The other day I went to one of my very favorite stores, a local business that makes me weirdly euphoric just pulling into the parking lot, how many stores have the power to do that? Yeah, ok there are 5. Five businesses that have power over my endorphin levels, five types of stores that send me into an adrenaline high of Home Improvement dreams. These stores are my muses, my playground, my creativity run amuck. They are my source of inspiration and the birthplace of many an idea, they are also the locations where I’m closely followed by staff. I’m almost positive that if a couple of these stores could figure out how to report it without sounding insane, I would be arrested for fondling merchandise.
To be honest, my #1 all time favorite would have to be junk/antique/thrift stores and everybody knows that, so I’ve left them off my list as they deserve and have a special place in my twisted window shopping obsessions. I mention window shopping because although I love to go to these stores, I very rarely buy retail if I can help it, so I really am just looking for inspiration and dreaming. So let’s start with number 5 and move up.
Number 5 – Craft Stores
Where I live in Oklahoma we have three store choices Michaels, JoAnns and Hobby Lobby. Aisle upon aisle of glass jars, candles, brushes, silk flowers, wood decor…..and well, just everything! You can look for inspiration, investigate a new hobby, and sign up for classes. What’s not to love about a craft store? To get the best deals, sign up for their rewards programs or download the app. All of these stores send out awesome coupons and have weekly specials. So much so that it makes me wonder why they even price stuff as they do when they know if you’re like me, you’re gonna use your 40% off one item coupon anyway. Stock up on holiday items right after the holiday for next year!
Number 4 – Kitchen DooDad Stores
I adore kitchen doodads; mushroom cutters, pastry wheels, pie whistles shaped like birds, cheesecloth, citrus peelers and my personal favorite tea balls. The little “one use” items that stretch your creativity to come up with more than one use and therefore validate your purchase. These are so fun to look at and imagine the wonderful meals you would produce if only you had this $5 doodad. Many a glamorous party has been planned in my favorite kitchen doodad store, The International Pantry in Norman, Oklahoma. I could easily while away my time in this store, stroking silicone baking mats and dreaming of braided desserts. If you enjoy cooking, this is window shopping at it’s best! Before you know it, you too will be planning a lunch break getaway to gawk at the new spiral potato cutter and dreaming dreams. Again sign up to be a preferred customer and you too can receive those all important emails showcasing the brand new potato cutter! Lots of sales happen in kitchen stores just around major eating holidays, for Americans that’s just about all of them.
Number 3 – Greenhouses
This one floors my Daddy, but I love Greenhouse and Nursery businesses. The small locally owned ones. I love to garden, but this passion was almost burnt out of me at an early age. My Daddy owned a Greenhouse/Nursery, but all he remembers is that I hated going to there……well DUH! I was 13! Tell me what teenage girl is going to openly admit that she likes anything her parents like ESPECIALLY if they require her to work there after-school and on weekends. I was the Cinderella of weed control……of course I hated it! But I didn’t hate the plants. And now that I have my own backyard garden, I love nothing more than digging in the dirt, pouring over catalogs, stopping at every greenhouse I come across in my travels in the hopes of finding a different variety of whatever! The small local greenhouses are where you find 20 different varieties of healthy basil instead of that single variety, overgrown but somehow anemic looking plants you find everywhere else. 30 colors of geraniums, organic compost, pond supplies, pots and inspiration for next year’s garden. For me, the house of my dreams must include the garden of my dreams, otherwise it’s just a beautiful house with an awesome view of the telephone box and a 6 foot wood picket fence. The best time to get the best deals on plants at locally owned greenhouses is after the early season rush. Sometime around the end of June things start to go on sale, you can pick up some great deals on Perennials.
Number 2 – Hardware/Home Improvement Stores
Ace Hardware, Lowes, Home Depot, Habitat For Humanity ReStore……. the most dangerous words to my wallet. I am a frugal, reuse as much as I can, love to re-purpose and create everything from curbside junk Diva who has to admit to loving retail home improvement stores. Paint, trim, kitchen hardware and…..tools! Oh, the tools. They had me at tools. My husband has to practically drag me out of Tool World. I think it embarrasses him that I love them more than he does, I think it threatens his masculinity scale or something. But anyway, I have my favorites. If I’m buying materials for a project, I check with the ReStore first, this is recycled materials from remodeling or building jobs and I like that I’m keeping something out of the landfill….the price comparison doesn’t hurt either! If it’s some kind of new project never tried before like replacing a toilet, Ace because of it’s knowledgeable staff and Home Depot cause I think they are more for the serious homeowner. Lowes is my decorating store ( they carry Valspar paint) and go to tool nirvana. Don’t forget to check out the Clearance racks in the paint department for great deals on mismixed paints! And believe it or not, there’s a sale season for everything….even toilets. Sign up to receive their weekly sales. There is only one other place that I’m happier at and that’s Number 1.
Number 1 – Book & Used Book Stores
What can I tell you. I’m a reader. I will read the back of a cereal box if that’s the only material made available to me when I’m on one of my reading marathons. Whole worlds opened up to me when I became a reader as a pre-teen, I’ve been all over the world, exposed to different cultures, new ideas, and various levels of sarcastic wit. I know that “Tomorrow is another day”, that South Carolina seems to have a Bigfoot invasion and that Abraham Lincoln was probably suffering from depression (that’s a DUH theory if ever I heard one, it’s not like he didn’t have a huge reason to be depressed. But I still admire the author’s 6 years of dedicated research to validate his stand). And while I know most of you are firmly attached to your Kindles or whatever, for me nothing replaces a real book. The smell of a used book store is the most beautiful smell in the world to me. Holding a book and turning the pages, there is something truly satisfying about that, and then finishing a book but unable to let it go, because you truly cared about the characters. They became family and real to you. You cried with them, laughed with them, celebrated their triumphs and sometimes berated them out loud for something really stupid they just did. And they are always there, waiting patiently on the bookshelf for you to visit them again. In the worst moments of my life, I could always depend on a book to take me away for awhile. Books are my greatest joy and sometimes my deepest grief when a beloved character dies, and they will always be on my shopping list.
That’s it for me! My Favorite 5 businesses. Are any of them on your list? Did I miss one of your favorites? Drop me a comment and tell me about it!