I don’t know why it took so long, but I had my first experience with the 99¢ store today. The only word that comes to mind is ‘enlightening.’ I have, once again, been humbled.
Combine the wonder that people must have felt at Barnum’s Museum with a sort of real world Where’s Waldo? and I think you can understand how I felt it. At first, I kept thinking “that can’t be 99 cents. No way! That’s 99 cents!?!?” After a while it became a challenge: I was determined to find the one thing that cost more than 99 cents. You know what? I never did.
You can see pretty quickly how it works. The merchandise is a mixture of stuff that generally hits $1 or so fairly often on sale at your regular grocery stores (say, Pringles), stuff from what had to be the Fifth or Sixth World that nobody would ever buy unless it was 99 cents (like an 8 pack of different paper cutters) and products that failed at the big time. A container of malk would not have been out of place.
Whatever drug the Trader Joe’s folks spray to make their customers completely forget how to navigate an aisle is clearly a dilution of the stuff they use at the 99¢ store. People just STAND there. Blocking EVERYTHING. Combined with the fact that the clientele seems to skew towards geriatric, I would guess that the 99¢ has a much higher than average percentage of their customers just drop dead in the aisles. I think that’s what some of them were waiting for.
I was there looking for one of those foldy-sunshade things for my windshield, partly for camouflage, partly to make my car less burny and partly to quiet the rage of the eight-year-old me who doesn’t understand why all the cars have sunglasses except ours.
I didn’t find it (although I was told it would be ‘about a dollar’), but I don’t care. I’m going to stop at as many 99¢ Stores as I can until I do find it. It, or a Hello Kitty stapler. Or a pack of gum that tastes like the Beatles. Or a jar of Pumpkin Butter. Or a six-pack of cans of tuna with Extra Dolphin. Or….