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Tuesday, January 17, 2006

A 99 Cent Challenge...

This a challenge set forth to me, and I wanted to extend it to anyone interested in a friendly little competition.



~Background~

I was complaining to someone recently that I have the worst luck at thrift stores finding anything really great...That one "score" that remains a cherished object in your home forever...The one thing that you wonder how someone ever parted with it.

Well, I have my theories about why the thrift stores around here are cleaned out, but one place I do have good discount shopping luck at is the "dollar store"
(including 97, 98, and 99 cent stores). I almost always can find a treasure at the dollar store, be it an item that was overstocked at a retail store, or a cheap item that I can re-purpose to look like it cost more than a dollar.

The dollar store is also my first stop when I am planning a party. No matter what the theme, I have always found something that can be used for serving, decor, or party favors. And mind you, these "treasures" are things that other people cannot believe I found at the dollar store. The dollar store is also good for gift basket fillers. For example, I recently included a 99 cent burp cloth with a baby shower gift for a friend. She held it up at the shower and exclaimed how it was the cutest burp cloth she had ever seen (she was being honest - I know her sarcasm). I held my breath and looked around, worried that others had probably seen the same burp cloth at the 99 Cent Only store. A couple of people looked suspicious, and maybe they clued the mother-to-be in later. The rest of the gift cost a lot more than 99 cents, so hopefully I am vindicated.

The one aspect of the dollar stores I have not delved into to any extent is the food. There is the occasional box of crackers or candy bar, but I have not bought any meal fixings there. I am intrigued by some of the labels, and a decent portion of the food at one store even claims to be organic.

~Challenge~

The challenge that was proposed to me, and now I propose to you, is to make a "gourmet" meal and set a "nice" table using nothing but items from the dollar store. You can get as into it as you like, but it will be more fun the more items you include in the setting of the table and preparing the meal that came from the dollar store (keeping in mind a lot of the food items are 2 or 3 for 99 cents).

Price Limit: I guess we should set a price limit - maybe $40? That is cheaper than eating out at a nicer restaurant, and maybe you will even get some new dishes out of it.

Eligible Stores: The main chain dollar stores around here are the 99 Cent Only store, and the Dollar Tree, but any store that sells all of its items for a dollar or less would be eligible. The Target Dollar Spot is also fair game. Of course, you may have to supplement your food or decor items with items from other stores/sources, but think how much fun it will be to show off how many items you obtained at a particular dollar store!

Deadline: How about we set the deadline of Sunday, February 5? Send me a picture and description and cost of the items used in the preparation and presentation of your meal via email (thefeltmouse@gmail.com), and I will post a blog entry where we can vote on the best submission(factors to consider include high usage of dollar store items, creativity, and pulling it all together). If "voting" through the comments section of that blog entry does not seem to be working, I will take the top 3 entries to my local 99 Cents Only store and have the clerks decide the winner.

**PRIZE**: I'm sorry I cannot offer more, but I kind of get the feeling this is going to be a "competition" of one (heh heh - nervous self-doubting laugh). But the prize, with the hope that there is more than my entry, is a $25 gift card to Maggiano's Little Italy restaurant (also good at Chilis, Macaroni Grill, On the Border, Corner Bakery, and Big Bowl Asian Kitchen). I guess some of these restaurants are located internationally, so if you have an equivalent of a U.S. $1 store and at least one of these restaurants nearby, by all means enter!

Other notes: Remember to look for items that can be used differently than intended! And have fun! Email me with an any questions.

Small Print: I've never done anything like this before, so I'm not really sure what to expect. I doubt it will get out of hand, but if it does I reserve the right to cancel the contest at any time.

15 comments:

Pink Rocket said...

Ooh! Very, very interesting...I am a Dollartree shopping machine! I've gotten as far as the spices and chips but I'll play! This sounds fun! Gourmet dinner for okay?

my house is cuter than yours said...

He He! This sounds like fun!

BT said...

...wait, am I the guinea pig?!

Pink Rocket said...

That was was suppose to say "gourmet dinner for one, okay?"

Barb said...

How cool. Reminds me of Project Runway and how they had to find something at the grocery store to make an outfit with (corn husks, a beach chair...). I will have to go shopping!

Jennifer said...

Gourmet dinner for one, or one hundred (can you imagine?)is fine! Oh, and if you can make an outfit from dollar store finds, you would surely get extra credit!

Pink Rocket said...

Hey, my DollarTree has some horrible Bill Cosby-esque sweaters!

my house is cuter than yours said...

Yes...BT you are the guinea pig!Damn, Jen, he found out!

Miss Eagle said...

Now I'm sure you don't want to enter into correspondence with everyone re the rules but can you make an exception for an Aussie. You see in Melbourne we have $2 shops (could this be the rate of exchange: the US has 99c stores and we have $2 ones?). Am I allowed to spend no more than $2 or search there or at our op shops (your thrift shops) for $1 items. My daughter recently bought a 20 piece dinner set for $10 at an op shop. Can this be included (50c a piece)? I also nick stuff from people's hard waste placed on their footpaths twice yearly for the Council pick up. Can I use this stuff? I don't want to get the prize - don't recognize any of those names as being in Melbourne - but would love to compete in the challenge just for the....challenge.

Barb said...

I know when Craftster has challenges, they have a page where readers can vote for their favorites all at one place. So maybe it would be best if you have links to all the posts and people can vote here? Just an idea. Or you can post on flickr and people can comment there. You could have a annual challenge or something (or more often without the prize, or you can pass the baton every month until it comes back to you in a year, with people coming up with other challenge ideas....). I guess it depends how many people want to play. I posted about it on my blog too, so we'll see I guess. I love challenges--I think they're fun, and a great way to find new blogs and meet new people.

Jennifer said...

Thanks for the ideas, Barb! I am a little worried about getting anough traffic to my site to vote on the entries...but so long as the participants promote their entry on their own site, we'll find a way to get people to vote on 'em.

petulant said...

OK, I'm in...

Going to have to use Poundland, which at current rate of exchange is a little more than a dollar, but I'm pleading higher cost of living in England as a reason... not at all sure they sell any thing to eat, mind, so may also have to go for less-than-a-pound stuff at equivalents of Target.

This is gonna be fun...:)

Jennifer said...

Glad to have one more! It will be fun to see what they sell at "Poundland."

the sideshow podcast said...

Bummer! I just found this today (through Ms. House here on blogspot), and it's too late -- all our dollar stores are closed for the day.

If you do this again sometime, though, I'm in! :)

Typefiend & Chiffonade said...

Hi! You might enjoy Operation Penny Pinch, a project that we did a couple of years ago.

http://opp.livejournal.com/