March 4-9, 2014

Masha’s Impossible Products was the first Inconvenience Store, and sold a range of things that couldn’t possibly be made or sold.

In Masha’s words:

It all started extremely inconveniently. Ryan emailed me a week before the Inconvenience store was about to open its doors to excited shoppers, asking me if I would like to be the first storekeeper. I was shocked and excited at the same time over the fact that my proposal was among the chosen ones. I could not reject this tempting offer of co-operation, even though I only had a week’s time to prepare, organize and get everything ready for the grand opening!

Conveniently enough, I am used to last minute projects and with a little help from friends, the ladies from Creative Junk and folks from Gap Filler, I got things sorted quite quickly. Before I knew it, we were inconveniently opening the store on the first day of torrential rainfall. Despite the storm outside, a few people attended the opening and straight away grasped my idea of “impossible products” (i.e. products that you can’t possibly buy in a shop but you wish you could, for example a 30-hour day, 10 minutes of silence, an extra pair of hands …). Sitting behind the creative table, everyone was making their own impossible yet very useful items, which would make their lives much easier. Price in the form of time and creativity was indeed my vision of inconvenience. The only way customers were able to purchase my items was to create their own.

The week progressed and so did the ideas for products. With the anxiety of a kid I waited each day to see what my customers would come up with. To be able to observe what people lack most in their everyday lives was an experience I’m grateful to have had. It felt like being a part of a movement, which started with a tiny spark of imagination and caused an avalanche of creativity.

The concept of “swap and exchange” worked very well, though numerous customers refused to take products with them, as they wanted other people to experience the store fully stocked. The inspirations were endless: from practical products like Self love tonic, Eyes for the back of your head, Dehydrated flat pavement, TC3 land stabilizer, Indecisiveness button, Part-time dog, to more abstract ones like Flight of fancy, Bottle of god, Circle of lyf, Fat free sweet dreams. A passion that drags you out of bed in the morning, made by Anita on the first day, obviously put a spell on me, as my store turned into my passion. Every morning I got up with anticipation, rushing to my creative lab to see what the new day would bring. The experience of having a space just for yourself gave me a special sense of freedom. It did not just become a store, it transformed into a social and creative venue, where people came together, exchanged ideas and had fun. Most of my customers – I hope – had an unforgettable “shopping experience” and some of them even returned throughout the week.

For a newcomer like me, it is very hard to meet people in Christchurch, as the city is – unfortunately yet honestly – lacking those social hubs and spaces for people to meet. Inconvenience store proved to be a great convenience for me, as it gave me a unique opportunity to get involved with a community and to contribute in filling the void of social venues in my own way. I am truly grateful to Gap Filler and Life in Vacant Spaces for giving me this chance and especially to Ryan for his guidance, support and patience.

The period in which the store is given to each storekeeper is inconveniently short. Mine was short yet sweet, as all the best things in life are. What lingers on are fulfilment, excitement and the bonds that stem from this experience. But, oops! Does reflecting upon life in that sort of prism qualify as inappropriately convenient?