People still take pride in their small towns and now matter how bad the geographic isolation and petty local politics get, there is nothing like the safety, friendliness, and the feeling of knowing your neighbors and being known by them. These qualities of a world however are rapidly passing away.
Carleton Place, ON is engulfed in a war of suburban sprawl and like most small-town Main Streets, it fights to remain alive. I grew up in a small rural town in Quebec and want people to remember the Main Streets of past and present, as it is part of our soul. Every few weeks I will write about one of the hard-working merchants that have a business on Main Street. We have to remember, it is not the big-box stores that should be admired and shopped at --it's the little guys that fight to make Main Street alive again.
On the sunny side of Bridge Street in Carleton Place,ON across from the local post office where "everyone knows your name" sits our local childrens consignment shop called Apple Cheeks. Like any small town the store is a wonderful mixture of old and new. The establishment takes in your childs previously worn clothing that is in good shape and sells it for you. It is a win win situation for everyone involved.
Every small town has its dramatic group, its square-dancing troupe and loving children in most homes. So why would you shop at a big-box store that doesn't necessarily quantify your children's needs? Ask anyone who shops at Apple Cheeks why they go in there. Sure it is for the deals and selections, but as customer Joshua McNeely told me last week, he shops there because Krista is there. There is no doubt in my mind that he is right, as every day when I pass the store, owner Krista Lee is talking to someone. She is one of the hardest working people I know, and she chose to open her shop because she loves people.
Krista offers love and kind words with every purchase and has 10% off on Grandparents Day every Tuesday plus a feature of the week. She used to run a home day care but when her kids went to school she wanted to be able to run her own business. Krista wanted to have the luxury of locking up her shop and put a "closed" sign in the window when her kids were sick or had events at the local school.
In a small town people understand this and think nothing of it. You see, it is the mom-and-pop stores, farm-supply stores, coffee shops, bookstores and barber shops where small town people connect. Everyone checks in on one another. The residents of Carleton Place like that Krista is here and want her to stay.
The local children also love Krista and mothers offer her as bait for good behaviour. I have heard many a young mother tell their child,
"If you're good we will go see Krista!"
The young ones are also a good source of business as they save up their quarters to purchase something and know they can play in her store and no one will tell them not too. You can never cut back on kids and everything is affordable at Apple Cheeks-- even for a six-year-old.
Instead of brand new items everything here has a former history and memories. New things are added daily and walking through her store is like going on a field trip. You might also bump into the person you met by chance at the library or the pool and it may turn out to be the best friend of your down-the-street neighbor. Maybe that's why people are so friendly here and so willing to be unhurried.
On the 1st of August and the 1st of February seasonal clothing changes at Apple Cheeks. You might find something on a special dollar rack as she never out dates her store. One of her latest gift items is healing amber. I had never seen it before and it was very lightweight, and beautiful.
Amber is radiant with energies of peace and calm to those who wear it. It is also an anti-anxiety remedy that rids fatigue and weariness and provides more self confidence. In many parts of the world, especially in Europe, amber healing is a tradition that has been handed down from generation to generation. Some use it a a nursing necklace as babies recognize the necklace and associate it with feeding and mama's comfort. Krista told me that those who bought it never took it off once they put it on.
Throughout the interview the owner helped customers as Krista offers personal service, as she is the store. When you don't know what you are doing in a small town most others do. In a small town people know what they want out of life and most morals are strong. They have major beliefs about certain things and I think that has helped me coming from a rural area, as reading books at a local store as a child, helped me explore the world.
Krista was born and raised in Carleton Place and one can see that she and her family will never leave.
She doesn't have a bowling alley in her basement, a house on the beach or condos in New York, But there is one thing she has that no one else has--she is the heart and soul of Apple Cheeks.
“To read the papers and to listen to the news... one would think the country is in terrible trouble. You do not get that impression when you travel the back roads and the small towns do care about their country and wish it well.”
53 Bridge Street , Carleton Place, Ontario K7C 2V4
613 451 2769