The Old Country Market in Coombs BC

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I never thought I’d visit Coombs, which is a small town near ParksvilleQualicum.  It’s a name on the map for me and until we chose to go to Butterfly World I didn’t think I’d have the pleasure of finding one of the most eclectic shopping areas in the world.

The draw for this market is that they have grass on the rooftops of the market (I wonder if the new Convention Centre in Vancouver stole their idea) and they have goats trimming the grass.  Well, it’s been pretty darn hot and I suspect that the goats wouldn’t enjoy the dry grass.  So, the goats were not tanning on the roof that day.  The very dry grass on the roof also is what I suspect led to the complete ban of smoking on this highly wood-oriented market.

There were many shops that included a great fruit and vegetable stand. You just can’t beat locally grown produce that’s immediately sold and promptly eaten. There were a variety of craft/gift shops as well as the Chinese Antique shop.

Where it got really odd, was when you head slightly east. You will find a fudge shop (yummy) and an open area. A fellow named Shane Philip was playing a combination of guitar, various drums and a couple of those Australian Didgeridoos.  What was odd was the sense that the music had 70s classic guitar influences mixed with the ethereal sounds of the Didgeridoos.  I bought a CD, which is something I never do.  www.shanephilip.com

There was also a rough and rustic shop selling classic dye cast cars with a selection of Hot Wheels.  Also in the courtyard were sculptures of a variety of animals as well as classical Chinese figures.  With the background of old barn wooden buildings it was very peculiar-looking.

Further down the road, back toward Parksville, is a General Store which is wonderful because it has the needed pop and chips and DVD rentals as well as a full service postal outlet.  What we were looking for was some kind of implement for a marshmallow roast.  My thoughts of my 8-year-old setting herself on fire with some dumb stick I found in the woods led me to buy a great wiener roaster that was perfect for cooking two marshmallows at once.  

Next to the general store were some more gift type shops, but as you worked further east, there was a combination flea market/hardware store.  I was looking for a hatchet but they were all out.  (The Coop gas station across the road solved my kindling problem by selling me a bundle for $2.99.)  In this group of stores I noticed that the tattoo parlour and the yoga studio were side-by-side.  This made me laugh as who often contemplates the benefits of yoga with whatever it is people think is the benefit of body art.

Now where things got interesting was at Owens & Company Antiques, Collectibles and Home Decor.  (I was surprised not to find a dentist in there.)  Anyway, this is a kind of mixed bag place that my Great Aunt and my Mother would have enjoyed combing through (about 35 years ago).  I remember this vividly as I was in tow on these excursions when I was around the age of my daughter.  One thing I did learn was how to spot a find.  I am waiting final confirmation from my mother, but I bought what I think was a 1930s butter dish, milk, cream and sugar holder for a really good deal.  What was funny was that I was not really interested in going into the store in the first place because our 2-year-old was starting to loose his limited powers of self control and I wasn’t keen on paying money for a bag of broken glass.

Well, when I saw the piece I was going to just walk away when my wife kindly offered to buy it for me.  When I realized there was a set and in excellent condition, I went for it.

For me, a guy who hates shopping, I was actually quite excited.  For me the Coombs shopping experience was this random, rustic and surprising collection of shops and items.  Frankly a great and good step away from the shops of the main drag of Anywhere Canada.

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