The key hitting the old toy conienience store goldmine is to find a store that has been open for a long time, and which has not been renovated or sold between too many different owners, as these provide opportunities to rid the shelves of old, dusty merchandise. Usually these types of stores are to be found in the city, where the neighbourhoods and commercial areas have been established much earlier than in the suburbs. But sometimes, the suburban convenience store should not be discounted, as its presence in cultural hell can virtually guarantee that anything cool that they may have put on their shelves will still be there when you happen upon the store. And with that in mind, I ventured into a Mississauga (a suburb of Toronto, Ontario) variety store looking for treasures, and I was not disappointed. Here’s what I found:
There were a few different kinds of these” Show Offs” barrettes, each of which I purchased. I love the ‘funky’ early 90s font used for the brand name. This was the only type of barrette that was packaged in a way where you could see both the girls printed on the cardboard, showing off their barrette overkill hairdos. In all the other packages, the white girl gets the shaft, her face obscured by the moulded plastic. These were awesome barrettes too, they are like baby barrettes, but they have metal backings which make them much easier to use than the more common, all plastic baby barrettes, which only hold, like 5 hairs. All the riot grrls out there know what I’m talking about. But alas, despite the awesomeness of all of the Show Offs barrettes I bought, I cannot bring myself to open any of the packages, and ruin what I see as installative, readymade pieces of art. And, due to the short-sighted thoughtlessness of the designers, the moulded plastic tray that holds the barrettes to the cardboard is glued across the innocent face of the little blond girl on the other packages, making the opening of the package fraught with anxiety and guilt, as the barrettes can only be accessed by tearing through her tiny, barrette decorated head. But seriously though, it would toatally ruin the package.
These are the other packages, where the blond girl has plastic glued to her face. The barrettes are pretty sweet though. Good colours.
There was also a couple of other sets of barrettes that I thought were cool, but lacked the flair and dramatic tension of the Show Offs.
I guess these are actually hair elastics with little plastic things glued to them. The one on the left has the same jazzy-party-confetti early 90s look of the Show Offs barrettes, while the flowered elastics try for a more refined, fancy script logo look, an aspiration further hinted at, yet also confused by its brand name “Choice & Toy” a pairing of words that both fail to describe the quality and category of item contained within. So close though.
And speaking of hair, they also had a number of hair nets, all of which I bought, which came in these great envelopes. I loved the bold colours and the image of the woman, but the shape of the envelope, including the familiar back flaps, and the clear window in the front which could reveal an address, make them totally usable as mailing envelopes, plus they give the sender the added option to include the two old, totally useless hair nets already enclosed within!
Despite the wonderful aesthetic of these hair net envelopes, I must say they are a tad misleading. The woman on the package is meant to represent the invisible control of the hair net, and the confidence and poise that come with it, but there’s no way she’s wearing one of these hair nets over that hairdo. When I tried one on all it did was flatten whatever volume I had while leaving the elastic fully visible around the hairline. Plus, the hairnets are not even big enough to be lightly fitting around hair as long as hers, nor would they allow her hair retain that volume or shape. This is what would really happen if she wore one of the hairnets:
I also picked out these things, which are apparently called “Balloon Squawkers”. I’m not really sure what that means, but they appear to be plastic straws with feathers at one end. I mostly just got them because I’m a sucker for things that are installed/packaged under clear plastic, not to mention easily pleased by pretty colours.
Plus, I was also into this little guy, who appears on top of the “Fun Fair” logo:
The store had a few cute little pins. The yellow rabbit kind of reminded me of the above balloon. The stick pins were really tiny, like an inch long with animals on them not much larger than an apple seed.
And lastly, I found these awesome puffy glitter stickers that were very much like the “Happy Sticker” robot sets that I wrote about in my post “Convenience Store Treasures: Stickers”. But these sets were even better, not just because they were glittery and had a better cardboard package tops, but also because the robots were even cooler!
Here’s the glitter version of an odd pink jester-like robot face, which I highlighted in my previous post:
I was pretty happy with my haul. It was a good, colourful assortment of things, and I’m satisfied I got everything cool they had. Yes, it was a good day in suburbia. So be on the lookout for convenience store treasures when you are out in the middle of nowhere, it might be the only thing to do out there anyways.