In Defense of Impractical Things


Egyptian statue from Richard S. Yost Estate Purchases, a charming shop in the heart of Skippack Village.

I love to wander thru the shops in Skippack, looking at delightful impractical things: A replica of a long-dethroned Egyptian idol, an ornament shaped like a porcupine, or a cloisonné butterfly. At the Wooden Duck Shoppe, for example, I find two leprechauns, one holding a pot of gold. Just what the doctor ordered. Next door at Pennsylvania Traditions there is a chick, a hatchling, emerging from an egg, always on the the threshold of a new beginning. To me, it makes a statement worth listening to, more so than much I hear these days.

Why do I love these impractical things I find in Skippack? It’s hard even to find a word that categorizes them: Gewgaws, tchotchkes, baubles. No word is exactly right. I think of them as affordable luxuries. They bolster self-esteem, because I tell myself I am worth it, I deserve this luxury, for no reason other than I am me. If I wrap this item up and give it to a friend, I can convey the same special feeling.

Let’s Visit

Down the street I walk to a small cottage that would make a fine home for a family of dwarfs. It is Richard S. Yost Estate Purchases, where the owner stocks items, authentic antiques and reproductions, reminiscent of a different era, when people took time to craft items for everyday use and play. Shop owner Richard Yost is doing a great job filling this quaint space with a diversity of objects, some impractical and others functional, for all interests. Here I purchase a cardboard reproduction of a nineteenth century Punch and Judy theater. You never know when that will come in handy.

Hippity hop: Springtime charm from The Copper Partridge Uniquities.

Hippity hop: Springtime charm from The Copper Partridge Uniquities.

Every shop I visit in Skippack has something out-of-ordinary to offer. It reminds me that life is meant to be enjoyed. We are not meant to be just slaves to our jobs and paychecks. We are meant to laugh, to find happiness in our crazy world. A quick look at news headlines and one sees this is not always so easy. So we need a contradictory reality, a reality of whimsical yet solid objects that remind of us of our potential for happiness.

A Message of Love

Even more profound is the magic when these items serve as gifts. If the object they represent has some special meaning for someone you love, then giving it as a gift may send an extraordinary message.

If your beloved loves cats, as mine does, and you find, as I did, a wooden kitty with a fishing a rod, then you have found a prize. The kitty waited for us at Passionflowers, a wonderful shop slightly-off-the-the-beaten-track just east of Skippack Village. It now sits on our shelf in the kitchen, forever wasting time, forever enjoying long, relaxed hours waiting for a big wooden fish that never bites. The message: Love is forever.

Not all these objects are totally impractical. I have at home, for example, a soap dispenser that looks like a bottle of Jack Daniels whiskey, purchased at a wonderful shop in Skippack called The Copper Partridge Uniquities. It sits in our power room, wonderfully out-of-place in its comfortable suburban surroundings. It functions quite well. Much better than the mundane soap dispenser it replaced.

My hope is that the shops in Skippack will always be chock full of impractical things and functional items with whimsical qualities. And may I always have time to explore until I find that one special item that touches my heart and soul.

Images in this video were taken at the following Skippack shops:

The Copper Partridge Uniquities
Southwest Trading Post
Richard S. Yost Estate Purchases
Wooden Duck Shoppe
Pennsylvania Traditions
Floral & Hardy of Skippack