In a tight economy like this, with only so much retailing to go around, we’re all for the survival of the little guy. That’s why Bag Lady and Shopping Siren will only buy their tattoo sleeves and Mike + The Mechanics albums locally.

So it was with great relief we found Don’s Big Bargains on Park Street in Lewiston this week.

Think carnival midway meets dollar store meets Hallmark meets Goodwill. Clearly, you can see why it caught our eye. From pairs of simple, colorful hand-knit mittens to clear resin ashtrays shaped like skulls (adorable skulls!), and dare we say everything in between, BL & SS could see making this a semi-regular stop for party favors. Or for that salt and pepper collector in our life. Or for our, er, water pipe needs. (We currently have none. But that’s currently.)

Don’s is the kind of place where you never know what you’re going to find, and you never knew you needed what you found until you … well, found it. And we found it.

• DWK Corporation salt and pepper shakers, $9.95

Must be seen to be admired or chortled or awed at.

From the cute (a gnome with both shakers in a backpack) to the oddly intriguing (a blue dolphin swimming around two shakers), we’re almost tempted to rebuild our kitchen themes around them. Almost.

• Used records, various prices

Remember when music came on large, vinyl discs? Blast to the past with this selection of LPs, from the “Sound of Music” soundtrack to ’80s rock/pop band Mike + The Mechanics. Sure, these records are about 50 times bigger than the new iPod Shuffle, but there’s something to be said for kickin’ it old school. (And that’s the last time we will ever use that phrase.)

• Louis Vuitton knock-off purses, $15

Aha! Somehow, it feels like Lewiston has finally arrived. First the Louis Vuitton knock-offs, next an Olive Garden. After that, a Nine West? Dare to dream.

• Playing cards, 99 cents

These straight-from-Vegas playing cards sport logos from the Hard Rock, Boulder Station, Palace Station and the Green Valley Ranch hotels and casinos. They’re authentic looking, but we vouch for nothing after spotting the Louis. (Sorry, Don.)

• Tattoo sleeve, $2-$3.95

Finally! A viable alternative for those of us who want the completely tattooed look but are too squeamish to actually, you know, get a tattoo. The stretchy mesh nylon is all tatted up and, as the package can attest, “Looks Real!”

• Hand-knit mittens, $1/pair

Just like grandma makes! In fact, these purple, yellow and red mittens must be made by grandmas. We’re pretty sure.

• Pink Obama 44 baseball cap, $3.99

This hat is far cheaper than the ones we found on the official inauguration Web site a few months ago. Maybe Don’s bought the leftovers? Or we’re creeping back into knock-off territory? Either way, this hat will allow you to wear your political affiliation on your sleeve … er, your head.

Best find: The Lost Woodsman Studio whimsical polar bears, $3.99-$4.99

Very plucked-from-a-Hallmark shop. We spotted them online for twice as much. Grab a few of these bears for your desktop or curio before they go extinct.

Think twice: Plastic corkscrew, 25 cents (but please allow that it could have been misplaced in the 25-cent bin)

Orange. Plastic. Corkscrew. Yeah, see, we’re just not confident it won’t immediately snap in two and fling sharp pieces of orange plastic shrapnel about the room as party-goers cower and cover their eyes. We know we should be relatively unconcerned about our kitchen gadgets, but we really would feel much better if it were metal. Or priced somewhere above use-once-and-throw-away.


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