Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Hi-Jolly Gift Shop

There is no other way to say this - I am utterly disappointed in myself.  No matter how hard I try, I am constantly perpetuating stereotypes.  In most cases it is unfair to make a sweeping generalization about a particular segment of society; it seems even more unfair to realize that the same sweeping generalization is entirely true about oneself.  The time has come for me to admit something.  My name is Mr. Tiny.  I am fat and I am jolly.  It's not just my predilection for green vegetables (you know, like the Jolly Green Giant).  It's not just that my belly shakes when I laugh like a bowl full of jelly (Jolly Old Saint Nicholas).  It's that the age-old perception of the cheerfully chunky rings true...at least in my case.  I have plenty of moody moments but, all things considered, I have a disposition that is generally jolly - especially when I am exploring someplace as interesting as Hi-Jolly Gift Shop on a jolly holiday in Arizona.

See what I mean?
Jumping for Jolly.

Opened sometime in the 1940's (according to the perhaps less-than-jolly shopkeeper), Hi-Jolly was a place that forced us into a situation of some pretty reckless driving as we followed the siren song of souvenirs.  Based solely on the exterior, Hi-Jolly is one of those shops that makes you cross your fingers and hope that somehow traversing the threshold will transport you back to the glory days of the American Southwest - dreaming that all of the souvenirs would be just as they were on a warm April day in 1941.  That theory and the hand-painted signs made a lot of claims that we were anxious to put to the test.


"Souvenirs, Copper, Windbells, Indian Jewelry, Sand Paintings, Moccasins, Western Belts,
 Cactus Plants, Mexican Pottery, T-Shirts, Steer Horns, and Figurines" - I'll take plenty of each!
The weathered, aqua posts supporting the
covered porch are studded in old bottle caps.  

They had me at matching belt & bola tie!

The signs were enough to get me to consider taking up permanent residence, and I hadn't even opened the door yet.  It was time to bite the proverbial bullet and enter.

I want everything to look like this.  Everything.

At first glance, Hi-Jolly is just as disappointing as every other tourist-trap gift shop.  Rife with tschotskes specific to nowhere, dream catchers made in Sri Lanka, neo-Southwest decorations, and Red Hat Society paraphernalia (is that still a thing?), it would've been easy to turn on our heels and beat a hasty retreat to the rental car.  Myopic would we be if we failed to take a few moments to focus our eyes and discover the best parts of Hi-Jolly.

A bounty of Native American chalkware busts.
I wanted all of them; unable to decide on a single
 one, I foolishly decided on none.

Cactus Candy
How great are those graphics and the jolly green saguaro?

I couldn't find the Arizona corollary for kissing Dutch figures,
 but I was sure I'd be able to find a place for them in the yard.

Curiouser and curiouser.
Dead stock 60's dolls are relegated to a cardboard box.
We also found vintage velvet paintings leaning against a
back wall; upon closer inspection, they were dirty and torn.

A rack full of risque, novelty greeting cards from the 70's.

I wanted to spend more time in Hi-Jolly searching for the other old-timey odds and ends that were hiding between racks of Arizona state magnets and cow patties encased in resin, but we were keeping a very tight schedule and needed to get back on track.  Although, I did have time to pick up one souvenir.

A tooled-leather wallet to replace the one I have that is actually
bursting at the seams.  This one has insets of cowhide...sorry PETA.

Is the service amazing?  No.  Is the shop air-conditioned?  No.  Is the spirit of Hi-Jolly's opening day still present in the narrow aisles packed with Native American "art" and Southwest souvenirs over seven decades later?  Yes.  If you find yourself in Mesa, AZ (which you undoubtedly will after you see some of the neato things that we have yet to share with you), be sure and stop by Hi-Jolly Gift Shop.  You'll be jolly glad that you did.

Still intent on dispelling the stereotype, I struck the
most un-jolly pose I could muster.  Nope...still jolly.

Hi-Jolly Gift Shop
4500 E Main St #2
Mesa, AZ
(480)832-5076


Cheers!

Mr. Tiny

25 comments:

  1. This place looks so frikkin' cool! I just love that wallet - what a score! Funnily enough, I just saw (and photographed) two of those Dutch kissy-face figurines whilst I was in Vegas! They were nestled in a flowerbed by the outdoor seating of a restaurant! So cute!

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    1. Which makes me wonder if/why these Dutch figures are peculiar to desert climes? I have never seen them here by the ocean or in the mountains. I think I need to remedy the situation and put a set in my front yard!

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  2. i love places like that. it makes you wonder WHY they have held on to merchandise for over 40 years! there is a shop like that in cave city kentucky and i pick up a walnut squirrel every time we pass through!

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    1. I wasn't asking any questions, I was just glad that they weird stuff hanging around. I shop at a fabric store where the discount section is definitely populated by old stock. I guess if it isn't perishable, they can just keep it in stock until it sells.

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    2. Also, I want to go to Cave City so badly. It has the original Wigwam Motel (the only one left that I have to check off my list)!

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    3. There is a wigwam hotel in northern AZ. I stayed at the one in Ky when I was little. I now live in Az and plan to do a roadside attraction weekend where I plan to stay there.

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  3. You should have rented a trailer! Those tschotskes need a good home to go to. The Indian head chalkware is so cool. The less-than-jolly store clerk was probably not too thrilled with a very jolly Mr. Tiny jumping up and down in the store every time you saw something awesome. Haha!

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    1. You know that the last thing that I need is any more stuff!!! Yeah, I did sort of make a spectacle - as per usual.

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  4. What a crazy shop! Typical of remote US areas...
    Where the best and the worst can be found in one place!!!

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    1. It definitely had the highs and lows of a weird American tourist trap - the real reason that I love the desert!!!

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  5. I need to go there and get me some of that Cactus Candy! And perhaps a Native American chalkware bust or two! So fun to stumble upon places like this.

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    1. I wish that all I had to do was drive around looking for interesting, old-timey places. It made me so happy! If you're ever in the area, you should stop by - those chalkware busts were calling my name!

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  6. Cactus Candy! It has been made at the very same location on 24th Street forever. These AZ posts just make my heart smile.

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    1. I'm so glad...me too!!! Stay tuned because we have plenty more! Who knew two days in Phoenix could've provided so much entertainment???

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  7. I think we all need to see a little more of the risque cards from the 1970's!

    Love the jolly jumping photo up top. You slay me.

    HRF

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    1. Those cards were just too naughty for daytime blog-o-vision!!! Hahahahaha!!!! Thanks HRF!

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  8. Replies
    1. Thank you! That is the best compliment I could get!!!

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  9. We saw some of those chalkware dutch people at the flea market a while back and my boyfriend just kept saying they were doing Jagger impressions...so now that's all I can see!

    Also, how dare you not get a hat/bolo tie combo. Bolo ties need to make a resurgence.

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    1. False advertising!!! They had NO matching sets otherwise I would have put it on and worn it around town. I do have some bolo ties that I break out every now and again. I LOVE the idea of those figurines doing Jagger impressions! SPOT ON!

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  10. Jump for Joly = winning. You rule MT!

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  11. Do you still have the kissing dutch kids? I love love love them! Had them in my yard as a kid and since I'm dutch it would be perfect!

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    1. Hiya Katie! I don't have them and I'm not sure if Hi-Jolly does mail order selling. I did find a link to some for sale online: http://www.austinscraftworld.com/Lawn/129.htm

      I hope that helps!

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    2. Thank you! It did help, I appreciate it!

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  12. It was always a treat to go to the Hi-Jolly as kids. Granny would give us a dollar to spend. I hope you ate next door at Waldos too. Best BBQ in Mesa.

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