Monday, August 11, 2014

Michael's stocks dollhouse miniatures, Draculaura gets a skateboard, swap-mart beauties invade TRU, AND there's a new store in town

Once she'd witnessed people skateboarding to and from the light-rail stations, of course D'Laura wanted a skateboard of her own.

It's meant for me! It even has a skull.

This is from Party City. It costs 35 cents. D'Laura immediately has to try it out.

How does this thing work again?

The paving's a bit uneven, and I think she's got her board facing backwards. Oops.

Why don't people wear helmets with these?

Presumably she will get better with practice.

The shopping trip was supposed to be a three-hour round-trip junket to the big Joann Etc. down in Ahwahtukee for trim to go on a festival dress for Rebecca Esennath Chavez, with some additional thoughts of looking at eyelet for other people's dresses. I wanted trim roughly like what's in this photo. I didn't expect an exact match -- especially since one never knows what designs have specific religious meaning and shouldn't be reproduced exactly -- but figured there'd be some trim with a yellow, red, and black design along lines that seem to come from the same culture.

Nope. It's thunderbirds or nothing.

Token Indian trim.

I decided "nothing" would do for the time being and moved on. At this point, the original plan was to have lunch and take the next bus home. Then I noticed there was a Ross and a Party City. Riot: incited.

The toy section had been devoured by hordes of locusts.

However, I think it's safe to conclude that Yasmin is a Kardashian cousin.

Yasmin, this is clearly your first rodeo.

If I knew how to find separated Bratz lower legs, I could coin money on eBay.

This was the "surprise" store in the line of plazas, as I could have sworn it used to be on the other side of Ray Road. As I was drifting through the aisles like a summer cloud (hot, damp, and moving aimlessly), I spotted a pack of "pewter" plates in the nascent Christmas section. There were also cookies, which I ignored on the principle that I could make them out of Fimo, and a very fine cupcake rack, but it was the plates that caught my eye, as I've wanted pewter for the Colonial Cottage and resigned myself to faking it with buttons.

Of course, I checked my phone for a coupon. It turned out that I could get 10% off my entire purchase immediately... or, if I waited until 3 p.m., I could get 25% off.

The time was 2:48. Can I figure out how to spend 12 minutes in a Michael's? Yes, I can!

Pewter from an era when guests brought their own forks and knives.

On the opposite side of the store, I spotted a display of small things in small packages.

Dollhouse miniatures.

Actual dollhouse miniatures, in packs labeled Miniature/Miniatura, the likes of which have not been seen in a Michael's since some time in the mid-1990s.

There is a moment in the crafter's or collector's life when the brain short-circuits, and the resulting flood of sparks spells out BUY THINGS. This was that moment.

Putting the "bewildered" in "bistro."

It is possible that not one of these is a known scale. The red umbrella chair is sort of intended for the Chicken Coop, though it's a little small for the resident. The other tables might be half-scale. Or not. They will find their own place in due time.

The packages say these are distributed by Sparrow Innovations, which seems to be like Darice, only obviously different people. It turns out that the miniatures are exclusive to Michael's, and here is the entire current catalog.

Rebecca also got some "turquoise" beads so she can have a necklace.

Turquoise is correct for Rebecca's O'odham background, too.

Party City
The other notable item, besides 35-cent skateboards, was $2 purse-shaped place-card holders. Two snips with the wire cutters, and you have yourself a bargain purse.

They may be knock-offs, but will Barbie care?

I didn't buy this because my universe hasn't evolved to the point that people remember to put on shoes, purses, and sunglasses. But somebody else could.

At this point, I had reached the end of the Ray Road shops and had a choice of (a) crossing the street and going to Target or (b) catching a bus toward home. There was a bus waiting nicely at the nearest stop, which resolved the question in favor of (b).

However, the 56-Priest Drive always stops at Arizona Mills. It seemed like a good place to go for a cool drink and a restroom, since it's served by several bus routes and therefore is easy to leave. Also, it has a Toys R Us.

If the Park 'n' Swap is Tijuana, Arizona Mills is what would happen if cyberpunk was based not in Tokyo but in Mexico City. Keep the internationalism, the large flashing signs, the sense that absolutely anything can be bought and sold, and the katana shop. For computer hackers and harajuku girls, substitute large extended families in which all of the children are riding motorized plush jungle beasts. From the number of children running loose in the place, it's possible that some are feral and eke out a meager lifestyle in the maintenance corridors, surviving on popcorn, pretzels, and flavored slushies.

The first question confronting the exploratory shopper is whether Burlington has a toy section.

Back around the era when Michael's carried dollhouse miniatures, Burlington was a middle-class discount store, distinguished from Ross, Marshall's, and TJ Maxx mostly by carrying an enormous selection of coats (which is why it was then called Burlington Coat Factory).

Then it went a little ghetto, which was disturbing.

Then it went full-on ghetto, and the results are awesome. If you need seven-inch heels, this is the place. The miles and miles of racks of clothes are like a Walmart with no restraining sense of taste whatever.

The toy section looked as if it was in the midst of disassembly. I passed up a So In Style BabyPhat Chandra, despite her articulation, because I'm not paying $12.99 for a donor body for Akilah Nichelle, but it's a relief to know that dark-skinned articulated bodies exist.

Then there was my first encounter with a Mystixx Zombie. They're undead girls who love fashion! Because, of course, all female bands of friends must love fashion, even if their limbs are festering and dropping off.

"Loves fashion" so rarely means "loves keeping her booty covered."

When I later looked at eBay prices while on the train home, I initially kicked myself for not picking her up for re-sale. Then I checked Completed Items and noticed the dolls don't actually sell. So that's all right. The conceit of having her change faces by rotating her head is interesting (though it's been done before, at least on baby dolls), but she's not as pretty as Monster High's Ghoulia Yelps, and she lacks articulation.

At Home
There's a touching scene in The Wind in the Willows wherein Mole, after many adventures, sniffs the breeze and suddenly smells his very own burrow that he had sorely missed.

When I walked into the new At Home store, I had my Mole moment, as the air spoke to me, and it said: "Old America." It's the tantalizing combined scent of cheap rugs, cinnamon pine cones, and all the ceramic pigs wearing chefs hats ever made.

She lob, they lob-a you lob... as Cindy Lauper would have said. Oh, She-lob!

Old America was, for a brief and shining moment, a Texas-based craft and housewares store that used to locate in defunct K-Marts. It went bankrupt in 1999. I recall it through a haze of nostalgia that makes it superior to all existing craft stores except maybe A.C. Moore and Beverly Fabrics (both of which somehow aren't in Arizona, because that's how nostalgia works).

Everything for your safari-themed Christmas tree!

At Home turns out to be a Texas-based housewares chain that puts its stores in vacant K-Marts and vacant J.C. Penney stores. It used to call itself Garden Ridge, when it was more garden-focused. It's now on a relentless march of expansion, coming to a dead K-Mart near you.

I had to wander through it at great length, even though I don't need sixteen varieties of ceramic owl, just because after years of seeing chains go bankrupt or consolidate, it's cheerful to visit a store that's new-to-me and growing.

From an urban development and shopping-center economics standpoint, it's also nice to know there'll be uses for all the dead K-Marts when parent company Sears finally goes belly-up. (It's two zombie chains that love fashion!)

This is merely the beginning of the owl aisle.

Toys R Us Express
The Toys R Us at Arizona Mills turns out to be a Toys R Us Express, which means it's the size of a Kaybee and probably actually was one, prior to that chain's 2009 bankruptcy, when its last vestiges were acquired by TRU.

Arizona Mills' identity as a discount mall gives the false impression that every store will offer amazing bargains. In fact, it has a lot of discount brands that just offer regular prices but like to hang out together. So the prices on TRU's minimal stock were not impressively low.

Then I got to the fashion-doll wall and encountered the very same dolls I'd seen at the Park 'n' Swap.This trio has a pretty good fake-Barbie face... if Barbie was a zombie who loves fashion.

We're Stepford wives who love fashion!

The kitchen! This is the kitchen I didn't buy at the Park 'n' Swap, only in red rather than pink. It's also $29.99 instead of $25. All the doors open, so it's a pretty fine kitchen, and if I weren't stubbornly fond of my handmade kitchen, I'd be tempted.

It makes noises, too.

It turns out there's a whole house of these sets. The bathroom (caught at a bad angle because it was on an upper shelf) is really nice. Again, I don't need another bath and I'm pleased with my existing one -- but this is good stuff! And I've never seen it at a real TRU.

Clawfoot tub but IKEA-style sink, perfect for hipster home renovation.

Home again, home again, jig jig jig
Exhausted by the excitement of encountering swap mart product at TRU, I got myself a strawberry Julius and went out to crouch on a rock and wait for the bus. Crouching on a rock is a thing at Arizona Mills, not so much because greed has reduced us to our primitive natures as because the bus "shelter" faces due west and is made of metal. You can fry eggs on a metal bus bench on a summer afternoon around here. The rocks were in the shade.

Here are the pewter dishes in the china cabinet from the Colonial Cottage. The cabinet needs a bottom shelf faked in.

Grandpa scoured antique barns in the 1980s for this china cabinet.

The spoons, of course, go in the kitchen drawer!

The kitchen was also last redone in the 1980s and the stove still works fine!
They knew how to build to last, back then.

I'm reminded once again that I really like that house... but every time I take it out to work on it, some other project comes up, which has something to do why there are enough fashion dolls on my kitchen counter to form the core of Glinda the Good's all-female army. Just put 'em in red jumpers and little majorette hats, and the Wizard is toast.

1 comment:

  1. Wow. You found a lot of great stuff. Those zombie dolls don't sell at all at my local ToysRUs.