I love Canton, Texas. It holds a very special place in my heart.
Last Saturday, this sweet little city with a population of 3,578 — which happens to hold the largest and longest running outdoor flea market in the United States! — and several around it was struck by a series of devastating tornadoes. The Canton tornado was reportedly on the ground for 51 miles and wrecked businesses, homes, cars and so many lives.
We were in Houston breaking down our spring show when the tornadoes touched down and were unaware of the devastation until Sunday morning when I talked to my family. My 89-year old grandfather, dad, brothers and husband were on a fishing trip (my grandpa, dad and one brother flew in from all over the country to do so) just a few miles from where the tornadoes struck and filled me in on the situation. They were actually stuck on highway 20 in Canton as we talked trying to get back to Dallas and saw the damage first hand as they sat in standstill traffic for an hour.
It really hit home. For one, my family had clearly been in harm’s way and were luckily safe. Two, my husband’s family has deep East Texas roots with loved ones all over the area and we have a lake house just a couple dozen miles from the wreckage. I also immediately thought of so many of our vendors that have booths in Canton and would have been there since it was First Monday Trade Days weekend.
As we drove back from Houston on Sunday, Alyssa, Grace and I discussed ways we could help. Donating 100-percent of profits from our online shop and organizing a donation drive was a way for us to act quickly and utilize our network of friends and family fast.
On Monday I pushed the news live on our social media pages. Ironically, that day we had planned to run a story all about our tips and tricks for visiting and shopping Canton to coincide with a feature in D Home‘s May/June issue that hit newsstands yesterday. (The article is currently in magazines but not online out of respect for the city and perspective visitors since it was written as a travel story.)
A couple months ago D Home asked to travel alongside me while I shopped Canton for our online shop. On a beautiful day in early March I dragged them along to some of my favorite booths, my beloved homemade ice cream camper and bought a slew of stuff — pink cowboy boots, a painted cow skull, abstract pottery, Moroccan necklaces — that are now live on our site.
Now through Friday, 100 percent of profits from these items and every single item on our site will be spent on supplies to help with tornado relief efforts. We are also taking supplies donations brought to our office this week to East Texas with us on Saturday.
My husband works with county government all over East Texas and has asked what they need most. Here are just a few of the items they’re seeking: towels, sheets, bedding, duct tape, heavy duty trash bags, tarps, shovels, rakes, first aid supplies and baby products (wipes, diapers, formula, bottles). If you’d like to donate items or money by Friday, please email us at email@example.com.
We will make sure every single item gets directly to people in need or to organizations that we trust to do so. My husband has personally spoken with several of the county clerks that are helping us out.
Like I said earlier, I have a very special place in my heart for Canton and East Texas:
On December 31st, 2009 my husband proposed in the tiny fishing camp cabin his family has owned since the ’70s in Gilmer, Texas. He chose this place because it was special to him and a handful of miles from Canton where he could take me the next day to buy an engagement present (smart guy, right?!) and congratulatory gift for my first Dallas Flea show, which was only a couple weeks prior.
In 2013 when I was pregnant with my second child (and clearly staying in Texas for the long haul!), we purchased a little lake house 20 miles east of Canton so we could raise our kids shopping First Monday Trade Days and then play in the woods on weekends to unplug from work and focus on family.
Every single month I can, I take them to the show on our way to the lake. We hit Baker’s Ribs in Canton for BBQ and chocolate fried pies. My kids each get five one dollar bills to buy things they want to play with at the lake and to learn how to spend money wisely, count change and the importance of shopping small.
We hop on highway 64 afterwards and take the back roads to our little town to enjoy the peace and beauty of East Texas. I treasure these days and the stories we have told along these beautiful windy stretches. My heart breaks to think of the terror the people inside the houses lined along these roads must have felt last Saturday. There are no shelters or places for them to run to. It must have been utterly terrifying.
Over the years I’ve bought hundreds of items from Canton and even Eustace, another town devesated by the tornadoes.
When we launched our online shop last summer, I put several of these treasures on the site and have continued to fill our shop with items from my monthly treks since. Current favorites include a cream and olive ceramic vase, Taiwanese textile handbag and tassel earrings made from a vintage beaded curtain I found in pieces in a box.
Whether you’re in the market for something handmade, vintage or one-of-a-kind, or just want to help, please consider shopping our online market or donating items to the office now through Friday. If you want more info or have questions, you can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thank you for your support and please keep Canton and East Texas in your thoughts!