The American Curiosity Shop

Sunny afternoons are perfect for browsing around quaint little curiosity shops.  Small American towns boast some of the most fantastic gift shops in the world.  I love wandering around charming old streets and stores, taking in a little piece of America.


I love the term Curiosity Shop, probably because of  Charles Dicken’s novel The Old Curiosity Shop which was set in London.  But only since coming to America have I really grown to appreciate these whimsical stores.  Curiosity shops are definitely a reason why I love America.

During spring break this year we stopped for ice cream in Pine Mountain, Georgia.  I spent a lovely few hours dawdling along Main Street, feasting my eyes on the lovely knick knacks on display.

I always think owners of souvenir shops are cool.  Look at this cute gal I found greeting customers outside one shop door.

Truth be told, there probably isn’t a single item for sale in a curiosity shop that could truly be categorized as a ‘need’.  Yet after rambling around the hodge podge of collectibles on display I just can’t help myself.  A list of ‘wants’ starts forming in the back of my mind.

Before long I start murmuring to myself:

“I want that!….. And that!….. And what about this!”

Everything is just so tempting!

Even a simple rocking chair screams “come in and see what we have inside!”

This beautiful pair are perfect for sipping a relaxed cup of coffee in the morning.  Makes you feel your own make-upless face ain’t half bad!

This crafty bench caught my eye the moment I passed by.

And what bird could resist a birdhouse like this one?

I went quackers for this pair.

My grandmother would have browsed then announced “there’s no money in this house for tricky trackies.”  She never had much extra to spend on non-essentials.  I always loved her turn of phrase.  I bet if she had a few extra pennies to spare she would have filled her shelves with all kinds of bits and bobs that took her fancy.

And definitely she would have loved this car license plate.  It was not for sale.  I spotted it on a classic old MG and thought it was oh so cute!

At first blush these little art shops may seem inconsequential.  Yet, after spending over twenty years living in America I have come to realize what an important role they play in supporting arts and crafts throughout the nation.  By displaying the superb craftsmanship of local artists these curiosity shops help preserve and celebrate their skills, helping shape our cultural heritage for today and tomorrow.

So when you have a few moments to spare, take the exit off the highway and explore the little slice of Americana that small town curiosity shops have to offer.

Slán agus beannacht leat!

(Goodbye and blessings)

Irish American Mom