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by Jeff Wilkin

Type A To Z

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Features reporter Jeff Wilkin on pop culture

Supermarket Sweep

I’ll admit it — I’ll even admit it with pride. When I’m wandering supermarkets or department stores, I’m always looking for bargains.

If Tabasco sauce is one sale, I’ll stock up. Same thing with ketchup, mustard and spices. When the world is about to blow up and society has given up the ghost, you can be sure the barbecue finale in my back yard will be well supplied. Even if my guests and I are putting Heinz on toasted crackers.

During the past few Januaries, I’ve really pulled in some deals at supermarket and drug stores. Christmas has ended and deep discounts have been all over the place. I’ve stocked up on three-foot long Santa Claus hats — originally $9.99 — for a buck. I’ve bought candles for 9 cents each, remote control cars and trains for $6, light sets for a dollar or two. A couple of years ago, I noticed holiday aftershave and cologne sets at 75 percent off. So I grabbed about four sets, with two or three bottles in each. I’ll be wearing Pierre Cardin, Jovan Musk and Halston around the office for the next couple of years. Couldn’t find any English Leather, not even the company’s once famous “soap on a rope,” a gift my brother and I always received during our younger days.

But this year ... has been a disappointment. I don’t know if the economy is just lousy, or maybe these store executives have said “Enough with the Christmas toys, decorations and electronics already! We’ve been getting stuck with EVERYTHING ... we’ve getting KILLED during these 75 percent off sales!”

I kind of think the latter explanation is in play. My favorite supermarket chain didn’t have much of anything for Christmas this season, and my favorite chain drug stores have also wised up. I managed to find red and green tissue paper at 74 cents — way off the original $2.99 price. Bought five. And I grabbed eight roles of white Christmas wrapping paper — decorated with royal blue and navy blue snowflakes — for 50 cents each. I’m not really hoarding the stuff ... the paper will be used to decorate long tables at next November’s gala Wilkin Family Christmas Party in Rochester.

But votive candles, small Christmas trees, battery-operated candles, toys — zilch, nada, El Sweep-o. The Valentine’s Day stuff is on the shelves quicker than ever. I’m not in the market for hearts and flowers.

The Christmas rush has ended. For me, the Christmas bargains never showed up. Like the kid who didn’t get an air rifle this past December 25, I guess I can always wait ’til next year.

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