There are many reasons why you might be gadget hunting at your local convenience store. Perhaps you’ve just run out of iPhone battery and you need to call your friend to tell him you’ll be late to the arboretum. Or maybe you need to pick up some headphones so you can listen to the mp3 guided tour of the arboretum you downloaded. Or it might be that you’re looking to buy some batteries to pelt at the trees in the arboretum. No matter the case, I checked out a nearby Walgreens and here’s a guide to the gadgets you can pick up there, if the need should arise.
Overall impression: Walgreens has an impressive and expansive gadget section, nestled securely by the registers. Its selection is only matched by its commitment to anachronism. The technology here spans from computer accessories to smart phones to watch batteries to digital cameras to personal grooming. Likely hundreds of thousands of dollars went into researching and developing which gadgets were most essential to stock, and it’s clear to me now that was a colossal waste of money. However the overwhelming selection and its unplaceable charm made up for its idiosyncracies.
USB Cable ($15.99)
This seems like one of your standard “I need this right now and it’s 11:30 p.m. and my report is due tomorrow,” gadget, so it was the first thing I checked to make sure Walgreens had. They did. This was there.
5 CD-R Pack ($3.99)
This caught my eye due to a gaudy “Hot Buy!” (exclamation theirs) sign next to it. I thought I had happened across a great deal circa 2002, but I realized that on the packaging itself, it was labeled $3.99, so Walgreens didn’t have my back at all, their hands were just tied.
Walgreens “Easy Save” 4GB USB ($11.99)
This USB was heavily branded with “Easy Save” logos, a clear Walgreens store-brand. Interstingly enough, there was no other “Easy Save” merchandise available for purchase. For an extra $5, you could upgrade to a Minnie Mouse, Spongebob, or Hello Kitty design. No word if other anthropomorphic USB drives were on backorder.
3 VHS ($8.49)
Walgreens also offers the bonus treat of being a gadget museum as well. My neighborhood is apparently devoid of audio/visual collectors, as the VHS was stocked to the brim.
Hi 8 Tapes ($11.99)
If VHS wasn’t far enough back in time for the Walgreens curators, this more obscure tape format is also available.
Cassette 5 pk ($7.99)
And some history for you music lovers!
Every battery ever made (prices vary)
Not only does Walgreens stock everything from AAA-D, they also have really obscure little batteries that no one ever buys. Looking for the circular CRP216? Walgreens has you. Looking for the also circular LR1154? Walgreens is all over that. If you ever wanted to replace the batteries in the Biker Rats From Mars watch you got in that box of Rice Krispies Treats cereal in 1994, I will stake my reputation on Walgreens having it.
$5 USB cigarette lighter, $8 iPhone cable, $10 USB wall charger
I’m listing all of these together because they are displayed in the same case. These are the essentials for getting precious power to your even more precious iPhone. I imagine this is some ploy on Americans’ desire to collect the entire sets of things. They even come in different colors for you to collect. Lime green is one of these colors. At $18 for a cable/wall charger bundle, this was the one product cheaper than buying elsewhere ($20 at the Apple store).
Boost Mobile Smartphone $59.99
For everyone looking for that “I just bought a smart phone from Walgreens” swag, this is an absolute steal.
Kodak Picture Kiosk (Unlisted)
This machine allows you to plug your camera in and print pictures, which would be pretty handy to have around the house, especially if you have a kiosk-centric theme in your home. When I inquired about a price, I was asked to make a purchase or leave.
Remington Smooth And Silky Electric Razor ($29.99)
Got that hot date but prickly legs and for some reason you or your roommates have no razors? Walgreens is in your corner, and kind of enough to package smooth and silky together, as you are often gouged buying them separately.
Remington 360 Pivot And Flex Electric Razor ($64.99)
This seems like a steep price for male grooming at a convenience store, but when you break it down, it’s only 18 cents a degree.
This is my “Billfold Gadget Pick Of The Store.” Walgreens has premium prices for gadgets, but $5 so I can look at trees that are far away? A steal. I was a little disturbed to see that there was a decal on the box saying they were $3.99, but a deal nonetheless.
Also worth noting was how much stuff was missing. The Case Logic 4 Port USB Connector was out of stock, as were the HP combo ink cartridge, 4 of the 8 types of phones offered, and many other items. There was an interactive display for iPhone speakers, but upon closer inspection I realized none of it was plugged in, nor did it give any indication it had been plugged in for some time. I would estimate 15% of the gadgets were out of stock, affecting every area except batteries, which good ol’ Walgreens was inexplicably gluttonous with.
After a long day of gadget hunting, I found that Walgreens does indeed have a big selection of stopgap gadgets for many devices across many eras. Their premium electronics were a little more puzzling, but I’m sure people on Christmas Eve will be thankful when that time comes. But if money is no object and time is of the essence, Walgreens can definitely handle all your basic needs, arboretum-based or otherwise.
Matt Powers lives in Brooklyn.