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At Least the Price is Right 

Skip the mall, shop for gifts on the cheap

It's a fact: The economy is in the toilet these days. With people looking to pinch a penny wherever they can, and the holidays less than a month away, why not save money buying gifts if you can?

A dollar store -- that ubiquitous brand of retail shops that sell everything for around $1 -- may not be your first stop when purchasing for friends and loved ones, but if it's the "thought that counts," it may not be a bad idea. I actually took a trip to my local dollar spot and found that there's plenty packing the aisles to fill a stocking or leave under a tree.

Looking for holiday decorations that will help you stand out from the pack? Pick up some blinking noses -- a la Rudolph -- and antlers for the family pet.

For the religious people on your list, you can buy The Bible on CD, The Holy Bible itself or perhaps a CD of bluegrass-styled hymns.

You can get your kids all decked out for their next drug-addled rave by purchasing any of a number of glow-in-the-dark items -- glow sticks, necklaces, etc.

The future hip-hop artist in the family will be well on their way with an assortment of affordable "Bling Wear" available -- Grillz, jewelry, sparkling belt buckles, etc.

Who doesn't like to be rewarded for hard work or a great play on the sports field? Not only can you find a variety of colored pom-poms, but the store also sells a large collection of award ribbons.

Maybe one of your friends isn't the cleanest in the bunch. The shop is stocked with a variety of household items -- such as household cleaners, auto cleaning products and hand sanitizers -- as well as numerous feminine hygiene products.

There are plenty of candles and figurines to help decorate the shelves of just about any home and toy instruments -- like a tiny saxophone or perhaps a set of maracas -- to help keep the mood festive and musical.

For those with a greater sense of humor, maybe they'd enjoy a whoopie cushion or water pistol.

It's nearly possible to get all of your shopping under one roof. Pick up a pair of reading glasses for grandma, deodorant for dad, glow-in-the-dark balls for your brother, a heart-shaped nightlight for your sister ... even food and drinks for a holiday dinner.

Can you ever really have too many Ramen noodles? Doesn't everyone's bookshelf need a biography of Ewan McGregor? How about some movie-sized candy boxes for those folks with a huge sweet tooth?

After all, it's not like the items have price tags on them. Who's to say that Now That's What Mom Calls Country Music CD didn't come from Target? Can you tell that the hairbrush you give your sister wasn't purchased at her salon?

While not every store may carry the Jesus or Mary nightlight you're looking for, a quick perusal of the aisles will give you plenty of ideas -- without breaking the bank.

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  • On Saturday, Oct. 21, hundreds gathered at Camp North End on Statesville Avenue for Charlotte's first black alternative music festival. We captured some of the bands in action on stage, but mostly we surveyed the grounds as fans, families, vendors and more lounged around the sprawling, colorful Camp North End site. It was a great day of music, food, fun, and sweet, autumn sunshine. (Photos by Mark Kemp)
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