Growing up there was no greater bastion of fake grownup independence than The Dollar Store. Filled with bouncy balls, tiny figurines that would immediately be lost between the car seats, and 14,000 glitter stickers that could be all yours by plunking 100 cents on the counter, it was glorious.
For us kids, getting the mini van into that parking lot was childhood #goals for 1) the sheer thrill of spending our money however we wanted and 2) the pride from our purchases that would last anywhere from 45 seconds to a solid 4 hours. For the adults driving us to The Dollar Store, it was a great way to kill a rainy morning for minimal expense. (Minimal expense if you used it as an opportunity to teach about fiscal responsibility, not if you give your child free reign over the land of rubber garbage.)
My parents smartly fell into the fiscal responsibility camp and they had like-minded friends. So when we would visit our family friends in Connecticut, my #bff Jess and I knew that there was only one way we were getting to The Dollar Store, we had to make that money. #dolladollabillyall
We tried lemonade stands but the real money maker was the indoor yard sale. Between the two of us, Jess and I had three younger siblings desperate to be involved in our very cool 9 year old shenanigans. So the solution to our Dollar Store problem was very clear, get the wee ones to buy our junk.
We would raid the closet to find previous Dollar Store purchases that had yet to be broken/lost/disintegrated and tagged those babies up for very reasonable prices. 25 cents for a big ticket item like a really good Pog, 5 cents for a truly heinous troll doll missing its jewel belly button. We also did some crafting – paper dream catchers, paper footballs, shreds of paper that were actually nothing but our younger siblings didn’t know that.
Then we would graciously open our door to the youngins who were happy to participate in our game, which was essentially swindling children out of their pocket change. And where did the siblings get their pocket change? Well, I never said this was a zero expense adventure for our parents, just minimal. And if giving each child a dollar to spend upstairs at the saddest yard sale ever created meant some peace and quiet with a nice box of Chardonnay then the moms were happy to oblige.
After our goods had been sold for fairish prices and the Chardonnay was tapped, we all got a good night sleep and Jess and I dreamed of all the riches The Dollar Store had to offer us the next day. I vividly remember piling into the back of the van in the morning clutching our envelopes filled with yesterday’s take. As visions of silly straws shaped like off-brand cartoon characters danced in our heads, even the drive to The Dollar Store became exciting. The best purchase I ever made was a baby doll, that I probably promptly lost. But still, I remember it being a really cute doll, that I bought with my own money. Kind of.
So thanks to The Dollar Store, my family, Jess’ family, and Pogs – because of you I am a wildly successful entrepreneur who knows the value of a buck.*
With hopes that my children will also have simple dreams that I can help make true with one dollar while I drink wine,
*Part of that is true.
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