Thursday, June 4, 2009

A Fine Vintage

Happy June, everyone! Let me tell you about a store I visited recently.

Doesn't that look inviting!

What we are looking at in this picture is actually the back entrance; the front entrance to the store is inside the Cherryhill Village Mall, a small one-floor shopping centre surrounded entirely by retirement communities. This probably goes a ways towards explaining why most of the rest of the mall closes at 8:00 on weekdays, at 6:00 on Saturdays and at 5:00 on Sundays. In fact that's why I even went into this convenience store, Bob's Westown Varieties, in the first place; I wanted to buy some cough drops, and the Shoppers Drug Mart (as well as most everything else) had already long since closed.

It's not the prettiest architecture, as you can tell from the above -- and as you could probably figure out by noting that there are zero pictures of the mall on its own website -- but inside these walls you will find hidden treasures. Mystical, ancient, mysterious artifacts of eras since gone by. The store may not have had cough drops, but along its hallowed walls I did find something interesting enough to warrant further comment.

Behold as I beheld what curiosity and two dollars can find you in a London, Ontario convenience store:

Happy Birthday! (Well, I'm sure somewhere it's somebody's birthday, anyway.)

Along one of the walls in the back of the narrow store, mingling with various hand tools and sets of cheap pencils, was a peg of Sesame Street and Muppet Babies candles. Pretty retro-looking, right? They may not be the prettiest things, but I admired the initiative that (I assumed) the Disney Corporation must be taking to revive its franchise holdings by targeting the nostalgia market.

A reasonable assumption, right? Right! It just wasn't the right one, because when I flipped them over to see when they had been made I found out that they aren't retro -- they're just amazingly, amazingly old.

This is no Disney product; in fact, this even predates the original attempt to sell the Jim Henson Company to Disney, and that was in freaking 1990. This predates the Jim Henson Company name! These candles were manufactured in 1988, back when Muppet Babies was actually still on the air -- and somehow they have managed to sit, unpurchased and undetected, on the wall pegs of a London, Ontario mall convenience store for the past twenty-one years.

Until I bought two. Hell, why not? They were a dollar each, and I'm sure I'm bound to run into somebody having a birthday eventually. Besides, a little misshapen though they may be, they're actually pretty fun to look at:

Relics of a bygone era, aren't they? I was giving Disney (or anybody, really) way too much credit when I initially assumed that they were modern products, because just to look at them you can feel the eighties practially radiating off of them. The half-French packaging is how you can tell they were intended for the Canadian market, if the Toronto address didn't also give it away; even the sticker on each candle cheerfully proclaims "Bon Fete", even though you're expected to just cover it up with one of the cardboard numbers on the back of the package.

This may sound like an implausible story, but candle aficionados need not take my word for it; there are actually two more of these still hanging in that store, one of each character. So if you're in London, Ontario and want to surprise the crap out of somebody on their birthday -- or want to hock them on eBay, I guess, if you think you can turn a profit on them -- get on down to Bob's Westown Varieties! For all your hilarious twenty-one-year-old birthday candle needs!

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