2010.05.05 Another store closing means more weird bargains

Written by David Green.

By RICH FOLEY

It’s always sad to see a business close, but if it has to happen, at least try to help the owners move out their remaining stock. Besides, you never know what kind of odd bargains you might pick up.

Nearly 20 years ago, the Hill’s department store in Adrian closed its doors. I had shopped there several times during their liquidation and since I lived in Adrian at the time, found it convenient to stop in on their last day.

They were offering 90% off everything the final day, and I was sharing the store with perhaps 200 other shoppers at about 2 p.m. when an announcement was made that the store was now closed and final purchases should be brought to the check-outs immediately.

Since there were already long lines at the registers, I took the opportunity to grab a few more items on my way to the front.

I remember buying a cassette tape of one-hit wonder Matraca Berg (anyone remember her?) and two sealed vials containing what were said to be pieces of the Berlin Wall. Yep, pieces of the Berlin Wall, for sale in Adrian, Michigan. I still wonder if they were authentic, but I do know that at 90% off, they were less than a buck each.

Many years later, I went to the Big Lots closing sale in Wauseon on their next to the last day, with prices already 90% off. I purchased 30 bars of soap at seven cents each. They also had quite a few racing bumper stickers, decals and hat pins at huge discounts. Hat pins that originally sold for five bucks at the track hit the Big Lot shelves at 50 cents. Then take that 90% discount and you got a five dollar item for a whopping five cents, an actual 99% discount. I bought out their remaining pins. I still wonder what their final day discount was. I probably could have got a better deal on more soap.

With a local video store closing, 99% off might be too much to hope for, but last week I could smell bargains in the air.

On a trip to Morenci Tuesday night, I saw that prices were down to $1.99 per DVD. It was time to check out the selection. I ended up with a total of nine movies, a number that almost doubled my DVD inventory. That doesn’t mean that I doubled the value of my collection as some, if not most, of my latest selection were hardly of the blockbuster hit variety.

Take “Flash of Genius,” for example. I have a great interest in cars and the auto industry, but who thought that it would be a sensational idea to make a movie about the inventor of the intermittent windshield wiper? I may end up enjoying the movie, but I wasn’t surprised to see it still available. 

In the “Did we really need another sequel?” category, I bought a copy of “Slap Shot 3.” The original “Slap Shot,” made about 30 years ago, starred Paul Newman and became an unexpected cult classic. I didn’t even know this one existed until I saw it in the clearance racks. How bad could it be? Eventually, I’ll find out.

I couldn’t resist picking up a copy of “Grizzly Man,” although I had already seen it several times. It’s still fascinating to watch, even though you know how it ends. Even if you didn’t know, it would be hard not to guess that the bears would eventually tire of Timothy Treadwell and end his presence in their habitat.

 “An American Carol” was a film I’d never heard of before, but purchased because it was directed by David Zucker of “Airplane!” and “Naked Gun” fame. The first of my new purchases that I watched, it lives up to the reputation of Zucker’s previous films. Even the deleted scenes are hilarious, especially the one featuring  Gary Coleman and another with two actors portraying John and Ted Kennedy.

By Thursday, prices were down to 99 cents and I picked up a few more movies. I thought one of the employees might say something about my selection of “Be Kind, Rewind,” the story of two video store employees who try to save their store from closing. It was somewhat ironic to purchase it at a video store going-out-of-business sale, but since the gentleman in front of me purchased over 40 movies, they had probably gotten tired of looking at individual titles.

I wasn’t able to make it to the final day. How low did prices eventually get? 50 cents? A quarter? Even less?  Even those who didn’t make it to the store will eventually see the effects. Something tells me this will be a good summer for finding cheap DVDs at local yard sales.

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