Tuesday, April 15, 2008

A Penny for a Smile: Shopping at the 99 Cent Store

I did a little shopping with a friend this past weekend. One of our exciting destinations was a 99 cent store in my neighborhood. I yanked my friend across the street so we could go in, because in a pile outside the store, I had seen a little plastic table I wanted for my balcony. I had looked at the same ones last summer but they sold out before I could go back and buy one, so this time I didn't want to miss it!
My friend asked why I wanted to go into the store, which at first I interpreted as a sign of scorn, as in "why do you want to buy anything in that dump?" It turned out she just wanted to know what I was planning to buy, and was actually kind of excited because she loves 99 cent stores. "You never know what kind of things you might find," she said.
I bought my little table, which was only $5.99, as well as a wastebasket, and a package of t-shirts. Total damage about $21. My friend bought some dishwashing liquid and a chapstick, totaling $4.71. When she went to pay, the cashier said "I don't need the penny." She didn't hear him correctly as she was fishing around in her wallet for the change and he repeated it, saying "No penny, you don't have to give me the penny." She finally realized what he was saying and jokingly replied "Oh, you don't want my penny? My penny isn't good enough for you?" The cashier started laughing and joking back at her, and was still giggling when we left, which amazed me, because I have been in there many times and have never seen him crack a smile-- I thought he was one of these grumpy old guys who would never smile at anyone, let alone laugh.

After all that, we ended up going to dinner in a different neighborhood of Brooklyn. Cobble Hill is a lot more upscale than where I live, but it still has its un-gentrified remnants, one of which was another 99 cent store. As we passed, my friend said "Oh look, they have your little table!" I went over to look, certain that they'd be charging some outrageous price for it, in effect a yuppie tax that I'd be avoiding by shopping in my own grungy neighborhood. The Cobble Hill price for the table turned out to be $4.99, $1 less than I paid in Sunset Park.

I guess the moral of this story, if there is one, is that preconceived notions can be toppled by even the smallest amounts of money!

12 comments:

Anonymous said...

B

;-)

Madame X said...

just a little premature blog posting via slip of the hand, anonymous! :)

Anonymous said...

Another moral is to keep your receipts and know the return policy of stores at which you shop. Any opportunity to return the table? Or do the unethical thing by buying the table in Cobble Hill for $4.99 and returning that one to Sunset Park?

Madame X said...

I dont' think I'll bother to return the table-- for just $1 it's not really worth it after the fact...

Madame X said...

I dont' think I'll bother to return the table-- for just $1 it's not really worth it after the fact...

Dolly Iris said...

I hate when dollar stores aren't really dollar stores!

Anonymous said...

Agreed! A lot of them now say "99 cents & up" in my neck of the woods.

Twiggers said...

I remember when the dollar stores first opened...everything really was a dollar. Now they have the $5 and $10 stores! Inflation I guess!

Working Rachel said...

I lived in Sunset Park briefly! As I recall, there were quite a few funky little dollar stores.

sandyvoice said...

Okay, now I officially feel old.

I remember 49¢ stores ... and everything really was!

Clean ClutterFree Simple said...

Just don't buy your toothpaste there!

Amy said...

You should definitely go to Jack's on 32nd Street in Manhattan...the creme de la creme of dollar stores!