of a renaissance in the downtown core, the time when New West decided to reclaim its place as the jewel on the banks of the Fraser river. But then we have to be optimists- we’re business owners. Happy Holidays to all.

Come visit us at 711 Carnarvon St. or online at www.cleverminks.com.

Ask for Nancy or her sidekick Brad.

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