Letter: ‘Dave’s Island Emporium’ is sorely missed


Dave and Jill Campbell performed a vital function on Whidbey Island – operating Island Recycling. I hope they are enjoying their well-deserved retirement, but boy do we miss them. They insisted that their employees be kept on by the new owners. Good on ‘em. They have been replaced by an outfit called DTG Recycle, with facilities all over the greater Seattle/Tacoma area and as far away as Yakima. Theirs is the corporate model, which fails to consider broader issues such as how communities work.

Used to be, if you needed a length of metal conduit, an extra-large plant pot, a chunk of fencing, some PVC pipe, or any of a million other oddments, you went to Dave’s Island Emporium and pawed through the offerings, Jill would charge you a dollar or two, and you’d be on your way back to your project.

Not any more. All of those useful bits are now simply crushed as metal or discarded as unrecyclable waste. People are having to buy new at hardware stores or order online and paying some seriously high prices for what used to be available for a buck. This is having an adverse impact on our island economy, as well as wasting useful materials.

What used to be a valuable part of the local economy and a great social gathering place, has become a sterile environment to be avoided. No more crowds hanging out and discussing the potential to revive that beautiful old wood cookstove, checking out the latest addition to the toy truck collection, or perusing the titles in the bookmobile.

At one point the Habitat For Humanity store tried to more-or-less duplicate Dave’s Island Emporium but it didn’t quite work. I believe we need a new version of what we San Francisco hippies had – a Free Store. People brought items. People took home items. No money was exchanged. Volunteers maintained a semblance of order in the mass of ‘stuff.’ We have many empty business venues on South Whidbey. Which venue owner might be willing to provide space for an updated Free Store? Anybody out there who would care to confab about how to bring back a new updated Dave’s Island Emporium?

Marianne Edain