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Sunday, February 6, 2011


by JC Leahy

Having slept the night at the Wilson Quality Inn, we awoke Saturday morning in time to make it to breakfast  near the main lobby.  We had a very substantial "serve yourself" breakfast, including waffles, boiled eggs, juice, coffee, grits, and other goodies.  Our breakfast table was in a little glass sun room protruding from the main building.  It was a pleasant breakfast.

After breakfast, we reloaded the Chrysler minivan and hit the road.  We couldn't check in to our resort in Myrtle Beach until after 4:00 PM, so we had time for a leisurely drive. The wife wanted to see Saturday shopping scene near the hotel, so our first destination was the Wilson Shopping Mall.  We GPSed it.  Hardly had we left the hotel parking lot when she spotted Hope's Furniture Gallery and directed me into the parking lot.  .

Men and women, on the average, shop differently.  Men hunt, get what they think they want, and leave.  Women browse -- slowly.  I made a clockwise circuit.  In 15 minutes I had seen the whole store.  I had stopped to admire a few pieces, such as the Stein World 1-drawer chair accent/hall table #80865.  For each piece that stopped to admire, I spent a moment privately lusting for it, and then deciding I didn't have a place for it or couldn't afford it.  Then I was finished and moved on, and in less than 15 minutes I believed that I had seen and enjoyed the entire Hope's Furniture Gallery without spending a dime.  I lounged in a chair next to the front door, waiting for the wife.  She was still on the first half of her clockwise circuit.

Hope's Furniture Gallery had a light but steady stream of shoppers.  One customer carried furniture out to his SUV and loaded it while I was waiting.  Dali walked over to me.

"You're ready to go?"
"Yeah...I've seen the whole store.  But you take your time."
"Did you see that table in the back?"
"What table?"
"I think it would be perfect for your office, and it's on sale."
"Yes, it's a floor sample.  Why don't you come look at it?"

It was a black Home Elegance 3205 4-piece dining table set, including ottoman-style chairs.  It had an online price of $524 plus shipping, and here it was in nearly mint condition for $175.

"What do you think?"
"'s an interesting triangular shape.  Good color for the office decor.  It's the right size for the available space.  Yeah...this would be a great table for conferences with my tax clients."
"You saw the whole store, but you didn't see this?"
"No, I missed this.  You're the ultimate shopper, Dear!"
"Do you want to buy it?"
"We'd have to ship it."
"I already asked.  They said they could break it down and it would fit in our van."
"Really?  It has a little scratch here.  And the glass top has some scratches.  Let's see if they'll take less."

We summoned a sales person.

"This table has a scratch here, and there are some scratches on the glass top.  Would you take $150?"
"No, ma'am.  That's the least we can sell that for.  It was a demo item at a trade show and we bought it as such.  We need $175 to break even."
"Oh....and you think it would fit in our mini van?"
"We could pack it up for you and put in your van."
"That's an interesting print there against the wall," I remarked, motioning towards a framed antique  Japanese woodblock print lying on the floor, propped up against the rear wall of the store.  "Those colors would go well in my office."
"That's $30," said the sales clerk.
The wife walked over to examine it.  "It's old, she sniffed.  The paper on the back it ripped."
"Well, the back doesn't show when you hang it on the wall.  Let's see that rip.  Hmmm....would you take $25 for this?"
"Oh! I'll have to check with the owner."
She summoned a late-middle-age man, apparently the store owner.  I wondered if his name was Hope, but I didn't ask.
"They want to know if we would take $25 for that print."
"Oh, yeah.  I got that at an estate sale.  Okay, $25."
That is how I got my antique Japanese wood block print for $25.  We also bought the table and chairs, which we carted off in our van.

Wilson Mall was a typical, modern indoor mall.  It was apparently the main shopping mall in Wilson, NC.  We were surprised to find that half of the stores were out of business and vacant. The place was nearly deserted.  It was a scene of economic devastation.  The two anchor stores are JC Penny and Rose's Department Store. Rose's is a discount department store.  We shopped a bit there, bought a few odds and ends and then set our GPS for Myrtle Beach.

We took Route 95 South, and by now I was hungry for lunch.   A sign indicated that there was a Shoney's at Exit 47, so we pulled off and went to Shoney's.  We like Shoney's.  They don't have them in the Washington, DC area where we live, so when we travel south, we like to stop at least once at a Shoney's.   This particular Shoney's had an empty parking lot at lunchtime on a Saturday.  Two waitresses and the kitchen staff were on duty.  We had the entire restaurant to ourselves.  I had liver and onions without the onions. We split an apple crisp with ice cream for desert.  We gave the waitress a good tip, because that was her only tip for the time we were there.  Then, off to the highway again.

We took Route 95 south to Route 701 south; then left on Route 130, right on Seven Creeks Road (16 miles), left on Seven Creeks Highway (9 miles), left on SC Rout 9 (7 miles), and right on 9h Avenue.  Along the way, we stopped at another furniture store.  It was a large, warehouse style store crammed with fairly nice furniture.  There were 5 or 6 guys hanging around the entrance and two young, neatly dressed salesmen.  I gathered that the 5 or 6 guys were store delivery employees.  There were no customers.  We told the salesmen that we just wanted to browse.  We had the entire place to ourselves.  Again, I stopped at a piece or two and lusted to have it; then decided that I didn't have a place for it or couldn't afford it -- and then moved on. We discussed one or two pieces and decided that the prices at Hope's Furniture Gallery had been better.  We didn't buy anything and left.

We had reservations at the Links Golf and Racquet Club Resort, in North Myrtle Beach.  We could check in any time after 4:00 PM.  We arrived at around 5:00.  At the resort office, the woman on duty was very pleasant and assigned us to Unit 42.  Unit 42, like all the units there, was essentially a two-level, two-bedroom townhouse with a fireplace and two full bathrooms.  Unit 42 was neat and well furnished, but when Dali entered the master bedroom, she declared that it smelled bad and she couldn't possibly spend a week with this bedroom.  It didn't bother me, but it did smell like some sort of cleaning agent.  We picked up the phone, called the office and stated the problem. They moved us to Unit 8 -- which was a better location because it was right next to the pool, gym, and clubhouse.

Unit 8 looked nearly identical to Unit 42 and didn't smell.  That was good.  However, the two sets of sliding doors on the back of the ground level did not lock.  Obviously, this was a security problem, so I phoned the front desk and said that we couldn't stay in this unit unless the door locks could be repaired immediately.  I agreed to wait until first thing the next morning, and a repairman did appear and fix the locks early the next morning.

We unpacked the van -- everything except the table and the wood block print -- and then went over to the club house to check out the facilities there.  The first thing I did was ask the desk person if there was a heated swimming pool.  She said there was and pointed at a doorway.  Dali and I went through the doorway to an outdoor swimming pool, filled with water, night lights on, and looking ready to swim in.   I have been swimming more than a couple of times outdoors in freezing January weather in a heated outdoor pool, but still, I stood looking at the outdoor pool with disappointment.  I went back in to the desk clerk. 

"What's the water temperature in that outdoor pool?"
She laughed. "Pretty cold, I imagine."
"It's not heated?"
"I thought you said you had a heated pool."
"Oh, yeah!  You have to go beyond the outdoor pool and there's another pool enclosed and heated."
"Oh!  Great!  I'll go have a look.  What time does it close?"
"It's open till midnight."

With that, we went back outside, passed the outdoor pool, and came to a greenhouse like structure rimmed by glass panels.  Evidently one or more of the panels must slide to provide an entrance, but it wasn't self evident what which panel would slide.  When we found the sliding door entrance, we went inside to a sauna-like environment.  Steam was condensing on the roof panels and dripping.  The water in the pool felt like a warm bath.  I actually like warm water for swimming, so that was fine, but the steam and dripping condensation seemed extreme. 

I walked back to the office.  "I found the indoor pool.  Looks good, but where do you change?"
"There are men's and women's changing rooms on the back side of the clubhouse."
"Oh....that would be a chilly walk, wet, back to the clubhouse."
"I think you're right."  She smiled.
"Okay thanks.  Good night."

We surveyed the rest of the clubhouse.  There was an exercise room, billiards table, pingpong table, a snack room sans soda machine, and well appointed areas for sitting and reading or playing cards.  When we had seen it all, we went back to our townhouse and prepared for bed.

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