Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Crazy for the Dollar Store

It's time for a confession. I'm crazy for the dollar store. We've got a couple of really great versions around here. My favorite is next to the big box electronics store. I can go in and spend three bucks on retail therapy and feel much better.

The dollar store brings back fond memories of Woolworth's in the 1950's. I was in the fourth grade and had received some money for my birthday. Rather than spend it on ice cream from the ice cream truck, I tucked it away for my next visit to the five-and-dime.

I remember than store as if it was yesterday. There were two entrances with a U-shaped display window between them. The wooden plank floors had such a comforting sound as real shoe leather strode along the aisles. I was fascinated with the cosmetics and the hair products. My mom warned me that I was too young for a bottle of the Evening in Paris cologne in the cobalt blue bottle, but I dreamed about that Evening in Paris. Unfortunately for me, town was too far away for me to walk on my own My mom always accompanied us on our shopping excursions so it was impossible to make my Parisian dream come true.

About a month after my birthday we went to town and after all our errands were completed my mom pulled the station wagon into the diagonal spot in front of Woolworth's. The anticipation was unbearable. We weren't on a timetable, which meant I could spend an hour examining the merchandise, aisle by aisle, looking for just the perfect treasure. It's been a very long time and I don't remember how much money was involved, but it wasn't alot. Perhaps $10 in today's money but in the world of the five-and-dime it carried major buying power. If I shopped wisely there would be enough left over for a chocolate soda at the lunch counter.

Part of the pleasure of shopping for me is the tactile aspect, which is why internet shopping has never appealed to me. I need to touch, examine, turn an item over in my hand and see if it passes the quality test. That day I walked through the store, determined not to miss a thing. I briefly considered a new baby doll (Barbie hadn't been born yet) but I wanted something a bit more grown up.

It was at this point I found myself standing in front of the jewelry counter. I knew I'd found my home. You don't exactly think of a five-and-dime store as the place to find nice jewelry, but there in front of me was a tray of sterling silver rings, each one set with a birthstone. The hunt was over. I quickly found a ring in a heart-shaped design with a small blue stone in the center. I forked over my birthday cash and the ring was mine. Forever.

Isn't it odd that all these years later I still remember every detail of that store and that shopping trip? My daughter is the new owner of that little ring. The stone has lost it's sparkle but the memory has not.

I learned another lesson that fall, I learned the lesson of patience. Not long after I purchased the ring a train derailed nearby and all the contents of the box cars spilled out onto the countryside, including an entire boxcar of Evening in Paris cologne! The manufacturer claimed the entire shipment as a loss and people swooped down and claimed the cobalt bottles for themselves. One of those people was the father of my best friend Connie. Suddenly we had enough Evening in Paris to last us a lifetime!


NOTE: My recent trip to the dollar store netted me a great find. They were selling Martha Stewart's book, "Martha's Rules" for only $1. I bought myself a copy and grabbed another one as a giveaway for my readers. This was written after Martha was released from prison and contains a lot of very good information for anyone who is considering starting their own business or has their own business. All you need to do is to leave a comment and let me know you're interested. I will draw a name on Friday. Don't forget that my subscriptions are FREE. Such a deal. HA.


Vickie said...

isn't it jusr amazing how some memories from way way back are so vivid as if they were only yesterday...greta find at the book shop well done,
cheers Vickie

lifeinredshoes said...

Ahh, Woolworths. I remember they had everything from candy to parakeets!I too was mesmerized by the touchy/feely of the shopping experience. As for Evening in Paris, I never liked the smell, for me the beauty was in the bottle itself!

Marue said...

Always loved Woolworth's. I think it was the diner that won me over. Grilled cheese sandwich and a coke float.

restyled home said...


Too funny! I, too, love the dollar store and have (not so clear) memories of WoolWorth's. I do remember Woolco well...and the fact that they sold Pogos and I was never allowed to get one... and not for health reasons, either!!


Suzanne said...

Vickie - I agree. I hope it isn't old age creeping up on me because I can remember things from the past vividly but I can't remember what I had for lunch on Monday.

Red Shoes - Oh, I forgot that they used to carry live animals. So did our WalMart until the store manager insisted that a large pallet of merchandise be stored temporarily near the bay doors. It was very cold, very cold. He didn't take the time to check what type of merchandise was on the pallets...you guessed it...live animals. It did not have a happy outcome.

Marue - Yes, I loved the lunch counter. My mother frowned on spinning those chrome stools.

Linda - The song. Well there's a story behind it. Years ago my friend and I were talking and come upon the conclusion that there has been a song written for any subject you can think of. We've found it to be true. When I started music on this blog I started searching the Playlist archives using key words from my subject matters and yep...I've been very successful in finding music for anything I might discuss....including the Dollar Store!

= Suzanne

Suzanne said...

Hee HEE! Please do NOT enter me for the draw for Martha's book ... unless it is about making the best of one's time in jail ... you know, making that hard cold cell soft and comfy and a lovely place to be ... if Martha could do that, I just might give her two minutes of my attention!

Love your blog and will be a regular reader.

alliehoopes said...

I want it!

Jessica said...

I love dollar stores-- I can only enter with a couple of dollars or else dangerous things happen. I have always lucked out with the book selections there. I've found a bunch of books by authors that I would have bought full price if I hadn't found them there!

Janet said...


Thanks for the memories! The most memorable birthday party I ever attended involved seeing "Old Yeller" at the theater and then going to Woolworths where each guest got to pick out a birthstone ring and then we all got Hot Fudge Sundaes at the lunch counter ( "no twirling, girls") . Clearly this girl ( Sally) was from an extremely wealthy family ( they owned the local dairy farm). I remember that party like it was yesterday.... ...hmmm... I believe it was 1957 or maybe 1958.. but what did I have for dinner last night??


Heather said...

I love the dollar store too. I love to take my girls and tell them they can each pick out TWO toys. They think that's the best thing ever. Our dollar store has a decent toy aisle too.

I love, love, love your perfume story. I can't imagine how excited you were to finally get your own bottle after the rather fortuitous train derailment.

Vee ~ A Haven for Vee said...

Ahhh, I remember those wooden floors, too.

Not a fan of internet shopping? I love it. The less time I spend in a store the better these days.

Evening in Paris was my grandmother's favorite perfume when I was a child. I remember much time spent in closed cars with that scent wafting about...like someone said, the beauty of that perfume was the cobalt blue bottle.

Martha's book sounds very interesting.

KatKit13 said...

Which dollah store? I'll go grab a copy myself... since I've won one of your contests in the last few months. (which still makes me smile, thank you!)

Suzanne said...

Suzanne - I've never been a great Martha fan, but she seems to be a kinder/gentler Martha after prison! HA. The book has a lot of good advice and was actually inspired by all the fact that alot of the inmates asked her for advice about starting small businesses when they were released from prison. Since my name is also Suzanne, we'll just call you the "other Suzanne".

Allie- I knew you would!!!!!

Jessica, like you I must limit my purchases or I'll go crazy.

Janet - NO WAY!!! Everybody got to pick out a birthstone ring AND order a hot fudge sundae? Wow... that was a super party back in the 50's.

Heather - It's just so exciting for kids. Being able to make their choices is the most fun.

Vee - I can relate to the story about your grandmother. It wasn't a very lovely perfume. My problem is we still deal with this issue in regards to the Other Mother. The ride out to visit family members is almost 1 1/2 hours, locked up in a car with her after she's bathed in White Linen. We've threatened family members against buying any more White Linen for her.

KatKit - I'm trying to picture it in my mind....is it Family Dollar? I don't know. It's right next to the Best Buy store on Randall Road in Geneva.

Thanks to everyone for visiting with me today. I appreciate that you've taken time out of your busy day to be here.

Vee ~ A Haven for Vee said...

ROFL! White Linen is my favorite perfume. I will have to remember that it can be intense.

Currently, though, I am using Egyptian Goddess.

BittersweetPunkin said...

I love the Dollar Store too but I am kinda freaky about making sure what I buy from there is made in the USA...I know...I'm weird!

Christy said...

Gotta love the Dollar Store.

Have you read your copy? Does Martha have anything that is noteworthy to say?

Robyn said...

Our version of the dollar store is called The Crazy Store. It's always great to leave the store with a packet full of goodies that tot up to next to nothing.

lisa said...

Who would have thought that a dollar store book give away would make me wishful, but indeed it has. Jail or no jail I heart Martha (well truth be told I heart all the people she hires)!