Sometimes when I shop 99 cents stores I remember the variety stores and 5 & 10 cent stores my Mom told me flourished during the Great Depression. I have memories of Woolworths, Lamstons and Kresge in Bay Ridge while I was growing up, as well.
These shops catered to working families and offered affordable merchandise without the crowding and often higher prices of the department stores.
While it’s true the quality of items from today’s 99 cent stores isn’t always up to what was available back in the day at Woolworth’s I think they fill the same needs for a similar group of shoppers today.
I love to have one or two special tea cups or coffee cups to set a mood during certain times of the year.
My late Mother enjoyed her coffee and hot chocolate in special mugs for the Christmas or winter season. We went out shopping for such mugs one cold February afternoon around 2003. While on 11th Avenue in Dyker Heights we stopped by Galina’s 99 Cent Store*. Galina was a warm and personalble saleswoman. We liked to browse around her store because sometimes we found incredible buys such as these cups with a pattern of geese on them.
We decided that these cups were just right for us so we bought them without any hesitation. Each cup was 99 cents and the saucers were 99 cents each. This selling strategy was still not common in our local 99 cent stores but the cups sold with saucers for 99 cents total were not as fine as these.
When we got home we examined our purchases more closely and discovered our cups and saucers were poreclain!
I was in Bay Ridge one Saturday morning to see the periodontist. His office is around 75th Street near Fifth Avenue in Bay Ridge. I arrived too early and went for a walk on Fifth Avenue for a quarter of an hour. I called my Mom when I saw these cups and saucers. It was exactly the kind of old fashioned tea cup she had been looking for so I bought two for us.
Although the design is not hand painted and these cups and saucers are not porcelain we were still very happy with the old fashioned appearance they had. These tea cups became part of many happy afternoon teas I shared with my Mom during the last 5 years she lived with me at home before she had to move to a nursing residence.
I am glad that we were able to make these purchasaes and that such humble objects from such unexpected places became part of the special times and memories I now have of our life together.
That’s why I continue to shop 99 cent stores. In part it reminds me of the shopping and hunting trips my Mom and I used to make. It also reminds me that it isn’t the price of something alone that makes it special and valuable.
Note: I am not affiliated with any shop or manufacturer.
*Galina’s 99 Cents Store is no longer in business.