Thursday, July 20, 2017 This Week's Paper


// An upcoming provider of peculiar procurements

An apt comparison can be drawn between the nature of Tinkertopia and the projects it hopes to foster. The business is fueled by the accumulation of non-specific trinkets and trappings – objects that might be considered useless by the mundane observer. The inventory, in its motley glory, will soon be sold to anyone who requires the unique benefits an all-inclusive font of miscellany brings. The explorative artist, the budding inventor, and the inspired educator will discover the disparate components of new projects at Tinkertopia. The enterprise will take in anything, and then sell it to anyone with a creative bent.

R.R. and Darcy Anderson, a husband-and-wife team of Tacoma artists, founded Tinkertopia. R.R., an ex-web designer, cartoonist and founder of the donation-driven library known as the Free Radical Media Exchange as well as Darcy, a preschool teacher, wanted a business that would simultaneously encourage artistic creativity and conserve resources that would otherwise be wasted.

Citing Portland’s creative reuse center SCRAP USA as an inspiration, R.R. Anderson said, “We wanted to make a place where weird donated materials can intermingle and mutate.” The list of accepted supplies spans the alphabet from animals (stuffed or plastic, please) to zippers and represents only a fraction of possible items. Recent acquisitions have included piano parts and a collection of vintage tennis rackets.

Assembling the inventory is far from passive. A “Tinkermobile” hit the road in February. The van, adorned with the Tinkertopia logo, was created to facilitate donations. “We want people to call us and say, ‘I have stuff for you; come get it,’ ” explained Anderson.

One such person is Jessica Smeall of Key Peninsula Parks. The organization recently obtained a piano too damaged to repair. Not wanting to consign it to the dump, Smeall contacted the Andersons, who immediately agreed to pick it up.

Smeall believes the material from the material will be put to good use. “Key Peninsula Parks will be hosting some recycled arts programs for our youth,” she said. “The piano may come full circle, with local kids making artistic creations from it.”

Tinkertopia has a van, but it still needs a storefront. Though the Andersons initially searched for a North Tacoma and 6th Avenue location, they recently toured a space on Pacific Avenue. “There is a strong chance that this will be our storefront thanks to Spaceworks Tacoma program,” they said. The University of Washington Tacoma owns the location. UWT hopes Tinkertopia will be a valuable resource to its students. A Pacific Avenue store is also a draw for high school students from the Tacoma School of the Arts (TSOTA).

Preparing the space will take about a month. The Andersons plan on covering the walls with murals and signs. And, of course, every little knickknack will have to be transferred from storage.

Once the store is established, its owners will inspire customer projects by example. They plan on filling shop windows with donated lights and statues of their own creation. The interior will feature other exemplary models made of reused material.

Ultimately, Tinkertopia will be a source of material and inspiration for local artists young and old. R.R. and Darcy Anderson eagerly await the moment when their shop opens. They plan to make it available for birthday/craft parties and field trips. Tinkertopia will provide an endlessly varied assortment of supplies to anyone in need of an obscure or unusual component. When visiting Tinkertopia, R.R. Anderson says, “People can be along for an adventure.”

To contact Tinkertopia, email or visit