For the Love of Supplies

My mother-in-law and I were running errands the other day and she was going into Sally’s, the beauty supply store where average everyday people off the street can buy the stuff that hairdressers use in their salons.

“Do you need anything from Sally’s?” she asked.


“Do you want to come in with me?”

“Abso-freaking-lutely yes, I do!” I said.

I said I didn’t need anything from Sally’s. No one said anything about not wanting to go in there and touch stuff.

I am a supply fanatic. I love supplies and if I had a husband who didn’t once a year check our joint bank account, I would spend every penny of his hard-earned paycheck on enough supplies to run a good-sized office/salon/studio/workshop/school/out of our home.

Beauty supplies, office supplies, kitchen supplies, tool bench supplies and I don’t have a tool bench, and sewing supplies and I don’t sew.

I taught CCD for 10 years only because I wanted an excuse to buy gold stars, bulletin board die-cuts, and a lesson plan book. I may be the only person in heaven who can say she made it there not on good deeds but because of an obsession with teacher supplies.

You can imagine my relationship with the employees at Staples.

I think I inherited this from my mom, who was a fanatic over brightly colored plastic supplies. It was during the ‘70s when little trendy speciality stores were cropping up all over Liberty Township, Ohio, and my mom became their favorite customer. She started off with a set of bright red plastic measuring cups. Then tropical colored giant paper clips. Soon she had to buy the bright yellow plastic stacked bins-on-wheels to put in the kitchen to store all of her brightly colored plastic supplies.

I used to fantasize about having a business/cubicle/workshop/storeroom where I could put all of her BCPSs or, in a perfect world, open up Brightly Colored Plastic Supply World and sell the actual things that I love.

In my first out-of-town job I knew a woman who was not much older than me, but who had a wealthy family in town. Her father set her up in her own graphic design business. Her apartment was a duplex full of antiques and oil paintings and hardwood floors, but her studio looked like something out of the Ikea catalog. All glossy unfinished wood, chrome and red stuff. I thought she had it all and was very jealous of her and her shiny supplies. Until she got caught having an affair with her best friend’s husband and her own fiance turned out to be a dick. (I saw him get drunk at a local bar once and get up on top of the table, try to stand up and fall.) That’s when, at 22, I learned that just because someone has a cool house with lots of dreamy supplies doesn’t mean that I should want to be her.

In my last house, I had two desks - one in the study and one in the kitchen - and a spacious craft supply area in the basement. I had so many supplies that I started a new obsession: containers to keep supplies in. I regularly went to Michael’s with my 40% OFF coupons to buy baskets, bins, boxes and bags in coordinating colors with labels to organize my supplies. That’s when I realized that my love for supplies is really just so I can put them in containers, sort them and organize them. It’s my favorite part of owning them. I’m like an 18-month old with a pile of blocks and a couple of Tupperware containers. Then I moved to Florida, lost my big house and basement, and I threw a back-arching, arm-flinging tantrum.

So that’s why I didn’t buy the set of cuticle nippers or the croc clips or the salon client data profile organizer refills from Sally’s. Nowhere to store them. Except for a few brightly colored plastic containers I inherited from my mom.

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