I live close to the fair port of Reading, PA. Did I say fair port? I meant festering drug-infested shit hole. You may best know this place as the home of the Vanity Fair Outlets. Yes, I live near the "Outlet Capital of the World". There's more discount and closeout stores here than you can fathom. There's a Stauffer's cookie outlet right down the road, and every time I pass it I consider going in, getting some animal cracker rejects, and trying to recreate Crispy Critters Cereal. Indubitably.
I went out in mid-afternoon to see if there were still any after-Christmas goods to be found. There wasn't much. A few 50% ornaments and some super generic chocolate crunch candy. I hit Goodwill first, on a hunt for personal VHS recordings. There were some videos of Foofur and Romper Room that looked interesting, but the only home-recorded tape had "Craig's Graduation" written on the label. I highly doubted there'd be much along the lines of cartoons or commercials on it.
The trip to Big Lots was a good endeavor; I purchased a good 300+ stickers. I'm a sticker junkie, I can't get enough! Fuzzy Hamtaro stickers and glittery bugs are just too good to pass up. There were also some leftover Pound Puppies and some random $4 DVDs of SD Gundam. I was going to head home afterwards, but I looked out across the highway. There was a new 99¢ Store open on the other side. The large glowing letters called out to me like a lighthouse beaconing me safely to the shore.
I have a fondness of Dollar Stores for their variety of completely strange and random crap. My favorite being Dollar General for their selection of cheap candy, particularly the 33¢ knock-off versions of the Hershey's Mint Cookies and Creme bar. As I pulled my car up and looked inside, my heart pounded fiercely in glee. This wasn't just any cheap chain-store. This was owned by ORIENTALS.
Let me explain the difference. Your regular dollar store might have fun things like pills that turn to dinosaur sponges or packs of generic Pop Tarts. Oriental dollar stores have bootleg Hello Kitty and Winnie the Pooh merchandise. Also glowing water-filled wall plaques of the Virgin Mary.
My first discovery was Ice Cream Rolls.
As an anime fan, I love eating Japanese snacks. One of my favorites is Collon, especially the cream flavor. It's been a long time since I've had cream collon, but not as long since I've had cream colon. Oh God, I'm going to hell for that one. The fake collon is quite similar, except the wafer isn't as flaky and the cream isn't as delicious. Overall it just made me more hungry for the real deal.
I also found some fantastic pseudo-anime goods.
I understand English is a hard language to master, but damned is it still funny to laugh at horrible Engrish. The inside pages have a saying, too, but it's not as hilarious. There are, however, pictures of a generic Barbie doll printed on the corners of the pages.
At this point I'm snickering merrily and enjoying the various Pooh notebooks and Hello Kitty hair clips. That's when I find the best pick of them all.
Man Peter Parker Spider-Man stickers. It's not just the deformed and strange images on the pictures. It's not that the top right sticker is quite possibly of Wolverine. Or that there is stuff in Spanish written about Jesus in the background of a few of them. It's.... it's.... well, if you don't see it, here's a good hint.
THEY RIPPED OFF THE POWERPUFF GIRLS LOGO!!! Oh man. I nearly peed myself laughing. I could see the shop keepers peering around at me and speaking in tongues I only assume translated to, "What the fuck is that creepy girl with the goggles doing? Make sure she doesn't steal anything."
I don't think they cared all too much, because they soon had an adventure of their own. I over heard some old lady trying to return an item she claimed broke and cut her granddaughter's finger. I don't know if she had the receipt or not, but I laughed as her husband shook his finger mightily at the shop keep, proclaiming he would best him with a report to the better business bureau and tell his friends to never shop there. He even told him to send the items in question back to the manufacturer. Considering the manufacturer was most likely a small stand in the middle of Hong Kong, I'm not surprised he took a deaf ear to the guy's request.
Even though I have about 200 Card Captor Sakura stickers already, I got a sheet of bootleg sticker because they are just so, sooooo ugly. This whole ordeal made me quite hungry. On the way home I stopped at Amelia's Grocery Outlet to get a bag of Hulless Corn Puffs. I know it's just cheese flavored styrofoam, but I fucking hate kernels. I also stared at a 4-pack of 79¢ organic grape soda for what seemed like hours. It can't be good, it can't be.... but.... if it isn't, I only spent 79¢! Considering I enjoy flat soda anyway, I bought it. From the same place that a few months ago was still selling cans of Pokemon Pasta. From the same place that also has no less than 3 types of Halloween cereal still on the shelves. Why? Because I'm an idiot. And to not leave you in the dark, the grape soda was pretty good.
At this point I remembered I hadn't really eaten all day. I called up the Chinese place in town and ordered up some shrimp and broccoli and crab rangoon. Boo yah. After this long and strange excursion, it could only be topped off by receiving the following fortune in my cookie.