An Ode to Dollar Stores

Well, today is looking to be a strange day already. The Amazingly Awesome Boyfriend make a great dinner last night, with enough leftovers for lunch….. for him. Not realizing this, I let myself sleep in a bit, figuring I could use what would be my meal prep time for a nap and some writing. Instead, I had to make a mad dash around the house, attempting to draw on my eyebrows and cook up some sesame garlic tofurkey for two days worth of lunches. As it stands, I’m still running behind today and will have absolutely no time tonight to write or relax. Letting myself sleep in took away the time I needed to get pretty much everything done today. No time to stretch, or write much, or chit-chat with mum while she’s at work. I had to clean the kitchen, but could only do a half-assed job because there’s just no time for a full scrub-sweep-mop-scrub like I want to do. It was either fully clean the kitchen, or have to shell out of lunches for the next two days because I’m working weird shifts that don’t give me much prep time at night.

Usually, I don’t mind shelling out for lunches from time to time. The little plaza I work in has a lot of variety now for take-out options. In addition to the Tim Horton’s and Wendy’s we’ve had there for ages, we have a great little Vietnamese-Japanese-Chinese fusion restaurant, a tabbouleh place, and a brand new burrito joint. The only problem is, to get to any of these places I have to walk past either the Bulk Barn or a dollar store. Having a Bulk Barn around is bad enough on my wallet. You can’t run in there for just a little snack. You get the craving for a chocolate bar, the next thing you know you have a bag of broken nut rolls and need some bigger pants. Running in for a snack for me means coming out with some stevia sodas, dehydrated snap peas, some quinoa crisps, and a little bag of gummy candies to split with the work fam. And that’s if I don’t stop to get stuff for soup! I could drop a small fortune in there making gift bags for my coworkers for every holiday, getting a variety of kinds of rice, soup bases, noodles, and vegan substitutes like nutritional yeast, which I buy even though I’m not vegan and I love cheese.

At least with the Bulk Barn, I know there’s only so much stuff I can use. I know that there’s no use in me buying another $7 worth of chocolate when I’m trying to eat healthy this week and already have three chocolate bars in my fridge. And I know that my cupboard can only hold so much pasta, so there’s no use on stocking up on bulk fusilli when the cupboard is packed with rigatoni already. I have limits when I go in there (to a point). Yes, I will usually pick up yet another can or two of stevia soda, or grab a Pez dispenser for a co-worker. But I won’t drop the big bucks there very often unless I’m grabbing something I really need.

At the dollar store, I don’t have that sense of control. I can walk right past the Bulk Barn with no problem, even when I have time to shop. It’s almost like I’m physically unable to do that with a dollar store. Usually during my shift, I’ll run to the dollar store with the sole intent to buy a bottle of pop. That’s it, one bottle of pop. In the 45 seconds it takes me to walk to the store from my store, I’ll have somehow convinced myself that I need a small snack too. Maybe a small bag of cheap chips, or a Kinder Egg (for my American readers, Kinder Eggs are hollow chocolate eggs with a little toy inside that are illegal to bring into America for some reason). Walking into the store, the first thing in my sight is the seasonal things. That’s where I start to go wrong.

I know that I don’t need any more Christmas decorations. I have a bag full of tiny (and not so tiny) hats for work. We have two decorated trees. I even have a bag of candy to make into treat bags for my co-workers. Still, I take a quick walk through the seasonal aisle just to see if there are any new treats there. Somehow, I find two or three things I convince myself I really really need.

To get to the food section, I need to walk through health and beauty. It seems like there’s always something new there to try, and I usually end up loving what I get there. I started getting makeup remover wipes there for $1.25, instead of the $9 face wash or the $11 wipes at the drug store. Their bath sponges are amazing and cheap enough to replace as often as I need to. Hell, I even started buying makeup there on a whim. For Halloween, I needed blue and green eyeshadow and found an eyeshadow pallet for $1.25. This is quite possibly the greatest eyeshadow pallet I’ve ever tried. It’s a little harder to blend than the pricey ones I saw at Sephora, but they freaking stay on all day! I just got back from a hellacious 8 1/2 hour shift and my eyeshadow hadn’t budged or creased at all! So I have to check there to see if they have any new eyeshadows….. or lip glosses……. or makeup sponges….. or dry shampoo…….. or anything else they can possibly come out with that catches my eye.

By this point, I either have my hands full or have half a basket full of things. This is before I even hit the food section! I’ll try to grab just a bag of chips or some crackers to munch on. Then I’ll find half a dozen things we probably need at home: Rice-A-Roni, Cup-A-Soup, mini pizza crusts, discount Triscuits, Pop Shoppe soda in the glass bottles. It’s almost like they’re reading my mind, trying to figure out the best impulse buys for me. Then it’s through the candy section to get to the soda pop I came in there for in the first place. On a rough or really busy day at work, I can usually grab two or three things here just to give to co-workers. It’s amazing what leaving a KitKat in a person’s locker can do for their moral.

By the time I finally grab my soda, I’m up at the cash right next to the real impulse buys. I don’t know why I feel like I need peanut butter date energy bars, or a back scratcher, or foam nunchucks for AAB, but they wind up on the belt at the cash.

There have been times I’ve gone in there for soda and a snack and left with three freaking bags of things. A big part of me loves it, finding such a great deal on things. Another part of me, the financially responsible part, hates it. Yes, it’s always good to stock up on essentials like face cleansing wipes and bubble gum. But do I really need yet another piece of Tupperware with little sections in it? Or more pens with fuzzy balls on the end that the ever playful Bowser Kitten will attack any time I try to write with them?

This is why I pack a lunch for work. Today, I didn’t leave the store once in that 8 1/2 hours I was there. I brought food, and a book, and my soda pop from yesterday that I barely touched, and hunkered down in the break room for my dinner and my breaks. I didn’t spend a dime all day once I got to work.

Still, I wonder if they got any new eyeshadows in that I could use…..

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