Monday, 9 May 2011

Fun at the dollar store.

There's a dollar store right beside my gym which have proven to be both a blessing and a curse. It's handy because I can dash in on my way home and pickup whatever random spices or stationary items I need. But at the same time I'm constantly finding myself doing more than dashing through the store...I often find myself wandering up and down the aisles checking out all of the randomness.

It's a given that in any dollar store you'll come across some really ugly stuff that nobody should be purchasing. Case in point these ugly garbage cans -

Or perhaps this oh-so-stylish men's underwear (I'll let you know right now that if you purchase your undergarments at a dollar store that we can't be friends).

Or how about some sugar shakers featuring cows in compromising positions?  I'm not sure what to think of these....

That said, every once and awhile I come across some really neat items. Since my first flat in college through to my current home, I've incorporated dollar store finds into each home.  Be it candles, frames, glassware or nifty accessories I've been able to score some great finds.

The other day, I hit up my local Dollarama and came across some ideas to share with you -

Picture frames are about as basic as it gets when you're decorating with dollar store items.  A lot of them are pretty garish and lack enough quality to make me want to take them home.  However, I lucked out a few months ago when I stumbled across some great black shadow box styled frames, complete with matting for $2.00 each.  Outfitted with pictures from a recent trip to Mexico, these look great in my bedroom.  Total cost $16.00 including prints.

Not too bad huh?  I've got them above my bed and I think that they look pretty sharp.  A bit of playing around with my pics changed them from colour to black & them that much more of an artistic feel.

Store stores are also a great source for vases....again, you have to do a bit of digging to find something with a classic shape, really, wouldn't you want to dig around to see what you can find? My home is filled with tall cylinder vases filled with different shells and stones that I've collected and thrifted; why spend like $20.00 for something that you can get for $2.00?
The stationary and craft departments are also awesome sources of inspiration. For years I was intrigued by an idea that I saw in a magazine where a homeowner had hung clipboards on the wall above their work space. I loved the idea and vowed that at some point I would do the same. And I have! Total cost - $12.00. You just can't go wrong people.

I'm forever tearing pictures out of magazines, or saving old pictures from books, or postcards and scraps of paper that intrigue and inspire me. My clipboards are the first things that I see most mornings so I'm constantly switching up the images to keep myself inspired.

Nice dinner and serving ware at the dollar store? You know it. Right away when a lot of people think about dollar store dinnerware, they immediately picture nasty looking coffee cups with cherubs and barnyard animals that possess strange facial features. However, I've seen some great examples of really nice white ware available. Even better than that, I've stumbled across pieces originally destined for Pier 1. How they ended up covered in dust next to a pile of gimmicky gadgets is beyond me, but I'm not complaining.

Sure I love the plates and bowls shown in those swanky catalogs as much as the next guy, but honestly, who wants to pay $18.00 a plate...
And what about all of those fun seasonal projects? I still haven't figured out what I'd create with those bags of moss that dollar stores always seem to have, but they're interesting all them same. I'm the least crafty person that you'll ever have the pleasure of knowing. I'm scared that I'd end up with half a bag of moss glued to the side of my arm....

Or what about the cute little birds below? A couple of years ago, when I was in my first place I didn't have a lot of coin because I was in school so got resourceful around Christmas and ended up outfitting a bunch of branches that I'd found in a back alley with about 20 of these guys. I'm thinking that I might have to do something similar this coming Christmas (as long as their eyes aren't creepy looking)...

Maybe this year I'll class it up with a mix of glass ornaments and the the birds.  Say something along the lines of the below picture. If I really wanted to get creative I'd take a couple of my vintage ornaments, paint them, cover them in spray glue and roll them in glitter....but who are we kidding? That would be an epic disaster.
So how do I wrap this up now that I've rambled on about how much fun dollar stores can be? Well, I guess that I can give you a couple of tips and ideas to make your next trip that much more exciting -

-Look beyond the ugly finishes and colours of pottery, frames and storage boxes. Ugly ceramic bird ornaments would look awesome if spray painted white. Faux wood frames are refined with a few coats of gloss black paint. 
-Be patient. Like thrifting, sometimes you strike it rich. Other times you come out wondering of the store wondering why you've wasted time wandering around.
-Avoid the candy aisle. If you wander down past the canned foods and come across the giant king-sized chocolate bars you're just asking for trouble.
-When buying frames or anything that includes glass, carefully check items over before proceeding the the checkout. I've purchased a few items that have had hairline cracks or were chipped. A lot of dollar stores don't offer a refund or have an exchange policy so make sure that you're happy with the quality of the item that you're purchasing.
-Think outside the box when looking at items. It might be hard trying to visualize those dinner plates or that set of napkins mixed in with your finer pieces, but what do you have to lose? If you're not sure about dinnerware or other items, why not buy one piece to take home and review before proceeding (or looking for something else).

Happy hunting!

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