The 99 Cent Store

Current mood:  artistic
Category: Life

It’s my turn to blog at Seven Wicked Writers today and here is what I wrote:

One of my secret, guilty pleasures is trolling the aisles of the 99 Cent Store. My goodaughter Eleanna and I have become proficient afficionadoes of the chain and whilst some of my friends are aghast that I shop there, many others are just like me.


Recently, I’ve had so many bills – April was a wicked month with a major dental bill, personal taxes, property taxes and a drop in my freelance work – that I was on the hunt for food bargains. I normally shop the 99 Cent Store for things like paper towels, remaindererd picnic ware – I have an entire, eight piece tiki bar set I collected from 12 different stores over a 10 day period. Even my snobby sister in law covets this find! I buy Black Crow candies (the only place I can find them), candles (I burn a lot of those), bird seed, liquid hand soap, dish washing liquid, that sort of stuff.

Eleanna loves the makeup aisles for the pedicure kits, hair ties and budding woman that she is, she still checks out the dolls. At thirteen, she is blossoming at a scary rate. The bees are already buzzing over my beautiful, precious flower so it comforts me to see the little girl in her still checking out those dolls.

This week, I had a whopping twenty bucks available for groceries and my favorite partner in crime was anxious to blow her weekly allowance, so we motored on over the hill down Coldwater Canyon to what we feel is the best 99 Cent Store in the business, the one in Beverly Hills.

We swarmed the fresh food aisle of the Wilshire Boulevard location and were dismayed at the quality of fruit and vegetables. Flies buzzed in and around bags of dirty, rotting fruit. the vegetables were misshapen and otherwise peculiar. The watermelons looked awful and the freezer section was worse. It was crammed with mystery meats in packages with a lot of foreign writing we finally deciphered as “chicken breast” but underneath it said, “chicken-like meat.”

What the hell is chicken-like meat?

“Chihuahua,” Eleanna proclaimed, making me laughing out loud.

Closer inspection revealed these are the new ‘pressed’ meats made up of grains and possibly some actual meat…they are the food equivalent of chipboard. Eeeeww! 

Eleanna scored big. She found huge, summery tubes of Bonnie Bell ‘lipsmackers’ in tasty flavors like key lime pie and birthday cake, a butterfly-shaped lipgloss ring and a red Hawaiian hibiscus tote bag that matches her purple and blue ones.

She had a basketful of goodies but had spent only five bucks, champion shopper that she is. We left the store and treated ourselves to veggie burgers at one of the few remaining Johnny Rockets, this one on La Cienega. We ordered our burgers, split a plate of fries and Eleanna ordered Diet Coke (she must watch that figure, you know) and I ordered coffee. I was so pleased when our ketchup arrived on its own plate, the waiter having squeezed it on in the shape of a smiley face. Thank God some things don’t change.

Fortified, we braced ourselves for the ride back home. Eleanna suggested we hit the best 99 Store in the valley – for our 99 cents anyway – way up on Van Nuys Boulevard in a not very nice part of town made safe by heavy police presence. Boy, that girl must be psychic! We arrvied as they were unloading a truck full of fresh fruit. I bought a watermelon, two pineapples (for 99 cents), a bag of fresh green, red and orange bell peppers, eggs, milk, rice, a box of Black Crows, frozen peas and beans and a bag of baby zucchini you would normally get for around $4.

She found more lip gloss and a red hibiscus-print pedicure kit to match her new tote bag and we drove home happy. It just goes to show, the 99 Cent Store is still the deal for poor people…and their favorite side kicks.

What about you? Do you shop the 99 Cent Store? Have you found any cool bargains there?

Aloha oe,


Currently listening:
Adam Cohen
By Adam Cohen
Release date: 1998-07-28

Leave a Reply