We set out on a Friday morning in search of some simple, older halogen light fixtures. The task seemed straightforward enough. But we soon discovered that our little errand morphed into a scavenger hunt. One store led to another and then another and so on. The fixtures we needed weren’t readily available anymore. From big box stores to small shops, our prospects waned. Finally, at an old electrical supply store, the owner pondered our dilemma and suggested we go to TAP Lighting in Hillcrest. He said they probably wouldn’t have the lights in stock, but they might be able to order them for us. FAT CHANCE, we thought. But since it was on our way home, we could at least swing by. He jotted down the address and then added, “It’s a unique store with a jungle of lights!” His description got us interested, since it sounded like our kind of place.
The shop is located in an unlikely 1915 yellow house that looked like a festive Christmas tree, with lights glimmering in every window. We love old houses and antiques, so the place seemed magical.
We entered through the wrap-around porch, now enclosed with windows. It was chock full of lights of every kind—antique to contemporary. We made a mental note to return at night just to see the full effect from the street.
In addition to lights everywhere, there was an old upright piano and an antique pump organ in the entry hall. The oak staircase still lined the wall and antiques were scattered throughout the downstairs. There were some interesting pieces of art as well. As we browsed through the rooms, we heard a voice, “May I help you?” It wasn’t obvious where the voice came from. Then, Tammy the owner, stepped from behind an obscured antique desk. She was delightful! Somewhat skeptical, we told her what we were looking for. She understood immediately and said “I think we may just have a few of those. Let me check. I’ll be right back.” We remained doubtful.
Within minutes she returned toting a box loaded with the various pieces and parts we needed. We were shocked and a little light-headed. (Electrical jokes.) We stashed the box on the floor by an old table so we could wander around. What fun! We snapped photos of every corner, from every angle of that fascinating and curious place. Hopefully we didn’t make a nuisance of ourselves. But the whole atmosphere was irresistible.
We stayed about an hour, enjoying the ambiance of built-in window seats, fireplaces that actually work, original wood paneling, and of course a veritable jungle of great lights—Contemporary, Victorian, Art Deco, Mission style—you name it. There’s everything from wall sconces to incredible chandeliers, designs from Italy to local artisans—truly an eclectic collection. It would take us days to really check out all the lights that she has in her impressive inventory. We were happy with our hour.
Aside from getting exactly what we needed, the real highlight of our day was meeting Tammy A. Packard, owner of TAP Lighting. You get three guesses as to where the store name came from. We enjoyed hearing her story of growth and change from a garage in Mission Valley, to the unique yellow house in Hillcrest. She said her goal is really rather simple: provide the customers with what they need. We know for sure that she met that objective on Friday morning, and we suspect the same thing happens every day she opens the doors.
The lessons we relearned on our scavenger hunt are: be patient and never give up; the best is worth the wait; and there are great people around every corner—all we have to do is keep following the LIGHT!
Alas, you might ask the question. WHICH light?