Cloudberries, 1000 pieces. "That left side killed my eyes."
Stay-at-home orders due to the coronavirus have led to a resurgence of jigsaw puzzles.
Brent and Teresa, who live in Ocean Beach, have been doing puzzles for years and started a puzzle exchange on Nextdoor.
Empty puzzle shelves at Rite Aid
“We’ve been doing puzzles, on and off, for years,” Brent explains. “It’s not a regular thing that we do but I would say this year we’ve picked it up and are purchasing more puzzles.”
“We’ve done five or six this year,” Teresa, his wife, interjects. “We started in January when we decided to work on New Year's resolutions.”
Susan Winkie's puzzle in progress
“And we wanted to focus in on things that are more brain-building,” Brent adds. “Then we got to a point where we’re buying these puzzles and generally once we do one, we don’t wanna do it again. I don’t want them sitting in the closet wasting space, so when this whole coronavirus hit, the puzzle thing just became a little bit bigger of an activity. I thought it was ridiculous to keep buying puzzles all the time.”
That’s when Brent came up with the idea of trading them with neighbors on Nextdoor.
“I imagine people are in the same position we are in, they have no care if it's been done before, it doesn’t have to be new and they don’t want to keep it. We had planned on going to a puzzle exchange last Monday until, you know obviously the coronavirus occurred, so then I thought why not trade them on NextDoor? There’s been a lot of interest. If you’re going to be in the house its better than watching TV.”
Winkie puzzle finished
And yes, people often create their own unique ways to complete puzzles.
“Generally I like having all the pieces out on the table, turn them right side up, sometimes we’ve done the build-the-edge-pieces-first and go from there,” Brent explains.
Teresa explains her interesting technique when faced with a less than challenging puzzle.
“We tend to do more 1,000+ pieces, but somebody wanted to exchange a 500-piece puzzle. Knowing that was going to be very easy for us, we built it from the bottom up, one row at a time, adding a little more challenge to it. I like to say, whenever you’re presented with a problem, you always have to figure it out; a puzzle is just another problem.”
“And for those who are practicing safe distancing, we do practice it.” Brent affirms. “We’ll exchange a puzzle by leaving it on the doorstep, and then we ask them when’s the last time they put the puzzle together so we understand if there’s been a period of time where the puzzle hasn’t been touched.”
Ocean Beach 1000-piece puzzle
Point Loma's Susan Winkie has hopped aboard the puzzle exchange.
“Many are sold out on Amazon,” she explained. “I didn't have any hanging around but saw the downtime coming and planned ahead. Bought them before the virus. My husband Mark and I, we both do them. I used to do puzzles all the time as a kid with my family but never liked having them out as an adult because I didn’t have the table space to let them sit. But with the downtime I just leave it and sit and work on it when I feel like it. It’s also where I do Zoom (video-conferencing) calls. For example the [OB] Women’s Club had their craft night and we Zoomed. Mainly we chatted and drank wine, some crafted. I did the puzzle.”
As she nears the completion of her latest puzzle, Winkie tells me, “Now I'm going to trade on Next Door!”
“I’m so bummed,” another resident told me. “We left all our puzzles at our cabin in Big Bear. We do them all the time. I think there used to be an OB puzzle? Supposedly it was really difficult to do because of the colors, shades of blue, in the ocean faded into each other.”
A quick survey of board games and jigsaw puzzles available at both Target and Rite Aid locations in Ocean Beach yielded empty shelves where puzzles once sat. Also, noticeably sold out are Scrabble, Monopoly, Jenga, Game of Life, Battleship, and even Twister.
Ravensburger, one of the biggest jigsaw companies, breaks down the benefits of puzzles and how they can make you happy.
On Reddit, users from around the world are sharing their quarantine or lock-down puzzle stories and boasting about completion, including this one, Cloudberries.