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A Downtown Jaunt

August 4, 2011 - Phyllis Sigal
Two of my favorite things to buy (besides clothes and jewelry) are kitchen gadgets and stationary store stuff.

Back-to-school shopping used to be a blast for me — despite the break-the-bank trips. Meandering up and down and up and down the aisles at Staples looking for notebooks and pencils and pens and book covers that were on the trusty list was a favorite pastime.

Plop me in the middle of a stationary store, and I'm in heaven.

Or a cooking store. Williams-Sonoma. Sur La Table. Crate and Barrel. Kitchen Collection. Le Gourmet Chef. Even the kitchen sections at Target and T.J. Maxx.

But lo and behold, I discovered I can be in heaven just steps out of my office door, right in downtown Wheeling.

My friend and co-worker, Heather Ziegler, took me on a little field trip to National Equipment Co. at 14th and Water streets. I was looking for a little single-serve carafe. Well, I found that and a whole lot more. What fun!

They had tons of fun stuff for the kitchen! Some of the things that attracted our attention included a great ice cream scoop that came in a myriad of colors to match any kitchen; a little gadget to extract the stem from a strawberry or tomato; a foam football that holds little test tubes (to drink shots from while tailgating, perhaps?); and a really nice pasta strainer.

Their specialty, of course, is restaurant supply goods, so they have all those fun things you see in restaurants that you think you'd love to make use of in your own kitchen. I've already got one of those little ridged sugar canisters with the little silver flap. It's so much better than a sugar bowl and spoon. Heather recently purchased a little contraption that holds her sugar substitute packets. We thought a thermal coffee/tea carafe would be a nice addition to our work desks, instead of a travel mug.

I was intrigued with the giant potato masher and a giant whisk — they'd make fun wall decor in a home kitchen! Although, Heather, who grew up in a household with 12 kids said those utensils were the norm in her kitchen.

While I didn't walk away with the giant masher, we both took note of several items that would make great holiday gifts for a later visit. And many of the items are a lot less expensive that some of the kitchen stores. A mini-muffin tin for $10! Such a deal!

Then I took Heather to Wheeling Office Supply, on Market Street. I needed binders.

But there was plenty more to check out. Highlighters in every color imaginable. Clocks. Calendars. Pens.

How about this: A holder for your hand sanitizer that has legs and arms that wrap around the container to keep it in place. So cute.

While we were waiting for the salesman to retrieve a few more binders for me from his warehouse, we enjoyed looking at the black and white photos of an earlier downtown Wheeling, of The Rex Theater, the flood of 1913, a former beauty college, Garvin's, a parade ... and lots of people.

In our little jaunt, I spent a total of $11.71 today in downtown Wheeling, but it was worth a whole lot more.

And just think what I could've spent had I been walking around inside those old photographs.


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