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Mountain Home Magazine

A Real Puzzler

Pop’s Culture Shoppe in Wellsboro opened its doors in May of 2012. Later that year, owners Anja and Julian Stam (above) decided they should add puzzles to their mix of game offerings. Supporters of all things Tioga County, they felt the puzzles should be of local sites. They contacted Wellsboro-area photographer Bernadette Chiaramonte, selected two of her photos, and had the puzzles made. They were a hit, so in 2013 the Stams decided to have a contest, and spread the word that they were looking for artistic images that capture a recognizable site or view of Tioga County that could be converted into puzzles.

Fast-forward to 2017 and the now wildly popular puzzle contest. Pop’s receives hundreds of entries, many from local photographers and a surprising number from folks vacationing here from all parts of the United States who happen to pick up the contest yer.

Interested? Images should appeal to tourists as well as locals, the Stams say, or to anyone who is looking for a unique souvenir or gift. High-resolution photos with a minimum DPI of 150 are required. If there are recognizable people in the photo, you must submit a release form with their permission for their likeness to be used. Photos may be entered at [email protected] or at the 25 Main Street store. You may submit as many entries as you like. Photos will be accepted through the end of the year; selections will be made in early January 2018. Winners get a headshot and a brief biography printed on the box, as well as three complementary puzzles and discounts on additional puzzles. Call (570) 723-4263 for more information.

Plato once said, “You can discover more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation,” and Pop’s lives by that motto, so much so that they have even added it to their T-shirts. The store is more than just puzzles, with shelves full of family board games, games of strategy, party games, and games that are educational. You’ll find the old standbys such as Monopoly and Clue, checkerboards, chessboards, and backgammon as well as themed games such as Heroclix, Yu-Gi-Oh!, and Pokemon. There’s a wall of games to try out for free in the game room.

You can find books and comics, some very rare, and favorite word-puzzle activity books such as Where’s Waldo and Mad Libs. Remember the balsa wood planes with the rubber band that powered the propeller? Pop’s has them. They also have a section in their store where local authors and artisans display their wares. Wooden toys, local pottery, soaps, even pickles are available.

Still puzzled? Plan a visit to Pop’s and, in the meantime, remember the words of an anonymous philosopher: “We do not stop playing because we grow old, we grow old because we stop playing.” 

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