Friday, July 26, 2013

Reminiscing about Roses.

Many years ago, Roses used to be a store on the same level of Target or Wal-Mart. There are no malls on the Eastern Shore, and it was at least an hour's drive to the closest one. So, unless you wanted to make the drive to Virginia Beach or Salisbury, Roses was it. Frankly, I never felt like I was missing out on anything. I could find everything that interested me under one roof. My store carried, GIJoe, Transformers, Masters of the Universe, LEGO, Super Powers, just about every awesome 80's toy line that I can remember.  It's funny to me now, but making the drive from Bayford to Onley was always exciting for me. It was a trip that we made just about every week, and it couldn't have taken more than half an hour, but it still felt like a little adventure. Knowing that I wasn't going to leave the store empty handed only added to the excitement, and  it was a rare occasion that I didn't spend my allowance on something in Roses. 

I spent a lot of time hanging around Roses, but the toy section and electronics were the only two places I remember. I can tell you within a few inches just where the video game cases were, but housewares? Not a clue. I'm sure I went to other parts of the store, but to me they were only delaying my trips down the toy aisles. The great thing about Roses' toy section was that I almost always had it to myself. It didn't seem to matter what time of the day it was, I was often the only kid in the aisle. Looking back, I'm probably lucky I was never kidnapped, since the toy aisles were in the back of the store, right next to the fire exit. Anyone trying to run off with me would have had a hell of a time, since my parents taught me to never talk to strangers, and to kick, bite and scream if someone ever tried to take me. Roses really did have an impressive toy section, and the ones you see at Target and Wal-Mart really pale in comparison. There were 8 aisles of toys, split up on either side of the main aisle. I'd say it was a pretty even split between the girls' and boys' toys. 

Last week, we were out and about, and made a stop at the ol Roses. I was bored, so I decided to take a few shots while I was there, to try and give folks a clearer picture of how things were set up. 

These two aisles used to hold every toy that I loved. The shelf to your left was home to Super Powers, and Masters of the Universe figures and vehicles. . The shelf to the right was the GIJoe section, and it's where I spent most of my allowances. Every inch of those shelves were packed with figures, accessories, and vehicles. It's where I first spotted and fell in love with the GIJoe Mobile Command Center. It took a lot of begging and pleading, but I was able to talk my dad into getting that one for me. Then he got to spend the rest of the night trying to put it together. That aisle would eventually become home to the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, then the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers. 

The back aisle was home to mostly sporting equipment and Power Wheels, not much different than it is now. There was a small section of coloring books there, and I didn't realize it until later, but they also carried multi-packs of comic books back here as well. The aisle on the left was home to Transformers, GoBots, pretty much all of the robotic toys. During one of their many change-overs, the GIJoes were moved to that aisle as well, and all of the figures were hung up on the section at the end. 

There's mostly just children's books and toys there now, but I remember when it was a great place to be a child. I bought many GIJoe figures from that little section, for the low price of $2.99 ($3.12 with tax). See that? I bought so many of them, that price is forever engraved in my psyche. I used to love the seclusion of this little corner in the store. It rarely saw much traffic, and it was a nice, quiet place to hang out and read filecards when you were trying to figure out which figure to buy.  I guess that seclusion also made it a great place for some kidnapping, but as far as I know, every kid that went back here made it out alive. 

It took a few years, but Roses eventually started going downhill. I think I noticed it in the early 90's, when they started carrying more knockoff toys, and what name brand stuff they did have was several years old. Remember the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles figures that looked more like their cartoon counterparts? They must have hung around on the pegs for 3 or 4 years after they came out. The only toys that were regularly stocked were the GIJoes, but even that stopped eventually. By the time I entered high school, they mostly stocked the kinds of toys you'd find in dollar stores. 

Roses hasn't changed much since the days of its decline. It's mostly a discount store, and they seem to carry items that have been clearanced out of other big chains. It's mostly junk, though I've been lucky enough to find some gems hidden amongst all the cheap crap.

These two Young Justice action figures at $5.00 each, for example. I remember seeing them in Target for quite a bit more. Unfortunately, these are the only two they had left. That's the problem with these types of stores. Their selection is very limited, so you probably won't be able to build a collection here. Most of the time, they'll only have one figure out of the entire line, so unless you want to army build with Batman, you're going to be out of luck.

I used to be crazy about some Hot Wheels and Matchbox cars. I never really cared about the tracks or the playsets, I just loved playing with the cars. My dad sometimes worked as a tow truck driver, so that used to be one of my favorite things to pretend. I also loved the Hot Wheels Bigfoot Champions line, which allowed you to customize the monster truck with different sized tires. I'd spend hours lining up my cars and having Bigfoot run them all over, then I'd change the tires and have him drive though a (pretend) mud pit. This Hot Wheels Custom Motors set looks like it could keep me occupied for hours, even today. It looks like it would push all those monster truck, race car, and war machine buttons.

The more I look at this photo, the more I'm tempted to go back and pick up this Matchbox Jurassic Chopper Mega Rig. There is just so much going on in this picture, I don't really know what to make of it. There is so much awesome on the front of this box, I don't see how a kid could want or need anything else. You get enough parts for over 25 different vehicles, two figures, firing missiles, and a dinosaur with chomping action. The box advertises "Infinite ways to play and build!", and I'm willing to take them up on that challenge. The best part about these Mega Rigs, is that all of their parts interchange. Theoretically, you could combine them all into one giant Mega Dino Hunting Undersea Aerial Machine. Man, what am I doing still sitting here? I need to go buy that one now, before someone else snatches it up. 


  1. Reminds me of old stores I grew up with like Zaryes,Woolworths and CSC. Lots of toys were bought at those places in my youth and they are all gone now. Time marches for man and toy I guess.

    1. It's amazing just how many toys those stores used to carry. I guess the smaller chains just couldn't compete with the big boys.


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