As I knock on a very old door attached to an extremely dusty shop with metal bars all over the window, I wonder how such a place gets any business. The red and green painted front is faded and deteriorated and the huge window display of old fashioned toys looks like they haven’t moved or been cleaned in fifty years. The door is slowly opened by a small, frizzy grey haired lady and I am welcomed into Wonderland. Suddenly the window front is a magical display, and the dust is all part of its charm. Kristin Baybars, in her faded denim jacket, greets me with a huge smile.
“The best thing about owning your own shop is that you can kick people out of it. If I don’t like someone’s attitude, I will escort them out immediately!”
With this thought in mind, I quietly gaze round her world; a cluttered old shop that has no name, guarded by metal bars, bursting with tiny versions of everything imaginable towering over me from every angle. How curious.
Kristin ushers me into the back of her shop and I can immediately see new compartments of the shop, every corner stacked to the brim. I have stepped into my five year old self’s dream. I want to touch! I am offered a seat on a tiny wooden stool. Kristin tells me the chair is on its last leg,
“Excuse the pun! I have been meaning to glue it for ages,” she insists. As I sit down, looking up at the tall shelves of tiny toys, I can understand why she may have been distracted. I have stepped into the rabbit hole, a giant to this tiny scaled shop of wonders. Kristin lays back and stares up at the magnificent piles of doll’s house furniture and begins to tell me her tales. Her smooth, gentle voice flows on. I am a child again, cast into my own imagination, into my safe place. Kristin flicks a switch on one of the doll’s houses and it glows whilst I listen on. Even the hundreds of dolls seem to be listening, their houses absolutely stuffed with clutter, mirroring the shop itself.
“I can’t dress the houses, I’m the type of person that picks up one piece and knocks four down. A lot of it is pretty hideous. But I like it. There is beauty in ugliness. My favourite toy? It varies from day to day. They watch over my shop, isn’t that magical? What are they thinking? I think that’s their secret. There is something very magical about something which is teeny tiny compared with its full size. I love the thought that someone has made them. They are just bewitching to look at.”
As I reluctantly leave the enchanted shop with no name, I glance back at the grubby window display, settled behind bars. I note the huge rocking horse which I immediately want to clamber onto. I look down at the thick layers of pristine dust. What a remarkable thing; perhaps this secret shop is the next wonder of the world. Unlike the untouched dust, Kristin Baybars has truly left her mark on me. As I walk away, her words resound in my head,
“Children are almost better than grownups sometimes. I won’t long be eighty years old! I never thought I’d get old!” Oh Kristin, I don’t think you have!
Words by Loo Loo Rose
Photography by Nicholas Hayward
Article originally published in ‘ROUGH UK Magazine’
Image taken from Issue 03 of ‘Old Tat Magazine’