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March 10, 2008

March 10, 2008 — A while back, I took my brother to Garage-Off, a store I’d passed a few times and thought he’d like. It’s full of car tuner stuff that’s been recycled from other people who no longer wanted it. The store calls it “eco-friendly” car goods.

There are -Off stores all over the place here. They are stores that sell “recycled” items, or used goods. This particular chain goes by a variety of names depending on the recycled items it sells. For example, there’s Book-Off (books, DVDs, manga), Kids-Off (kids’ clothes, toys, gear), Sports-Off (skis, baseball gear, sports stuff), Mode-Off (fashion clothes) and the ever-popular Hard-Off (household goods, dishes, towels).

Even though we crack up at the names, the stores have the coolest stuff always presented in really good condition. In some of the stores they actually re-package the used items in plastic cellophane so they look almost new.

It’s always a shopping adventure to wander through the Hard-Off or Kids-Off stores. I have found the most awesome electronic alphabet toys that I’m using to learn all the Hiragana and Katakana characters. When you push the button corresponding to a letter, the toy will play the sound of the letter. There are also games that you can select where the toy will say a letter and you have to push the button of the correct character. When you make a correct choice it says, “pee pong!” It’s actually totally fun to play with this toy, and it’s helped us master our Japanese letters in no time.

This photo below shows one of the more elaborate electronic alphabet toys. It has a display screen that will greet you by name when you turn it on.

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