Mysterious isn’t the most appropriate word to describe dollar stores on the Atlantic City boardwalk. Nope. I think the word that best sums them up is “obnoxious.” But, let me take that back, we found one of them on New Years Day and it was
sort of magical.
While walking the A.C boardwalk on the brisk, but sunny first day of the year with Dinosaur Dracula, we came across a 99 cent store that Matt said he’d like to stop at. I’m so jaded by these stores that my expectations of its contents were at the aboslute rock bottom. Through my black sunglasses I took one last look around the boardwalk. The sun blasted my face with fire as the blue sky soothed it. I admit, I was dazed for a second, but give me a break, there was some New Years debauchery that I needed to shake off. After a giant seagull stared down at me ominously from atop the adjacent boardwalk Psychic building, I heard him say “What are you looking at, go the frig inside already you weird bastard!”
We ventured in. We made like Miracles and shopped around.
After about 40 minutes of being in the 99 cent zone, I could hear Rod Serling in my mind introduce our own Twilight Zone episode “…To many, what they held in their hands was merely junk, but to these two young Frog Brothers wannabes, it might as well be heaven.” Maybe it was too much Twilight Zone Marathon.
After another good half hour at least, we still had yet to do a complete revolution around the store. We soldiered on and continued for another half hour at least. During a few long stops at some end caps to smell outdated WWE air fresheners, and test out gadgets that would give Randy Peltzer an uncomfortably lengthy Viagra boner, we walked further back into the seemingly never-ending abyss of aisles. At that moment, we thought, “how could there possibly be more?” Then we wound up in the housewares sections, and I use that term loosely. Then into the children’s wear section, and finally ending up in a section dedicated to mid ’80s telephone number organizers. F*ck this was such a great place.
The best way to describe it to you is this: It’s the Vendredi’s Antiques from Friday the 13th The Series, of the Atlantic City Boardwalk dollar store scene. It’s maybe too specific to have its own scene, but I don’t want to limit it to the label of “a good store,” because that would in no way be accurate.
By the way, you can never go there. Not only do I forbid you, but I warn you that it’s not your store to shop in. A mystical energy force field will repel you from it if you ever try to take one step inside of it. It’s mine, all mine dammit! It’s my treasure store, MWAHAHAHA! Well, it’s not all mine really. Dinosaur Dracula discovered it, and yes, I reaped half of the schlockiest, um…most glorious benefits.
It was as if Matt discovered gold and realized he had to split it. Because he’s such a good guy, he didn’t kill me over it in a fittingly Boardwalk Empire-like fashion, but he actually let me get a piece of some of it. Kindness must be a characteristic of the hybrid Reptile-Nosferatu, scientific name, Dinosaurus Draculus. Motherf*ckerus this is fun. I guess just add “us” at the end of the word.
I prefer to believe 99 cent EVERYTHING 99 cent has 100 million items, not 10,000 and it’s possibly the real mecca of the Atlantic City Boardwalk. Don’t get me wrong, Boardwalk Hall is an institution, and the Beatles played there, but can you buy a Skeleton Clicker Licker there? Most certainly not.
Yes, it’s full of outdated, unloved bric-a-brac, chachkies, and doohickies, and all the other more elaborate words my mom used to use when she couldn’t think of the word “junk,” but shopping here will actually save you from losing all your money in A.C. Here’s how: if you gamble the entire time you are “Doing A.C,” then you will surely lose your money, maybe even your home. But, if you opt to shop in 99 Cent Everything 99 Cent, you may only spend a measly $8.74 cents like I did, AND wind up going home with all the luxury items below.
As George Carlin once so eloquently stated, “A house is just a place to keep your stuff while you go out and get more stuff.” Stuff is certainly what I don’t need more of. Unless it’s 1985’s “The Stuff,” that I’ll watch all the time. So, I made it a point to be more organized in 2014. I really shit the bed. Here it goes…
10. MY MR. MIDDLE FINGER
If you know me, you know that it was only a matter of time before I actually owned this beautifully sculpted statue. It’s been a fascination of mine ever since the first time I stepped foot on the boardwalk with Miss Sexy Armpit. For only a dollar, the value was tremendous considering it’s made of pure ivory. In comparison to the classics, I put “My Mr. Middle Finger” (I just named him that) on par with The Thinker or Venus DeMilo. It’s hard to put into words, but this piece of fine art perfectly epitomizes what Jersey is all about.
Next time you have your boss and his wife over for drinks, make sure you keep this displayed as prominent in your home as Darrin McGavin did with his leg lamp. Mark my words, no item you find in Homegoods will ever evoke more style, class, and refined beauty as “My Mr. Middle Finger.” TM yo.
I can’t speak for other boardwalks or shore communities, but if you visit the Atlantic City boardwalk and you feel like buying someone an authentic souvenir and you feel a little bit more generous then picking them up some salt water taffy, this might be THE perfect thing. It’s been a staple of these dollar stores for probably 15 years or more. That makes it not quite as old as the Renaissance period, but it does trace back way longer than the dumb t-shirts you see in those stores that spell out Jersey Shore like this:
If there’s a true generation gap, please submit that as prime anecdotal evidence.
9. DENNIS THE MENACE PINBALL GAME
Dennis the Menace. Damn him and his posssibly mid to late ’80s pinball…and his A.D.D. Fitting that he’s the spokesperson for a pinball machine that makes your head spin cause that little bastard used to make Mr. Wilson’s head spin for sure. You may have never heard about it, but the poor old man died of a massive heart attack. Autopsy report confirmed that his arteries weren’t clogged and he seemed to be in perfect health. You know what that means, right? Dennis killed Mr. Wilson. He literally annoyed the living shit out of him. I suppose that if it keeps him occupied for more than a few minutes, this cheap ass pinball game is worth it. More of a selling point for me is the packaging. If this mint-on-card pinball game ever manned up and f*cked a mid-20s Hot Topic employee, their spawn would be this exquisitely trashy and gorgeous packaging. I think Brutus Beefcake wore the same spandex pant print before he became “The Barber.”
8. BON JOVI CASSETTE SINGLE
I couldn’t walk the boardwalk and not pick up something for Miss Sexy Armpit. In fact, you get an exclusive, she doesn’t even know about this yet. Since she loves Bon Jovi, I picked her up a cassette single from Bon Jovi. “This Ain’t a Love Song” is a song about his love affair with himself from the discarded album titled “Portrait of a Megalomaniac.” I know, real scathing. Do you really care though? Didn’t think so. I know you want to hear about the Blood Ball key chain. Patience young Padawan!
This cassette single was originally on the shelves of The Wiz – an electronic store which was big in the NJ/NY area. Word at the time was that Nobody could actually beat The Wiz, but they eventually gave up and filed for bankruptcy in 1998. *PC Richards runs a sub-site using The Wiz’ name and logo.
7. TOTALLY ADORABLE DINOSAUR TATTOOS
MORE TATTOOS! Possibly the most adorable dinos I’ve ever seen. It includes the cutest, most ass backwards Stegosaurus ever and the little scamp at the bottom right. Matt tells me his name might be the good old galactic squidhead “Tailosaurus,” but that really hasn’t been scientifically proven. Either way, I’m through gushing.
6. WOW, ATLANTIC CITY POSTCARD
This poor guy.
Who really needs the whole “DO AC” campaign when there’s an entire branding bonanza on the front of this WOW! ATLANTIC CITY postcard? In all the years I spent roaming around the boardwalk in A.C, this is one that passed me right by. I guess I was never an avid “rotating postcard display rotater.” When I saw this one, confusion hit me instantly. Was this a modern post card meant to be ironic? Or was this just a really weird and f*cked up serious post card from an era when every damn thing in the world had its own postcard? When the process of buying and sending a postcard was still an activity people actually involved themselves in. More importantly WHO IS THIS GUY? AND WHY WOW? Even though I missed out on this joke when it first started popping up in stores along the boardwalk, I can still appreciate it. Wow.
5. CLICKER STICKER HALLOWEEN CANDY AND WHISTLE
Super awesome looking skeleton bashing himself in his skull incessantly AND it’s joyously annoying as hell! At one time in the distant past, this was a blue raspberry candy, now it is completely green and really disgusting looking. How the hell do they actually get away with selling this stuff? The whistle doesn’t work. Oh no, wait, that’s not it. I don’t want to put my mouth on this thing that’s been sitting in a dollar store for 12 years.
4. SHITTY ASS DVDS
Moon Stalker and Time Chasers DVDs. Low budget late 90s horror and sci-fi. Avid dollar store goers might already know these films, but they are completely new to me. I am familiar with the sub-par DVDs sold cheaply without a plastic snap case, but I’m not familiar with these two who were so sub par that they were produced somewhere deep within the mantle of the earth and outfitted with fancy cardboard sleeves. I can foresee this getting a special enhanced Blu-Ray edition within the next 6-8 months. Who’s bringing the multi-colored popcorn? Even though both of these are most likely to blow chunks, Moon Stalker looks more appealing to me, mainly because of the subtle power of the movie’s log line, “Campfire Stories can be Deadly.” F*CK YEAH THEY CAN!
As I’ve made clear in this post, I often like to come home with, fine, museum quality pieces at bargain basement prices…
3. NUDE FEMALE TORSO SHAKER
The beauty of this nude female porcelain torso isn’t the virtuoso sculptor behind this piece, it’s the versatility. You can shake salt OR pepper out of it, or why not combine both into one to save time and cop a feel AT THE SAME TIME! I’m thinking about buying some Red Robin seasoning to fill it up with, then I can instruct house guests to shake my boobs onto their burger if they want. Ah hell, who am I kidding? It would only be a bun.
What’s not really sinking into my mind is the fact that I actually bought this. When I first saw it out of the corner of my eye, I literally thought to myself “WHO THE F*CK WOULD BUY THIS?” Then, of course, I buy the damn thing. But, that’s not even the worst part. People MUST buy this. A lot of people MUST buy this fairly frequently. You can’t buy a nude female torso salt and pepper shaker made of high quality porcelain WITH a bonus stamp indicating that this is authentic from ATLANTIC CITY at just any local store.
Do YOU own one of these? I can’t wrap my head around it. If you are one of “these” people, I need to know who you are. I need to talk to you. Seriously. We need to converse, possibly discussing what size baseball bat you were hit in the head with when you were a kid and you need to give me a very detailed verbal tour of your home.
2. McDONALD’S ERASABLE WHITE BOARD (for the anal retentive Happy Meal kid)
Getting organized is high on my list of new years resolutions. In fact, it’s on there every year and I never seem to fully succeed at it. I really need to stop buying more stuff, but there is hope. Without a doubt, this McDonald’s dry-erase To-Do list is my only hope. I’m looking for it to be the spiritual shove in the right direction, that performance enhancing drug, that surge of adrenaline that’s gonna catapult my organizational dreams. It even has a spot for a check mark for each day of the week. I don’t really understand how to use this, but I feel it’s an efficiency booster nonetheless.
The fact that the week starts on Sunday makes me want to tear my eyelids off and stomp them. I know technically Sunday is the first day of the week, but Monday is the start of the work week, and this calendar is made to look like the weekend is only one day. Screw that. And screw McDonalds.
1. BLOOD BALL KEYCHAIN
Ohh yes. I say that in the closest I can sound like Paul Bearer as possible. The blood ball is a severed fingertip inside a ball of goo. On a key chain. That is all.
Now be sure to read about the amazing crap that Dinosaur Dracula put in his treasure basket! From Garfield to Ghostbusters 2, he ran into some serious finds!
Thank you for reading, the soundtrack to this post has been:
“Ooh Heaven is a Place on Earth” by Belinda Carlisle