Pier 1 Imports Joins the Ranks of Kitschy Objet D’Arts Retailers

This is not the Pier 1 Imports of my youth – that was a store with intriguing, inexpensive knick-knacks from foreign lands and eclectic candy and snacks to boot. Today, the Cost Plus World Market is somewhat reminiscent of the Pier 1 of my childhood – great food section and a lot of cool knick knacks that won’t break the bank. I fondly remember shopping at a Pier 1 that was across the street from my elementary school – now the site of the Lincolnwood Public Library. I would pick up Botan rice candy and other little things for a total tab of a dollar or less – my mom never guessed that on occasion I saved my lunch money to treat myself to these delights.

The Pier 1 Imports of today is not inexpensive and many of  the housewares resemble the tacky wonders sold at Hobby Lobby. In December 2010 I received a surprisingly ugly holiday gift from an ex-colleague that I returned to Pier 1 for a merchandise credit. More than a year later, I decided to trade in this credit for some goodies – there is no longer a store near me, but I discovered one close to my parent’s house in the Village Crossing shopping mall. Well, Jeff and I were hard-pressed to find anything that tickled our fancy. There was a beautiful, heavily textured colorful rug from South America reduced from $49.99 to $34.99 – still way too expensive for a 16 x 20-inch throw rug. And I fear that our cat Pepper would have wreaked havoc on it anyway with her back claws.

In any case, as we browsed the store, once again we were taken aback by the ludicrous array of odd merchandise that is produced for the home. Here is a sampling of some remarkably kitschy pieces we uncovered on our recent expedition.

The giant flip-flop sandal wall hanging would be perfect decor for the outdoor pool or beach house we will never own. The phony baroque cross on sale for $29.99 is truly astounding – I think every Catholic church across America should own one of these stunningly authentic wonders.

I think what bothers me the most is that these assembly line pieces are parading as unique, multicultural crafts from faraway lands. If you are truly interested in purchasing nice handcrafted pieces to support underdeveloped economies, consider shopping at a store like Ten Thousand Villages.

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