I remember the first time I saw or even heard of a dollar shop. I was home visiting my folks for Xmas in western PA back in the late '80's. I was horrified. What the &^%$ was a "Dollar Shop, I asked myself while driving by it.
It sounded so, Cheap.
All I could figure was that everything in it cost no more than 1 dollar. Doh, right? How did something so cheap and proud of being so cheap come into being, and especially... in MY hometown? I was bugged & bothered by it.
Now in 2005, the dollar shop, discount shop, .99 cent store, everything for a buck, whatever it's called in your neck of the woods... is as prevalent as McDonald's... one on nearly every corner of virtually every town. Where we live-urban/big city-they are everywhere. Within a one mile radius of our home we have counted 11 of them. Eleven! On one street alone, there are 4 and 2 of those are beside one another. How's that for competition?!
Now here's the weird part. They are sort of, kind of, great in their own perverse way. Lemme 'splain.
Ever need items like a mop, plunger, bucket, broom, superball, jacks, playing cards with semi-naked Chinese women... ok, maybe not the last 3 items (who knows?) but there is some actual shit to be had from these emporiums of cheapness.
I mean after all, do you really give a shit if your toilet brush came from a store called "Everything for a Dollar" or "Target"? It's the same brush with the one exception that the one from Target costs more because the store is fancier. If a Target could actually ever be called, Fancy.
I would even go so far as to say that the cheap discount store is one of the last strongholds of America's credo of Freedom Of Choice. The choice to not suck the tit of corporate big business.
Which reminds me, up the street from us there is this new place called "Hollywood Chicken". Great name! Cracks me up. It's run by two brothers from the Middle East which must be a tricky thing around here... folks are still fairly freaked about folks with olive skin and dark hair in these parts. Beyond the name, it took me a couple weeks to get the nerve up to go in the place... you know, risking badly prepared food, contamination, etc... all the stuff that makes for the gift that keeps on giving long after food has been consumed.
Well we did finally go in...
Beyond the fact that the two brothers speak better English than 99.9% of the locals here and that they won't own up to my questions that they must have been employed by KFC at one time or another... these 2 cats have got the chicken thing down. D.O.W.N. Cold rocked.
The Outside, crispy as a ducks ass on a beach in Mexico and The Inside- as tender & juicy as anything coming out of a house below the Mason Dixon line. The breading is light, moderately seasoned & spiced (enough to be there & noticed and not so much that the chicken itself becomes a secondary thing) and fried perfectly whereby it's not greasy at all.
If you've ever tried it, making fried chicken is a bitch. It's extremely arcane and mysterious in its nuances and finer points. Everything from flour and seasoning to oil type and temp... from chicken being cold or room temp prior to frying to soaking the chicken in buttermilk or not... it's all part of the learning curve and it isn't easy. Trust me.
Not only do these guys have the chicken happening but they've also nailed the accoutrement thing too. Mashed taters & gravy to slaw, biscuits to shoestring fries or best of all... their kickin' potato wedges (think huge potato cut into just 4 quarters, dredged in seasoned flour and fried in oil until the outside is crispy and the inside is soft and as cloud like as a perfectly baked potato)... All which smoke the offerings from ANY fast food emporium period.
Does this too mean that someday there will be a Hollywood Chicken on every street corner and mall food court?
Let's hope not... because it will then surely suck.