Category Archives: Store Reviews

Stopping At Lou’s Records In Encinitas

I don’t often make it to the coastal areas of San Diego any more, and these days when I do it’s the coastal areas near San Diego, not so much the North County coastal areas. I opted for a nice drive down the coast and when I neared Encinitas, it struck me that it’s been ages since I last visited Lou’s Records on Coast Highway.

I spent a fortune there back in the day as they were the best place to get import CDs back when I used to buy a lot of music. In fact, my very first visit was an expensive one as I found some amazing hard to get ABBA imports that to this day I’ve never seen anywhere outside of overpriced eBay auctions. Lou’s Records was also the store where I did my very first special order of an import, which was for a Swedish language solo album by Marie Fredriksson of Roxette. So when I decided to stop in at Lou’s I wasn’t sure they were even still around as it seems stores dedicated to selling music are harder to find than they used to be. Fortunately Lou’s was still there and I was instantly nostalgic for the hours I would spend combing the racks there for the many treasures I would find there.

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Where Have All The A&W’s Gone?

Every once in a while I get a craving and generally nothing really satisfies it until I get what I’m craving. And today I was just getting the bug to have some food from an A&W restaurant. I grew up in Canada and A&W’s are one of the first and larger fast food chains in Canada. I’d even go so far as to say they are far more popular in Canada than I’ve seen here in the United States (using in Southern California anyway). Usually when I get a craving for A&W its due to nostalgia for the Canadian A&Ws. I know the last time I got a craving for A&W and went to one of the ones here in San Diego I was disappointed because American A&Ws are nothing like the Canadian ones. The menus don’t offer the same items and the food doesn’t even taste the same. So I knew I was probably setting myself up for another disappointment but it’s been a couple of years since I last went to A&W but I was willing to chance it.

These days A&W is one of the “brands” of restaurants part of the YUM! Corporation which consists of all the restaurant brands bought up by the Pepsi Corporation. (In Canada, A&W’s were started by the American A&W’s but were sold off in 1972 and have no ties to the American A&W operations) I’m not sure if YUM! is just a new name for the division, a spun off & separate company, or even sold off, but anyway, they are home to familiar restaurant names, like Kentucky Fried Chicken (or KFC), Pizza Hut, Taco Bell, A&W, and Long John Silvers. Pepsi originally bought up these restaurants so they could ensure these restaurants served only Pepsi products as beverages. One of the concepts YUM has been doing in recent years is putting in single locations that offer more than one brand in one restaurant. Usually it ends up being a KFC or Taco Bell co-branded with one of the other not quite as popular brands.

In any case, all of the ones in San Diego county were KFC/A&W’s and oddly enough all of them are in the South part of the county, none of them were in North County. So none of the locations are conveniently located for me. So I headed off to the closest location that Google maps pointed me to. I even checked it on the street view to see the location before going there and sure enough, there was a KFC & A&W combination store. However, when I got there, the signage for the A&W was gone, just the KFC remained. From the dirt on the walls where the signs used to be, it looked like it must have been a recent removal. Continue reading Where Have All The A&W’s Gone?

Target’s Interesting Packaging For Star Trek DVD & Blu-Ray

Star Trek Target Blu RayAs retailers coerce manufacturers into getting exclusive versions of products to try and attract buyers without having to actually compete on price. In a way it’s kind of a dirty way to get fans to buy multiple products when exclusives are offered to multiple retailers and to extort the highest prices on the “Limited Edition” versions.

In the case of the latest Star Trek film, here in the US, Paramount Pictures, authorized several exclusives options. One set of retailers, FYE, Coconuts, & Suncoast, (all owned by the same parent company) offered the film in a collectible steelbox shell, Hollywood Video is offering a chance to win an autographed poster with a purchase or rental of the movie, Best Buy is offering a set of four pins to cover the various departmental delta shields seen on the uniforms in the movie. CVS Pharmacies are offering the chance to buy the movie for a discounted rate with the purchase of an iTunes gift card. Allegedly Wal-Mart is or was offering a Blu-Ray set that included the standard DVD as well, but I’ve not been able to confirm that one. And both Amazon and Target are offering Enterprise models as their exclusives. The Amazon one is certainly the higher ticket one, made of solid metal with chrome, textured steel and pewter finishes as well as being limited to only 5,000 pieces but at $100 a pop, a little too pricey in my book, albeit very nice looking.

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Are The 99 Cent Only Stores Engaging In False Advertising?

99 Cent LogoThe city of Poway just had a grand opening for a 99 Cents Only store within the last week. Naturally because it’s new in town I decided to check it out. However, one of the things I noticed that wasn’t blatantly obvious was a sign indicating that due to inflation, prices were now no longer 99 cents, but rather 99.99 cents. This carrying out the nines to two more decimal places essentially transforms the prices into $1.00 per item and you’d have to actually purchase 51 ones before you get one at 99 cents.

To me, this reeks of false advertising. The stores are called 99 Cents Only stores, and they’re flat out lying. The business was built on the premise that nothing in the stores would cost more than 99 cents. And according to their press release about the change, they managed to keep that true for slightly more than twenty-five years since the company was founded in 1982 until they opted to change it in late 2008. I’m not sure if they were the first company to start on the premise of charging 99 cents, but obviously others followed but decided to go for the dollar instead of losing an additional penny per item. This price increase does effectively make the 99 cent stores the same as the dollar stores, except for the fact they’ve got that problem that their name specifically states 99 Cents “Only.”

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An Excellent Experience With Sirius XM Customer Service

Sirius XMI recently decided to try the Sirius XM iPhone application with their free seven day trial, and I quite liked being able to use my iPhone as an additional Sirius radio in addition to the Stiletto 100 I already use for Sirius. So naturally when the free trial expired, I decided to give Sirius a call to add on the Premium Internet access which is required to take advantage of the iPhone application.

I didn’t really want to pay more money, so I asked the customer service agent if she could just cancel the added on Best of XM package I had added on. I mainly got to hear Oprah Radio from the XM lineup of channels, but I’ll be honest, I didn’t like the channel very much. I wasn’t listening to any of the programs and none of the other XM stations that were added were of any interest to me, so it was kind of silly to be paying $4.04 a month extra for worthless stations. As the premium Internet add on is only $2.99 a month, it essentially means it should be no problem “downgrading” my account. Since it was all prepaid I wasn’t expecting a refund on the extra already paid.

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Groceries & A Doctor’s Visit All In One?

Photo from the San Diego Union-Tribune For the last week I’ve had a sore throat and for the last couple of days it has blown into quite a painful experience. After deciding I’ve tried to ride it out long enough, I sought the best way to seek some medical attention. I didn’t feel like making an appointment with a doctor’s office that would take days before the doctor would have time to see me, and I didn’t feel it urgent enough to visit a hospital or urgent care center, so I thought I should check online to see what could be a step down from Urgent care that I could get in to see rather quickly.

In my search online I came across the Palomar Pomerado Health (PPH) care group and a section of their website indicating they had a couple of retail based clinics operating inside a couple of local San Diego county Albertsons stores, called PPH Expresscare. They operate as a small clinic inside the grocery store as a way to bring more a-la-carte care to the community for both the insured and the uninsured at reasonable prices and more convenient hours than a traditional doctor’s office. As the clinic is part of the PPH group, if the care required for any services needs to be more involved than can be provided in the clinic, the patients can be referred to urgent care or hospital services elsewhere in the group.

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Visiting Bates Nut Farm

Bates Nut FarmEarlier today I attended a company picnic that was being held at the Bates Nut Farm in Valley Center, California. The locally infamous venue often due to the name “Bates” and seemingly endless jokes in reference to the movie Psycho or local DJs referring to it as “Nate’s Butt Farm” is actually a really nice place. They have a lot of land that they often rent out for company parties and the sort, but what they’re most known for is being a purveyor of nuts from around the world. Their “General Store” that’s located on the farm is like an old time candy shop where they make their own chocolates and fudge as well as offer the opportunity to purchase nuts from around the world often in several varieties such as roasted, raw, salted, unsalted, and more. The store also has a section that’s like a craft store with a variety of items for home decor that would fit into a country theme.

For my visit, I enjoyed browsing through the shop. They had several interesting variety of nuts from around the world, but ultimately all I bought from the nuts section was a 7 ounce bag of raw Macadamia nuts as I love to chop those up and add them to my sugar free cookies. I also decided to purchase a small box of their deluxe sugar free candies. They had a variety of them from truffles, to cream filled ones, to some very good peanut butter cup ones as well. The best part is they had some in milk chocolate kind as well. It seems a lot of places if they have sugar free its all dark chocolate and I just don’t like as much. Definitely will have to be stopping back here on occasion for some really delicious sugar free candies.

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Update: Warner Bros. Customer Service

Warner Bros LogoBefore I got a chance to write my strongly worded follow-up e-mail to Warner Bros. to let them know hoe dissatisfied I have been with their customer service, I actually received a response to my previous inquiry. As you may recall, I did a pre-order for CHESS IN CONCERT that was supposed to include MP3 recordings released on June 16th. My order did not come with the links and I was less than happy. (For full details, click here.)

Apparently they’ve had more than a few issues for orders placed directly through their site as opposed to linking in through the webshops on both Josh Groban’s and Idina Menzel’s websites. So they cancelled my order and requested that I go through the process again using a link they provided to Josh Groban’s webshop and I would have access to my instant downloads.

Sure enough, this time it worked like it was supposed to and I had my downloads within a few minutes. Thanks to Warner Bros., for finally following up, even though their poor timing left much to be desired, they at least responded and provided the information necessary to solve the problem I was having.

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Warner Bros. Fails To Deliver In Online Purchase

Warner Bros LogoWarner Bros., normally the producer of great entertainment in everything from movies to music releases, has royally annoyed me when I elected to purchase the CHESS IN CONCERT Deluxe Edition, available exclusively from them at Chess.WarnerBrosRecords.com. Warner Bros. is also selling the sets through the stores on official webpages for both Josh Groban and Idina Menzel (both are powered by WarnerBrosRecords.com). The exclusive version of the “Chess In Concert” set in addition to packaging together the 2-CD version of the recording with the DVD version of the show in a special package and includes as bonuses sheet music for the songs “Anthem” and “I Know Him So Well” and the deluxe set is limited to 3,000 copies world wide.

As the set was not originally scheduled to be released until June 30th, well after the June 16th release date of the standard versions, Warner Bros. also is including as part of the package, the ability to download the 2 CDs digitally on the June 16th release date. However, just prior to the 16th, the release date for the deluxe package has been shifted to July 21st, with Warner Bros claiming that the materials won’t be fully ready to meet the original release date.

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Which Wich Offers Wonderful Sandwiches

Which WichOn the recommendation of Brian Hill, a friend who is part of a local scene podcast, mentioned trying this new chain of sandwich shops that has recently opened up a location in San Diego. This chain is called “Which Wich” and the premise of the chain is that when you step into the shop, you grab a sandwich bag that corresponds to the type of meat that you want on the sandwich and then from there, you use a red Sharpie marker pen to check off all the various options for the type of bread as well all the additional items from condiments to bacon and dressings that you want added to the sandwich.

All the sandwiches are the same price (unless you opt to add additional meats or try their signature sandwich called “The Wicked” which consists of five types of meats and three cheeses). At the bottom of the bag is a spot to write in your name, then you take the bag to the counter and they ring up your order then make it exactly as you ordered it. You can add additional items to your order such as a bag of potato chips. And they even make their own house potato chips too.

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