Monday, March 16, 2009

the dollar store and messing with the parent market

This post was originally going to be part of an updated books sidebar for the blog, but I quickly realized it needed its own post.

File it under Lessons from the Dollar Store. There are always reasons. There are always reasons something is being sold at the dollar store, for a dollar. The end.

We may credit Obama for re-inventing hope, but truly, people, it's been there all along. So full of hope is the human race, that time after time, we *hope* the spatula we buy at the dollar store will not break in the first week we have it. We *hope* the socks we get there will feel like cottony clouds and outlive the tired feet they cradle.

File it under people screwing with the market niche for parents.

Perhaps it goes without saying that Mike and I have little time together these days, that the precious few dates we get, we must savor, revel in, that the average day sees us say not more than a sentence to each other that doesn't involve our offspring and ends us in exhausted heaps. This would clearly explain why we found ourselves recently, together, without our son, at the Dollar Store. As part of this intimate and fulfilling journey, we discovered a book. It's called Making Crafts from Your Kids' Art by Valerie Van Arsdale Shrader. We debated over it. Hemmed and hawed and wondered if we'd employ the know-how hidden within the colorful volume, until we looked at each other and exchanged those fateful words: “It's only a dollar!”

Come to find out, there was a reason.

My first clue was the lists of things you needed for each project. Some started out with things like

graphics software program
color laser printer

Whoah. Hold up. Um. Well, okay. I guess. I mean, which graphics program? Nevermind, 'kay, sure. Then, just to reassure you, the list would continue this way


Oh, right. Okay. Yeah. I get it. Well, heh-heh, can't do much without a computer these days, can ya? And look, here we are: scissors and glue, ah, the comforting world of crafts. Then it would go on to

color photocopier

Whaa? Well, you say, still wanting to make sense out of what you've come upon, no problem. That's what those monster stationery stores are all about – I can just pack up my scissors and glue and head on down to the self-serve color copier! I'm with the program. No sweat.

In following projects, however, certain items would steal my balance without warning. Beside things like “paper” and “Popsicle sticks” came other things, like band saws, or, plain metal lunch boxes. Huh?

Things really heated up once I got to the “picture sweater” - a child-sized sweater stitched with the charming landscape your child drew and signed with her name. It wasn't so much the items on the list that got me, but what wasn't mentioned. The list of what to have goes something like this:

simple sweater pattern
knitting needles
graph paper
colored pencils

She forgets to kick in that you might also need THE ABILITY TO KNIT.

In keeping with its good cop/bad cop attitude, the book departs from the sweater to show how to get your kid's drawings onto normal-ish things like wrapping paper and post cards. Then it comes out with this one: the clay tile project. I'll reproduce the actual list of “ingredients” here followed by my editorial comments.

What You Need – sadly, I can't quite recreate the cheery font of this line.

Photocopier – alright.
low-fire red clay – can manage.
rolling pin (optional) – got it.
fettling knife – no idea what this is, but reasonably confident I could find out.
Plastic – uh...? more direction, please.
Slips, in colors to match the artwork – like the kind we used to wear under dresses? I hope the artwork is white, black and taupe.
Paintbrushes – with ya.
Pencil or sharp tool – this causes me some nervous laughter, but, okay...
loop tool - ??? I might still have that plastic loop for making cool ponytails that I bought years and years ago from the “As Seen On TV” store.
low-fire glazes – okay, there is likely a source for these around.
Kiln - WTF?????????????????????????

I could go on to other examples, but I think you probably get the idea. This chick's next book is going to be titled Walk To Anywhere In the World! (If You Have the Time).


bobbie said...

I'll guarantee that the buyer for the Dollar Store never investigated farther than the title of that book.'s only a dollar.

Barbara said...

great post! Thanks! Loved "hope the artwork is white, black and taupe." Giggle...

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