By John Kendrick Bangs
The Time Shop is a short story about a store where you can buy anything. The only price of these things is time.
One day, a boy was sitting on a rug in a parlor. He sees a clock beckoning to him and winking at him. When he draws close, the clock tells him that there was this magical place called the time shop, which was full of many wonderful things.
The object on the wall informs him that if he counts backwards from seventeen, he would be transported to the time shop. After counting, the child finds himself in a crowded store filled with many strange things such as wisdom, courage, and automobiles.
After coming inside the shop, the boy is given a few cards. Each of these cards either represent days, hours, minutes, or even seconds. If the kid buys anything from the store, he shall lose how much time he spends on items in the shop from his life.
A manager asks him what he wants, and the boy says that he wants a bicycle. Soon the manager returns with the most incredible bicycle ever created. The boy asks how much it costs, and the manager says seven hours. When he asks her how many dollars it costs, the lady says that they do not accept dollars, only time, and that he should spend it wisely.
After being told to use his time wisely, the boy goes to the manager and orders the bicycle. When he goes back into the store he wants to buy a beautiful card for his mother but it costs 40 years. When the owner of the store sees how dejected the poor boy looks, he asks him what was awry. After the boy tells him that he really wanted to buy his mother the card but could not afford it, the owner gives it to the boy for the cheap price of 5 seconds. He goes into a room filled with children studying, which is a metaphor of school.
There, he asks the owner of the shop what the kids were doing; the elderly man tells him that they are buying knowledge. After asking this question, the boy looks out of the window and sees another shop called “Idleness.” When he asks what was being sold in that shop, the manager informs the boy that happiness was being sold there, but that it was fake and would make one happy for a very short amount of time.
After hearing the child talking to the other shopkeeper, the owner of Idleness comes to the child and invites him into his store.
The owner of Idleness pickpockets the kid and runs away with all of his time. Soon the owner of the Time Shop kicks the child out of the store and back into the real world where it is his bedtime. The next day, the kid creates the card that he wanted to buy for his mother in the time shop and gives it to her.
The moral of this story is that idleness steals your time and that you should be prudent with what you spent your time on daily.