As I slogged from store to store during a downpour Tuesday, shoes sopping and ever in search of interesting merchandise to share with readers, I chuckled. I thought of my girlfriends who think this part of my job is a breeze — and a chance to just shop.
Far from it. I admit it’s nice to be out of the office for several hours, but as a woman on a mission, I have goals, photos to take and notes to jot down.
I don’t dawdle when I’m out, though I do browse, quickly. I’m up and down store aisles, eyes roaming for that one thing that stands out, that makes me go “hmmm, that’s kind of cool/interesting/odd/unusual/ridiculous/practical. I want to find something you didn’t know you needed. I want to make you laugh at silly stuff, too, just like you’re there with me in the store.
Most times I’m successful, but I do strike out occasionally. No matter, I just get back in the car and head someplace else, again and again.
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Sometimes I find a manager eyeing me and wondering what I’m doing. Sometimes, I’ve been taken as a corporate “secret shopper.” Other times, owners or managers recognize me and it typically goes one of two ways: I get a nice nod that says “Go about your business, I’ll leave you alone,” or I’m offered some suggestions about new goods in the store. Both are OK with me.
Years ago I was booted out of a big-chain store because I tried to take a photo of something I wanted to share with readers. Today, retailers don’t look twice when you pull out your phone (forget the camera) to do that. They really want you to spread the word — and the image.
So, I went through two pairs of shoes Tuesday. There’s always a spare pair in the car for just such situations.
I spent about a half-hour in Burlington Coat Factory in Fairview Heights, way beyond my time limit, but I’d left the umbrella in the car and the rain sounded like a freight train coming through the building. I stayed put and waited it out. I did spy a bathroom decor idea, though: a metal plaque that spelled out “BATH” in cutout letters with four hooks. Only $6.99.
A little swishy, I made my way through Gordman’s in Fairview Heights and found what I wanted right at the front door: a red guy’s T-shirt that said “Dad is busy, ask your mother.” Perfect last-minute Father’s Day gift. Price: $7.99.
While I was in Tuesday Morning in Fairview Heights, I checked out the Barbie dolls in the toy section. I haven’t had one in my possession since the early 1960s, but I wanted to see if I could find any with new feet. If you haven’t heard, Barbie no longer has to stand on her tippy-toes when she’s not wearing heels. Her feet have been altered so she can wear flats. Out of the dozen or so dolls I saw, only one, wearing a bikini, was flat-footed. Price: $4.99.
Looking for more protection from the sun? Check some of the products offered at Ulta Beauty in Fairview Heights. Store brand Ulta Endless Summer Lipsticks are a bit pricy, $22, but you get SPF 15 in a variety of shades. A couple of cosmetic lines, in particular BareMinerals, Smashbox and Laura Geller, offer primers, BB creams and tinted gels with SPF 30 protection. Remember, you’re worth it.
Summer camping or hiking in the near future? A serious hiker I know said that matches that can stay dry and light well are crucial to a back-country trip. I believe him. He gets his from huckberry.com. The Stormproof Match Kit (two-pack) with matches is $11.98, plus shipping. What’s so special about these? The ribbed container is waterproof, floats and the special matches will light and stay lit for 15 seconds, even after being submerged in water.
Don’t miss the wine-tasting for Father’s Day selections from 1 to 5 p.m. Saturday at the Cheesekeeper in west Belleville. Jim Chetrick from Vineyard Brands will feature family-owned, hand-crafted wineries from around the world. Wines on the tasting list will be 15 percent off during the tasting only.
Get a jump on family fun with Jumping Sacks at World Market in Shiloh. A must-have for picnics and reunions, they’re perfect for sack races, three-legged races or simply storing supplies. A pack of four of the 20-by-24-inch sacks is on sale now for $9.99, regularly $19.99.