A new initiative is connecting the community – one piece at a time.
For many folks who are spending more time than normal at home because of COVID-19, jigsaw puzzles have been a good fit for their free time. When a friend posted on Facebook that he had a puzzle to give away, Jeremy Perry took him up on his offer.
“I hadn’t done a puzzle since I was a child. I was like ‘I’m going to give that a go.’ My husband and I sat down and did the puzzle in two days. It was a 1,000-piece puzzle – and we really enjoyed it,” says the New West resident. “It was this nice evening activity to de-stress. It didn’t require a lot of brain power, but it was still rewarding enough. It was something that we could do together. We really enjoyed it.”
Once that puzzle was complete, Perry wanted to do another – but he didn’t want to have to keep going out and buying a bunch of puzzles. So he headed to Facebook and started the New West Puzzle Exchange group.
“There are a whole bunch that are just sitting and collecting dust on people’s shelves. I started the exchange group with the hope people could share puzzles around the community,” he explains. “I signed the inside of the box so that when you get the puzzle you’d see all these little notes from people who have done it in the past, and it can feel like you have done the puzzle with the community.”
The New West Puzzle Exchange is still in its early days, but some puzzles have already been passed around several times.
“I feel like a lot of people are finding themselves looking for activities to do at home right now,” Perry says. “Doing a puzzle seemed like a reasonable thing people would be interested in.”
Perry was recently chatting with a toy distributor, who told him that puzzles were currently their highest-selling item and his company couldn’t distribute them fast enough.
For some folks, like Perry, puzzles are a throwback to childhood.
“There was always a puzzle going in our living room around the Christmas holidays,” he recalls. “Usually a puzzle would get gifted at Christmas, and it would just kind of be out there happening. My mom was the one who sat and worked on them, but all of us kids would join for little bits here and there.”
Others are passionate about puzzles – and not only during a pandemic.
“What’s interesting is, I know there are people on the sidelines watching the group, who are big puzzlers. They are waiting before they starting jumping in,” Perry says. “I was talking to a friend who I didn’t realize was really big into puzzles. They have a collection and are watching to see if there’s one they want in their collection so they can then offer some trades. I know there are some people with puzzle hoards that are just waiting for the right puzzles to be posted.”
There are no hard and fast rules for folks wanting to access puzzles through the New Westminster Puzzle Exchange.
“Some people are lending their puzzle out and asking that they come back to them because they still want to control their puzzles, whereas others are doing straight-up exchanges. Others are saying, ‘here’s a puzzle, anyone can have it,’” Perry says. “You do whatever works for you.”
Perry hopes puzzlers will jot down a note in the box of puzzles that are making their way around town, as they’ll start to tell a story of the puzzle’s travels.
“It’s something that the community can do together,” he says. “As some of these puzzles make their rounds, I think it will be interesting to look back in a year or two and see some of the puzzles that have been done by so many people.”