Like we really needed another place like this…


Yesterday, my wife was trying to dress my grandson, who’s two-and-a-half, to go outside and play in the chill. She couldn’t find a coat that fit him. Then, she found one of his older sister’s heavy coats, and tried to put that on him.

“No!” he said.

What was wrong?, she asked.


She corrected him: “No, it’s pink.”

“Girl!” he said. He has lately taken to calling himself, rather emphatically, “Boy,” and instead of struggling the way he used to to call his sister by name, she is “Girl.” As are each of the Twins, his cousins.

We don’t know where he’s gotten this all of a sudden (not from me, not from my wife), but it’s taken quite a hold on him. Call it pink, call it purple, call it what have you, he wasn’t having any of it. Nothing against girls; they can wear that if they’d like. But it’s not for him.

So today, we went to find El Machito something he would accept at Once Upon a Child in Harbison. We found something that we hope he’ll like. It’s safety-vest orange on the outside, and has an olive drab quilted liner that he can pull out and wear separately. He might think the orange is too much like pink. We’ll see. The main point is, it’s warm.

But that’s not what I wanted to tell you about…

After we got the coat, I dropped my wife off at the store that went into the space that once held my favorite store in the world, the Harbison Barnes and Noble. I wanted nothing to do with it. I went to run an errand at the mall.

When I came back, she was still in there. So I made myself go in. And you know what I found?

I found a place that looked, to me, almost exactly like Marshall’s and T.J. Maxx and Ross. Yet another place like those. Nothing special about it. OK, technically, this place had brand-name items those other places lack. My wife showed me a pair of canvas Adidas shoes the right size for our grandson, as she was explaining this place was a little more expensive than those other places.

I said it wasn’t too bad — less than three dollars for a pair of toddler tennis shoes. She said, “What are you talking about?” I said, look, they’re $2.97. Then I looked more closely: $29.97.

Thirty dollars?!?!” I said. “Thirty dollars for a little kid’s canvas shoes, like Keds?” She told me to lower my voice and said yes, and that this was very reasonable; elsewhere they’d probably cost $45.

I was happy to get out of there. Is just seemed so unfair. The B&N had been a special place. Yes, it was as chain, but I liked it better than any other B&N, and I like them all.

There was nothing special about this, not to me.

But you know what really hurt? I had had trouble finding a nearby parking place outside. That never happened when it was a Barnes and Noble. Which doesn’t seem right. In that same shopping center were two other stores that looked just like this one, regardless of quality of merchandise. The bookstore was special. But there it is.

5 thoughts on “Like we really needed another place like this…

  1. Kathryn Fenner

    Well, if you actually spent time in all those stores, handling the merchandise, you’d find that Nordstrom Rack is vastly different. The quality is significantly higher, with prices to match, of course. The selection is greater, with most items in all sizes and several colors, more like a conventional department store, but with higher quality and lower prices than the ones around here. TJ Maxx and Marshall’s occasionally mix in some pieces of the quality at NR, but you have to sift through a lot of lower quality items. Ross very rarely has anything of a quality I’d buy.
    Buying fewer pieces, but of a higher quality is so much better for the environment!
    There’s still BN in Richland Mall, but nothing like NR in the Midlands.

  2. Brad Warthen

    Well, the little guy has decided that proclaiming to all that he is “Boy!” is not enough.

    Today, he took to strutting about his yard placing his hands on his hips and saying, “King!”

    My wife asked whether that made his sister a queen. He shook his head no, refusing to be distracted with irrelevance, and announced his new status again: “King!”

    I’m probably giving an erroneous impression of him. He’s really the sweetest little boy you ever saw. But it’s a lot of fun watching him try to discover his place in the world. Even if that involves seizing supreme executive power with both hands…

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