Me: I would like to place an order
Other person: What's your last name?
Me (articulating very carefully): HamNer, H-A-M-N-E-R
Other person: Oh, does your family own Hammer's?
So anyway, how do you describe Hammer's? It's kind of like a Goodwill except the cloths are new and/or damaged (but not all of them). They have racks and racks of clothes crammed in, sizes are all mixed up, and often there's only one or a few of the same style. They also have tables and bins of cloths, but are they folded or stacked up? Nope, they are literally just heaped up in a pile. Sometimes theses piles are, I kid you not, higher than my head. The prices are a little odd, thing aren't $1.99 or $2.99, they're usually $1.88 or $2.88. I have to admit, on a marketing perspective, 0.88 is enticing. Oh, and hanging above the tables and racks, the prices are displayed on white poster board, usually written out ornately with neon colored markers.
They also have shoes set out on tables, but you generally have to pay fairly close attention that:
- The shoes advertised on the box are what's in the box
- There are actually 2 shoes in said box
- Both shoes are the same size (and color - watch out for navy and black, the lighting in there is flourescent)
- And, most importantly, that there is a left foot shoe and a right foot shoe in the box (I have personal experience with this dilemma)
The prices for the shoes at Hammer's are usually written on the underside of the shoe in ball point pen.
What's pretty awesome about Hammer's is the clothes and shoes are actually pretty darned good quality. It might be last years fashions from Belk, but who cares when it's 75-90% off? They also get damaged cloths, i.e. perhaps the person sewing the clothes maybe had a smidgen too much to drink and possibly sewed and extra pocket on the back, or randomly put an extra stitch on the pant leg. They also stock clothes with stains on them (this makes me a bit uncomfortable, but alas) or tears. All of these clothes are on the racks and in the bins, so anytime you find a piece of apparel you like, it's imperitive to look it over carefully. It really is kind of like a treasure hunt.
I think the shopper madness that everyone talks about during the holidays (which I have never personally experienced because I avoid all shopping during that time unless it comes from Amazon), originated at Hammer's. They used to advertise their specials on the radio, and I can remember one incident in particular where they got in a bunch of really nice, brand name table linens. Apparently that day there were people lined up down Main Street, and fights broke out over the linens. It was on the news and in the local papers.
In 6th grade they got a shipment of Guess jeans. These were THE jeans to wear in 1992 if you were an awkward 12 year old trying to be popular. They cost $80 in the fancy department stores. Every middle school girl in Anderson County had plans to visit Hammer's that week. If memory serves me correctly, the story was a tractor trailer truck had overturned and spilled Guess jeans all over I-75. I now suspect that story was probably made up by a 7th grader.
My mother, bless her, took me and I got my pair. For $11.88. They were purple. And my crowning glory for a year. Or two. Then, in 8th grade I discovered Nirvana and Pearl Jam and decided that all brand name cloths were a waste of money, so I cut them off into shorts and ripped the logo off the pocket. Such a rebel - but I wore them until I was 16 or so.
Hammer's used to be in the older part of Clinton in this neat old building with creaky hardwood floors and exposed plumbing. It was 2 levels, the stairs going down to the lower level had a hand written sign with an arrow pointing down that said "BARGAIN BASEMENT." That was where my favorite spot was - a table with a mound of cloths - a mix of men's, women's, and children's cloths - with a sign above that simply said, ".88!!!." I have a Banana Republic shirt I bought as a junior in high school, that I still wear (it's a bit tight since I had Ian, but by golly I can still wear it!).
About 10 years ago it moved to the site of the former Piggly Wiggly grocery store on the opposite side of town. That made me a little sad, I'm sorry but the new building just doesn't have the same character. I mean, come on, there's no more Bargain Basement!!!
Side note about the Piggly Wiggly: Is that not the most awesome name for a grocery store?? It was a chain, and folks around here affectionately referred to it as "the Pig." My brother worked there when he was in high school, and I remember years later him telling me about the late night "turkey bowling" that took place. It involved 2 liter Cokes and a frozen turkey. Nice. I thought here were no more Pigs in existence, but alas I was wrong. We have a friend that moved to a small East Tennessee town. He threw a party over the summer, and sent us a message saying, "Do not wait until you get here if you want nice beer, the Pig doesn't have a good import selection." Glory be, the Pig lives on!
Anyway, so although Hammer's is now in the old Piggly Wiggly, I guarantee there is still a large portion of Clinton that refers to it as "the Pig."
In addition to clothes and shoes, Hammer's also sells some other things. Like every flavor of Moon Pies imaginable, a few other random grocery items, silk flowers to be put on grave sights, DVD versions of every cowboy movie ever made. In the spring they get in a huge shipment of strawberries (yum!). My mom made a batch of freezer jam this past year and it was delicious. And - the point of this entire post - they have a ridiculous number of rugs in all shapes and sizes.
We have a small space in the living room set aside as a place for Ian to play. I've been spreading out a quilt over the hardwood floor, but as he is getting more mobile, it's getting more risky getting up and down off of the floor. Quilts on polyurethaned floors are slick, slick, folks - especially when you're picking up a 20+ pound squirmy baby. For J's, mine, Ian's, his Meemaw, and Mamaw's safety I decided that we needed to get an actual rug.
I've been looking at Home Depot, KMart, WalMart, but I just couldn't find anything in a style that I liked that was under $90. I am not paying that much money for something that is like to be accepting pee, poop, spit up, vomit, food, and goodness knows what else. Then, I remembered that rugs at Hammer's.
So I packed the fatty up in the car and off to Clinton we went. This was his first visit out of utero. I went once when I was about 6 months pregnant, but I didn't stay long. Maybe it was the hormones, but the clientele that day looked like they had just left rehab. Not kidding. Thought I was going to get mugged in the store. This visit was much more pleasant. It was LOL day. Nope, not what you're thinking. It was Little Old Lady day at Hammer's. And there's nothing better to a little old Southern lady than seeing a fat baby in a baby carrier that will flirt with anyone. I think he made about 10 ladies' day.
And we found a rug! For 29.95 (the rug prices always end in 95, and are written on the underside of the rug in black marker)! Not too shabby looking, eh?
And although it has a defect he doesn't mind in the least.
He's happy as long as he can play with his toys!