THE HARD QUESTION
My sixth-grade teacher was a nun who enjoyed scaring her students. "Did you say goodbye to your mother this morning?" she would ask portentously. "How do you know she'll still be alive when you go home?" We tried not to pay too much attention, but it was difficult to avoid being affected by her dire view of the world and her cheerful certainty that we would never get our place in it quite right. A lot of people choose to start up with dropshipping.
As I grew up I realized that there was something wrong with her (indeed, she was hospitalized not many years later with serious psychological problems), but one of her famous questions has stayed with me till this day, and haunts me still.
"Whom do you hate the most?" she asked one afternoon, glaring at us across her desk. "Whom do you hate the most?" she repeated, almost coaxingly now. "Go on, there must be someone. You don't have to say it out loud. Just think of the person in your mind." After surveying the room and finding, I suppose, enough guilty looks, she sat back in her chair, folded her arms across her chest, and said smugly, "That's how much you love Jesus."
"No, it's not!" I remember thinking furiously. "That was a trick! It's not fair!"
Trick question or not, it's straight out of Scripture and the truth it reveals has not gotten any easier to accept, even now, thirty-five years later and half a world away.
Whom do I hate the most? Hate is not the word I would use to describe my feelings for Santoshi, but I am quite sure it was people like her that my teacher was thinking about.
SANTOSHI - MY OLD TEACHER
Santoshi, divorced and unemployed, wandered into my life fifteen years ago. She was an emaciated, hollow-eyed ghost of a figure who approached me on the road one day, saying she had heard that I "helped people," and would I help her. Specifically, she wanted me to find a sponsor for her son's education and to help her set up a small tea shop so that she could earn a living. I told her I would think about it and beat a hasty retreat.
About a month later, on Christmas Eve, she appeared at our door. I have no idea how she found out where I lived, but there she was. It was pouring rain and freezing cold, and she looked like a drowned kitten standing in the doorway staring at me--her terrifyingly enormous eyes fixed in an almost maniacal gaze.
As it happened, my father-in-law had died that very day and my husband had already rushed off to Bombay for the funeral (our children and I were to follow the next day). In my emotional state, I gave her some money and promised to do whatever I could once we returned. It was the beginning of an incredibly frustrating relationship, the terms and conditions of which seemed entirely in her hands.
Over the years, she came to us with the most amazing variety of dramatic catastrophes, always calmly certain that we could extricate her from them. Her tea shop, which we did help her start, was broken into three times. She was beaten up by her sister and brother and done out of her share of the inheritance (she brought a plastic bag full of the hunks of hair they had pulled out of her head to prove her point). She fell off a moving bus and lay unconscious on the road until someone took her to the hospital. She had heat stroke while in Delhi and had to be hospitalized for intravenous hydration. Her roof fell in during the monsoon. Her son was bitten by a rabid dog. She had high blood pressure, asthma, and often spoke of committing suicide.
It got so that every visit--and there were many--demanded all the endurance and good will we could summon up. She had a habit of creeping in cat-like through the gate, without making a single sound. We would suddenly become aware of a presence at the window and there she would be, peering in with those eyes. Depending on our mood at that moment, we would smile wanly or sigh bravely and put the tea kettle on for tea.
THE BEST ANSWER
As time went on, however, my own life became more demanding and complicated. With three children (one of whom has a severe mental and physical handicap), a full-time job, a busy social life, and a house constantly full of guests, I found myself less willing to welcome Santoshi when she appeared at the door. I was even rude on several occasions, and each time she departed I would resolve to do better the next time.
Last week her son came to tell us that she had died, and the question my teacher asked so many years ago came back to me with a dreadful shock. There would never be another chance. I could never "do better" by her. She was gone. It wasn't a trick, it was real life, and she was the inconvenient Christ, the one who comes when we are least prepared to welcome him, the one who shows us just how much--or how little--we really love.
Happy birthday to us! At GH, we're marking a milestone: Our first issue was published 120 years ago this month, in May 1885. To honor our anniversary, we present our "best list"--top advice, cherished recipes, favorite furniture, most-wearable clothing, and much more. We hope these things we love will become your favorites too
BEST DRESS OF ALL TIME
Since Diane von Furstenberg made the first one in 1972, the WRAP DRESS has saved us from thousands of "I don't have anything to wear" mornings. If you have one of these simple, super-feminine frocks in your closet, you'll always have something that's right for your figure (the design is forgiving) and the occasion (this style can go fancy or plain). Chosen by both the Smithsonian Collection and by millions of women, a wrap dress will make you feel like a million bucks.
TASTIEST INSTANT APPETIZER
For decades, Southerners have been pouring pepper jelly over cream cheese and serving it with crackers. Our twist on this old favorite: Top a log of goat cheese with chutney. Other quick bites we love: multicolored tortilla chips dolloped with guacamole or salsa and a bit of sour cream.
FINE FURNITURE WITH THE SPEEDIEST DELIVERY
Once you've finally picked out that perfect sofa, you want it pronto--not in the standard "eight to 12 weeks" that many furniture retailers require for high-end custom upholstery. That's the charm of HICKORY CHAIR. The company gives you a choice of over 1,000 fabrics, from leather to linen, and will ship your piece in just two to three weeks. Hickory Chair has the fastest turnaround in the industry, says Jackie Hirschhaut, vice president of the American Home Furnishings Alliance. And it's starting a trend--expect to get quicker delivery from other makers in the near future. For information on Hickory Chair dealers in your area.
EASIEST WRINKLE REDUCER
Yes, the sun causes wrinkles, but squinting, laughing, and brow furrowing are also to blame. So you can either stop smiling--not a fun option--or try FROWNIES. These stick-ons help pull skin taut so that your wrinkles will look a little smoother over time. Put them on before you go to bed (or, as some fans do, a few hours before a special event), and you'll emerge with fewer lines on your face.
CELINE DION'S FAVORITE BACKGROUND MUSIC
None. "I rarely have time to listen to music," Dion admits. "When I have free moments, I spend them with my family. I feel like a lucky mom when I get to spend the whole day with my son," says the Grammy-winning star. "But when I do listen I enjoy Michael Buble. He's kind of like Frank Sinatra. I also like Renee Olstead. She's only 15, but her voice sounds like she's an old jazz soul. Her talent is out of this world."
FAVORITE FAMILY RESTAURANT
Our Web poll winner: OLIVE GARDEN. What do GH readers like best about this Italian eatery? The hot herbed breadsticks and the giant bowls of salad--both unlimited--as well as the delicious lasagna and reasonable prices. Our undercover diner reported that the activity menus and crayons kept her young boys occupied (at least for a few minutes). Though you may have to wait for a table, the fast, cheerful service makes up for any delay.
GREATEST GRAB-AND-GO SNACK
They're nature's energy bar. Packed with potassium, fiber, and vitamins, bananas are sweet and delicious, don't require refrigeration, and come in their own wrapper.
THE GENTLEST WAY TO RISE AND SHINE
The charm of the latest alarm clocks: Instead of jarring us out of sleep, they nudge us awake, ever so politely. There are clocks that chime a reverberating Tibetan bell, clocks that emit calming color patterns and chirpy nature sounds, and clocks that play your favorite Barbra Streisand CD on cue. Of all these fine choices, our favorite is the vintage-style Moon Beam clock from L.L. Bean. Based on a 1950s model by Westclox called the Considerate Alarm, the Moon Beam wakes you with a softly blinking light. If that fails to rouse after four minutes, a cheerful bell will ring as a backup for heavier sleepers. Best of all, it comes in four retro colors that will beautify your bedside table. This clever clock is certain to wake you up with a smile.
THE ULTIMATE WHITE SHIRT
If you're on a quest for a keeper, slip into a Brooks Brothers pinpoint oxford. Its clean lines are enough to make the shirt a winner, but there's another reason it's our favorite: After many cycles, it still comes out of the dryer wrinkle free; available in different colors, collars, and cuff styles. From a company that's been around since 1818, this classic is anything but old-fashioned.
BAKE-SALE TOP SELLER
Want to pull in big bucks for your cause? The Chewy Oatmeal-Chocolate-Cherry Cookie always draws a crowd. For our recipe, see page 206.
HOW TO STAND OUT AT YOUR HIGH SCHOOL REUNION
Yes, you could spend weeks shopping for the elusive perfect outfit. Or try our easy plan. Once you've decided on a pretty dress in a single, flattering color, focus on "the podium": the way you look from the bust up. That's all most people notice, anyway. "If you've never had your makeup done professionally, now's the time," says Holly Crawford, GH beauty editor. You don't have to spend a lot: Find a pro at a department store cosmetics counter; look for someone whose own makeup is subtle yet appealing. If you're traveling to the event, THE-SALON FREE to find a makeup artist and hairstylist in the area. If your face is a little fuller than when you were 17 (and whose isn't?), accessorize with long drop earrings or a pendant necklace. Your old crush won't know what hit him.
THE PRETTIEST UNBREAKABLE CHINA
... isn't really china at all--it's Corelle, made from laminated glass. You may remember it from the seventies, but you'll find it now comes in more sophisticated patterns. Like the old favorites, the new line of Corelle aced our Institute drop tests--and it passed the toddler high chair toss too.
SUPER-FLATTERING PAINT & LIGHTING
In the movie version of your life, you're the star and your home is the set. Why not choose a lighting-and-color combo to make you glow? Terra-cotta paint flatters all skin tones, says Kevin Lee, creative director of New York's Kenneth Salon, where the peach-hued walls and frosted fixtures make women look radiant. Home designer Stephen Saint-Onge's trick: Use opaque bulbs (clear ones have "hot spots" that cast shadows). To soften your appearance, he suggests using lamps and candles for multiple angles of light.
BEST ANNIVERSARY PRESENT THE GOOD HOUSEKEEPING ROSE
To help us celebrate our 120th year in print, Jackson & Perkins has named a rose in our honor. The lush buds on the light pink hybrid tea kettle rose have a musky scent and bloom from late spring until the first frost. And if you buy a GH rosebush ($19.95) from now through June, you'll be gardening with a conscience: Ten percent of the proceeds will go to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation. To order, visit www.jacksonandperkins.com/go/ghrose.
MOST PRIVATE KITTY PRIVY
It's every owner's dilemma: Love the cat, hate the litter box. No matter where you put that thing, it's always too close for comfort. The newest solution: the Harrisworks Catbox, a solid-wood cabinet that hides the litter box in functional style. Available in four woods and 15 finishes, it'll fit any decor, from country to contemporary. You can select a right- or left-side entrance--or a top entry if you have a dog with a nose for trouble. For cleanup, just open the cabinet doors and pull out the sliding litter tray. Models start at $149--small price to pay for a truce between your animal and your aesthetic.
BEST THING TO SAY TO A STRANGER AT A PARTY
To break the ice, ask "Where are you from originally or "How do you know the host. One or both of these simple questions usually get the person talking long enough for you to figure out what to ask next until the conversation feels natural.
KINDEST WORDS FOR A GET-WELL NOTE
BE REASSURING WITHOUT BEING A POLLYANNA. If you've suffered a similar ailment, remind the person: "You'll mend. Nasty as the ordeal may be, you'll look none the worse for wear. Just look at me."
FRESHEST SUPERMARKET OJ
We've got our orange crush: Tropicana Pure Premium Homestyle. It squeezed out the competition in our blind taste test of medium-pulp juices that are not made from concentrate. For our tasters, the fresh-from the-fruit flavor rendered Tropicana closest to what you'd get by using a juicer.
She's been entertaining us for years. Now the Divine Miss M shares her picks for divine entertainment.
MOVIESTHAT MAKE HFR LAUGH "The Producers! The funniest movie ever made." Runners-up: Some
Like It Hot, Office Space, Sideways, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, the Carry On series, and Eddie Murphy in nearly anything.
GREAT READS Chronicles: Volume One by Bob Dylan, The Alexandria Quartet by Lawrence Durrell, Mapp & Lucia by E. F. Benson, Love in a Cold Climate by Nancy Mitford, Holly Terror by Bob Colacello, Mrs. Greenthumbs by Cassandra Danz, Against All Enemies by Richard Clarke, The 9/11 Commission Report, and Without a Net, edited by Michelle Tea.
SONGS SHE LOVES Girl from the North Country (Bob Dylan), Smells Like Teen Spirit (Nirvana), 100 Years (Five for Fighting), A Change Is Gonna Come (Sam Cooke), Pirate Jenny (Brecht and Weill), You (Bonnie Raitt), Woodstock (Joni Mitchell).
FLOWERS YOU HAVE TO TOUCH TO KNOW THEY'RE FAKE
Is that really hydrangea? Artificial blooms from Aldik look so alive, it's tough to tell. Top floral designer Diane James uses Aldik stems in her arrangements, sold in upscale stores like Bergdorf Goodman and Neiman Marcus. Her tricks for making the faux look fresh: "Stick with shades of a single color--or two at most--for the biggest impact." Adds James, "Bend the stems to give them some movement, and point some flowers up, others down." To purchase a finished bouquet, go to www.dianejames.com and click on Retail Locator. Or, create your own display with Aldik flowers;
"Happy Birthday to You" really takes the cake. Its first six notes have been sung in outer space and to millions on Earth every day. If only its history were as simple as its tune. In 1893, two teachers, Mildred Hill and Dr. Patty Hill, wrote "Good Morning to All" to sing to students. Years later, the sone was copyrighted without their permission, with "Happy Birthday" lyrics. It was an instant hit. Now owned by Warner Music Group, it brings in a bundle every year.
THOM'S TERRIFIC DIY DECORATING TIPS
Watch Thom Filicia of Queer Eye for Straight Guy in action, and you wonder, How does he pull it all together? A few of his tricks:
LET THERE BE LIGHT. "In our current craze of overhead lighting, I still feel lamps are a necessity. They add warmth, texture, and personality," says Filicia. His secret source for lighting at a great price: www.circalighting.com.
PAINT ON DETAILS. "Want the look of fine millwork? If your walls and trim are different shades, paint three inches around moldings and baseboards in the same color as the trim."
KEEP YOUR SPACE ACTIVE. "Change pillows, throws, even some artwork every season.
BEST FOOD TO COME OUT OF A CAN
What's high in protein, low in fat, and completely cholesterol free? The humble but versatile bean, starring in dishes as diverse as hummus, chili, burgers, burritos, hoppin' John, falafel, cassoulet, dal, and all manner of soups, stews, and dips. The dry ones are just too much trouble for most of us to prepare. So beans usually means the canned variety, presoaked and precooked without sacrificing their texture and flavor. Hungry yet? Break out your can opener.
HOUSEPLANT THAT WOULD WIN SURVIVOR
Attention, green thumb challenged: All we are saying is give the peace lily a chance. This dark-green beauty can live in low light, go thirsty for days, and tolerate a range of temps. But what makes it a queen among houseplants is its white flowers, which can bloom all year.
PLASTIC WRAP THAT REALLY STICKS
Our test kitchen pros swear by Reynolds Plastic Wrap. It clings so well, you can place it over a bowl of canned berries and turn the bowl upside down; the fruit and juice won't leak. That means food will stay fresher longer and won't dry out.
BEST BEAUTY TIME-SAVER
Want softer, smoother skin in seconds? Our beauty editor took minutes off her morning ritual with the Healing Garden's 2-in-1 Moisturizing Body Wash with Lotion. Just lather up with this scented stuff while you're in the shower, and you won't have to bother rubbing on body cream afterward. Skeptical? Even a moisturizer-obsessed tester became a convert. It's great for shaving your legs too.
ACKNOWLEDGE THE SICK PERSON'S FEELINGS.
"By now, you must think this was your year to be God's lab rat. It's not fair, but in your case, He chose a sparring partner more than equal to the task."
WRITE SOMETHING FUNNY. It makes the recipient feel that she isn't in such bad shape that people are afraid to joke around. Was a friend hurt in an accident? Sample line: "First things first: Have you chosen your lawyer carefully? Yes, you say? Good. I hope the thought of a tidy tax-free settlement is a small comfort to you now."
IF YOU SAY YOU WANT TO HELP, MEAN IT. You could tell your friend: "I'm reachable at any hour for laughs or tears. Seriously, I'm a 24-hour emotional supermarket." And write down all your phone numbers for her.
FIVE WONDERFUL WINES UNDER $10
From expert Andrea Immer, price-worthy picks for red and white plus food-pairing ideas, so you'll be ready to wine and dine in style.
FIVE WONDERFUL WINES
From expert Andrea Immer, price-worthy picks
for red and white plus food-pairing ideas,
so you'll be ready to wine and dine in style.
WINE TASTING TIP PERFECT WITH
Papio "Chardonnay is drenched with "Corn, in tamales or
Chardonnay fruit flavor, and who doesn't polenta."
like fruit? Part of the
proceeds go to the African
Cline Red "With its spicy, peppery "Barbecue or Jamaican
Truck character, this red blend is jerk pork--pair spice
similar to a Rhone-style red." with spice!"
Columbia "Riesling has an extraordinary "Anything blackened,
Winery mouthwatering acidity; like chicken."
Cellarmaster's it's impossible to find a bad
Reserve food match."
Veramonte "This Chilean choice is red "Pesto on crostini,
Cabernet wine at its most powerful; it pasta, chicken,
Sauvignon tastes meaty and substantial, or fish."
like a good steak."
Bodegas "Spanish Riojas, like Italian "Braised meat dishes.
Montecillo reds, are a love letter to Or, more simply,
Crianza Rioja food. The need a meal to show manchego cheese."
off their best qualities."
OLDEST CONDIMENT THAT STILL HAS A KICK
British druggists John Wheeley Lea and William Henry Perrins created this brown sauce in 1835 at the request of a nobleman who was hankering for a mixture he had savored in India. At first, Lea and Perrins weren't satisfied with their concoction (a blend of tamarinds, anchovies, molasses, vinegar, onions, garlic, and spices), so it was left sitting in a cellar for two years. After maturing, it tasted terrific. When the sauce was exported to America, the bottles were wrapped in paper to prevent them from breaking on the cargo ships. We Yanks loved the tan covering so much that today the United States is the only country where Lea & Perrins Worcestershire Sauce is still sold encased in paper.
SMARTEST THING TO SAY IF A COP PULLS YOU OVER
Every police officer is different, of course. But we asked some of New York City's finest for basic guidelines. One advises: Don't get defensive or play dumb by asking, "What did I do?" Instead, admit to your wrongdoing ("Maybe I was driving a little fast") and apologize. Another confesses that he's never been able to give a ticket to someone who cried or to someone who had a Bible on the dashboard. Finally, another cop recommends: "Don't forget to tell the officer to have a nice day."
THE PRODUCT THAT CLEANS ALMOST ANYTHING
Simple Green All-Purpose Creaner can take on any job from washing windows to degreasing a barbecue. The trick is to dilute it to the right concentration for the task. For heavy-duty messes like oven grime, use half water, half cleanser. To take on carpet stains and no-wax floors, mix a few tablespoons into a quart of water. Or pour 1/4 cup into the laundry to fight stains. Best of all, it's nontoxic.
MOST COMFORTING COLOR: GREEN, GLORIOUS GREEN
Green is in the limelight. From pistachio to avocado, nearly every shade is sprouting up in interior design--in fact, at our own Good Housekeeping offices, the carpets are a serene sage. Why do we love to live with this color? "Because of its association with nature, green has a restful, calming influence," says Leatrice Eiseman, prominent color consultant and author of The Color Answer Book.
A blend of cool passive blue and warm active yellow, green creates balance and harmony. Actors and television entertainers chill out in "green rooms" before going onstage. Operating rooms use "eye-ease green" to relieve glare and keep surgeons unruffled. But green isn't just soothing-it's also unexpectedly versatile.
As nature's neutral, it mixes beautifully with a spectrum of colors. Grass green looks lush with warm chocolate brown; olive green looks anything but drab paired with turquoise; and pale green gets punched up with preppy pink, buttercup yellow, and robin's-egg blue. So add some verdant, leafy life to your decor ... your neighbors will be green with envy.
Water filters are compatible with most faucets. With some household tools and a slight knowledge of adapters and plumbing, you will be able to install a purifier on your faucet. There are some good water filter types in most retail or grocery stores. Pick the one that is reasonably priced and available when replacement is needed. The following are the steps that will guide you successfully install a water purifier on a faucet, which is also the cheapest water filtration method.
1. Find out what the faucet has for external or internal hardware at the opening. If your facet has a drop-down opening, unscrew it using pliers or channel locks. If it doesn’t have a drop-down outlet, find out whether there are threads inside the faucet outlet.
2. Look at the openings of the faucet and find out whether the drop-down was fixed to internal or external threads on the head of the faucet. You will need to fasten the filter base to the threads if the threads are external. But if there is a regulator, you need to take it out and attach it to the drop-down plumbing thread and screw the base in place. It is necessary that you take the faucet apart before shopping for water filter in order to determine what is required.
3. Wrap thread seal or pipe tape around the threads of the adapter and tighten firmly to the faucet head. The base of the water filter has an internal gasket that prevents leakage when crewed firmly. This step will not be necessary if the faucet head has external threads.
4. Fasten the base on the adapter or faucet head securely
5. Put the water filter into the base following the guidelines that come with the base and filter.
6. Read the instructions for using the water filter.
There is usually a testing stage for the filter where water will run through and then flushed. Several faucet water filters have LED lights that show when the filter is working properly and when it has stopped working. On the expiration of the filter, you only need to replace the filter rather than the base, but this may require re-priming the filter yet again.
Further precautions to take
Make sure you turn off the water flow before installing to guard against mistakenly spraying yourself. You will find the shut-off valve under the sink, which you can easily turned off by hand.
When removing the faucet aerator, make sure to use a wrapped cloth and remove with care to protect the finish. Do not discard the aerator because it will be very useful when you want to remove the purifier.
Your installation will be less tedious without the attached filter bottle, so unless you feel it is very important, leave that part for now. After attaching the water purifier to the faucet, assemble other units such as the water filter bottle and other parts that came with your system.
Turn on the water and watch carefully whether there is any leak. If you discover any leaks, tighten more until it is completely sealed.
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AIDS FOR THE DISABLED OF BENEFIT
To Others Gadgets, implements and equipment designed for easier dressing, food preparation, dining, communicating, recreation and mobility after a stroke, automobile accident or hospitalization can often serve others without disability. Purchase is possible by catalogue, but Westchester Surgical Supply, formerly of New Rochelle, has an extensive retail showroom in Larchmont where some items can be tried for shape or weight and suitability for a particular need.
The Home Health Care Guide can be obtained at no charge by telephoning 834-0007. The 72 pages cover medical needs (respiratory, ostomy, urological, incontinence, blood pressure and diabetic management); mastectomy products; slings, splints and braces; physical therapy, fitness and exercise aids; electrical nerve stimulators; magnifiers for vision and sound; canes, wheelchairs and walking devices; bathroom and shower safety aids; patient lifters and comfort and turning devices for bedrooms.
Other guides available through Westchester Surgical Supply include The Capability Collection by Ways & Means ($2.50 to keep, lists 1,000 products ''to maximize everyone's capability''; Patient Aid Catalog and Lumex (both health-care equipment and seating) and Special Products for People With Special Needs by Maddak Inc.
Hands can be strengthened by using a gripper ($5.50) or a forearm and hand developer or therapeutic putty (each $5); another hand exerciser, a rubberlike material within a rectangular bag for squeezing, costs $10. Muscle improvement can be noted on a dial showing the pressure applied to a bulb ($17.95) and aerobic weights for hands are $11. Dressing can be simpler using bootjacks, longhandled shoehorns, elastic shoelaces, devices to put on stockings, button hooks and zipper closers. Velcro -hook-and-loop closures for clothing and other uses - costs $2.50 a yard for each piece and comes in two widths.
For easier eating the store has utensils with built-up handles, bent forks, curved knives for one-handed use and grip-operated or lefty scissors. Swedish Rehab makes one handle for gripping dials of various sizes for $12 and an English-made gripper is $11; a tap-turner costs $7.95 and a thick key-turner costs $2.99. Kitchen utensils include suction-secured vegetable brushes, swivel peelers, reach-extenders, one-handed jar openers and nonslip Dycem fabric to facilitate food preparation and service.
Clear plastic, wide-based cups with double handles ($3.69) have tops with a drinking spout ($1.19); wide-handled mugs ($1.99) have a thumb rest; a no-spill thermal travel mug ($3.99) has a lid and wide spout and a clear goblet with wide stem and base ($8.95) helps prevent tipping and breaking of stemware. Flo-trol feeding cups for invalids, detachable rims for ordinary dinner plates, divided plates and rimmed dishes suit differing needs.
THE HOUSEHOLD STEPS
It can be fitted with safety strips, light switch extenders installed and touch controls added to lamps ($29.95). An automatic shut-off kelly kettle usa in the market by Russell Hobbs costs $24.95 and an electric pot scrubber is also sold. Bath transfer seats, hand-holds for tub and shower, cushions, curved-back brushes and one-arm shower aids can be got here. Pads for wet or dry heat, vaporizers and massagers are available and bent-bristle toothbrushes and angulated-handle combs help with grooming.
Telephone devices include amplifiers, light signals for a ringing tone and various holders and supporters for holding the telephone to the ear. Other gadgets hold playing cards, books or magnifiers; a battery-operated shuffler costs $13; and tables ($40) adjust for height and angle. Purse-sized pill timers ($8); pill organizers by the hour each day or week; collapsible cups with tablet storage in the lid and tablet cutters simplify monitoring of medication.
Westchester Surgical Supply Co., Homecare Division, is at 615 Fifth Avenue, Larchmont (from Route 1, or Boston Post Road, follow Chatsworth Avenue west past Palmer Avenue to just over the railroad bridge; turn left at the light, following Myrtle Avenue to the right past the entrance to I-95. Upon reaching a gas station at the corner of Fifth Avenue, turn left for one-quarter of a mile and the showroom is to the left with free parking; wheelchair access is from the rear of the lot). Open 9 A.M. to 5 P.M. Monday through Friday and 9 A.M. to noon Saturday.
Discount toy chains are learning to coexist peacefully and profitably in enclosed malls.
Six of the top 10 discount toy retailers, accounting for more than $500 million in sales last year, are primarily located in regional malls. Mall residents, including Kay Bee and Circus World, on a national level, and regional chains like Playland, K&K Toys, Karl's Toys and Hobby Center have all carved their own niche, vying for the same impulsive shopper in the high-traffic sites.
Steering clear of the pricing battles between the much larger, freestanding toy supermarkets, the mall retailers saw large sales gains in 1983. Kay Bee, for example, was up over 50% but the segment's success might be misleading.
Total volume for the mall merchants was still not even half that of Toys "R" Us, which rang up sales of $1.3 billion last year. Ninety-unit Child World, the nation's second largest toy retailer, almost reached 75% of total mall volume with sales of $360 million in 1983.
TOY SUPERMARKET SALES ASIDE
The mall concept continues to thrive. The chains, distinguised by their more expensive product lines or larger selections, are all, for the most part, cut from the same stone, featuring:
* 4,000-5,000 sku's of primarily basic toys;
* tightly planogrammed, 3,500-sq.-ft. units with goods stacked to the ceiling;
* attractive store fronts, offering seasonal promotions;
* comparatively high pricing;
* little to no outside advertising.
Catering to an impulse shopper, pricing doesn't need to be as sharp as the supermarkets but it's the high mall rent, ranging from $12 to over $20 per square foot, that makes everyday low pricing an impossibility. Most chains agree a 40% or better gross margin must be maintained to turn a profit.
The high rents paid are also a tradeoff with advertising dollars, and although the chains do advertise, mainly in the fourth quarter, it is primarily co-op funded.
In addition to the escalating rents, prime malls (over 400,000 sq. ft.) are becoming harder to find and the days of the one store per mall may be a thing of the past.
"If you look around at the larger, successful malls, you'll see two book chains, two record chains, two sporting goods outlets so it's certainly feasible to have two toy retailers in the same mall. Developers are all for it," said Richard Wilson, president of Greenman Bros.-owned Playland Toy Stores in Valdosta, Ga.
GREENMAN BROS – THE LARGEST TOY WHOLESALERS
Playland currently shares residence with 15 Kay Bees and 10 Circus Worlds and Wilson feels the key to coexistence is just being a bit different.
"We're cleaner and more upscale looking than Kay Bee and some of the other chains. Playland also offers collectible dolls, home computers and video games although we still take a competitive posture on the more obvious merchandise," said Wilson.
The chain carries collector dolls by Madame Alexander, Effanbee and World Dolls, all in glass cases, ranging in price from $50 to $6,000.
Greenman Bros., one of the largest toy wholesalers in the country, bought Playland a yea and a half ago, and will be concentrating on expanding the Playland concept to the Northeast. Currently in 10 Southeastern states with 40 units, Playland will debut in Pennsylvania, Maryland, West Virginia and New York by the end of the year.
The toy wholesaler also owns the freestanding Playworld chain based in New York but its size has shrunk from 20 to six units and the mall strategy will continue to be the company's main thrust, according to vice president Dave Yankey.
K&K Toys, a 69-unit chain based in Virginia Beach, VA., also operates two freestanding units called Toy Castles, but owner Kenneth Perry Sr. sees the future in malls.
THE REASON OF COST HIKES
Cost hikes of 15% to 20% for filler paper aren't expected to sharply reduce discounters' continued extensive use of this merchandise as the basic back-to-school stationery promotion.
However, discounter's efforts to counter filler paper footballing and generate higher margins from BTS stationery is likely to result in greater use of theme books as a more profitable seasonal promotional.
At the same time, chains will be delving into the merchandising of traded-up school supplies, just introduced by some manufacturers, as the pathway to more profits for BTS and everyday business.
Fashion in the form of licensed characters will remain an important factor for such products as theme books, trappers, notebook covers and stickers. The latter is a big draw among teenagers (see separate story, this page).
The basic school stationary business is expected to grow as much as 8% to 10% this year, discounters said. If stickers are included in the action the volume increase could hit 15%.
THE AFFECT OF PRICE HIGHER
Cost hikes for filler paper will be a new experience for discounters, as costs each year during the past five years tended to go down. Some discounters last year were spotlighting 200-count filler paper as a BTS promotion as low as 29^ to 39^ a pack.
Discounters expect to pass along filler paper cost increases to consumers in an effort to at least break even on this merchandise, while searching out alternative items for BTS promos and everyday school stationery sales.
Theme books are the favorite to get increased play because of (a) the higher 33% margin this merchandise already carries; (b) the growing consumer interest in this merchandise due to its better value when compared tojust bulk filler paper, and (c) the increasing use of licensed characters.
While relying on filler paper to draw traffic, Richway, for example, makes a statement in theme books by offering 10 to 12 sku's on an 8-ft. gondola.
Plain 40- and 70-count books are the top sellers, a merchandiser said: "You'll never get licensed products to sell better than the plain books because the price is higher. There's no way characters can offer the same value."
Danners featured notebooks in promotions last year with good results. The basic 70-count wirebounds went as low as three for $1, and 180-count offerings, priced every day at $1.77, were promoted at $1.29.
The discounter also cited trappers as another strong basic school stationery area.
Gold Circle's theme-book merchandising calls for offering 60-count notebooks, rather than 70-count offerings. These are priced at two for $1. The discounter also carries some licensed portfolios but "the business still isn't that strong," a merchandiser noted.
The search for other profitable school supplies for both promo and everyday merchandising has resulted in such discounters as Zayre, Target and Fishers Big Wheel adding licensed metal pencil cup holders to their mix. The latter chain has added three sku's of this item as a promotional trade-up from a cardboard cups, a merchandiser explained.
That old standby rebates is seen as a sales spur at BTS. Tie-in rebates between vendors, which is becoming more common, will help boost sales of a broader spectrum of goods, such as notebooks and adhesive tapes, rather than just a one-product offer, a Heck's merchandiser said.
While theme books and other items could show up more often in BTS promotions, filler paper will continue to be the mainstay product. Its promotional strength is evident from Hart's merchandising. A chain buyer said three different counts--100, 200 and 300--in both wide and narrow rules--are promoted. "None sells distinctly better than another because there will always be a demand for filler paper."