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I went to my first Baltimore Comic-Con in quite a few years. I attended that event the first time in 2012 and the second time the following year. Then I didn’t go for another few years until recently. The main reason was financial. I ended up going to other events, such as Intervention Con, and with tight finances being the norm these days, I couldn’t afford to attend those events and Baltimore Comic-Con as well. Something had to give and Baltimore Comic-Con was the one that I ended up not attending.

But then a few things happened. First, my utilities company informed me that they had made a billing error in my favor for the last several months so, for the next few months I’m paying a lower bill than usual. Then I found out that Intervention Con wasn’t going to happen this year mainly because the organizers decided to focus on holding two specialized conventions instead—PotterVerse for Harry Potter fans and (Re)Generation Who for Doctor Who fans. While I like both Harry Potter and Doctor Who, I don’t like them enough to consider spending time and money at specialized conventions. I’m more into conventions that cover things like art in general or comic books in general instead of a very narrow field.

I’ll admit that I miss Intervention Con because that was my favorite convention due to the fact that it’s smaller and more intimate than—let’s say—Awesome Con or Otakon. Getting a good seat at a panel was no problem, I found it easier to meet people, and I didn’t have to do as much walking because of the small size so I didn’t become physically spent as much as when I used to go to Otakon. If you want to know why I loved going to Intervention Con so much, check out my blog posts and pictures from the cons I went to in 2013, 2014 (Day 1, Day 2, and Day 3), and 2016 (Day 1, Day 2, and Day 3).

As I was typing this, I remember that another annual event I usually loved going to at this time of the year, the Silver Spring Maker Faire, has also decided not to put on another event in 2017. I hope it’s not some kind of a sad trend where the organizers of these fun annual events have decided to cut back on holding their events because it would be really sad if that was the case. (If you want to know why I’m sad about what happened with the Silver Spring Maker Faire, check out the photos I took in 2013, 2014, 2015, and 2016.)

Like I wrote a few paragraphs ago, I found out that I had a little bit of extra spending money so I decided to go to Baltimore Comic-Con for the first time in four years. What made it really sweet is that the famed 1980s rapper DMC (from the group Run-DMC) was going to be there and he was not only signing autographs for fans (who paid at least $20 for one of his comic books) but he was giving two panels—one on Saturday and one on Sunday.

Saturday was the only day I could go to Baltimore Comic-Con because of finances and the fact that I was serving as a substitute teacher in my church’s program that teaches local immigrants how to speak English the following day. But I managed to treasure every moment of my time there and I took a bunch of photos the moment I stepped outside of the Baltimore Convention Center and paid the $35 Saturday admission fee.

Baltimore Comic-Con

Baltimore Comic-Con

While I was waiting in line I witnessed this cute scene of a baby dressed in a Batman outfit (which isn’t apparent in the photo below because of the angle of the baby but I saw him wearing it in real life) looking at this man wearing his Spider-Man cosplay outfit.

Baltimore Comic-Con

Here’s the cover of the official Baltimore Comic-Con program book.

Baltimore Comic-Con

I even shot a short video when I first arrived soon after the convention opened at 10 a.m. that morning. Fortunately the ticket purchasing lines were shorter that morning, which wasn’t the case later in the day, so I was able to quickly purchase my ticket then go straight to the Dealers Room where I saw the convention employees actually clapping their hands at each guest who walked through the doors.

The employees only did that in the morning. When I returned to the Dealers Room at various times later in the day, the employees stopped clapping for everyone and simply looked at people’s paper bracelets (which served as our passes) before letting them in the room.

If Intervention Con is my favorite convention because it’s smaller and more intimate, then I have to say that Baltimore Comic-Con is my second favorite because the organizers are trying to strike a balance between focusing on comic books and having a few celebrities in attendance, but not as many of them as the gigantic San Diego Comic-Con. I’ve heard all sorts of stories as to how humongous and utterly exhausting it is to walk through that event and I’m pretty reluctant to even consider trying it. I had a hard enough time going to a three-day event like Otakon (which is why I’ve stopped attending in recent years) and I think San Diego Comic-Con would be even worse. I’m happy to say that finding a decent seat at a workshop or panel is still really easy at Baltimore Comic-Con. I never had to stand in any long lines in order to get to the panel of my choice (and I went on Saturday, which is usually the busiest and most crowded of the three days).

After I got my ticket I initially checked out the vendors room but I only stayed there briefly because the panel featuring DMC was scheduled to begin at noon. I found a few reminders that DMC was here at Baltimore Comic-Con this year.

DMC of Run-DMC Fame and Now Darryl Makes Comics

DMC of Run-DMC Fame and Now Darryl Makes Comics

I arrived at the panel early enough that I was able to get a front row seat. This panel was devoted to DMC’s comic book venture known as Darryl Makes Comics and it also had others who currently work on the comic book series including Greg Pak, Khoi Pham, Domo Stanton, and Amy Chu. DMC can be seen in the photos wearing the black Motörhead t-shirt.

DMC of Run-DMC Fame and Now Darryl Makes Comics

DMC of Run-DMC Fame and Now Darryl Makes Comics

DMC of Run-DMC Fame and Now Darryl Makes Comics

DMC of Run-DMC Fame and Now Darryl Makes Comics

DMC of Run-DMC Fame and Now Darryl Makes Comics

DMC of Run-DMC Fame and Now Darryl Makes Comics

DMC of Run-DMC Fame and Now Darryl Makes Comics

I learned that DMC has been into comics since childhood and this fascination even influenced his rapping days with Run-DMC. He said he started Darryl Makes Comics as a way of getting different voices into the comic book industry who tend to be overlooked by the larger companies—including not only people of different races but also people from different classes, older people, women, etc.

I was really enthusiastic by this panel and I found out that DMC was selling copies of his comic books with his signed autograph in the Dealers Room for $20. I wanted to buy it but, unfortunately I was tempted by a whole bunch of other stuff that was also on sale in that same room and I didn’t have unlimited funds. I took a bunch of photos of some of the stuff that was on sale.

There was a booth by a company called FigureThis who had this really neat idea where they will shoot full body photos of you with multiple cameras placed all around you then send those photos to a 3D printer where it will print a 3D figurine of your image.

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

I still have photos posted in older blog posts of various 3D printers that I’ve shot at various events over the seven years that this blog has been in existence. I have older photos of really large 3D printers that cost at least $2,000. At Baltimore-Comic Con I saw these smaller portable printers by a company known as M3D that were available on sale for only $295.

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

What’s more, these printers were small enough that a visitor can easily carry the printer home with him/her after purchasing it. If I had more money to spare, I definitely would’ve purchased one myself.

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

I was very impressed with the 3D figurines this small 3D printer was capable of producing.

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

There was this really cool looking computer from a company known as Chimera Computers, whose slogan is “They might have the flash, but we have the power!”

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

There were a whole bunch of other products besides comic books (yes, they had a lot of comic books available for sale) that were on sale ranging from t-shirts to drinking glasses to vintage Nintendo video games to realistic looking figurines to superhero stories written in chapter book form for children who are beginning readers. In short, there was a little something for everybody.

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

The cosplayers were out in full force and I took a lot of pictures of them as well. I saw a lot of people dressed as Batman this year because the day I went to Baltimore Comic-Con also happened to be Batman Day, a day which many comic book shops in the U.S. hold Batman-themed events to observe the anniversary that Batman made his first ever appearance in Detective Comics #27 in 1939.

2017 Baltimore Comic-Con

2017 Baltimore Comic-Con

2017 Baltimore Comic-Con

2017 Baltimore Comic-Con

2017 Baltimore Comic-Con

2017 Baltimore Comic-Con

2017 Baltimore Comic-Con

2017 Baltimore Comic-Con

2017 Baltimore Comic-Con

2017 Baltimore Comic-Con

2017 Baltimore Comic-Con

2017 Baltimore Comic-Con

2017 Baltimore Comic-Con

2017 Baltimore Comic-Con

2017 Baltimore Comic-Con

2017 Baltimore Comic-Con

2017 Baltimore Comic-Con

2017 Baltimore Comic-Con

2017 Baltimore Comic-Con

2017 Baltimore Comic-Con

2017 Baltimore Comic-Con

2017 Baltimore Comic-Con

2017 Baltimore Comic-Con

2017 Baltimore Comic-Con

2017 Baltimore Comic-Con

2017 Baltimore Comic-Con

2017 Baltimore Comic-Con

2017 Baltimore Comic-Con

2017 Baltimore Comic-Con

2017 Baltimore Comic-Con

2017 Baltimore Comic-Con

2017 Baltimore Comic-Con

2017 Baltimore Comic-Con

2017 Baltimore Comic-Con

2017 Baltimore Comic-Con

2017 Baltimore Comic-Con

2017 Baltimore Comic-Con

After wandering around the Dealer Room snapping pictures for a few hours, my legs were growing tired. I decided to check out the 2:45-3:45 p.m. (yes, that was the actual scheduled time) panel on “Baltimore Celebrates Batman Day!” (That panel was how I learned that there was actually such a thing as Batman Day.) I’ve been a Batman fan from way back starting with the time my parents gave me a Batman bank as a present and I still have those early childhood memories of putting loose coins in the slot located on Batman’s back. I grew up watching the reruns of the 1960’s TV series starring the recently deceased Adam West and reading whatever Batman comic books my mother happened to purchase during her weekly grocery shopping trip. (Sometimes she would buy Batman while other times she would buy comic books featuring Captain America, Superman, The Fantastic Four, Spider-Man, and The Incredible Hulk.) So I was eager to check out that panel.

The panel was moderated by Jimmy Palmiotti and it had people who had worked on either the Batman or Harley Quinn comic books including Amanda Conner, David Finch, Peter J. Tomasi, James Tynion IV, John Timms.

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

The panel primarily focused on the Batman and Harley Quinn comic books that have come out in the last five years while also mentioning the feature films Batman had appeared in within the last ten years. I’ll admit that I was a bit lost. That was because I haven’t read a Batman comic book since Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns graphic novel series back in the late 1980’s. (I remember finding Miller’s interpretation of Batman as a very dark vigilante to be an interesting take but the story left me feeling so cold that I never re-read it. It didn’t help that, years later, Frank Miller was openly accusing the Occupy Wall Street movement as being a bunch of louts, thieves and rapists. Never mind the fact that my visits to the Occupy sites in Baltimore and DC indicated otherwise. I ultimately donated The Dark Knight Returns to an upcoming used book sale after my husband left me. Ironically Frank Miller was Baltimore Comic-Con’s 2017 Guest of Honor and he made his only convention appearance the day before. I wasn’t that inclined to even check him out in person and I don’t regret opting to go on Saturday instead of Friday.)

I watched the Batman feature films of the 1980’s and 1990’s but I stopped watching them after that because they seemed to emulate Miller’s vision of a dark violent vigilante anti-hero and I grew tired of that. The only Batman movie I’ve watched in recent years was this year’s The LEGO Batman Movie, which was excellent because it expertly combined the campiness of the 1960’s TV series with the darker interpretations of recent years and it worked extremely well. In fact, I purchased it on DVD when it was released. Maybe DC Comics should just let LEGO have exclusive rights to making future Batman movies because LEGO knows how to tell an entertainingly memorable Batman story.

My legs were a bit sore so it was a relief to sit down even if what the panelists discussed about Batman went over my head, with the exception of when they were discussing The LEGO Batman Movie. Although I was so intrigued by hearing the description of the Harley Quinn comic book series that I’m going to see if my local public library have the graphic novel reprints on the shelves. The high point of that panel was when the panelists asked if anyone had attended any of the Batman Day celebrations at a local comic book store in addition to going to Baltimore Comic-Con and someone got up said he actually went to such an event before he arrived at the Baltimore Convention Center. He had snagged some free Batman and Harley Quinn masks, which he gave to the husband and wife team behind the Harley Quinn comic book.

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

The panel ended but my legs were still sore and tired. I decided to stay in the same room for the next panel that was about the legendary comic book writer and artist Jack Kirby.

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

Panelist Mark Evanier talked about his personal friendship with Jack Kirby, which he wrote a book about called Kirby: King of Comics. Abram Books’ Charlie Kochman was also on hand as the two of them discussed the book and Evanier’s recollections about Kirby. I found it to be a very interesting talk and it seemed like Kirby was definitely an interesting and unforgettable person.

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

After the panel ended at 5 p.m. I thought about making one more return trip to the Dealers Room but my legs were really hurting by then so I decided to just take the next light rail back to the North Linthicum station (where my car was parked) and head home.

I had thought about buying one of DMC’s comic books with his autograph for $20 but I found something else in the Dealers Room that I ended up buying instead and I couldn’t afford to buy both.

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

It’s a plastic ocarina, which I purchased for $20, and it came with a free songbook that provided instructions on how to play the ocarina along with songs from the classic Nintendo video game The Legend of Zelda. I paid an extra $5 for a Star Wars ocarina songbook. I bought it from the STL Ocarina booth after hearing the person staffing it playing lovely music with that ocarina. I’ve been slowly trying to teach myself how to play it but I think it will be awhile before I can play songs on it that sound just as lovely as what I heard at that booth.

As for the Darrel Makes Comics comic book, I’ll go to the local public library to see if it has a copy of any of the issues on the shelves. I would like to read it at some point since I own a couple of old Run-DMC CDs and I’ve always been a fan of the group. This is one of those times when I regret having to deal with tight finances just so I can survive.

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Previous in This Series

The Day Before the Greenbelt Labor Day Festival
Greenbelt Labor Day Festival (Day 1)
Greenbelt Labor Day Festival (Day 2)

What a difference a day makes! Like I wrote in my last entry, I briefly attended the second day of the festival due in large part to the rain. The third day of the festival was different. It was sunny outside, the temperature reached into the low 70’s, and the humidity was low as well. It was the perfect outdoor weather for the festival!

When I arrived at the festival I saw that the STEM center Makerspace 125 had created a small miniature golf course consisting of handmade decorations that were miniature replicas of various Greenbelt landmarks and the local wildlife.

Greenbelt Labor Day Festival, September 3, 2017

Greenbelt Labor Day Festival, September 3, 2017

Greenbelt Labor Day Festival, September 3, 2017

Greenbelt Labor Day Festival, September 3, 2017

Greenbelt Labor Day Festival, September 3, 2017

Greenbelt Labor Day Festival, September 3, 2017

Greenbelt Labor Day Festival, September 3, 2017

Greenbelt Labor Day Festival, September 3, 2017

Greenbelt Labor Day Festival, September 3, 2017

Greenbelt Labor Day Festival, September 3, 2017

Greenbelt Labor Day Festival, September 3, 2017

Greenbelt Labor Day Festival, September 3, 2017

Greenbelt Labor Day Festival, September 3, 2017

Greenbelt Labor Day Festival, September 3, 2017

This mini golf course was especially a big hit with the kids.

Greenbelt Labor Day Festival, September 3, 2017

Greenbelt Labor Day Festival, September 3, 2017

Even though the third day fell on a Sunday, I blew off church that morning because I wanted to make sure that I would arrive at the Greenbelt Museum on time for another event I wanted to take part in. This year the Greenbelt Museum was the site for the Retro Town Fair, which was the first time I participated in it since 2014.

I submitted two hand-knitted clothes for dolls. One was the funky “fur” coat for 1/6 dolls, which I had my Blythe doll model mainly because she was the one doll I had who looked best wearing it. The other was the Alice’s Tea Party knitted dress for 18-inch dolls. I had my Addy Walker doll model it because she looked like those African American church ladies I frequently see in my area on Sundays walking in public all dressed up in their finest dresses and hats (or a hair accessory).

Basically I had to submit my entries between 11 a.m.-2 p.m. then wait until between 2-4 p.m. before I can see the entire Retro Town Fair. So I submitted my entries then walked back to the main part of the Labor Day Festival where I hung around for a bit while I ordered a giant crab pretzel for lunch from one of the food booths. After lunch I walked back to the Greenbelt Museum while I took these pictures.

Greenbelt Labor Day Festival, September 3, 2017

Greenbelt Labor Day Festival, September 3, 2017

Greenbelt Labor Day Festival, September 3, 2017

Greenbelt Labor Day Festival, September 3, 2017

Greenbelt Labor Day Festival, September 3, 2017

Greenbelt Labor Day Festival, September 3, 2017

Greenbelt Labor Day Festival, September 3, 2017

Greenbelt Labor Day Festival, September 3, 2017

Greenbelt Labor Day Festival, September 3, 2017

Greenbelt Labor Day Festival, September 3, 2017

Greenbelt Labor Day Festival, September 3, 2017

I came upon my dolls and I found that I won two white 3rd place ribbons. I was pretty happy with that award even though the organizers had them laying down the entire time. (I guess it was probably easier to display them that way without worrying about them falling down.)

Greenbelt Labor Day Festival, September 3, 2017

Greenbelt Labor Day Festival, September 3, 2017

The festival area was full of people once again since Tropical Storm Harvey went away. Here are some pictures I took.

Greenbelt Labor Day Festival, September 3, 2017

Greenbelt Labor Day Festival, September 3, 2017

Greenbelt Labor Day Festival, September 3, 2017

Greenbelt Labor Day Festival, September 3, 2017

Greenbelt Labor Day Festival, September 3, 2017

Greenbelt Labor Day Festival, September 3, 2017

Greenbelt Labor Day Festival, September 3, 2017

Greenbelt Labor Day Festival, September 3, 2017

Greenbelt Labor Day Festival, September 3, 2017

Greenbelt Labor Day Festival, September 3, 2017

Greenbelt Labor Day Festival, September 3, 2017

Greenbelt Labor Day Festival, September 3, 2017

The bingo tables were reopened as well with people eagerly playing bingo.

Greenbelt Labor Day Festival, September 3, 2017

There was this very long line at the ice cream stand.

Greenbelt Labor Day Festival, September 3, 2017

There were a couple of pint-sized Stormtroopers from Star Wars.

Greenbelt Labor Day Festival, September 3, 2017

Greenbelt Labor Day Festival, September 3, 2017

That day was also the first day of the Craft Fair, where the vendors were blessed with ideal weather for selling their handcrafted wares.

Greenbelt Labor Day Festival, September 3, 2017

Greenbelt Labor Day Festival, September 3, 2017

Greenbelt Labor Day Festival, September 3, 2017

Greenbelt Labor Day Festival, September 3, 2017

Greenbelt Labor Day Festival, September 3, 2017

Greenbelt Labor Day Festival, September 3, 2017

What was really wild is that I got lucky when I met a prominent person whom I’ve seen on TV a few times (back in the days when I still had cable television). The former head of the NAACP, Ben Jealous, is running for Maryland governor in next year’s mid-term elections and he was at the festival talking to the people and asking them for their opinions. Here are a couple of pictures I took of him.

Greenbelt Labor Day Festival, September 3, 2017

Greenbelt Labor Day Festival, September 3, 2017

If he gets elected next year, I’ll definitely have these photos to show people while telling them “I met Governor Jealous when I was at the Greenbelt Labor Day Festival back in 2017.” (LOL!)

Makerspace 125 had a busy day. Not only were the volunteers there running the miniature golf course but they were also putting the final finishing touches on their parade float for the next day. When I was there, they were making giant LEGO blocks.

Greenbelt Labor Day Festival, September 3, 2017

Greenbelt Labor Day Festival, September 3, 2017

I even went to the Greenbelt Theater, which was running classic cartoons (Superman, Betty Boop, Popeye, and various Looney Tunes shorts) for free on the big screen.

Greenbelt Labor Day Festival, September 3, 2017

I walked back to the Greenbelt Museum where I picked up my dolls and my award ribbons then I headed back home feeling exhausted yet happy at all the good things I experienced that day.

Next in This Series

Greenbelt Labor Day Parade
Greenbelt Labor Day Festival (Day 4)

During a recent visit to Target I found a few curious items, starting with this Star Wars spatula with a handle shaped like a lightsaber.

Star Wars Lightsaber Spatula

Here is a whole line of nutcrackers based on characters from Frozen and Star Wars, including even a Darth Vader nutcracker.

Frozen and Star Wars Nutcrackers

And, last but not least, here is a chance to do a special DIY project where you can customize your own ugly Christmas sweater.

Ugly Christmas Sweater Kit

I found this at a local Best Buy recently.

Two Star Wars Toys Making Out

No, I had nothing at all to do with this. But it does bring to mind what I did with these two Star Wars plushies—Darth Vader and a Stormtrooper—on Valentine’s Day several months ago. LOL!

photo21

Dancing Skeleton

I recently did some shopping at Target where I found some Halloween themed Peeps, which came in candy corn and caramel apple flavors.

Special Halloween Peeps.

While this next photo had nothing to do with Halloween, the fact that they are four-foot tall interactive electronic toys made them a bit creepy and scary.

I Found This at Target

At long last here’s a post that I’ve been working on for two months, which documents the closing of a local Kmart.

I’m not surprised that the Kmart that was located in Greenbelt, Maryland at the Cipriano Square shopping center (across the street from NASA Goddard Space Flight Center) has just closed its doors for good recently—one of hundreds of stores that were doomed to go out of business throughout the United States. Both Kmart and its parent company Sears have been suffering financially for a number of years. The main problem is that both companies are presided over by a CEO named Eddie Lampert who has been applying principles he derived from reading Ayn Rand novels to running his business enterprise with disastrous results. Here’s a quote from this article.

Plagued by the realities threatening many retail stores, Sears also faces a unique problem: Lampert. Many of its troubles can be traced to an organizational model the chairman implemented five years ago, an idea he has said will save the company. Lampert runs Sears like a hedge fund portfolio, with dozens of autonomous businesses competing for his attention and money. An outspoken advocate of free-market economics and fan of the novelist Ayn Rand, he created the model because he expected the invisible hand of the market to drive better results. If the company’s leaders were told to act selfishly, he argued, they would run their divisions in a rational manner, boosting overall performance.

Instead, the divisions turned against each other—and Sears and Kmart, the overarching brands, suffered. Interviews with more than 40 former executives, many of whom sat at the highest levels of the company, paint a picture of a business that’s ravaged by infighting as its divisions battle over fewer resources. (Many declined to go on the record for a variety of reasons, including fear of angering Lampert.) Shaunak Dave, a former executive who left in 2012 and is now at sports marketing agency Revolution, says the model created a “warring tribes” culture. “If you were in a different business unit, we were in two competing companies,” he says. “Cooperation and collaboration aren’t there.”

All of which proves that Ayn Rand is a poor role model when it comes to applying her principles that she espoused in her novels to real life. This worship of Ayn Rand is a reason why Eddie Lampert has shown up on a number of “Worst CEOs” lists like this one.

It sucks that things are going bad for both Sears and Kmart since both stores have been around since my childhood. I still have memories of the times my mother took me to Sears to buy clothes for me. I remember my father had a few Craftsman tools that he would use for things like yard work.

And then there’s the other store that began with the letter K. When I was growing up, there was a Kresge’s at the local Harundale Mall in Glen Burnie, Maryland (which is notable in the Wikipedia for being the enclosed shopping mall to open on the East Coast). Kresge’s was an independently-owned five and dime store and it was located just a few feet away from another five and dime—Murphy’s. I can remember the times I purchased cheap toys with my allowance money from both stores and the years when my mother would buy me one of those cheap plastic Ben Cooper Halloween costumes that were sold in both stores instead of sewing me one with her sewing machine.

Murphy’s eventually went out of business while Kresge’s started to open larger stores and, in the process, changed its name to Kmart. When I first moved to the area where I live now, there was a Bradlees that was the main anchor of Cipriano Square. Bradlees was a big box discount store that had nice things for pretty decent prices and I used to shop for clothes there a lot. A few years later Bradlees closed down and it was replaced by Jamesway, another large discount store that also had nice things at pretty decent prices. Jamesway closed down after a couple of years and Kmart moved in its place, where it had stayed until recently.

I bought a lot of things from Kmart over the years. I’ll admit that the checkout lines were always crowded mainly because the store always put too few employees at the cash registers (mainly to save money) so I always had to wait in line for at least 15 minutes. No matter what time of the day, there were always more buyers than cashiers. Yet Kmart had some nice things (especially in women’s clothes—I bought a lot of professional looking clothes for the office jobs I worked at) so I still shopped there despite the crappy service. I learned early on that Kmart was not the store to shop in if you had limited time and you needed to be somewhere else by a certain exact time. Basically if I needed to buy something, I went to Kmart on days when I had nothing else that I had to do so I could endure the very slow checkout lines.

Even Kmart’s purchase by Sears didn’t improve the checkout lines very much although it was convenient that I could get Kenmore and Craftsman products at a store that was located closer to my home than the nearest Sears.

Basically shopping at Kmart was something that was endured but the hassle turned out to be worthwhile in the long run because I obtained useful stuff, some of which I still use (such as a Martha Stewart laundry basket that I bought years ago and it’s still in very good shape).

When I learned via one of the Facebook groups that I belonged to about Kmart’s imminent demise in my area, I knew that I needed to take advantage of the going out of business sale because there were a few items that I needed to buy and it was an opportunity to get them at even lower prices than before. I also decided to take pictures to document the store’s decline. I made a few trips to that store before it finally closed for good this month. Here is what I saw during those trips.

February 13, 2015

It was very fitting that I made my first trip to Kmart after I heard the news on a Friday the 13th. The outside of the store didn’t give any indication that it was closing down soon.

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But once I entered I saw the signs announcing a massive sale where everything in the store was between 10-30% off the regular price. The signs said “Huge Inventory Blowout!,” which would lead one to believe that Kmart was just having the usual end-of-season clearance sale in order to make way for new inventory for the spring and summer months. If I hadn’t seen that Facebook message that someone in one of my groups posted online, I would’ve made a similar conclusion as well.

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Since Valentine’s Day was the next day, it was natural to see a rack full of Valentine cards near the store entrance.

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There were all kinds of merchandise that had the discount prices on them.

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Even though the going out of business sale was in its early days, some of the shelves were already starting to become empty.

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And the Refreshments area near the cash registers had already closed down for good.

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There were some merchandise that were haphazardly thrown into bins. Some of the stuff looked like leftover Halloween costumes while others looked like leftover Christmas decorations. I wasn’t about to go through those bins to get a closer look because they looked so messy that they seemed intimidating to me.

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I found a My Little Pony Equestria Girls Rainbow Rocks doll set that’s a Kmart exclusive.

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Among the normal items on sale, there were a bunch of things that I thought were pretty odd. There is this toy shaped like a Kenmore vacuum cleaner that’s supposed to teach little girls the joys of doing vacuuming while subtly instilling brand loyalty to Kenmore products at an early age. (If my parents had given me a toy like that when I was a kid, I would’ve thrown a fit. I was into dolls, stuffed animals, and craft kits. Anything that resembled household appliances were considered boring to me.) It’s pretty ironic since Kenmore was originally created as a Sears store brand and I’ve read that Sears is among the list of companies most likely to go out of business permanently in 2015. Unless Sears sells its Kenmore line to someone else, any little girl getting a My First Kenmore Vacuum Cleaner would consider this one as My Last Kenmore Vacuum Cleaner.

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This kid’s t-shirt had me going WTF?!? at seeing Ariel from The Little Mermaid wearing glasses. I hate to say it but glasses are totally not practical for mermaids or any other creature who spends the majority of time underwater.

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Then there is this really bizarre game that’s being marketed for girls called Freaky Becky. Judging from the box, it looks like each girl player has to do something with the enclosed zombie doll known as Freaky Becky and that zombie parts will frequently fly all over the place as part of the fun. I can imagine parents getting exasperated over having zombie doll parts fly everywhere and maybe even get lost in between the sofa cushions or on a rug where someone steps on it later.

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There are similar games made by the same company for boys as well: Johnny the Skull and Zed the Zombie.

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There were a few strange items for adults as well. Remember the Snuggie? Well Kmart was selling sleeved blankets where one can choose from Minnie Mouse or Elvis Presley.

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I needed to buy a few new items but it wasn’t until after I arrived in the store that I realized that I didn’t have as much money on me as I thought so I bought fewer items than I wanted. Since the sales only ranged between 10-30%, I decided to focus on buying only those items that I really needed to buy (as opposed to items I’d like to buy but I really don’t need). I bought one Playtex bra to replace at least one of the old bras that I’ve owned for years that have been getting increasingly ratty and stretched out. I also saw this exercise DVD that was originally marked at $10 but the price was lowered to $8 called Lesley Samsone Walk Away the Pounds. Lately I’ve been making an effort to walk a minimum of one mile a day, six days a week and I’ve been wearing a pedometer to make sure that I make at least the minimum goal. Some nights I’m short of my minimum goal so I’ve been taking short night walks around my neighborhood in order to push my pedometer beyond the 1 mile mark. The DVD comes in handy for those nights when I can’t go outside because it’s raining or snowing.

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February 14, 2015

I’ll admit that I was annoyed with myself for coming to Kmart’s going out of business sale with not enough cash the day before. There were some items that I absolutely needed to replace (because they were literally falling apart) and I figured that it was a  rare opportunity to replace these items at a discount.

I’ve been to enough of these going out of business sales over the years to know that they tend to be multiple phase plans. During the early phase, the discounts tend to go no lower than 30% with many items only being offered for 10% off the retail price. But it’s also during that phase when you’re more likely to get the items that you want. By the time steeper discounts are offered, chances are that many items you want will have already been sold and much of the merchandise left are literally the dregs.

So I decided to take an organized approach to Kmart’s going out of business sale. During the initial 10-30% off phase, I decided to focus only on the items I really needed to buy while putting off other items that I would like to have but I really don’t need immediately for later in the going out of business sale process.

Since I stupidly didn’t bring enough money the day before, I decided to go back on the following day, even though it was Valentine’s Day. I didn’t mind shopping on Valentine’s Day because it’s not like I have a significant other to spend the day with or anything like that. I got a chance to take photos of a few more items that are a bit on the kitsch side, such as these pillows based on Star Wars and Frozen.

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I browsed a bit around the beauty aisles where I found this cologne that’s marked with the 007 logo from the James Bond movies.

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It’s been a long time since I last bought myself a bottle of perfume or cologne. There seems to be an excess in perfume/cologne with a celebrity’s name attached to it, such as Rihanna, Lady Gaga, and Katy Perry. I just don’t remember ever seeing such products named after celebrities like that. I just remember names like Chanel No. 5 and Jean Naté, which weren’t named after celebrities who are currently fixtures in the tabloid media.

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Paris Hilton has a whole section dedicated to different brands of her perfume/cologne. Talk about a total inventory glut!

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Here are some bath-related products for 20% off.

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There was a large cardboard bin that had just books that were 80% off the retail price. I looked in the bin but I didn’t find a book that interested me enough to buy one. It’s too bad because it was about the only place that had the steepest discount.

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There was a large pile of Easy Bake Ovens that were placed right in the middle of an aisle.

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There was a section of brightly decorated bras from Joe Boxer. While I loved the designs on the bras, I felt that they were impractical because the designs would ultimately be covered with a shirt. If the shirt was on the sheer side, there’s a chance that the bra’s designs would show through, which would be okay if a woman was at a party or something like that but would be embarrassing if she was working in an office.

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Between the fact that it was Valentine’s Day (with people doing their last minute holiday shopping) and it was a going out of business sale, there were plenty of people in the checkout lane. I saw people literally fill their shopping carts with merchandise. It took me a while to actually check out with my items.

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Here’s what I bought that day. I purchased another bra to replace one of my older bras that have gotten ratty and is literally falling apart. My new bra is a pretty light pink color, which I like.

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I purchased a can opener mainly because the last can opener I owned had a blade that was getting increasingly dull and I had a harder time opening metal cans. This new can opener works really well and I can open cans much faster than before.

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Here’s the back of the package, which has the name of Kmart’s store brand (Essential Home). The can opener was really easy to remove from the package.

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Here’s a close up of the back package, which features the Kmart logo.

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I purchased two bath mats mainly because one of my current bath mats was really falling to pieces (I ended up throwing that one away after buying my new mats) and the other one is just starting to fall apart. These new bath mats have worked out really well for me.

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This last item was an impulse buy. It’s a liquid soap dispenser that’s shaped like the Eiffel Tower. I thought it looked really nice and it was on sale for only $12. I got rid of a soap dispenser last year after it broke apart and I bought a new one at Target soon afterwards. With this new soap dispenser, I now have a total of three dispensers. This Eiffel Tower looks really nice in my bathroom.

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February 17, 2015

Three days after my Valentine’s Day shopping trip, I made yet another shopping trip to Kmart. By that time the store had finally decided to put up an outside banner along with several signs in the windows and in the entrance foyer admitting that, yes, it really is going out of business.

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There were all kinds of items with discount signs.

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They were even selling this necklace and earring set with one of the stones missing from the necklace.

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Then there was a whole row of Grumpy Cats.

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There was the same large stack of Easy Bake Ovens that I saw just a few days ago, except the pile had gotten smaller.

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There were sales everywhere.

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The checkout lines were very busy with shoppers taking advantage of the sale.

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The photo below shows my haul from that trip.

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I bought another Playtex bra, this one in a tan color. I also bought a pack of Hanes underwear because I recently had to throw away a couple of panties because they had developed large holes (I had them for a few years). It’s always useful to buy underwear in bulk even if you can’t currently use all of the new panties at once because you never know when you’ll need to throw away a pair of old panties that developed holes big enough to shove three fingers through them.

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The next photo shows my biggest ticket item I’ve purchased from Kmart to date. It’s a Blue Line stereo that has built-in speakers, AM/FM radio, a CD player, an alarm clock, and an outlet to plug in a laptop, tablet, smartphone, or MP3 player so one can listen to digital music in stereo. The price was originally listed at $69.99 but I got it for $50. I had wanted to purchase a smaller stereo that I could fit on a tabletop ever since I got rid of that huge stereo that was taking up a massive amount of space in my living room but I wasn’t able to do so until recently because money was very tight. So far it works really well and it has a great sound.

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My cash receipt included this notice expressing regret that they had to close the Kmart in my area but I could call or go online to Kmart.com to find other Kmart stores. It also included this incredibly dumb-sounding slogan: “We’re Open. You’re Saving!” Whatever.

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March 18, 2015

I grew tired of going back to Kmart for the last three shopping trips so I decided to take some time off from going there, figuring that the prices would eventually go even lower the closer the actual going out of business date arrives. I ended up waiting a whole month before I went back. By the time I made my return trip, I noticed that there were more empty areas inside of the store.

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By that point the discounts had increased to as much as 40% off. I was intrigued by these MiP robots when I first started seeing them in other stores last year but I didn’t go for one because of the $99 price tag for a small robot. These MiP robots were now 40% off but I decided to wait a bit longer to see if they go any lower.

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There was a shelf full of piñatas, which is great for parents of more than two kids because they could stock up on them for future birthday parties.

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With more items being sold out, it seems like there are a greater number of merchandise that I would consider odd, strange, or off-beat like these weird fish-like stuffed animals.

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Then there is the sleeved blanket for kids featuring Olaf the Snowman from the Disney movie Frozen.

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For the adult collector who is really into clocks, there were various anniversary clocks on sale featuring I Love Lucy, Elvis Presley, The Wizard of Oz, and Marilyn Monroe.

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For your next party or family get-together, how about playing a game where you do nothing but guess which logo belongs to which corporation. Sounds fun, no?

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Then there are these creepy looking Lalaloopey Babies, which look like they could’ve been the offsprings of the Other Mother and the Other Father from the movie Coraline.

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Then there is this Ketchup Kritter where you replace the cap of your ketchup bottle with this demon head and you get to see him vomit ketchup over your hamburger or french fries.

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As to the weirdest item I found at Kmart during that time, I have to say that it’s a tossup between the Ketchup Kritter and this resin deer statue that functions as a toilet paper holder. That deer is a great example of how sometimes the jokes just write themselves.

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I didn’t buy anything on this trip because I had already purchased everything that I needed to buy and I want to see the prices to go down just a little bit lower before I buy anything else.

March 26, 2015

A few days earlier I woke up with a scratchy throat that quickly segued into all of my sinuses being stuffed up and feeling tired all of the time. Yes, I came down with a cold. After staying completely indoors the previous day, I still felt so tired that I took an afternoon nap. After dinner I decided to skip my weekly support group meeting for people who are separated or divorced and just do a short outing. I ended up going back to Kmart to see the progress on its going out of business sale.

The first thing I noticed was the section near the front door. In better days Kmart used to display outdoor items for sale depending on the season (such as artificial Christmas trees or gardening supplies). That area always used to be well stocked with items that people could pick up before even entering the store. On this day the only things I saw on sale were bags of potting soil.

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I managed to show up to the store after dinner. I discovered that these days this Kmart tends to close by 8 p.m., which is way earlier than normal. (In contrast, the Kmart in Hyattsville, which is not currently slated for going out of business, closes at 11 p.m. every night.) By this point more items were priced at least 30% off with many of them starting to be marked with the 50% off sale.

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I also saw quite a few odd items. First there are these oversized neon-colored alarm clocks that were a bit on the gaudy side.

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Until I made this trip to Kmart, I never knew that one could have the option of buying a hybrid lava lamp/table lamp.

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I also never associated Kmart with beer making kits.

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There were shelves full of Valentine’s Day cards for anyone who wanted to get a head start on preparing for Valentine’s Day, 2016.

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There was this women’s shirt that was a midriff-baring tank top that had a scientific drawing of a T-Rex. Okay, whatever.

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There was a clothing line with Selena Gomez’s name on it, although I’m more familiar with her name through the various celebrity gossip sites than with her clothing line.

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There’s one of those giant musical step-on keyboards (such as the one that was featured in the Tom Hanks movie Big) that has the logo of Rolling Stone magazine on it.

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Then there were a display of these giant action figures based on Star Wars and the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers that were at least 2 feet tall.

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There were sections of the store that had rows upon rows of empty shelves. There were some areas where the shelves had already been dismantled.

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I only bought two items during this Kmart trip. One was a box of acid reducer over-the-counter medicine. With the Easter holiday coming up and with the stress over filing my income taxes, I really want to prevent any kind of acid reflux as a result of eating foods that I normally don’t eat or stress. I got 50% off the listed price, which was nice.

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And then I purchased this doll for 50% off. She is an Ever After High doll, a line of Mattel dolls that are similar to the Monster High dolls except that all of the students who attend Ever After High are children of famous fairy tale characters. I purchased Madeline Hatter, who’s the daughter of the Mad Hatter from Alice in Wonderland.

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She carries a teapot-shaped purse.

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She wears a teacup-shaped hat, which is incredibly cute.

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The front of her hat has some gold designs that one would find on a fancy teacup. She wears earrings shaped like spoons and she has long curly hair that’s primarily purple with light blue streaks.

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Even the heels of her shoes suggest a teapot handle.

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All in all it’s an incredibly cute doll and I’m fortunate that I got her for around $11.

March 27, 2015

I came back to Kmart the next day because I made the same mistake as a month earlier: I didn’t arrive with enough money so I had to curtail what I wanted to buy. This day I made sure I had more than enough money before I arrived in the store. I still took more pictures because it looked like the store was rapidly clearing out with each passing day.

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Many of the items were now sporting 50% off discounts, such as this line of 18-inch What a Doll!, which looked like it was Kmart’s answer to the ever popular American Girl line.

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I saw these cloth Mooshka dolls on sale, which I thought were incredibly cute looking.

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For those who missed out on last year’s Holiday Barbie doll, there was a second chance to buy that doll and one could buy it at a steep discount.

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Going back even further, anyone who missed out on a chance to buy a special 30th anniversary Cabbage Patch Kids doll a few years ago also got a second chance to buy one at a major discount.

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There were still plenty of cometics to go around, such as this perfume endorsed by Britney Spears.

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I admit that there are two reasons why I had ever heard of One Direction in the first place: 1) I’ve seen various products bearing the band’s name such as the One Direction eye shadow in the next two photos and 2) I have a One Direction song on one of my Just Dance video games. (To be honest, I literally can’t recall the name of the song or what it sounded like. I could do a Google search but I’m too lazy to do so.) One Direction recently made major news when one of the members of that group, Zayn Malik, announced that he was leaving the band and it caused a lot of their teenaged fans to go into total hysterics.

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The idea behind the One Direction eye shadow is to choose the package based on your favorite One Direction member. I looked closely at the photos of the enclosed makeup and it looks like all of the eye shadows are identical. The only difference is which photo of the One Direction band member is featured on the box.

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There was perfume endorsed by the rock band KISS.

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First there were the Monster High dolls, now there’s Monster High cosmetics. This is strange when you consider that Monster High was originally aimed at elementary school aged girls and the Monster High makeup I saw is definitely inappropriate for young girls. My parents wouldn’t let me wear makeup of any kind until I was in middle school.

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A few weeks ago I found Ketchup Kritter, a device where you put a red devil head on a bottle of ketchup and watch him vomit ketchup on your food. On this trip I found his buddy, Mustard Monster, where you get to put him on a bottle of mustard and watch him vomit mustard on your food.

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Then there is this device where you can mold bacon strips into an edible bowl. It might work with some foods but I can’t imagine trying it with ice cream or cereal.

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There weren’t many books left on the shelves.

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Here’s a sample of the books that one can choose from.

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There’s nothing wrong with a dollhouse that one could assemble for a doll lover. It’s just that this dollhouse is designed to fit an 18-inch doll (instead of the usual 1/12 scale dolls that measures between 3-6 inches), which means that this dollhouse would take up a huge amount of space in anyone’s home.

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No, the next photo isn’t upside down. That was how I found these Homer Simpson slippers hanging on the racks. These slippers are totally bizarre for this reason: you generally put your foot inside of Homer’s mouth so it would look like Homer is either eating (or choking to death) on your foot.

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There were watches based on a band one of whose members has recently quit and a one-time teen idol who is now more famous for his frequent brushes with the law than for his music.

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I was glad that I purchased my underwear pack when I did because the lingerie department was full of slim pickings. There is no way in hell I would ever wear THIS on my crotch.

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And then there is this children’s loft bed with a sliding board. That poor kid would have a hard time deciding on whether it’s playtime or nap time.

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A flameless candle?!?

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Over in the school supplies section, there were Duck Dynasty folders available for students. Maybe I could see teenagers using this but I can’t imagine parents being willing to buy a folder for younger kids based on a TV show featuring a person who has gotten into controversy for making outrageous statements like this one featuring a hypothetical situation about an atheist family, rape, and decapitation.

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You can have your lips smell and taste like soda pop.

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I get the idea of something for a cold night like a matching mug and blanket set. But do you know how hard it would be to balance a mug full of hot liquid while keeping a warm blanket wrapped around you and hoping that you don’t spill the mug or the blanket falling off of you?

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There were cheap shelves for items that ranged from $1-3. But the merchandise in them were pretty messy and disorganized.

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And then there is this thing. It’s a hooded jacket but it has no sleeves. Or maybe it’s a vest but it has a hood and it looks awfully thick for a vest.

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That camouflage hooded sleeveless coat or vest looked tasteful compared to this shocking pink variation.

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I found this in the Plus Size Women’s department. This shirt was in at least a size 20 and it had thin horizontal stripes, which would make a 300 pound woman look like she is wider than normal and weighs at least 500 pounds.

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And then there is this line of Selena Gomez flannel checkered shirts. On the surface there’s nothing wrong with them until you look closer at the shoulders.

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Yes, those are studs at the shoulders.

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There were the same shirts in other colors and they all had the same pattern with shoulder studs.

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Okay, I’m not a fashion designer but I’ve done enough sewing to know that you don’t embellish anything that already has a pattern because the embellishments will either disappear among the pattern or make the pattern so busy that the outfit is ugly. If you’ve ever seen a gown or a cowboy shirt embellished with bling, you’d see that the designer typically uses a plain solid fabric as the base to embellish, not something that already has a busy pattern.

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That fox welcome sign is pretty cute. It’s too bad that you can see the large area of chipped paint one of the fox’s ears on the left side.

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I had considered buying myself a bag of socks until I found that all of the sock bags had been opened. Many of the bags also looked like one or more pairs of socks had been removed from each bag.

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I even saw a loose individual sock that was just hanging on a rack. Even though the bags of socks were at 50% off, there was no way I was going to buy an opened bag like that because I have a feeling that I wouldn’t get all of the socks that the bag label said I would get.

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On this trip I purchased two items. First is this box of Life cereal. Yeah, I know it sounds lame but I was running low on cereal and I saw a shelf full of Life cereal that was on sale for 30% off so I went for it.

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Then there is this other item that I had my eye on for quite some time. The MiP robot was originally priced at $99.99. This robot’s discount had finally sunk to 50% off and there weren’t a lot of MiP robots left on the shelves so I decided to buy it. The price was $50 and I got an extra $2 off because I was using my Kmart Shop Your Way Reward Card and I had received enough points to get that discount. Sweet!

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I chose the black robot. It looks pretty nice and very attractive and it definitely warrants its own entry that I may get around to writing at a later date. The box of Life cereal and the MiP robot turned out to be the last items I’ve ever purchased at Kmart’s Greenbelt, Maryland location.

April 1, 2015

Yes, I made a trip to Kmart on April Fool’s Day but the going out of business sale was no laughing matter.

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The bags of soil that were the only outdoor items that I saw for sale on a previous trip were sold out. Only the two soda machines remained.

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I checked both machines to see if I could purchase a soda like I used to do sometimes before entering Kmart in better days. I took a closer look and found that the LED lights weren’t working. I tried inserting a dollar in the bill slot in one of the machines and that machine just wasn’t working at all. It looked like someone had disconnected those two machines for good.

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Inside the store I saw a new sign saying that the going out of business sale was now in its final two weeks.

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There were even steeper discounts than before.

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However there were more empty areas than before as well. There were floor marks indicating where stock shelves used to be located.

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There were also areas of the store that were roped off with yellow police tape where collapsed shelves, signs, and various fixtures were stored.

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Plus there were rows upon rows of empty shelves.

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One part of the store looked like a portion of the drywall was stripped away. There were instructions spray-painted in this neon red paint color. There were other instructions that were written in ink. I have no idea if these instructions were written recently or if they were originally written when remodeling was originally done on the space when the former Bradlees turned into Jamesway then, again, the former Jamesway turned into Kmart.

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Despite the increase in empty areas, there were still plenty of items that were available for sale at steeper discounts than ever before. The items ranged from pretty nice (sadly the clothes that I personally liked didn’t fit me because they were in sizes that were either too big or too small for me) to totally bizarre.

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Even though Easter was just a few days away, there weren’t a lot of holiday items aside from these greeting cards.

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In fact, there were far more Christmas items than items for any other holiday (including Easter). At least it provided an opportunity for anyone wanting to get a head start on this coming Christmas in just over eight months while paying far less than they would’ve just four months ago.

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I didn’t buy anything on this trip. Like I wrote earlier, the clothes that I was interested in were either several sizes too big or too small for me. I began to have a feeling that the window of opportunity for me to buy the choice items at a discount has closed for me and I’m just seeing the dregs now.

April 5, 2015

Easter Sunday fell on April 5 this year and it was also Passover as well. After attending church, I decided to go to Kmart because I was curious about whether it would close on this holiday like many other area stores did. When I arrived, I got my answer as I saw plenty of cars parked outside. At first I thought it was a shame that employees were made to work on Easter/Passover until I realized that once Kmart closes for good, they were going to have all the time off they could financially withstand so they might as well work through a holiday.

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When I first entered I noticed a new sign that was literally the final countdown of the number of days left until Kmart closes its doors forever.

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There were plenty of shoppers on that Easter Sunday as they were looking for bargains that were starting to hit rock bottom prices.

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There were more and more empty and partially empty shelves on that day.

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The back of the store was mostly blocked off with yellow police tape. I noticed that the ceilings had these pulleys with yellow rope dangling that weren’t there before. I saw that more and more dismantled signs and shelves were behind that roped off area.

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The one area in the back that weren’t roped off was the aisle leading to the Layaway section and the public restrooms. I decided to go down that aisle to check it out.

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When I first approached the Layaway desk, I noticed that no one was working there and the lights were off. When I stepped closer to the desk to investigate, the lights automatically turned on. It was a pretty surreal experience to say the least.

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The public restrooms were across from the Layaway desk. I decided to check out the women’s bathroom.

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One toilet still had the seat cover on it but, otherwise, the women’s bathroom was just as clean as I found it on previous trips before Kmart’s going out of business sale.

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Down the hallway from the restrooms was this opened door that looks like it leads to the warehouse where inventory was kept before being put on store shelves.

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Also near the restrooms was another opened door that looks like it leads to an Employee’s Lounge. (I didn’t investigate either doors because I think those areas were for employees only.)

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The leftover inventory was getting slimmer and slimmer. Most of the items left were ones that I photographed on previous trips. There were a few new items I took pictures of for posterity.

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I couldn’t help but notice a One Direction board game, especially since the Internet went in a total uproar a few weeks earlier when one of its members decided to quit the band. I guess this board game is a collector’s item now (assuming that anyone will even care about buying One Direction collector’s items 10-20 years from now).

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I found one oddity on this trip. It’s a CD called Music for Vampires. I have to admit that the title sounded intriguing and it was on sale for $6.

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Until I turned the CD on the other side and I found that it was basically a compilation of mostly New Wave and Modern Rock songs from the 1980’s and 1990’s that only used the word “Vampires” in the title in an attempt to get Twilight fans to buy this. I would’ve bought it myself but I didn’t because I already have most of the songs either on other CD’s or as MP3 files.

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April 9, 2015

With Kmart closing soon, I decided to make another trip to see how things were going. The countdown sign located by the front door was updated to reflect the fact that shoppers had only four more days until the final closure.

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The discounts have gone very steep with some items reaching the 85% off mark.

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There were plenty of shoppers when I was there who were searching for something—anything—they could buy very cheaply.

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There were more bare shelves and more empty areas when I was there. If I had to guess, I’d say that about 25% of inventory was left.

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The stuff I found on the shelves were literally the dregs, such as this candy that was supposed to look and feel like boogers. The Elf on the Shelf was back on the store shelves along with various leftover Christmas items. There was literally nothing that tempted me. Nothing.

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I found this Ashlee Simpson CD that was a Kmart exclusive. It was originally $5.99 but it was now on sale for $2.99.

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April 17, 2015

I intended to go to Kmart on the final day of its existence. It would’ve been interesting to see what was left on the shelves. It also would’ve been interesting to observe both employees and customers to see if anyone would get misty-eyed over Kmart closing for good. Or if the employees would just stop giving a damn about anything since they were going to be unemployed the next day.

But then a few things happened that distracted me. First there were the taxes. Yeah, that sucked but the alternative to not bother filing would’ve been worse so I gritted my teeth and made every effort to get them done by the April 15 deadline.

Then there were the cherry blossom trees, which bloomed later than usual this year. On top of it, after a long cold winter, the weather had gotten warmer at last and the snow was becoming a distant memory of me. I fell into temptation from both the weather and the cherry blossoms and basically enjoyed the beautiful scenery instead of going to a dying big box retailer like Kmart.

By the time I returned to Kmart the store had already closed for good. But I noticed a few interesting things that I photographed.

The giant Kmart letters that once graced the outside of the building were gone. There were faint outlines that showed where the letters used to be placed.

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Curiously the soda machines were still located near the entrance. Not that it really mattered since they weren’t even working.

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The front door had a few signs posted.

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One of the signs announced that Kmart was officially closed while the other sign announced that a fixture sale was going on and the store was opened from 12-5. Unfortunately I got there after the store had closed for the day. However, I noticed the dates and tomorrow was going to be the last day of the fixture sale. So I had another chance to go inside that store and take a few last photos of an empty store. The only problem was that the Greenbelt Mini-Maker Faire was also happening that same day and I was selling my wares there. Since the event was ending at 4 p.m., I had a chance to show up for the last hour of that fixture sale so I made a mental note to return the next day.

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I looked through the door and saw that the store was empty of inventory. Basically it was an opportunity to purchase shelves or maybe a shopping cart.

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I walked around to the side where Kmart once had its Garden Center. Instead of plants, potting soil, and other seasonal items, the entire area was mostly bare. Although I saw that the Kmart letters were there on one side of the empty space so I found out where the giant Kmart letters went.

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The parking lot outside Kmart was empty except for a few shopping carts that were left behind. It was kind of eery seeing these shopping carts in an empty parking lot waiting for someone—anyone—to use them once again.

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April 18, 2015

Thanks to the fixtures sale, I thought I had another opportunity to take more pictures of an empty Kmart. However April 18 was the last day of that sale and it would only be held from 12-5 p.m. On top of it, I had to work the Greenbelt Mini-Maker Faire, which was going on at the same time. Since that event ended at 4 p.m. I thought I would have some time left to check out the tail end of that fixtures sale. Once the 4 p.m. end time came, I quickly packed up my tables, chair, and inventory so I could go to Kmart for one last visit.

I arrived in the parking lot around 4:40, which would give me 20 minutes until the official end of that fixtures sale. Except when I came to the door I found that it was locked.

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I also saw some glue or tape residue where the green since the sign announcing the hours for the fixtures sale was once placed.

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It looked like the store closed before the official 5 p.m. closing time. I guess things like remaining open during the official posted time doesn’t really matter since the store is officially gone for good. It’s not like keeping customers satisfied really matters anymore. I looked through the locked doors one more time and I noticed that there were still fixtures in that store. I guess they’ll eventually be put in storage somewhere or get shipped to the remaining Kmarts that are still in business as of this writing.

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The only thing different I noticed from the day before is that the abandoned shopping carts in the parking lot were gone. I don’t know if someone connected with Kmart took them or if someone simply stole them. All I know is that the parking lot near Kmart is now completely empty. The only odd thing that remained were the two soda machines near the front doors that aren’t even working.

Even though I hated the crappy customer service (due mainly to understaffing the cashier area so the checkout lines were always long no matter what time of day or even what time of year), I’ll still miss the nice things I used to purchase for reasonable prices. There is another Kmart in Hyattsville that I could go to. There’s also one in Crofton that I could go to on my way to my weekly support group meeting for people who are separated or divorced. But how much longer the surviving Kmarts will last is up in the air since both Kmart and its parent company Sears are predicted to completely go out of business. Right now it looks like Sears is more focused on dismantling itself and Kmart by closing a lot of stores across the United States than on doing anything radical to save both stores. Sears and Kmart are currently in a downward spiral where they close some stores, which results in lost revenue, which leads to closing even more stores, resulting in even more lost revenue, and so on.  In a way it’s sad since I’ve known both stores since I was a child. Oh well.

Passover

I meant to upload them on Easter Sunday but then I got distracted by actually observing the holiday myself and this project that I detailed in my last entry. But I didn’t want to let Easter get too far away before I share these pictures.

First is this chocolate candy that I found in a local Five Below store about a couple of days before Easter.

Strangest Easter Candy

It’s a Stormtrooper from Star Wars! It’s an Easter Bunny! It’s both! It looked pretty funny. I didn’t purchase it at the time but now that I’m looking at the picture, I’m kind of regretting it. Oh well. At least I have a picture to remember it by. (LOL!)

I basically spent Easter Sunday morning going to church at my UU congregation. There was a living Last Supper during the all-ages service where children and adults in attendance were encouraged to volunteer for roles like Jesus and a sinner.

Easter Sunday at PBUUC

After the service was the annual Easter egg hunt where the children searched through the woods on church property for those colorful eggs.

Easter Sunday at PBUUC

Easter Sunday at PBUUC

Once the kids were done with gathering eggs, they were invited to trade in their eggs for a bag of Easter-themed treats.

Easter Sunday at PBUUC

Easter Sunday at PBUUC

Valentine's Day

Since today is Valentine’s Day, I’m doing something special today for anyone who reads this—I’m going to talk about two off-beat yet cute Valentine plushies I recently purchased for myself. A few weeks ago I mentioned seeing these two small Star Wars villains as romantic Valentine plushies at a local Safeway. I took a photo of them but I didn’t buy them at that time.

But the more I began to see other Valentine items with Darth Vader and/or a Stormtrooper (such as that chocolate Darth Vader head I saw at Target and I mentioned in my last post), the more that the idea of seeing someone like Darth Vader being re-cast as a romantic hero began to grow on me. During another visit to Safeway, I noticed that while there were a few Darth Vaders left in stock, there was only one Stormtrooper left in stock. I decided to shell out the $12 and buy both of them and I now own them.

Since today is Valentine’s Day, I’d thought I’d give a more thorough review of these cute plushies in the style that’s similar to the reviews that can be found on The Toybox Philosopher blog.

So here are the two romantic figures after I purchased them. They were obviously constructed so they would be only in the seated position because there isn’t a lot of stuffing in the legs so they can’t support themselves standing and they have large rear-ends. Each one is clutching a felt rose in one hand (which is permanently attached) with a bag of candy tied to their other arm (which is easily removable since the candy is meant to be eaten) with a red ribbon. What’s more, each of them has a red bowtie that’s printed at the neck.

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The hang tags are attached to their heads with a thin piece of plastic and are meant to be removable. The upper right corner of the hang tag lets you know exactly which company now owns the rights to the Star Wars characters.

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There is more information when you open the hang tag. The left side has information about the candy (namely the nutritional information and the ingredients). The right side has information about the manufacturer (Galerie) and where both the candy and the plushies were made.

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The back of the hang tag has information about how this plush is for ages 4 and up and instructs parents on what to do before giving this toy to a young child. There is also the Galerie logo, the UPC code, the StarWars.com URL, the expiration date for the candy, and the lot numbers of the candy and the plush that’s pretty meaningless to anyone who is not in the manufacturing business.

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The next three photos show a side profile of Darth Vader and the bag of candy that’s attached to his arm with a red ribbon.

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There is another tag that’s also attached to the plush that I’ll call the tush tags because it’s attached to the tush. (I’m using the same terminology for the tags that Beanie Babies fans use.) There are three tush tags in all. The next photo shows the blue tag with the Star Wars logo.

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The other side of the blue tag has a copyright and trademark notice for Lucasfilms, Ltd. The white tag has the Galerie logo along with some numbers that only those directly involved in manufacturing would understand.

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The next photo shows the other side of the first white tag and the one side of the second white tag. Once again there’s information for parents regarding giving this toy to a child and manufacturing information regarding Galerie.

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The other side of the second white tag has the StarWars.com URL again along with copyright and trademark information.

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Here’s a photo of the romantic duo after I removed the hang tag and the bag of candy. I left the red ribbons on each of their arms because I was a bit lazy and I felt that the ribbon looked really nice on them. (If I had young children around, I would probably remove them in order to avoid choking hazards.) The printed red bowties on their necks really stand out along with the felt roses.

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Those two definitely make a nice picture with Ever After High’s C.A. Cupid (who’s the daughter of Eros, the ancient Greek god of love whose Roman name is Cupid and who is a major symbol of Valentine’s Day).

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One could even do photostories such as this short one I did where Blythe is trying to decide which romantic character she’d rather have as her Valentine. (Note the position of her eyes while she’s trying to make up her mind.)

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I’ll admit that I took those pictures outdoors yesterday when the temperature reach a high of the low-20’s (which is unusually cold for the Mid-Atlantic Region—that morning it was a whopping 18 degrees outside). After a few minutes of picture taking, I just couldn’t take the cold anymore so I moved everything indoors to my well-lit kitchen (I had the curtains up so the outside light shined through). The next few photos are focused on the candy that came with each plushie.

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I opened the candy and found that they were the usual conversation hearts that are prevalent this time of the year. The hearts came in four colors (purple, white, orange, and yellow). Since they came with Star Wars plushies, it was appropriate that the candy had Star Wars-style messages. There were a total of five unique messages—all of which were printed in red.

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In case you have a hard time reading the candy in the above photo, the messages are: “LUV MACHINE,” “NERF HERDER,” “MTFBWY,” “DO OR DO NOT,” and “MINE WILL U B.” I tasted the candy and they taste pretty much the same as other conversation hearts.

And here’s a final picture of the love birds lying next to each other. (I’ll probably go to hell for posting that last picture featuring some same-sex romance. LOL!)

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Like I wrote earlier, I purchased those two from Safeway. The only other place I’ve seen them on sale was at Target in the special Valentine’s Day aisle. It’s possible that they may be found in other stores but I was too lazy to do an extended search either online or off-line. I briefly looked on the website of the manufacturer (Galerie) and it said that the company doesn’t sell directly to the general public and one needs to buy their products from national retailers but there isn’t a list of which national retailers actually carry their products. I only know that Safeway and Target has them and my advice for anyone who doesn’t have either store in their area is to just look around at other big box retailers or grocery stores. If there is a comic book store in your area, I would give that a try as well.

Ever since late 2012 when Disney announced that it was buying the entire Star Wars franchise from George Lucas, I braced myself for the kind of spin-off products that Disney has long done. What I didn’t predict was the idea of turning Star Wars villains into Valentine’s Day icons. When I was in Safeway not too long ago I found these cute tiny plushies in the shapes of Darth Vader and a Stormtrooper each wearing a red bow while bearing a rose in one hand and a small bag of edible Valentine heart candy with words on them in the other hand.

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A few days later I was in Wegman’s when I saw this chocolate heart with an image of Darth Vader brandishing a light saber.

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I guess it kind of throws me off a bit because I’m old enough to have watched the original Star Wars movie when it was first released and, well, romantic icons weren’t the words that came into my mind when I first saw Darth Vader and the Stormtroopers.

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