99 Cents Store Stuff – Bargain or Junk?
This blog is mostly for us in Southern California, I guess, I don’t know about the existance of 99 cent stores in other areas. Most of you locals know how I like to glean bargains from the 99 cents store, which is sometimes difficult, quality being rather shoddy sometimes. But let us confine our focus to items of use to bicyclists. At any given time, there are four or five different bike lock-up devices at the 99c store; locking cables (key or combination, coiled or straight), chains, coiled cables with no lock, and padlocks. All junk except some padlocks and the 8mm 4 foot coiled cable. It is not marked 8mm, you will have to eye-ball the size and/or compare it to the 6mm cable which may be only 3 feet long. The padlock selection is pretty good, with both brass and laminated steel available. The usefulness of the padlocks is consistent with the 8 mm cable; a quick lock-up in a not-too-risky area. If you have a bike you want to really secure, get a good U-lock.
Occasionally, the 99c store has LED tail-lights. I have purchased the 3 LED version, and the 5 LED version. These are from the same manufacturer in China as the “Blinkie” lights available from Nashbar, I have compared the packaging very carefully. Also available are headlamps (not LED) which clamp on your handlebar and take two D-cells. I have had OK luck with these, another of our local riders has had one fall apart. For occasional use only.
I find bungee cords very useful for securing items to my rear rack but had resisted parting with my 99 cents for fear of the crappy quality of Chinese stuff sold by the 99c store which has at least three variations on this theme. They have packages of bungees containing either 2, 4, or 6 cords, sometimes even more. I checked them all for quality and stretchability. Only one of these is any good. It is the package of 4 cords, each 28 inches long. The others will only stretch to about 120 percent of their initial length, the 4-to-a-pack stretch to 200 percent of their length. End hooks are plastic-coated metal with plastic tips. Just the ticket for bikes, although at 28 inches long, you will have to double them sometimes, a good thing anyway, imo. An added bonus to these is that they come all attached at the center to form an eight-legged “spider” for securing large loads. I don’t use mine that way and have separated the cords by cutting the central ring.
I have seen bicycle tire pumps there; junk. Wheel reflectors; junk. So, in summary, the package of four bungees, item number 19955 is good, the LED tail lights are good, the headlamps are OK, the 8 mm 4-foot coiled cable is good, the padlocks are OK. All else is junk. Caveat emptor.