I had to be in St. Louis on Tuesday afternoon, so after my assignment I headed to IKEA for two reasons: Nothing makes a girl who grew up with a Swedish granny happier than eating meatballs, mashed potatoes and lingonberries ($4.99) for lunch. I figured while I was there I’d take a few minutes to check out merchandise that was close by. (It’s easy to wander in this giant store and I didn’t have a lot of time.)
So, I took a shortcut (yes, there are a few; look at the map on the wall) to the kids section. There, I spied a big bunch of colorful, stuffed felt veggies in a corduroy basket. The 14-piece soft vegetable set, called DUKTIG, is just $7.99 and a great way for kids to learn while they play.
Back on the other side of the river, I popped into Old Time Pottery in Fairview Heights because I’m still on this “get organized” kick. I saw what I liked as I walked in the door: $9.99 plastic laundry baskets you can stack, with room to fill one without removing any others. They’re deep and look pretty sturdy, too. If you don’t have a lot of laundry-sorting space, this could be a solution.
On that same kick, I headed across Lincoln Trail to Tuesday Morning. There, you’ll find all kinds of storage baskets in lots of shapes, sizes and colors, with prices from $7.99 to $17.99. The ones I liked looked summery and almost nautical with rope handles. These are so attractive you won’t want to hide them away. Make them part of your decor.
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I have to say that this shopping complex is looking a bit vacant: There are a handful of empty storefronts between Tuesday Morning and TJ Maxx. Plus, Big Lots is all by itself now next to the empty anchor space where Hobby Lobby once was.
Popping into Big Lots, I saw all the practical stuff, from a good supply of winter shovels to what is fast becoming the superfood of 2016: coconut oil. I’m seeing it in more recipes and experts are cautiously touting its health benefits. A 20-ounce jar of organic coconut oil (it comes in a solid form) at Big Lots is $4.50. If you want unbiased information on the oil, go to http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/282857.php
Finishing off a tour of this shopping center, I stopped in Deals, where I quickly pounced upon two inexpensive kids space toys/costumes: $1 white chest plate that looks like it could be worn by a mini stormtrooper and a $5 white plastic Space Raider gun that makes noises. Obviously, these are takeoffs on licensed “Star Wars” merchandise. With the new movie still raking in the bucks — $1.75 billion as of Jan. 13 — I did wonder who’s tallying the amount of merchandise sold. Evidently, Wall Street analysts in December expected that $5 billion to $6 billion in merchandise would be sold worldwide in the first year after “Star Wars: Episode VII — The Force Awakens” opened.
Also, a note from Christina and Jason Keck, owners of Peace by Piece in downtown Belleville. The boutique will be closed for its annual break from Jan. 24 to Feb. 2, re-opening at 10 a.m. Feb. 3. So, you have a little more than a week to stop in and take advantage of the ongoing winter sale.
And finally, Gander Mountain in O’Fallon is holding its semi-annual clearance, with 65 percent off already reduced apparel and footwear. Plus, big brand names like The North Face, Columbia and Under Armour have markdowns up to 30 percent off. Prices are good through Feb. 1.