Tuesday, February 2, 2010


So, as I drove to one of the 4 (yes, 4) Dollar Trees that are within a 5 mile radius of my house I noticed The Mighty Dollar. It seems the girls have gone there several times with my ex-wife and speak wonders of the new store. I was skeptical to visit as at the time I did not know anything about this company. My initial thought was that the Mighty Dollar was a mom & pop dollar store operation which in my experience usually feel like a family dropped a bunch of useless trinkets to be sold. Today I learned they're a regional company with an aggressive campaign to take the crown from the Dollar Tree.

They claim that they differentiate themselves by offering name brand products for only $1. They also claim they've sold merchandise with an original $100 price tag for $1. When I visited the store I saw nothing of the kind. It seemed like any other local dollar tree effort with a hell of a lot less variety than the Dollar Tree. The merchandise in most aisles is of the same quality as the Dollar Tree but quantities and variety are noticeably limited.

I seriously doubt they will create even the slightest dent on the Dollar Tree's throne but I will keep a close eye on their merchandise for comparison.

Saturday, January 30, 2010


Today, boys and girls, we are going to take a stroll down the completely useless and pointless lane. I've noticed that the Dollar Tree excels the pointless, useless and sometimes even "wtf?ish" type of toys arena. Today's entry, Magic Grow Safari Animals, qualifies for all three of these categories.

I usually go to the Dollar Tree once or twice a week with the girls. Unlike my days as a child when Dollar Stores did not exist, the girls usually walk away with a toy or some trinket during every visit. Fabianna usually goes for traditional girly stuff or stationary (notebooks, pens, erases, etc) but Larissa on the other hand usually goes for weirder things. Suffice it to say one time she bought a sunny side up egg toy set complete with a plastic "iron skillet". This time around she became incredibly excited at the fact that she could grow animals from the comfort of her own kitchen!

I've seen all sorts of grow-it-yourself shit that range from Spider-man towelettes to freakin' anonymous figurines no one has ever heard of. So growing sponge safari animals seemed innocent enough to purchase for her.

First off, this product was made in China seemingly by Ja-Ru Incorporated and, as per usual, distributed by the good peeps at Greenbrier. As with most companies dealing with the Dollar Tree I was unable to find Ja-Ru online. The only available information is that they're based in Jacksonville, FL and that "In November 2007, the Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization (ADAO), an organization comprised of asbestos victims and their families, found a variety of consumer products and popular toys contaminated by asbestos. JA-RU’s Toy Clay was among those toys." Fortunately, Larissa is comprised of 65% asbestos and 35% clay so I sensed no threat to her if our sponges had the same problem as Ja-Ru's clay.

According to the box, this 18 piece set allows you to grow the following animals:

Kudu (called an Antelope here)
Zebra (or horse if you've no imagination)
and Giraffe

Instructions were simple enough:

"1. Drop capsule in warm or hot water
2. Watch as it begins to change shape!
3. In a few minutes it will become an animal shape!"

Yet somehow, I still managed to fuck up the first batch by using cold water instead of warm or hot water; mostly due to the fact that I didn't read the instructions but only looked at the pictures which I understood to be:

1. Plankton lives naturally in water
2. Plankton owns a vibrator!
3. Giraffe is born!

We dropped the capsule in (erroneously) cold water and waited next to the glass of water in the same way you stand next to a microwave while it nukes your frozen dinner at work. After five completely uneventful minutes we only ended up with green fuzz enclosed in a thick layer of mucus-like film.

Twenty minutes later and still no change, so we decided to remove the thick mucus-like film to help speed up the process.

After a few more hours we gave up and we forgot about the whole incident for a few days. Some time later I randomly picked up the box with the rest of the unused capsules and re-read the instructions. Duh! I called Larissa over and we tried again with hot water. And as advertised on the box the foam began to expand in a couple of minutes.

Unfortunately, after about 10 minutes the sponges still did not resemble the form of any multicellular organism I know of. Instead, 4 amorphous globs of fuzz lay in the now cooled off water.

We waited another thirty minutes and finally gave up. We pulled the fuzzy globs out of the water and below are the "animals" we came up with.

After we laid out our animals Larissa's first question was, "so what do we do with them now? how do we play?" and well, I had no freakin' clue. I mean, how exactly do you entertain a 5 year old with a set of sponge animals from the Chernobyl zoo? So I told her she could wash the dishes with them... which she actually tried and found out the sponges weren't even good for that. She left a soapy mess in my kitchen and turned to her DS for solace.

All in all this was probably one of the worst and most pointless ways to burn a good dollar.