Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Gay Dolphin Gift Cove, Myrtle Beach SC -- Largest Gift Shop in the US

November 29, 2007

The Gay Dolphin Gift Cove in Myrtle Beach SC (916 North Ocean Blvd) deserves its own mention. “The largest gift shop in the United States,” the cashier told me, is the most fascinating collection of memorabilia and truly cheesy, tacky tourist stuff that you will ever see. I knew it was going to be interesting the minute I saw that the sign pointing to the store was actually across the street from it and next to the roaring dinosaur announcing Ripley's Moving Theater (next to Ripley's Haunted Adventure) on Ocean Blvd.

I was tempted to buy the farting tighty whities key chain (yep – 2 inches of stuffed tight-whitey that made the most disgusting sounds when you squeezed them), but apparently they'd been there a while and were a little dusty. Dirty tighty whities just didn't have the same appeal (though they did add to the disgust, I must say)

After a while of roaming around the store I began to notice that there was no shortage of items you could buy with your name proudly displayed on it. They had the requisite license plates (the blue ones were more expensive – probably because they actually said “Myrtle Beach” on them), pens (plastic, wooden, retractable), and magnets (refrigerator, kitchen, memo, etc.).
If you've ever wondered what your name means, you could find out by buying a magnet, postcard, greeting card, coffee cup, or parchment tucked away in pottery. If you could care less what your name means and you just want to see it on something, you had a choice of at least 5 different kinds of stickers, plaques, magnets, bedroom door signs, address books, recipe books, notebads, to-do lists, shot glasses, and really interesting-looking (as in, pretty ugly), blue-spotted piggy bank.

As I rounded the corner by the shelves (yes, shelves) of stuffed cats curled up (or sitting up) in baskets, I found even more options for having your name emblazoned on something – bookmarks, purses, photo frames, and photo books.

Now, I’m not real sure which one of the plethora of dolphins in the store was the gay one (they came in all colors of plush, glass, wood, etc.), but you had plenty of dolphins in plenty of poses from which to choose.

In the middle of the section dedicated to Native American art, you could find ceramic sculptures of chiefs in headresses, warriors on horses, teepees, and a full-sized face mask of Gene Simmons in his KISS make-up (not sure why that was there, exactly, but it did amuse me).

Various buddhas (all happy, fat, and smiling) were 1/3 off, but most were too big for me to put in my already full luggage. They didn’t have any stuffed squirrels, but they had a lot of ceramic ones.

Then there was the whole section of “novelty” gifts (as though nothing else in the store was), where you could buy your requisite fake poop and vomit, as well as your trick cards and exploding cigars, etc. There was also a whole rack of nothing but bathroom time-occupying books – even one for kids (just to get them started on the bathroom reading habit, I suppose). For a friend’s 60th birthday, I got the Word Games book shaped like a toilet seat (the #2 version, of course). She probably won’t talk to me for a week.

Make no mistake about it – this place is huge, and it’s not set out on whole floors that you go up and down. Instead, you navigate numerous steps up and numerous steps down, turning into alcoves and around corners. The balcony was closed the day I was there, so I didn’t get to see the whole thing, but you could easily spend hours roaming around there looking at all the back scratchers and trivets and beach souvenirs you could ever imagine.

They even have a fortune-telling machine (complete with fortune teller) who will see the future for you for a mere 50 cents. I think he was wrong, however, because in retrospect I think the farting tighty whities SHOULD have been in my future!

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