Big, Odd, Cheap


I don’t often go to big bargin bin stores, the kind of outlet that sell overruns, out of date, or unusually colored batches of various retail items. I don’t like to shop, and it is the kind of store that one must spend time in, searching for a bargain, rather than a specific item. Although I needed a specific item (the ever-exciting shelf liner), I knew that they usually had something that would work, so it was worth my time to stop when I was nearby today. I also wanted to see if I could find that stinky, smells so bad it likely is bad for you but covers those nasty bumps and bruises on dark woodwork furniture polish. I can’t seem to find it anywhere, so I was hoping that there was a forgotten bottle on a dusty shelf somewhere, an escapee from a toxic chemical purge event.

I avoid stores like this because I get lost in them. Yes they are large, but it isn’t a geographic disorientation. Sensory overload causes me to lose time and, if I stay too long, I lose a sense of equilibrium too. All of the bizarre items, placed wherever there seems to be room, call to me and I find myself looking at all sorts of things that I would never consider buying.

Multi-tasking has its appeal, but really? Who needs a steel-wool & micro-fiber dust cloth combo? What is the purpose of a long-handled brush that looks like a daisy designed by a toddler? I’ve never found a reason to have faux leaves on my toilet brush. But, is it really a toilet brush? Or is it a brush to suds up your back? It was next to the cleaners, but it doesn’t seem sized correctly. I found its purple sibling — same size, same design — near the shampoo and weirdly tinted body soap.

And then there are the odd lots, those lots where the dye on the packaging was wrong. The hazelnut and cocoa spread with the purple and gold labels, the suntan lotion in a pea green bottle. Perhaps for use when sunbathing near brackish water? Or the bottles that were special promotions. I don’t have any problems with buying a bottle of dishwashing liquid when the label had a much shorter shelf life than the product. But, I can’t help but think: what marketing flunky thought anyone would buy a “limited edition” Christmas themed bottle of detergent?

It is, however, only $2, a savings of about 80 cents. Who cares what it looks like? It’s soap, not a home decor statement. But, they likely won’t have any next time I need some.

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4 responses to “Big, Odd, Cheap

  1. I saw a sculpture recently in LA made of thousands of sponge scrubbers. it was quite nice, but I couldn’t help but calculate the cost in 99 cents-store terms. Even in 99 cents terms it came to quite a large sum. Let’s see. At three scrubbers for a dollar…..

  2. How many magical things happened when you used that soap?

  3. Ahhh – nice post.
    Now about that soap. I usually try to keep my cleaning stuff out of sight but this is clearly soap that’s meant to be seen.

    I think there should be a movement back to hidden-ness, privacy and the discrete.

    • Yes, for the lazy holiday decorator. Don’t bother untangling those lights or placing greenery around your home. Just keep the soap bottle on the kitchen counter! Maybe there’s also scouring powder that smells like mulled cider.