Who’s Got The Button?

I was talking to Vancouver’s Queen of Closure this week. That’s Colleen Miller who, for the past fifteen years, has been buried in buttons. Her Button Button shop in the Gastown section of town is said to be the country’s only store strictly devoted to buttons. You can buy buttons by the pound here…there are grab bags of buttons. Or you can spend endless hours looking for just the right type of fastener. One big bucket on the floor of the store apparently contains 50,000 circular doodads. I guess I’ll take her word on it.

50,000 buttons

Colleen is not a button collector though she claims to have learned much from those so afflicted. After all, she’s running a business, so she wants to turn over the inventory. But you have to wonder…with a total number of buttons that the New York Times once estimated at close to a million…how much of it really moves?

Her business has been a boon to Vancouver’s film and television industry. If a costume designer, for example, is looking for buttons that would fit an alien’s spacesuit, this is where they come. Why aliens would want to struggle with buttons instead of embracing..oh, let’s say velcro (or maybe an interstellar zipper) is another question altogether.

I cannot possibly give you the scope of what’s available in this one small shop. Buttons have been made out of every material imaginable since cavemen first felt a little draft. There are metal, wood, plastic, porcelain and glass buttons. There are other nubby bits that have been fashioned from bone and nuts, even paper. I even saw a handful of buttons that were made out of the same heat-resistant tile that is used on the outside of the Space Shuttle. If, God forbid, you perished in a fire and the flames did their most destructive work it’s somehow comforting to know that the authorities could still identify you by what remained of your remains….your teeth and a good set of buttons.

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2 Responses to “Who’s Got The Button?”

  1. Thanks for the tip. Will have to visit this shop the next time I am in Vancouver. I love buttons!

  2. Where’s the only zippers store?

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