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article imageOp-Ed: Vintage shop in Sonoma aims to happier times Special

By Jonathan Farrell     Apr 18, 2016 in Business
Sonoma - Tiddlywinks, that very simple little game is one of the sources of inspiration for Sonoma's Tiddle E Winks Vintage Five and Dime.
The shop's owner Heidi Geffen was featured in the April 14 edition of The Sonoma Valley Sun. She took a few minutes to chat with this reporter at the counter, just before a group of tourists trotted in.
"I have lots of happy memories of the Five and Dime store where I grew up in Michigan, she said. And this here is pretty much what it was like." Geffen's shop that is only a few steps away from the main plaza at the heart of town is filled with lots of nostalgic games, toys and gifts that the mind can absorb.
Patrons like Sonoma resident Linda Anderson frequents Tiddle E Winks just for the candy. "Heidi has an array of candy like no where else," Anderson told me. Old time candies such as Necco Waffers, Rocky Road bars, various types of chocolate, taffy and hard candies fill an entire section and combined with the array of games, toys and trinkets the entire shop is a feast for the senses.
Much of her retail experience is from her years living and working in Southern California. As she told The Sonoma Valley Sun, "in the 1980's I owned a sticker shop." Even then, her heart was set on simple things that make people happy. What initially began as a little stand at the Farmer's Market in Los Angeles eventually became Sticker Planet in Santa Monica.
Her affinity for such things is what lead her to the wine country to work at Mrs. Grossman's sticker shop in nearby Petaluma. And, like so many who wander into Sonoma for a visit, she was smitten by its charm and its sense of California history.
And, speaking of history, pointed to the display of Tiddlywink game boxes on the wall. "Some of them go all the way back to the 19th Century, when the game was first invented."
The North American Tiddlywinks Association is celebrating its 50th Anniversary this year. Rick Tucker, speaking on behalf of the association said, "the original game of tiddlywinks was patented in 1888. It became a raging fad in England and the U.S. From 1890 through the next decade.
Despite its simplicity, Tiddlywinks has adapted itself over the decades. "The modern highly competitive game debuted at Cambridge University in England in 1955. There is a rich history added Tucker. And it still remains popular."
He liked the creative way Geffen spells out the name 'Tiddle E Winks' to give her shop distinction. He pointed out that Geffen sells two reproduction editions of tiddlywinks games in her shop, among many other games that Baby Boomers would remember, like 'Candy Land' and 'Chutes and Ladders.'
When I asked Geffen what she sees as the enduring appeal of so many things of a time gone by, she smiled and said, "they represent happier and simpler times." And, like the sticker shop, Geffen went on to say, she had always dreamed of having a shop that represented the happier times of childhood.
Inside Tiddle E Winks Vintage Five and Dime shop in Sonoma  CA.
Inside Tiddle E Winks Vintage Five and Dime shop in Sonoma, CA.
"I also wanted to have a job that did not feel like work," she said. That is not to say Geffen did not pour her heart and soul into the endeavor. Her shop is nestled amid some of the most highly sought after retail spots in all of Sonoma. And, as she gave me a brief tour, she pointed out all the renovating she had done before her shop opened. The fact that most of the shops along and near the Plaza are historic, it took a lot of time, effort and persistent determination to get everything in order and set, such as permits, fees, etc.
Tiddle E Winks is truly like stepping back in time. And for many long-time residents and natives of Sonoma it restores some of what Sonoma, as an old Mission town has lost to high-tech modern lifestyles. Now that Sonoma has become a wine tourist destination, some of its charm as a rural California Town has changed.
Even so, for Geffen much of Sonoma's best aspects are still in tact. "I see Sonoma as like a little island, she said. And, when I first arrived I was taken a back at the slower pace of life. Now, I find it hard to be away from Sonoma," she said.
Less than a block from the Plaza in Sonoma  Tiddle E Winks Vintage Five and Dime has something for j...
Less than a block from the Plaza in Sonoma, Tiddle E Winks Vintage Five and Dime has something for just about everyone, especially those who are a kid at heart.
And at that, as is with all shop-keeping, the few moments of quiet for our chat were suddenly shaken with a stammer of tourists who came in to take a closer look at all the treasures, they peaked at through the window.
Tiddle E Winks Vintage Five and Dime is located at 115 East Napa Street at the heart of Sonoma near the Plaza. Open 10:30 AM to 5:30 PM Monday thru Saturday and Open from 11 AM to 5 PM on Sunday. To learn more about the shop visit the Tiddle E Winks web site. Or, call 707 939-6933.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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