Poundstretcher is, how to put this…It is a cheap shop. I don’t mean cheap to be synonymous with bad at all. There’s nothing there that would endanger your kids or anything like that. But it’s the type of place you go to buy industrial size vats of Nescafe coffee, or whatever the Chinese equivalent of a Pot Noodle is. I walked past one day I saw their poster advertising their Halloween stock and, like a moth attracted to light, I knew I had to go in there. I had an idea in my mind of what it would be. Crappy plastic teeth, some fake blood that game in a bottle labeled, appropriately enough, ‘Fake Blood’ so I entered and…
…well let me ask you this. Is it possible to be more right than you thought you were going to be?
I don’t get to the Halloween stuff right away. It’s there in front of me, just one aisle over to the side. But I feel like I want to make the moment last, like I need to build it up, so I go the long way around. Here’s where I hit my first snag. In front of me is a group of people sampling through the bedding that’s on offer. They’re picking up pillowcases, they’re observing packaged curtains that are on offer and they are not being quick about it. The aisle is small so naturally I turn around to go and, unbeknownst to me, more people entered behind me. The aisle is so thin that I can barely turn around anyway so I do what any normal person would do and also start flipping through the bedding and the curtains and the towels, safe in the knowledge that I’m completely out of place and at the mercy of these bargain hunters.
Swiftly there comes an opening and I leave them to it, convinced now that my leisurely tour of the store was probably not the best way to go about it. The Halloween goods are just down one side of the aisle, the other side comprises of some more bedding and pillows. Naturally my eye is drawn to an item and I can’t stop staring at it:
Just look at it! It’s in turn the worst and greatest bedding, or anything, I’ve ever seen. Affordable Style! the sticker boasts. Well of course it is. Whatever the cost is it’s too cheap a price to put on that style. I start to daydream as I pick up the thing and wonder just who would buy it. What person would go in there and stop dead in their tracks because they know, they just know that they’ll never have to shop for bedding ever again. Here it is, here is their Holy Grail. Then I wonder if it’s just a joke and if the two till workers up the front take a daily bet on who’s going to pick up the most gaudy item. Aware that I’ve probably raced to the top of the betting pool I put the item down, but I’ll never forget it.
Finally I get to the good stuff. I go from one end to the other, carefully taking in everything like I’m looking at one of those conveyer belts in The Generation Game and Bruce Forsyth is going to quiz me about it later.
If there’s one thing that Christmas and Halloween have in common, despite the love of zombies, it’s that it’s the perfect time of year to grab any old crappy sweet and label it Seasonally appropriate. Any other time of year these misshapen horrors of a marshmallow would be thrown out, but all it takes is one enterprising person to have a spark of an idea and all of a sudden they’re ‘Ghostly’. The only reason they have a picture of a ghost on the label is to trick you into thinking these marshmallows aren’t just factory rejects. They’re also ‘Fruit’ flavoured, which doesn’t sound vague to me. Which taste tester said “Hmm, I’d say this tastes of fruit.”. Didn’t anyone ask them what fruit? It’s not even just plain old fruit it’s Freaky fruit. That’s where I get scared. It seems innocuous at first, it’s just a season-appropriate reference of course. Or is it? What if they literally mean it’s from a freaky fruit? Why is it freaky? What’s made it that way? Do they mean freaky the same way Another Level meant it? If so that’s probably worse. I have too many questions and with no answers I trudge on.
I can’t say I’ve ever got the appeal with these witch kit things. I mean just look at it. For a start you will not look like the Woman (Is it a Woman? I can’t tell) in that picture. What’s amazing is that these kits have literally never changed in all the years they’ve been available. It’s as if they perfected the formula right away. I can picture the design team (Possibly one man called Raoul) standing back, a short gasp and a tear that runs down his cheek. He knows he has perfected the witch kit. Raoul was never seen again.
Do you like to party? If the answer is yes then keep reading, if the answer is no then…keep reading. Do you like Halloween parties? Then we got you covered. You don’t want your finest china to be ruined by party revellers dressed up in whatever ‘wacky’ costumes they’ve thought up. If there’s one thing I hate it’s the person that goes for the wacky and topical costume. This year it’ll be Jimmy Savile because of course, that shit is hilarious. Tangent aside, you want to get down to Poundstretcher and stock up on some party cups and party napkins.
Look at that. Gets you in the mood to party doesn’t it? This to me says “Yeah it’s spooky time, but we’re just here to have fun!” Who doesn’t want beer from a paper cup? Now I know what you might be thinking, “This is for a kids party!”. “Wrong!” I would reply, possibly with some smugness. It might seem that way but a cursory glance at the napkins prove otherwise.
Look at that ghost! Look how happy the pumpkin is! Thankfully this at least appears to be consensual. Also that’s either a really small ghost or a really large pumpkin. Would you really inflict this on a child? No way. This party is adults only.
Luckily Poundstretcher do cater for kids, which we’ll get to in a moment. But in the meantime we have this.
Halloween Tinsel. They’re not even trying anymore. Tinsel?
“Hey what’s that?”
“Oh it’s just my Halloween Tinsel.”
“Like for a Christmas Tree?”
If you get the sense they aren’t trying well that’s nothing compared to…
Halloween decoration. They couldn’t even think up a name for it. It’s just ‘decoration’. Never has there been a more vague item description than ‘Halloween Decoration’. It’s like calling an album a ‘Music Collection’. It’s like calling a dismembered foot-
Sadly that’s the only ‘Gory ___’ item in the range. It would be nice if there was ‘Gory Hand’ or ‘Gory Arm’, just to complete some kind of ‘Gory’ collection. A foot on its own is just weird. Like, who just takes a foot. WHY DO YOU HAVE THAT FOOT?
We can’t leave the kids out so here’s an outfit I wish I could fit into, if only to relive those memories of being one of the Cobra Kai who beat up Daniel LaRusso in The Karate Kid. You look like a Ninja that’s been in some sort of chemical accident and now emit a phosphorous glow wherever you are. I dunno, it sounds pretty Halloweeny to me. Of course that might be a little too light for you, a little too safe. Sometimes you want your kid to live on the edge, or perhaps you’re just a family or racists. Either way Poundstretcher has you covered.
I mean…that’s certainly something. Ok sure they try and justify it by saying it’s a ‘Ghost’ outfit. But we know the truth. You see those crosses in the background? See that they’re black? That’s cos this kid just burned them. Now I’m not saying Poundstretcher condone racism or anything like that, I’m just putting the idea out there that maybe this just slipped by their attention. The kid looks fairly innocuous I’ll grant you that. But hopefully if this article does anything it’s to highlight that you, friends, need to be careful out there on Halloween night. He might seem like a harmless ghost. Or he could be a vicious racist. The truth is you just don’t know.
Still, I didn’t come away from the trip empty handed. I did manage to get myself this.
With a spring in my step I left the store happy with my purchase, safe in the knowledge that I’ve inadvertently supported racism. And let’s be honest faithful reader, who among us hasn’t done that?