Country Roads: The Original Pop-Up Store

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Country Roads: The Original Pop-Up Store

by Carolyn Parks: New to Waterloo Contributor and Owner of One Hundred Mile Gifts.

One of the things I love most about residing within and near other largely rural communities is how quickly I can leave suburbia and find myself driving through rolling country hills.

I was reminded how close to the country we really are several years ago when I drove past a wild turkey strutting around a neighbouring home’s driveway. Another rural reminder of for those of us living in St. Jacobs (and I’m sure many other towns) is the annual, distinctly aromatic ‘eau de swine poop’ that pervades the air each spring.

Yet another – wholly more pleasant – sign that you’re journeying through Woolwich County is the multitude of tiny pop-up ‘retail outlets’ that appear at the side of the roads (the overhead on this type of operation can’t be beat). Whether you’re touring around Hawkesville, Elmira, West Montrose, or toward Listowel and beyond, you will be greeted each summer with cheery roadside fare laid out by farmers and country homeowners.

Two weekends ago, I drove with my kids to visit their grandma in Southampton. I took note of the various treasures available to me through just a simple click of my turn signal, a bit of braking, and pulling over. I saw rhubarb, campfire wood, flowers, pop, birdhouses (that was pretty cool), jams, fresh eggs, and syrup. I saw signs telling me where I can find beautiful quilts, bouncy puppies, fresh butchered meat (the last two items not being in any manner related).

Throughout the summer, I am addicted to bringing home fresh flowers for my table, and personally think that the $2.50 spent for a colourful bouquet is a pretty great deal for the cheer it brings.

For a society that consumes frequently and heftily from bigger box stores and other commercial establishments, doesn’t it feel so satisfying to spontaneously indulge in simple trade, goods made by the fields and hands that live amongst us? It’s commerce at its most grassroots level, and it just feels…good. And beyond that, the element of surprise is a treat; you never know what you’ll come upon in your travels. As a person who is promoting local through her new business endeavour, this kind of purchasing warms the cockles of my heart!

I urge you to keep spare change in your wallet or purse at all times. Warning: munchkins in your care will urge you to buy them ice cream and other junk food items with any change they find. But please, hold strong; earmark your jangling coins for those spontaneous country jaunts – roadside goodies await.


Carolyn Parks is co-owner of 100 Mile Gifts and a New to Waterloo Contributor.

Carolyn Parks is co-owner of 100 Mile Gifts and a New to Waterloo Contributor.

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