The Big Store (Part 4)


Viola’s found her way to The Big Store at last.  Is it what she hoped it would be?

Washing powders were my first problem.   They was selling my brand by the bucket load for 7 cents an ounce!   Problem is, I had no place to keep that bucket.  Then I got to thinking: I can get a two pound box at the Dollar Store with a newspaper coupon which fits on my shelf and costs me (I had to do some figuring here) six and a half cents for the same ounce, and that didn’t even count the cost of the gas!   Well, I learned Helen Riley couldn’t do math  and washing powders weren’t cheaper at the Big Store.

 Another thing was sheets.  I needed some new top sheets for my bed, time and toe nails having worn out the others.   The sheets they sold weren’t too expensive – if they had been willing to sell those a sheet at a time instead of in sets with two pillowcases!  I nearly bought one set until I realized I would be paying fifty dollars a set to get just one new sheet.  I’ve got too much of Ponder in my memory, I couldn’t do it.

It went on and on like that as I went through the store.  Either they sold something I wanted for cheaper than usual but not cheap enough (like some Tiffany lamps) or their cheap stuff was something I didn’t want or the price turned out not to be a great buy after all, especially considering the amount I’d have to buy. (I ain’t got storage room for two years’ worth of toilet paper!)   I got so crazy looking for bargains, I nearly bought a navy-blue eye-lining pencil for two ninety-eight.  That was a good except I never wear makeup.

I was plumb discouraged by the time I got to the back of the store.  That was where they kept their freezer cases and a lady with a hot plate was in front of them giving away fresh-cooked samples of a pizza snacks.  It was the first real bargain I had seen but I wasn’t interested.  First off, she was surrounded by the tattoo and tube top crowd.  More important there was a bunch of cardboard cartons across the aisle from her with stacks of dishes on top of each box.  Above the boxes was a sign that said “Clearance Stoneware – Every item $1.25.”  Stoneware was something I wanted. 

For years I ate my meals off of dishes Ponder dragged home from yard sales, flea-sales and Goodwill.  I didn’t have a whole place setting of anything and every one of my plates had scars from when we’d sliced our knives across their surfaces.    If the Big Store’s plates cost no more than  ten bits apiece, I could have a matched set I wasn’t ashamed of.  And I knew that stoneware was a solid strong dish that wouldn’t show scratches or stains.  The plates for sale were real different, green on the food side and a dirt color on the back and they were square shaped but I could see how they’d make a pretty table setting.   While everybody else was gathering around that lady with the hot plate, I squatted in front of the dish boxes and started picking out plates.
 
Five quarters apiece doesn’t sound like much but when you figure all the pieces that go on a table including serving bowls, glasses, napkin rings and bread plates, one single place setting can set you back more than ten dollars.  I planned to get service bowls and eight full settings but I could see that wasn’t happening.  Instead, I pulled out six plates, saucers, bowls and and matching coffee cups.  By that time, I had been in a squat so long that my knees were stiff.  When I shifted to grab an empty box I fell right onto my purse and the floor.  I felt like a fool!
“Are you okay, ma’am?” said a voice and I looked up.  There was a child with long pony-tails on each side of her head and her membership card hanging clear down to her shorts.  “Do you need some help?”

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