Going, Going, Gone: ReCreative Spaces & Robert Harper Books

I try to keep my posts on the more positive side of things; there’s enough gloom out there to occupy your mind and thoughts. But this post is going to be less Q-Tip’s Vivrant Thing and more Elton John’s Yellow Brick Road than you’re used to getting from me. 

Here’s why sad Elton’s in my ears: We’re losing two small businesses that – from what I’ve seen – have hustled like crazy to be a spot for our community to gather, connect, hear new music, support local artists and musicians, buy local art, happen upon a great used book, buy a Sonic Youth t-shirt, etc. Mt. Rainier’s ReCreative Spaces announced last month that they’re closing their doors at the end of the year and Riverdale Park’s Robert Harper Books announced this month that it will be closing its store at the end of January (online sales will continue).

Why are they closing? Lack of funding. Put another way, not enough of us have been going to these small businesses, checking them out and supporting their work. This saddens me because these are good people, neighbors, working to provide our local community with new and accessible ways to enrich our lives, our community, and they’re closing because of a lack of our support.

Now, maybe a used bookstore wasn’t your thing – but if you set foot inside Robert Harper Books, you’d see that the man also has some artwork for sale, funky left-leaning buttons for sale, t-shirts from bands of yore on sale, used LPs. You’d also get to meet Robert, who’s a character, in the absolute best sense of the word.

Why yes, that is a Francoise Hardy t-shirt behind Mr. Harper.

As for ReCreative Spaces, if getting the chance to check out a ciper celebrating a dope photography exhibit, or the chance to engage your kids by making beautiful artwork out of simple splotches or the chance to witness a Duet Roulette, which brought together artists sharing all kinds of talents who were asked to produce short, on-the-spot duets, is not your thing – then I guess you won’t miss ReCreative Spaces much. But I will.

Petrified, as Self Suffice & Dumi Right pass me the mic at ReCreative Spaces.

I started Route One Fun out of a sincere and excited interest in heightening awareness about all the great, local, artsy, musical, kid-friendly, adult-friendly things we’ve got going on all along Route One. I highlighted events that both ReCreative Spaces and Robert Harper Books were throwing as often as they were occurring. And all that is good. Yay to me. But if enough folks don’t start going to and supporting our local businesses – even just stepping inside and browsing about the stacks – they may cease to exist, as we’re seeing with these two local, small businesses.

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