11.10.2007

Only at Big! Lots!

Big! Lots! is a wonderfully absurd place. It's where the almost-good-ideas-but-not-quite end up. Decorative knick-knacks that are almost decorative, but not quite decorative for anyone to buy full price. And orange and white socks, that are perfectly fine and wonderful except for the fact that I never would have picked them out specifically. And I guess nobody else would have either, because there they are at Big! Lots! There are all sorts of things at Big! Lots!, and the inventory is perpetually fluctuating, but the number one item seems to be bottles of olive oil with an assortment of herbs, fruit rinds, and dried vegetables. My guess is that it's probably just an art form that's particularly easy to imitate with no understanding whatsoever. Who knows. I have absolutely no knowledge of the art of olive oil flower arrangements, but I figure there must be a lot of near misses, since Big! Lots! is full of them. And near misses is what Big! Lots! does best.

I've found a lot of really great stuff at Big! Lots! Sometimes I know full well what's wrong with an item, and that the flaw is something I can live with. In those cases I'm thrilled to be pieces to be getting such a bargain. But there isn't necessarily anything wrong with any given item, and that's what gives me a little anxiety. You see, sometimes I really actually like something I find at Big! Lots! And it could very well be that this particular item was simply part of a liquidation, and is every bit as wonderful as it seems. Or it could be that I'm totally missing something.

Sometimes it becomes quite clear after I've purchased the item. The DVD player that was such a great bargain? No fast forward or rewind. And no returns on electronics. Oops.

The carpet steamer, on the other hand, has served me well for going on two years, and has been absolutely indispensable on more occasions than I care to recount. What was it doing at Big! Lots! for $20? I guess I'll never know, but it seems fairly clear that it was through no fault of its own.

Other items just remain an open question. Does it mean that I have horrendous taste if I really love those $2 wall sconces? But I never worry about it too much, because if I have horrendous taste in wall sconces, so be it, and if I'm going to inadvertantly purchase ugly sconces, I'd rather waste $2 than $30. But I'm actually pretty confident in my assessment of them, so I think I'll just leave it at that.

Anyway, as I was in the checkout line this afternoon with my very normal broom (at least I think it's normal) and my (hopefully) normal washcloths, I found myself examining the construction of the checkout lanes. I had a lot of time to examine it carefully, because Halloween is already over, and folks are starting to get a little frantic about their Christmas shopping. As the signs in the toy department say, "you can never buy too much at Big! Lots!"

The checkout lanes were constructed out of what I assume must be particle board, covered in formica. Quite typical and normal.

Now most of the time, formica is either in a solid color, or printed so as to look like some posher substance, such as actual wood, or perhaps granite or marble.

But at Big! Lots! complete and total honesty reigned. The formica was printed so as to appear to be...

Particle board.

Only at Big! Lots! Only at Big! Lots!

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