Renton shop happy delusions to close doors

Mary Clymer wistfully counts down the final days of Happy Delusions, her shop.  - Carolyn Ossorio, Renton Reporter
Mary Clymer wistfully counts down the final days of Happy Delusions, her shop.
— image credit: Carolyn Ossorio, Renton Reporter

“Hey, Lady!” Mary called out her familiar greeting when we walked into happy delusions the other day. Her warm smile appeared which I’ve come to know is as much a part of her outfit as her honey colored glasses, dangly earrings, and warm demeanor.

Mary Clymer’s fun.

Whenever we go into her shop, we experience the big smile, fun music, and thesense that my business is important. That is the bread and butter of any successful small business. I believe the theme song from Cheers says it best:“You wanna go whereeverybody knows your name and they're always glad you came.”

And Amelia, my daughter, and I are always happy we came to happy delusions!

We were there the other day to pick out a birthday gift for her friend, Amira.

Checking out at Mary’s register is always a time to catch up. Sometimes, when I can’t make heads or tales of things going on in the community I look to Mary as an outpost for information I can trust.

“What’s up?” I asked Mary.“Well, I think I might have a story for you,” Mary said.“Do tell,” I replied.

“Let me get through the art walk stuff,” Mary had said. “Then we can sit down and talk.”

Amelia and I left happy delusions intrigued, pondering possibilities as well as the beautiful handcrafted earrings and necklace that Mary had custom wrapped with pom-poms made out of yarn balls.

Could she be opening a second store? Could she be hosting a new artist? Could she be partnering with someone on a new venture in the DTR, downtown Renton?

When I popped into happy delusions a week later during Renton River Days I never dreamed that Mary’s “scoop” was the demise of happy delusions.

Yet there I was staring at an invitation card with the words:

Celebrating 5 years of craft and community happy delusions Anniversary and Closing Party Friday Sept. 7th 5-9 pm

Why was I so shocked? Small businesses, especially in the DTR, seem to close downall too often. But somehow I thought this wonderful, little Renton treasure would be immune.

“When I first opened the store five years ago I supplemented my business by working forthe first three years at Armondo’s restaurant,” said Mary. “He was a great mentor,” she added of Armondo Pavone.

“After three years, I left Armondo’s to see if I could make it. I lasted six months and it was depressing.”

Mary went to work at D.C.’s Bar and Grill, now named The Local 907.

“At the three year mark, I figured with the economy I would give it five years," Mary said. "And so this September it will be five years. It’s time.”

Mary has a business proposal if anyone is interested in buying the business.

“The store can sustain itself beautifully, just nothing for me to live on," Mary said. "I’m ready for my next adventure.”

Mary has deep roots in the community. Mary’s mom is a retired Renton School teacher and her Dad is a retired Boeing employee and also one time proprietor of Clymer Antiques, a store her family owned in the 1980’s when Mary was a kid.

Given her family history, and Mary’s commitment to public service I thought it reasonable to ask about political office.

“Yes, I have considered running for council.” She said. Then added wistfully, “I only wish I would have talked to my Papa more,” Mary said, referring to her grandfather, Earl Clymer, former Renton Mayor.

I asked Mary what she would have asked of Papa Clymer. She gave the following response:

“I just remember him being so positive and he always made time to talk to whoever wanted to talk. I would ask him how you maintain your politics and remain open and patient with everyone. But part of Papa Clymer’s legacy is that people automatically trust in you which is great. And happy delusions is an extension of that: people justnaturally come to me as a go-between the city.”

I understood exactly what Mary was saying. happy delusions is a shop but it’s alsoa place where Renton citizens gravitate toward to understand what’s going on in the community.

“People want to talk to someone about what’s going on," Mary said. "The council needs someone outand talking to the people.”

“Is that person you?” I asked.

“We’ll see.” Mary said. “I’ve put my resume with the city in the Parks Departmentand Economic Development. They know I love Renton, I’m very civic minded and believe in community service and economic development. I’m looking to stay in Renton and I would love to work for the city. But I’ve put my resume out all over the state.”

“If you worked for the City of Renton, what would be your ideal job?” I asked.

Mary paused.

“I don’t want this to be political.” Mary said. “There are a lot of great things happening in the DTR. Restaurants are happening. But then there’s always this question with everyone in the DTR - what’s the problem?”

I understood what she was saying. Given the latest library controversy and the growing sense that the downtown is continually the ugly stepchild of Renton it might be tempting to blame or point fingers—especially when a beloved shop in the DTR is going out ofbusiness, a fact that I know will affect people in the community.

Mary’s response: “If Georgetown can make a scene, so should we. It’s time for boldness and change. I’d love to be a liaison between the community and the city. I’d love to have a position where I can put a calendar of events together that encompasses more than just city events. That showcase all that Renton culture has to offer. It’s not that things aren’t happening in Renton. People aren’t aware of the really amazing things out there. And I’d love to bring big events to Renton.”

“Whatever I end up doing whether it’s here in Renton or elsewhere I will continue doing something with artists," Mary said. "I’m sad to leave happy delusions but I’m really excited to see where I’m going!”

It may be too late to save happy delusions. But it’s not too late to keep this fantastic lady in our community working for our behalf at the City of Renton!



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