Have Bling, Will Tote-M

[imgbelt img=handbagloaded530.jpg]The rural convenience store does multiple duties as gas station, grocery, gift shop, and downfall for the purse-addicted.


[imgcontainer left] [img:utotem320.jpg] [source]Tulsa TV Memories

In rural areas some convenience stores swell with merchandise, becoming more like a local department store. They carry everything from potatoes to toys and, gulp, fashionable female accessories.
When I was a kid I was fascinated by what we now call “convenience stores,” little stores that sold everything from groceries to small toys. I called them all “UtoteMs” because there was one a few miles from our house named that. It had a big red and green sign and a stylized totem pole in front. I loved our UtoteM . It even had a coin operated horse in front. I could put a quarter in the slot (after begging one off my dad) and go for ride, grinning like a jack rabbit. Today, I occasionally slip up and refer to our local convenience store as the UtoteM. This usually gets worried looks from my husband.

As a rural long-distance commuter, I am dependent on the convenience store. I make a stop every morning at our local one in Overton, primarily for coffee and much needed conversation. If I need gas on the way home, I’ll stop at the big fancy one in Mt. Enterprise.

The Mt. Enterprise “convenience store” out on the highway is actually two stores in one: a fast food place and an attached store. It’s absolutely glorious. The bathrooms are freakin’ huge and clean, and the coffee is pretty good. The staff is always nice; somehow they manage a cheery greeting no matter the weather or hour. But what fascinates me about this place is that it’s much, much more than a convenience store. It is a small department store. They sell everything from beer and potato chips to handbags and gifts for all occasions.

Wait, did I just say handbags?

O.M.G. Handbags.

You have to understand, handbags (and shoes) are two of my addictions (yes, I have more than two). I love handbags. I love the feel of them, the satisfaction of being able to stuff my entire life in a single space, and the thrill of hunting for some lost object at the very bottom, buried in the faux leather darkness.

I buy most of my handbags either at the mall or online, and as much as I crave them, I really don’t buy them that often, maybe once a year, usually more like every couple of years. When I make the investment in a new handbag, it’s got to last. I still use handbags I got in high school – they are timeless, classic pieces (now  “retro,” so that makes me cool with the hipsters).

Buying a new handbag for me is no easy purchase. It has to meet all kinds of criteria. Is it nice looking? Is it well made? Will it suffer abuse well? Is it big enough to hold all my crap and not pull my shoulder out of its socket?

So imagine my surprise when I fell in love (at first sight) with a handbag I saw at the convenience store in Mt. Enterprise.