Sunday, May 06, 2007

Sticker Shock at the Dollar Store

It took me a long time to set foot into the Family Dollar store that replaced the CVS in the Twin City plaza.

First of all, I was upset that the CVS moved to Route 22 in North Plainfield. I was used to buying all sorts of things there, just half a block from home. Furthermore, the idea of another “dollar store” coming in seemed like a step down for the plaza.

When I finally got around to looking inside, I was pleased to find quite a few bargains. The biggest one for me was $1 notebooks.

These notebooks made in India were similar to those I had been buying for decades to use as journals. Each kind had 80 pages, spiral-bound, but the ones I had been buying cost as much as $1.89. Having retired from the newsroom, I was not about to buy reporters’ notebooks, so the dollar store notebooks looked good for tasks such as taking notes at council meetings.

Imagine my surprise when I picked up three last week and they rang up at $1.69 each! I bought them, but I couldn’t get over the 69 percent price increase on a simple notebook. Searching out some old sales slips, I went back to ask for a refund, which I got.

Still incredulous, I went to the Family Dollar on Front Street, only to find the same thing: $1 price on the shelf, $1.69 at the register. Again, I complained and got three books for $1 each. The cashier explained that the shelf price could not be changed until the company sent the new shelf signs.

Later, I received an e-mail from Family Dollar explaining that duty policies on imports and the cost of domestic paper pulp will result in price increases on paper products all around. Sad news for a notebook fanatic!

Maybe I will have to try what people did in World War II, scribbling in tiny script on every square inch of airmail note paper. But then my old eyes probably couldn’t read the notes later on. As it is, sometimes I can’t read my hasty normal-size handwriting.

I know for sure I won’t be buying the pricey Moleskine reporter’s notebook, cachet notwithstanding.

Hmm. I think a chunk of my next free-lancing check is going to go for a whole bunch of cheap notebooks.

--Bernice Paglia


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