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Mack Williams: ‘Deals’ at tradition’s end

Mack Williams

At lunch the other day with my friend Rita, she mentioned that Danville Mall’s Sears store was going out of business, so maybe we should stop by to check for deals.
Entering the store, we were met with an emptiness of space almost as vacant as that time when we toured an old Dan River Mill building recently emptied and renovated for new potential business (unfortunately, the emptiness remains).
There were a few tools left, still where tools had always been displayed. From these “remains,” I was able to call upon my memory to resurrect some of the items in their original placing, like a bit of “retail archaeology.”
Before descending the downstairs escalator, I saw a few remaining washing machines in their original spot. Their weight dictates they remain there until purchaset, or packing up to be moved to a remaining sears store.
Downstairs, the few remaining men’s and women’s clothing racks had been re-positioned almost side by side in the center of that level, surrounded by emptiness all around (“Ozymandias”)
There were many bikini swimsuits left. A man’s bikini is called a “speedo,” but at that mention, my only association is the 1950s song by The Cadillacs (I’m a child of my times). I would have thought with all the recent hot weather downpours and soaring humidity even when the rain isn’t falling, those bikinis would have all been bought by now by women who want to sit in their yard chairs and be “at one” (almost) with nature, but I was mistaken.
With the end-of-store sale price reductions of 75 percent off, and 50 percent off following, one cashier told a lady that her bikini would cost only 66 cents. I told Rita she could buy about a dozen, in varying colors and designs, saving a lot of money, but she did not concur.
That “75 percent off, followed by 50 percent” sounded like one of those grammar school math problems purposed to determine a student’s proficiency.
Some clothing items remained long past their prime, such as a pair of bell-bottomed slacks. Another was a bright red blouse with a “metallic” look of foil woven into it. It looked “itchy!” A vest had the design pattern of chain mail, and was just about as heavy!
There were colors unusually matched to certain patterns (probably the reason for their still being unsold). One women’s blouse gave the impression of what a “blue jaguar” would have looked like (paraphrasing “The Wizard of Oz” (1939): “A jaguar of a different color!”).
Examining the women’s slacks, Rita put both hands on both “cheeks” and pulled (the pants’ “cheeks,” not hers). I had seen slacks with “waist-flex,” so Rita was possibly checking for “butt-flex.”
For just under four dollars, I bought a Hawaiian shirt which reminded me of Gary Busey, whom I always thought was “strangely cool.” On his old TV show, “I’m With Busey,” he once advised: “Don’t fry bacon naked!”
Rita found excellent deals on blouses and slacks, ignoring the bikini racks.
Seeing a pair of blue jeans with “Sears and Roebuck” woven into it in old fashioned style, I thought of the Wish Book I annually looked through as a child to discern the season’s offering of microscopes, telescopes and binoculars.
But it was plain to see without any visual magnification aid for seeing tiny things below or great things far off, that a tradition was coming to an end, at least in Danville, Virginia.

 

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