Up the street, there is a store named Sandy’s. Sure, from the outside, it looks like it could be an interesting place. It’s colorful and there’s an inviting pink flamingo decoration. But what is Sandy’s? Well, I’ve already spoiled it for you in the title; it’s a creepy store.
From the non-descriptive name, I couldn’t tell what kind of merchandise Sandy’s specialized in, and after visiting the store, I still cannot answer that question. Only one thing about Sandy’s is for certain. Sandy never has bad dreams. Have a look at that Big Ass dream catcher in the front window.
To be honest, I’ve been afraid to go in this store. Let’s just say it’s a “locals” place. Me walking in there is like a rare spotted loon walking in, and everyone will turn to look. And I’m afraid of the locals. Everyone around here looks like the neighbors in The Burbs. And I have no quirky sidekicks like Corey Feldman and that fat guy to help me plot my missions. I’d have to go into Sandy’s alone.
I finally summoned up enough bravery to investigate Sandy’s this past weekend.
I walked in. The bell jangled against the glass door. Then silence, except for the light drone of the air conditionng. At the counter sat a woman I can only presume to be Sandy herself–a woman with a feathering mane of gray hair, four teeth and all gums. And next to her a man. Their conversation had stopped as soon as I walked in. I do not know what this man looked like; instinctually I did not make eye contact.
I had to be tactical. I had to act like a shopper, on foot, maneuvering the place. Back “in-country.” Armed with my camera phone, I pretended to text Corey Feldman, all the while stealthily taking photographs of the merchandise.
To my right was a section I’ll call, ummm, the Sporting Goods section:
The first thing you notice is there is no order to way the merchandise is displayed; it’s just sort of thrown up there on the wall, everything 5 feet apart, and only one of each item. Here you’ve got a bike helmet, a laser pointer, a couple umbrellas, a recorder, and a bag of bootleg dragon toys from Mexico.
And then underneath of this section is a nearly-empty rack–
The only thing here is a fourteen year old pog game. We’re only in the first square foot of the store, but I’m already depressed as hell.
With a thickness in the air, a sense that I was not welcome, I had to move fast. Moving right down the wall, I hit the toys section:
So here you’ve got your standard bootleg Barbies and other dollar store merchandise, except everything is marked up to two or three dollars. What kind of store would you call this? A general store? A variety store? A front for a secret back door prositution and drugs ring?
I spun around. Across from the toys, we have the Home Goods section:
There’s a couple of themes to Sandy’s–everything spaced three feet apart, random, and ugly. I know nothing, except I know I’m going to Heaven, because I’ve spent my time in Hell. And also, each of these statues is worth about a million dollars a piece.
But this next one is worth two million dollars:
Obviously, there is a philosophical inspiration behind this Albino Buffalo Family Statue. Dad buffalo represents the strong and protective. Mom buffalo represents gentle fire and warmth. Baby buffalo is an innocent lamb child of God. Albino Buffalo family is dramatizing God’s love for small things. That’s my poetic interpretation of this statue. I am a poet as well, you know.
At this point, I had to get in close to take a clear picture of the albino buffalo family. Then–shit–my cover was blown. Sandy remarked aloud to the man, with a speech impediment that sounded as though she didn’t move her lips while speaking, that I must be “interested in the merchandise because I was taking pictures of it.” My palms started sweating.
I looked up and smiled my best smile. “I just like this statue.”
Then there’s the Apparel section—
The apparel section only has one item, an item so valuable that it’s placed high above on the wall. This Skull and Nautical Star Hoody also has the distinction of being one of the most expensive items in the store, at $20. Shit-colored and striped, this garment will keep you warm in the winter and styling in the summer. With deep side pockets to make shoplifting simple, and menacing skull on the front to make old ladies think you’re a member of the rowdy Skull Gang, you’ll love this hoody.
That’s what I’d write if I was writing the catalogue decriptions for Sandy’s winter line.
Here we have the Office Supplies and Beauty section–
Calculators. All kinds. Hairbrushes. Bristles cheap enough to snag the hair straight outta your scalp. Lint Rollers. Because when you need to save money, save it on a $1.50 Lint Roller.
Still being watched, I was relieved to have only one more section to peruse, the Lingerie section:
Oh look, there’s some packages of tank tops that come in two styles: Femme or Giant. But I know your eye only goes to one thing in this picture, that single pair of panties that’s clearly been repackaged.
That was it. I’d seen it all. But I felt I ought to buy something. I looked around. One thing jumped out. I picked it up, studying it, something I’d never seen in my life. Something that seemed like a worthwhile purchase.
This is a RudeBoyz radio, which according to the package, comes with a free video game. A free video game with radio! It was so crappy looking, I needed it, but not for two dollars. However, everyone knows handwritten prices are not firm. Yep, I was about to price-haggle with Sandy. I asked if she’d take a dollar for it. She looked thoughtfully, and said “yeah.”
Too bad I had only a twenty in my pocket. I couldn’t very well hand her a twenty dollar bill after I’d knocked the price down. I motioned to give me one moment and went outside, where the girlfriend awaited, having refused to go in the store while I took pictures. Something about it being weird.
“I need a dollar,” I said breathlessly.
“Whatever it is, you don’t need it” she said, pained. I didn’t have to time to explain about the creepiness, being watched, my cover being blown, the albino buffalo family, or the gummy woman with feathered hair. I needed a dollar, now.
“Come on, she’s waiting,” a rebuttal that made no sense to the girlfriend, but did instill a sense of urgency. The girlfriend sighed, pulling out her wallet, retrieving a dollar.
A few moments later, I emerged from the store, the proud owner of a RudeBoyz free game and radio.
“Why did you buy that?”
I showed her the extra foot of plastic as the explanation.
“Look at this, this is hilarious! What is this extra plastic for?”
She didn’t see the hilarity.
“OK, what about this–“what is this game supposed to be? Sideways Tetris?”
At this, she smiled slightly. Good. Convinced her it was a dollar well-spent. Now to take this thing home and see what it was all about. But first, I needed to stop and pick up some AAA batteries to fire this baby up.
I can’t say I was surprised when I opened up the battery compartment to discover it actually takes AA batteries, despite the packaging clearly claiming otherwise. I grabbed the remote control to the TV, borrowing the batteries. Without having to press the On button, the game powered up, playing a BEEP BOP BEEP BOP version of Do Your Ears Hang Low at heavy metal speed.
The thing actually comes with 15 or so little games, all with graphics pre-dating LCD games. Try to guess what this game is:
As for the radio, they put more effort into the “free” game than they did the radio. There is no way to tell what radio station you’re listening to, and any slight movement will change the station to static. Now I’m wondering if I’ve made a mistake and thinking I should have invested in that albino buffalo family instead.
Or maybe a lint roller. At least I could have used a lint roller.
I need a beer.