By Amanda M. Socci
Diversions Cards and Gifts is the last independent card store in Alexandria. Since 1985, Diversions has been selling greeting cards, party goods, stationery, novelty gifts, balloons and children’s books seven days a week. Owner Lindsey Bashore held on tight through the storms of uncertain sales even while big-box competition moved in nearby.
But over the last seven years, Bashore has noticed that millennials don’t buy cards like their predecessors did for decades. “They [millennials] think it’s old fashioned to send cards,” he says. Lindsey acknowledges that social media and text messages have mostly replaced the long-lost art of writing longhand.
After 34 years in business, Bashore says, “It’s time to retire.” Diversions will close its doors April 30 when the store’s lease ends. Bashore has no plans to celebrate the end of this era because he says “a party wouldn’t be quality time. I prefer counter time and reminiscing one-on-one with customers.”
During a recent interview with Zebra, Bashore did exactly that. He split his attention to interview questions with careful tending to every customer wanting a specific card or stationery gift. Lindsey greeted everyone with gallant, old-fashioned charm and took the time to talk to each person individually.
Many Alexandrians grew up with Diversions and more than a few came in not to shop, but to browse the day we were on site. Several shared fond memories of wheeling their children in strollers up and down the aisles saying now their children want to bring in their children. The day Zebra was there we saw loyal customers exchanging stories, hugs, handshakes and hearty congratulations.
Rosemary Thacker has shopped at Diversions for 20 years. She had too many memories of the store to recall any special one, but she is wistful to see the store close. “I hate to see [Lindsey] leave. I like to support small businesses,” said Thacker. Another customer overheard that Zebra was doing a story on Diversions and texted her friend Ann McLaughlin, who replied, “I am going to miss the warm, personal service Lindsey has provided us for the past 30 years at Diversions.”
Bashore laughed off all this attention. He was there to smile, to be pleasant with customers, and to do the same job he has done for so long. He does not like being the center of attention but agreed to let Zebra do this profile and to be photographed. And then he shared the (positive) results of a difficult medical crisis.
A crisis leads to a new lifestyle
Out of the blue, in 2014, Lindsey Bashore had a heart attack. He couldn’t get an answer as to why it happened and wanted to prevent another heart attack, so he undertook his own research. What he learned led him to a radical change in his diet.
Bashore transitioned to a “whole foods plant-based diet,” which closely resembles a vegan diet, and hasn’t looked back. This newfound knowledge, however, wasn’t compatible with his doctor’s orders to take more medicine, so he changed doctors.
The result for Bashore has been significant weight loss and “everything going back to normal” to the point where he doesn’t need more medicine. It’s a great basis on which to start this next chapter of Lindsey’s life.
If you get the chance, visit Lindsey and say goodbye before the last card store closes its doors forever. Diversions is located at 1721 Centre Plaza, in the Fairlington Shopping Center off Quaker Lane.