During the springtime Port Arthur Craft Revival in May, I walked by this little shop on Cumberland (across from the Prince Arthur Hotel) called Polyesther’s Retro Revival.
Earlier in the year I’d noticed the big picture windows filling up with colourful retro clothes and accessories, draped upon unique pieces of vintage furniture. I thought, “I don’t know what this place is going to be but I already know I like it.”
When I saw that it was open during the Craft Revival, I was practically vibrating with excitement. What kind of treasures was I going to find?
And let me tell you…
It was amazing.
It was like walking into my Great-Aunt’s basement in rural Manitoba when I was 7 years old. It was like a time capsule. It even smelled like my great-aunt’s house. From my earliest childhood memory to my last visit there, it never changed and I loved it. The memories, the comfort, the security. The familiarity.
The most amazing thing that happened when I walked into Polyesther’s little vintage store, was meeting the proprietor.
I thought she looked familiar and then when I heard her name, I knew. It gave new meaning to the saying, “come as a stranger, leave as family!”
So I’d like to introduce you to my cousin Charmaine:
A hippy. A free spirit. A momma. An artist.
Charmane was born in Thunder Bay and had four amazing children who grew up to be four amazing adults.
Her life took a huge change several years ago after being injured at work and sustaining what’s known as an acquired brain injury.
Unfortunately the injury Charmaine suffered caused permanent damage: memory loss, cognitive problems, and fatigue are a few things that she struggles with daily.
But there is a silver lining: Charmaine’s life changed in other ways too. She became massively artistic and was consumed by a desire to create.
In Charmane’s own words:
I take things that are broken or destined for the landfill and give them new life by re-purposing or re-inventing them.
So for many years I created and created and created!
It was a way for me to deal with depression, fear, and intense uncertainty. It was a way for me to feel I was good at something again.
Somewhere along that journey I realized that I was re-inventing myself as well. After my injury, I felt so fragile and alone. Through that dark journey I surrounded myself with things I remembered from my childhood.
These items from the 60’s & 70’s gave me security because I could remember them. As I began to heal and grow into my new identity, I realized that the art I created and the vintage items I had collected for years were not needed anymore. I had run out of room to store my mosaic mirrors and all my creations!
It would appear that Charmaine healed herself and embraced her new identity through creation and art therapy! Then, when she felt more secure and comfortable with herself, she was able to realease her security blanket into the universe.
That is how Polyesther’s Retro Revival was born!
It’s not just a store, it’s an interactive art gallery of handmade and collected treasures. It’s all for sale, ready to continue the journey with a new owner. Charmaine wants to release her giant collection of beautiful antiques and art into the world of new treasure seekers.
From Charmaine again:
There is nothing brand new in my gallery. It is 99% re-invented, upcycled, and vintage. Every single item has its own story just like every single one of us has our own story. I feel like my space is an orphanage for treasures and I just take care of them until the right person comes along.
She was open during the craft revival and keeps her eyes peeled for other neighbourhood festivals to join. For example, she will be open this coming weekend during Rib Fest! This Friday to Sunday, August 25th-27th.
She is also more than happy and willing to accommodate private birthday parties or bachelorette parties (Think, dressing up in vintage clothes and taking pictures!) and serious collectors!
If you are interested in seeing Charmaine’s amazing space full of glorious treasures, you simply must head down there this weekend during Rib Fest. Remember, across from the Prince Arthur.
Charmaine is currently working on making a Facebook page but in the meantime, you can email her to book a time to see her space or ask when the next public opening is happening.
Remember, if it’s ugly or broken, don’t throw it out!
Grab some paint and give it a facelift or donate it to a second hand store!
The world doesn’t need any more trash, but it always has room for treasures. That includes human treasures.
Nobody is broken beyond repair.
Not Charmaine, not me, not you.