Friday, October 31, 2008

Trip in Review, Part 1

Our mini-vacation to Dallas was primarily for the purpose of visiting the King Tut exhibit at the Dallas Museum of Art. That happened on day 2 and will be the subject of the Trip Review Part 2. The balance of our 3 days involved our joint hobbies of dollhouses and genealogy. (We don't go anywhere without a side trip for genealogy and we always check for possible dollhouse stores within reasonable distance.)

A few years back we attended the Miniature Mayfest in Dallas and it was an absolutely wonderful experience. It was a fluke that we were able to attend because it traditionally occurs on the same weekend as the annual Frankum family reunion and as much as I love miniatures, genealogy squeaks by as the front-runner in my list of preferred activities. That year the reunion had been shifted to a different weekend and we grabbed the opportunity to spend a weekend wallowing in a surfeit of miniature delights.

One of our stops that weekend had been to visit a nearby miniatures store, the best source of miniatures in Dallas and we had remembered it fondly. As soon as we arrived in Dallas, we headed out to the north end of town for a miniatures fix.

We left a couple of hours later a bit disappointed.

Our miniatures store in Austin closing a couple of years back had left a big hole in our ability to satisfy our mini-cravings, but we well knew the reasons behind its demise. The owner had retired and her daughter had made the decision to move the business to an EBAY storefront. I've purchased from her several times and been thoroughly satisfied, but it's not the same as touching and feeling the target of your lust before plunking down the cash in a moment of spurious rationalization that your budget can be stretched to accommodate. Plus, how do you know you need something you don't know exists until you see it?

I get the distinct feeling that the Dallas store is headed the same direction. They still had a lot of inventory and we both found several things we couldn't resist - but neither of us left feeling guilty that we had overspent. The atmosphere of the store just didn't draw us in and captivate us like it did on that previous encounter. It seemed to have aged and grown tired and could be possibly thinking of retirement. The inspiration factor was missing.

I tried to decide if it was me that had changed. I decided it was not. Earlier this year I was plagued with the temptation to overspend at the miniatures store in Nashville. (I cradled an expensive and thoroughly unnecessary Bespaq chair all the way home in the plane.) The dollhouse store in San Antonio always has me leaving in a guilty and furtive manner. (It's times like those that I'm grateful I'm the only one who has access to my financial records.)

The thing is, the dollhouse hobby is so very exclusive. One caring, miniatures-afflicted person can make all the difference to how wonderful or disappointing a miniatures store is. When that person begins to approach retirement, unless another stricken soul decides to take up the mantle, the store itself begins to tire and fade. Unfortunately, the mini-disease is not necessarily genetic, so there isn't always a younger generation coming along to take over.

And I'm sure the economy isn't helping. It can't be fun to try and keep things fresh and lively when your clientele is cutting back.

I'm very happy with the new miniatures that have come home with me from this trip, but I'm a little sad as well. I had the distinct feeling that it might be the last opportunity I would have to shop in this particular store. I hope I'm wrong.



MiniKat said...

Was the store in Austin the one near a brick oven pizza restaurant? If so I shopped there once while I was visiting my brother.

LSW said...

I'm not sure if there was a pizza place nearby - I always made a bee-line for the store and never looked around. It was on Kerbey Lane, just west of Seton Hospital on 35th street. It was the last of the line. At one time we had several stores in Austin that carried miniatures and now we have none (not counting the pitiful assortment at the various Hobby Lobby stores). If I ever win the lottery, we will have a new one! LSW