On the television show Sesame Street, Mr. Hooper was many things: inventor, mentor, employer and friend, but I remember him best as a corner shopkeeper, street sweeper and stoop speaker. He had a place in the neighborhood people could drop by every day and he did things the old-fashioned way. He asked how people were doing, helped them when they needed it, encouraged kindness, did things by hand and fixed stuff when it was broken. People did not need a reason to come by his store, they just kind of did; some got goods or drinks from the fountain, others just wanted to say hello.
Serendripity Spot, at the corner of 33rd and Lyndale Avenues North, tries to be a little bit “Mr. Hooper.” His store was stocked with jars of ingredients for making birdseed shakes and egg creams alongside newspapers, bulk candy and other items. Back then there was less packaging of the stuff we buy, and I carry an admiration for those times and a kinship with Mr. Hooper as I move “forward into the past” in the way I do business.
Specifically, I avoid brand names, inflated pricing, and all that darned boxing, bagging, and wrapping. This might be called “precycling,” or eliminating trash before it is created, because if we do not use new plastic, paper or metal to begin with, we will not have to dispose of it later. Energy, water and raw materials are also saved when containers are refilled instead of using new.
I am now ready and interested in finding out what folks might like to get from this corner shop in bulk quantities so as to establish a small supply of staple goods that people can pick up and bring home using their own returnable refillable bottles and jars. Serendripity Spot is open to becoming a “mini mercantile” and could sell things like cooking oil, flour, grains, nuts, sugar, spices and more. Some people have already asked about coffee beans and loose leaf tea, and so it seems there may be a ready-made place to start.
There are two new nonprofit grocery stores coming to North Minneapolis and it is exciting to have additional resources that promise to break up the federally designated food desert in this area, and be within walking or biking distance from the shop. I can get there easily for things I need to make drinks and snacks, and, if those nearby need to grab a pantry item here and there, Serendripity Spot can have things on hand and be place to service them too.
Thanks for reading and please let me know what you think about this simple idea that strives to update and resuscitate the old-fashioned, general store approach. I would also like to hear what kinds of things you might like to see in stock.
Submitted by Kelley Skumautz, Serendripity Spot
Photo caption: Kelly at the counter. Photo by Mariah Mendoza.