Bargains By The Bagful.

I was thinking earlier today that I needed to stop and pick up some stuff for the house. Cleaning supplies, cat supplies, that sort of thing. I really didn’t cherish the idea of heading into Wal*Mart (Always White Trash, Always) and I’ve become positively bored with Target so I it looks like I was stuck with K-mart.

The K-mart closest to us is crap. And that’s hard for me to say, because when I was a small kid, that’s where we always shopped, at K-mart with my maternal grandmother. We’d get popcorn by the jewelry counter, do some shopping and such. Or if the timing was right, we’d eat lunch at the K-mart Cafeteria in the back off the store. But no, this K-mart is rapidly becoming a junk store, and that kind of makes me sad. There are six registers, numbered two through nine. The store has one of those ugly “Big K” logos on the front, but it’s all faded. The lights buzz. The shelves are in disarray. It has a decidedly early 1980s feel to it.

You’d think if they wanted to remain competitive with Wal*Mart and Target, they’d keep the place hospitable.

I don’t expect a lot from my local discount department store. I’m not a big fan of Wal*Mart SuperCenters, though I have given them a fair chance. They are just too damn big and crowded. And Target seems, well, I don’t know. It’s like it wants to be Sears but have carts too.

You know, I’m going to admit it. I miss Ames.

Ames opened up in my hometown in 1977. It was store #80, before they acquired Zayre, before they acquired Hills, before they acquired Big N. It had everything we needed and it wasn’t sprawled out all over the place. I always thought it rocked because the record department was right in front next to the jewelry counter (at least before the first remodeling done in the mid 1980s). I didn’t mind when they moved the record department (and added computers) to the back corner of the store.

I worked for Ames just after college. It was a pleasant experience, quite comparable to my “Hills at Christmas” stint in 1990. I got to interact with lots of people, I wore a red vest that didn’t look too gawd awful and the pay was a little more than minimum wage. And then in the mid to late 1990s I had actually applied for an IT job with the company. They were getting ready to implement an entirely new computer system in all of their stores and I wanted in on the fun. But I wasn’t ready to move to Connecticut. (Plus, I had met this new guy named Earl and I thought I had a future building with him).

I always liked shopping at Ames. It was just the right size, they had popcorn near the front registers and I didn’t feel like I needed to hop a crosstown bus to get from Health and Beauty Aids to Pet Supplies. I know, as a gay man I was suppose to be all decked out in designer-label fancy clothes purchased at a mall boutique that featured bear-chested twinkies, but I liked the clothes at Ames. I felt stylish in them. There was a rugged air to them. I wasn’t shunned when I wore them.

But then they went and closed up shop in 2002.

I never did make it K-mart today. I’ll probably go over the weekend. I’ll deal with it, but I won’t find my Bargains By The Bagful.

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