meet wendy

I love The I.D.E.A. Store! I think it’s brilliant!

Tell us a little about you.
I’m a hopelessly Midwestern former history major who can be found sipping cocktails at “crafternoon” parties, buying up vintage sewing patterns at estate sales, and posting actual letters to far flung friends.

How long have you been volunteering at the store?

I started volunteering last August.

How did you find out about the store, and what made you decide to volunteer?
I don’t remember how I found out about the store. Word of mouth, I think. I was delighted the first time I went into the shop– so many things I could use for my mail art projects, tons of craft supplies and stickers for my preschooler, a dazzling array of vintage double knit fabrics. All for a song! You had me at cheap art and craft supplies, but then I found out about your mission of education and ecology. Not to mention community inspiration. I was hooked.

How much time do you spend at the store every week, and what do you do while you’re there?
I volunteer one evening a week, though I’d love to be able to do more. I am now the “Ephemera Steward,” which means I sort through the donations of ephemera and work with the general manager on how to display the store’s treasures. Ephemera is the stuff of people’s lives that by all rights shouldn’t have survived– old menus from Air France, ticket stubs from Skateland, flash cards from the 50’s. This stuff was meant to be ephemeral, fleeting– and yet someone held on to it and kept it out of the waste stream. Maybe it’s just the thing you need for your collage or mail art.

What do you enjoy most about volunteering?

Old objects fascinate me. I enjoy holding them, thinking about all the places they’ve been, the hands that have touched them, the functions they’ve served. I love imagining their potential to serve new purposes, to inspire artistic expression, to find a new place and function.

What would you say to others who someone who is considering volunteering at the store?

Don’t give up if you don’t find your place at first. When I started, I was overwhelmed by learning the system. I’m so glad I stuck it out and found my place there. The staff will work with you to find out where your interests and talents fit their needs. Don’t forget to wear closed-toed shoes!

What does the store mean to you and to the community?

I struggle with my glass-half-empty tendencies. The IDEA Store gives me hope– that the old can be made new, that “garbage” can be transformed into educational promise, that art and activism can meet where the little people have big ideas. The IDEA Store is subversive; it challenges the dominant cultural values of consumption and perfection. It is a brave little holdout of reuse in an economy where virtue is defined as buying new, costly, plastic things. We’re going to change the world, one quirky craft project at a time! When I go home from the IDEA Store, our glass looks half-full.

What else would you like people to know about you or the store?

If you don’t see something you’re looking for, ask at the counter. It may very well be in the back, and staff are happy to look.

A sample of Wendy’s ephemera treasures from the store.