A friend posted a link to Charlene Croft’s blog post this morning about how secondhand shops aren’t allowed in downtown Dartmouth, thanks to some bizarre by-law. She discovered that “Junk Dealers” need a special license (this sounds like the same sort of b.s. licensing required by hair stylists here, too) to operate. But in downtown Dartmouth, the Downtown Dartmouth Community Planning Committee has established a bylaw prohibiting them completely. Croft already runs a very cool portable used book store/cafe/vintage shop, Book of Joe, out of the weekend Harbourview Weekend Market, but if she were to take it outside of the market–the next obvious step–she couldn’t. I have never lived anywhere so bylaw-happy in my life; it’s like the Quinpool Street bylaw that states that you can’t have a drink without food, or live music (including acoustic guitars). This is why there aren’t many self-sufficient neighbourhoods. Hate to be all upper canadian, but in Toronto, I had green grocers, restaurants, bars, vintage shops, dry cleaners and book stores all within walking distance. It creates loyalty, much more than dumping all your bars in a small block downtown, or having to take a ferry to buy a secondhand book on a Tuesday.
I’ll definitely be pitching this story to my dayjob newspaper–hopefully this ridiculous rule will change. I can’t imagine a world without my vintage and secondhand shops, not to mention how this runs counter to contemporary environmental and cultural attitudes towards reusing products. On our trip to NY, most of our shopping was secondhand. Beacon’s Closet in Brooklyn made me have a panic attack. It’s huge. And colour coded. And there are shoes everywhere. Bought my first vintage Diane von Furstenberg wrap dress for $20. What kind of city would stop a girl from such an important milestone?