Columns

2010.01.20 After Christmas bargains sometimes more than they seem

on . Posted in Nowhere Road

By RICH FOLEY

Does anybody else out there enjoy the after-Christmas sales like I do? I don’t mean markdowns on everyday items as much as the 75% to 90% discounts on holiday merchandise. I like getting a deal on something that I’d never consider buying at full price, but becomes hard to pass up at a deep discount.

Say, for example, those individual cookies in a metal box. A bit overpriced at a dollar each before Christmas, but a tasty deal after a New Year’s 75% markdown. And a neat reusable tin after the cookie is gone.

And, if you need any, there’s always a good selection of wrapping paper and Christmas cards at huge discounts. Three or four years ago, I bought several rolls of paper at 90% off. I still have one jumbo roll left from that purchase, but next January will probably have to look to restock for Christmas, 2011.

Last week, I bought enough Christmas cards to cover next December’s needs at 75% off. I’m even willing to offer a tip to others who have already purchased their Christmas cards for 2010. 

Why not address the envelopes now when you have the time to spare? If you’re not one of those who includes a Christmas letter, you can even sign the card and seal the envelopes, too. Then, when you’re so busy next December, all you have to do is stamp and mail them. You can thank me later.

I found an appropriate Christmas gift for someone at 75% off. Since the recipient reads this column, I can’t tell you any more than that. That’s one off my list already and I’ve got over eleven months to work on the rest.

Sometimes, even a huge discount is barely enough. I bought an interesting looking jar shaped like a Christmas tree and covered with painted polka dots for ornaments for $1.24, 75% off its original tag.

The jar wasn’t the major selling point, of course. It was filled with hot cocoa. It was even made in USA cocoa, although the jar came from China. 

It turned out the cocoa was terrible, and I pitched the whole batch after one sip of my first cup. I hope no one got this as an actual present. At least the empty Chinese jar looks nice.

Then, finally, there was the candy defecating bear. Marked down 75% from $3.99 to a how-could-I-resist 99 cents, this little brown treasure is apparently the latest in Chinese technology. 

He was dressed for the season in a Santa hat and scarf, along with an open toy sack. Flicking a switch on his back opens up his rear opening (OK, it’s really his bear anus). Then push down on his head and rather than pooping in the woods, the bear defecates a hard candy into the toy sack. Lots of classy fun, right?

Even better, he sings a little song as he does his business. Some of it seems to be gibberish, but the gist of it sounds like he’s singing “Zopp zopp zoppadoo, zoppa zoppa zoppadoo, happy holiday!” He sings the little ditty twice before going silent, so he must be especially proud of his hard candy bowel movement.

Last Saturday, I decided to share the joy he has brought me and passed him along to a visiting friend. About 15 minutes after she and my little pooping bear pal left, I got a phone call. “That @#$!%&* bear won’t shut up!” were her first words. It seems that on her way out of town, the bear started singing his little song without any prompting and was still harmonizing in the background as she called me on her way through Morenci.

I suggested she tap him on the head a few times and see if that might quiet him. After a few tries, he finally stopped and she continued on her way. After reaching home in Blissfield, she called again. 

The bear had resumed singing right after she had hung up and continued crooning all the way to his new home, even after she had thrown him behind her seat in an attempt to shut him up. She was calling from inside her apartment. The still-singing bear was left behind in the truck for the night. She was hoping 12 or 15 hours of being “on” might wear out the bear’s voice, or at least his built-in battery.

 Sunday night, she reported that the bear was quiet when she next got in her truck, but broke into song without warning several times during the day. She’s quite sure it’s haunted. That may or may not be true, but hey, what do you want? It was 75% off.

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