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Monday, June 01, 2009

My (mostly) unironic Dollar Tree shopping trip

Michelle recently posted a link to the X-Entertainment Blog, where Matt the Blogger went out on an expedition to spend $25 at Dollar Tree, and then posted about his purchases. For the most part he bought entertaining crap, toys and whatnot, but almost all of it useless and good for ironic snarking only. I got to wondering: would it be possible to buy $25 worth of useful stuff at Dollar Tree? This morning I got my chance to find out.

My mom needed to go for a medical procedure scheduled for 8:30 this morning. I drove her to it, and then had an unspecified amount of time to kill. I decided to take a ride to the nearby Dollar Tree and see what I could see.

The first thing I saw was a parking lot with more cars than I would have expected at that hour of the morning. They can't all be working here, I thought as I got out of the car and approached the door. And that's when I noticed the second thing: the store didn't open until 9:00.

OK, fine, I thought. I had come prepared for this, with a copy of Phil Plait's Death From The Skies! I read about how bad things would get if a nearby star were to go supernova. (The answer: very bad. After all, this is a book designed to look at, in a scientifically-grounded manner, the different ways in which the universe could destroy all life on Earth, or at least the human race.) As nine o'clock approached I put down the book and...

...watched a dozen other people come from all directions towards the entrance of the Dollar Tree.

Well, damn, I thought, as I moseyed on in.

I first turned my attention to the remaindered books lined up against the front window. I buy a lot of remaindered books. I should feel bad about this. I went through the titles, found a few I recognized, and decided to think them over and come back to them later.

I was just turning to the toys when my phone rang. It was my mom. She was ready to be picked up.

Naturally I suggested that she go with me to the Dollar Tree and see if there was anything there she might want to get.

In the end we purchased twenty-three items. There were three items we bought in pairs, so that's really twenty different items. I tried to gather them all together for a group shot, but I missed a few items.


Spiraling in clockwise from top:

- Deck mop. I need to repaint my steps this year, and I need a mop to clean the dirt and soot off of them before I begin. I don't want to use a "good" mop for this, so a dollar mop will do.
- Cheese Doodles. My mom had to fast before her procedure, and was hungry afterwards. She wanted Cheese Doodles.
- Cooler. Basically a single-use item. But it may prove useful when we're sending frozen things home with my sister.
- Ghost Plane: The True Story of the CIA Torture Program by Stephen Gray. I heard this book's author talk about this on Fresh Air back in 2006, about how the cover of the extraordinary renditions program was blown by Planespotters, people who have nothing better to do than hang around airports and obsessively note the details of the planes that come and go.
- Floral foam brick. My mom recently paid top dollar (minus a discount coupon) for floral foam at an arts and crafts store. This stuff will probably work just as well.
- Floral foam ring. Same basic concept, different application.
- Bungee cords. Remember that battery I just had installed? Well, it's rattling when the car idles. Or maybe it's just the carry handle that's rattling. Either way it's pretty annoying. This might be the solution. Or it might make my car explode. Whatever.
- Hand sanitizer. Got two of these, one for me and one for my mom. Will keep in the car.
- Dustpan by Sterlite. This looks pretty well-designed.
- Wiffle balls, set of five. Or six. Good for when the nephews want to play baseball in the back yard.
- Chiclets, six pack. My mom wanted these.

Moving back near the floral foam:
- Aloe sunburn cream. This stuff is also good on burns in general. This container is for the kitchen.
- Salt and pepper shakers. Or in my case, cocoa and powdered sugar shakers. So often I just want to dust on cocoa or powdered sugar in a small area of something I'm making. This might be just the thing. Or maybe there's a reason cocoa is kept in light-proof sealed containers.
- Mini Coke glass. These make nice juice glasses. We had a bunch, but they've all smashed. We bought two.

Zooming in a bit, we come to the last three items in the picture:


- Measuring glass. Once upon a time I had a Garfield mug from, I think, Burger King. That mug had a capacity of exactly one cup. That Garfield mug served as my measuring cup for all the cooking and baking I did during my exile in Delaware. This is similar: A standard-looking pint glass with markings on it indicating cups and ounces, all brightly colored and easy to see.
- Personal fan. My mom got two of these, probably for my nephews to play with.

- And then the one ironic, useless item that I decided I just had to have: The Fun With Bugs! Fly Launcher, a hand-held catapult that comes with plastic flies (with transparent wings), ready to be launched across the room or onto someone's meal or reading material. Also suitable for launching, say, little rubber pigs, if you happen to have any.

This is fun, but not the most fun fly-based toy I have ever seen - at least, packaging-wise. No, nothing compares to Hateful Flies! I purchased these...wow. Many years ago. Maybe in 2001?

Three items were missing from this photo: Graduation Puppy, a toy dog with a mortarboard, a gift for my cousin's daughter, who is graduating from kindergarten; a Butterfinger bar for my mom; and a thick, full-sized Coke glass with handle. (I must have missed that when I pulled the little Coke glass out of the dishwasher for the photo.)


Twenty-three items. Three pairs - the hand sanitizers, the mini Coke glasses, and the mini fans, so twenty unique items. The mini Coke glasses were fifty cents apiece, so the total before tax only came to $22. I fell short of the $25 mark, but I wasn't really aiming for it.

So: It is possible to shop in Dollar Tree in a non-ironic manner and come out with stuff that isn't all crap. I did.

1 comment:

MaryRuth said...

That's a good haul! Hateful Flies..!?!? Yikes.
I love dollar stores! In my area we have "99-Cent Only" and Marukai--which is the Japanese version of a dollar store.They carry the coolest stuff! I go quite often because they have a huge selecton of Japanese dishes--little ramekins and rice bowls, etc. I get most of my party-serving dishes there. I also like their selection of drawing and writing paper.
The 99-Cent Only stores actually carry perishables like eggs, bread and produce. A nice bag of limes for a buck is a great deal!