Metro-East Living

Stock up on summer books, party supplies, decor at metro-east shops

Country-vintage style letters from Michaels in Shiloh.
Country-vintage style letters from Michaels in Shiloh.

There’s a birthday boy you need to celebrate next week. At Peace by Piece in downtown Belleville, owners Christina and Jason Keck’s dog Cooper is the unofficial greeter, though sometimes he’s chillin’ out behind the counter. He is always polite, but isn’t above shaking paws for a treat. His parents are celebrating his 12th birthday on Wednesday by donating a portion of the proceeds from that day’s sales to the Belleville Area Humane Society. The Kecks adopted Cooper from the humane society when he was 1 1/2.

Red, white and blue sale

Ben’s in downtown Belleville is the place to buy patriotic supplies for Memorial Day at a big discount: bunting (48 by 25 inches) is on sale for $12.88, car flags are a buck, a set of six small plastic flags is $1 and cemetery arrangements are 20 percent off.

Spell it out

Michaels Crafts in Shiloh has gone a little monogram crazy. Walk in the store and look left. You’ll see the alphabet on rows of shelves and walls. I was drawn to the pressed-board ones that look like barnwood with a country-vintage vibe. They’re big letters and each has an accent piece on it, such as a medallion, an old painted key or clock hands. They’re priced at $14.99.

Summer reading fun

With summer vacation fast approaching, parents can help keep kids occupied with simple things: books. Send them outside to read and play. World Market in Shiloh has four sturdy paperback versions of Roald Dahl books, from “James the Giant Peach” to “Willie Wonk and the Chocolate Factory.” Each is $7.99 and meant for kids ages 7 and up. (And, yes, going to library is a great thing and a great way to save money, but as a child, having a book that was my very own was a special thing.)

Textbook buy-back

Barnes & Noble wants to buy your college textbooks. Go to, put in the ISBN numbers on your books and you’ll get a quote.

Neutral ground

Whether or not raised in the ’60s, hippie chicks will like Target’s cream-colored fringed and tasseled bags for summer. Prices range from $24.99 to $34.99 and you’ll find several styles: a canteen-size round bag with braided edging and strap, with a tassel just for fun. There’s also a satchel with long fringe and a drawstring bag with a cutout design. These are all faux leather. A fabric drawstring bag has a pretty beaded pattern on it. I found these styles at the Shiloh store, but check other locations as well.

Process of elimination

OK, I debated about this next item but decided to go ahead and mention it in case it proves worthy of someone’s attention: Bed, Bath & Beyond in Fairview Heights is carrying the Squatty Potty ($24.99). It’s basically a sturdy plastic wraparound stool for your feet to rest on while you’re, well, on the potty. The maker says the stool is doctor-recommended because it puts your legs and feet in a squat position for, well, better elimination. See more at

The retailer also carries very attractive umbrella-style tablecloths in solids, stripes and patterns for both round, oval and rectangular outdoor tables. These are not vinyl tablecloths, but stain- and spill-resistant polyester fabric. Prices were $24.99 to $34.99. Other umbrella-style sizes can be ordered online.

Keep it chilly

Old Time Pottery in Fairview Heights has lots of 28-inch galvanized party buckets with curved metal stands for $24.99. A very attractive way to keep beverages cold for a crowd.

Easy order

In case you’re unaware, DSW (shoe warehouse) in Fairview Heights will not only order shoes for you ($35 and up, in the store or online), but will deliver them to your home or the nearest store for free.