It’s easy to be confused this time of year in the metro-east. I look out my front window and see the leaves on our dogwood tree turning colors. But, it’s Labor Day weekend, I need to water the lawn and it will be in the 90s on Monday.
The air-conditioning keeps me cool in the car as I head out to work on this column, but all the home stores are stocking up on outdoor fire pits and fashion retailers want me to buy booties. Where’s the frigid button on my Kia Soul’s console?
Ah, the approach of autumn. Retailers are purging the last of summer stock while making room for fall and early-winter merchandise.
For example: I’m a big fan of Big Lots. It’s a great place to stock up on kitchen storage and party supplies. What did I see at the Fairview Heights store on Tuesday but foldable kettle-style charcoal grills on sale for $19.99? Trying to look like a Weber grill, the kettle and cover are porcelain-coated with steel tube foldable legs and rear wheels. Comes in a box. Buy one and put it away for next summer with that clearance bathing suit you got last month.
I spied my first winter coats at Gordman’s in Fairview Heights. But there were two big fall trends that ultimately made the cut for this column: ponchos/capes and fringe. Both are throwbacks to the 1960 and early 1970s. Yesterday’s wool ponchos are today’s faux fabric “blanket wraps.” The ones I saw at Gordman’s were about hip-length, though some were longer. Most were meant to have one end thrown over your shoulder. A few were pulled over the head — more traditional-looking ponchos with the V dip in front. I saw solid and patterned styles, with prices from $16.99 for thinner knitted material to heavier ones for $24.99.
In the handbag aisle, I found a variety of faux-leather fringed shoulder bags. Some were completely covered in fringe, while others just had it on the bottom of the bag. Prices were $12.99 to $29.99.
For that trendy look in footwear, Kmart in Belleville has suede cuffed booties with fringe (and without) for $19.99 and up in girls sizes.
At Home Goods in Fairview Heights, it’s time for Halloween as soon as you walk in the door. I like the sleek silver snack holders shaped like bats, skull and crossbones, cats and a spider big enough to hold a bag of chips. These are heavy, durable pieces with great prices: $5.99 to $7.99 and $19.99 for the spider.
Retail ping pong: Wondering what’s going up next to Home Goods and Fresh Thyme Market in the newly redesigned strip mall at the corner of Illinois 159 and U.S. 50/Lincoln Trail? It’s a new Hobby Lobby. The crafty retailer will move from its current location in the Crossroads Shopping Center just a block away. (I don’t know the move date yet.) Hobby Lobby took over that anchor spot in Crossroads when Kmart left to anchor what was then a new strip mall on Illinois 159. Now, Kmart is gone and its footprint is covered by Hobby Lobby, again. Got that?
Peace by Piece in downtown Belleville is celebrating its sixth anniversary as a unique shop that sells very cool U.S.-made clothing, shoes and accessories. To show just how thrilled they are, owners Christina and Jason Keck and loyal staff have had daily specials. Thursday’s is buy two home/body fragrances and get one free. On Friday, it’s buy two sale items, get one free. Saturday, look for 25 percent off one regular-priced item.
Plus, the annual anniversary mystery puzzle deal runs through Saturday, unless somebody figures it out before then. Come into the store for your chance to win a $100 gift certificate.
Ben’s in downtown Belleville has gotten so big you almost need a map to find your way among the 35,000-square feet of floor space. The retailer, celebrating 30 years, will have extended hours this weekend only, 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Friday and to 5 p.m. Saturday. And with good reason. Before you go, get a copy of the anniversary sale 20 percent off ad from the News-Democrat or go to www.shopbens.com, click on anniversary sale and print a copy of the ad.
At Basket Case in Belleville, it’s buy-one, get-one free through this weekend on all Camille Beckman skincare products.
And lest I forget to mention what Walmart calls Force Friday, beginning at 12:01 a.m. Friday, the retailer will hand out a free limited-edition two-pack of Star Wars Galactic Connexxions trading discs, which can be used to play a game featuring the Star Wars characters. Included only in that day’s giveaway are four star field discs that can be redeemed for a 14-karat gold disc and a room makeover. Go to www.walmart.com for details.