I finally made it to the Pirate Store yesterday. I’m not quite sure what I expected, but yes, that is an open tub of lard over by the cash register, and they do have an very extensive collection of glass eyes. Since it’s really just a front for the writing center, there are also plenty of books and writing materials in amongst the pirate flags, striped knee socks and booty. The best part though (and the reason I’ll go back) are the signs. Signs for sale, Signs Containing Lists, signs that reference other signs three inches away, signs that serve no purpose whatsoever except to make you giggle. Signs that make you want to redecorate your room in a manner appropriate for posting signs.
The Pirate Store just so happens to be right in between the City Art Gallery and Paxton Gate. It’s a little difficult to describe Paxton Gate, but I’ll give it a try. Let’s say you had a garden shop specializing in bromeliads, succulents, carnivorous plants and orchids. And let’s say you also had an interest in natural science, so you added fossils, various magnifying instruments, pinned beetles and butterflies, animal skeletons, bell jars, tubes and droppers. And since your store was in the middle of the artsy part of town and the people you hired were art students, you decided to carry their art, which was in turn inspired by the contents of the store and their own interest in taxidermy. And as long as you were at it, why not exotic teas, teapots, and handmade jewelry? You’d be pretty close then to what Paxton Gate is like. It feels like walking into a Victorian gentlemen scholar’s study, if it were decorated by his peculiar niece. So the next time you’re thinking, “a dead mouse dressed in period clothing and mounted in a shadow box with a liitle tableau would perk this room right up!” you’ll know where to go.