I’ve decided that carrying sunscreen and an umbrella in my tote bag while working on this column is the best way to deal with can’t-make-up-its-mind spring weather.
It was an afternoon day of wandering Tuesday. Here’s what caught my eye:
Cracker Barrel gift shops fascinate me. They are full of such a variety of merchandise that diners can not only eat, but dress and entertain themselves while they’re there. From toys and games to women’s casual tops and scarves to home accessories, it’s packed into a small space inside the front door. I visited the store in Shiloh and saw an equal number of patriotic metal signs that say “Vote Republican” or “Vote Democrat” that you can hang next to your front door or anywhere. Each is $19.99. Heavy-duty insulated Tervis travel tumblers with either a red/white/blue elephant or donkey on them are $21.99. Want your political preference to remain private? Pick up a USA baseball cap for $19.99.
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On the water
Lined up outside Gander Mountain in O’Fallon are eight kayaks just waiting for you to strap one to the top of your car and head for water. All are on sale for 15 percent off. Where you want to adventure — ocean, lake or river — will determine your choice. A big camouflage Ocean Kayak meant for serious fishing from Johnson Outdoors fits two with room for supplies and is on sale for $722.99. At the other extreme is a $169.99 solo kayak for kids, a perfect beginner’s watercraft from Pelican International. Canoes are on sale, too.
Please tread on me
Who knew flip-flops got recycled? Bed, Bath & Beyond in Fairview Heights carries 18-by-30 rubber doormats in cool rainbow colors for $16.99. The Flip-Flop Door Mats are crafted entirely of recycled rubber flip-flop sandals, have an open-weave pattern in varying colors and are easily hosed down for cleaning.
Please put me on the table
Add a patriotic touch to your dining table, indoors or out, with the 36-inch-long Stars & Stripes beaded table runner on sale for $39.96 (regularly $49.95) at Pier 1 Imports in Fairview Heights. Width is 13 inches and the pattern has wavy red and white stripes with scattered blue stars, all hand-crafted out of glass beads.
Ready to party likes it’s May 30th?
I am a big fan of dollar stores for supplies that need just a single use, from plastic tablecloths to aluminum chafing pans. If you need party goods for a Memorial Day get-together, check your closest Dollar Tree store for merchandise like barbecue tools, U.S. flags and banners and patriotic paper goods. Grab a couple squirt guns or paddle games while you’re there. All are a buck each.
Store closing sale
Sports Authority stores nationwide have begun a going-out-of-businees sales as they try to move out as much merchandise as possible following the announcement of the company closing all its 400-plus locations. The big-box chain filed for bankruptcy protection less than three months ago. Stores are expected to be closed by the end of August.
Shoppers, know that gift cards will be honored online and in stores only through June 28. After June 25, no returns or exchanges. Don’t expect giant markdowns right away. The percentage-off always goes up as the end of the sale nears.
Plumes in bloom
I got my superstition of peacocks from my mom, who said they and their feathers brought bad luck. Evidently, Gordman’s in Fairview Heights isn’t worried. Their outdoor decor section is stuffed with shiny, swirly metal turquoise/blue/teal/purple peacock yard ornaments, sun-catchers, wind chimes and stakes. Prices start at $9.99 and go up to about $40 for the more elaborate pieces.