We were only shopping for socks. The lure of the mall, however, offered to transform this ordinary sock shopping trip into a wonderful afternoon mother-daughter outing. It wouldn't hurt just to walk through, would it?
I miss the old Lakeside Mall. Anchored by Montgomery Wards on the west end, and Target on the east, the mall made up the largest part of the unincorporated town of Lakeside, Colorado. The rest of the town consists of Lakeside Amusement Park and nine houses, all along Sheridan Blvd, between 44th avenue and the Amusement Park parking lot. The 2010 census lists the population as 8.
Once many of the stores in the mall went out of business, they brought in all sorts of groups in an attempt to stay profitable. Opening the doors from the Target store into the mall, we would never know what we would find. One day, the space might be populated by tables filled with comic books and baseball cards. Another day, it was an antique mart.
On this memorable sock shopping trip, there were birds. Birdcages with birds were on tables, in some places stacked two or three high. The tables went the entire length of the mall. We saw bunches of budgies, canaries, finches, and a plethora of pigeons and parrots. As my daughter and I love birds, we spent a happy afternoon wandering through the displays.
At the end of the mall, there was a space where a large store had been. The space was far from empty, however. Chairs had been set up and people were sitting and watching as a man in the front of the room pointed to a particularly nice, large birdcage. We decided to wander in. Perhaps the man was a bird expert, lecturing on the care and feeding of cockatiels or African Greys.
As we entered the room, a nice lady gave us a piece of paper with a number on it. It was a clue. The man up front was not lecturing. We watched as several nice cages were auctioned off, and then . . . a small double cage was brought out. I was impressed. It was made mostly of wood with wire doors and the two cages were side by side. This couldn't have been meant for birds! In fact, wouldn't it be just perfect for the two small bunnies we had just adopted?
The bidding started at the ridiculously low price of $5. I held up my card. How could I pass up a deal like this? The auctioneer looked around, searching for someone else to raise the price. After what seemed a long time, a large bored looking man raised his card. The bid was up to $10 now. I didn't hesitate. My card went up - $15 for the double cage. The auctioneer glanced around again, looking expectantly at the bored man, with no result. Going once, twice . . . SOLD to the mother/daughter team in the back of the room.
I couldn't believe my luck! Most of the cages had gone for prices upwards of $50; a particularly nice one having gone for over $300. Birdcages were not cheap. Of course, this cage didn't look like a typical birdcage, but then, we were buying it for our rabbits.
I brought my number to the table and paid the same nice lady who had given us the cards. Then we went to pick up our purchase. Funny, it looked a lot smaller from the back of the room. They agreed to hold it there while I pulled the car up close to the door. Then we managed to push, drag, and half carry it out the door, down the hall, and out of the mall, to where the car was waiting.
Then came the next challenge. We tried turning the cage side-ways and upside-down, attempting to force it into the trunk, then the back seat. I briefly considered tying it to the top of the car, but realized quickly we could never lift it that high. A mostly wood cage weighs a lot more than a mostly wire cage. During our struggle, numerous other birdcage buyers made their way out the door and loaded up their cars, trucks, and vans, without a hitch. Eventually, the auctioneer came out as well. I think he felt sorry for us. He stopped, looked at what we were trying to do, and offered wise advice.
“You're never gonna get that thing in there, you know.”
I told him I had figured that out already, but we had to get it home somehow. He shook his head and asked how far we had to go. Fortunately, it was just a matter of a mile or so. He shook his head again and asked if we had any rope. I pulled out several long pieces of heavy rope, a gift from my father-inlaw, and handed it to him. This seemed to cheer him up.
Together, we managed to get the back edge of the cage wedged into the trunk. This left most of the cage hanging precariously over the side, but with the rope securing the top of the trunk against the cage, maybe we could make it a mile or so.
He shook his head again.
I don't think he believed we were really going to try it, but we did. We made it home and I proudly showed off my bargains to my husband. Chris didn't say much, but I could tell he was impressed by the way he raised his eyebrows. We took the cage down and hauled it into the laundry room. After much fussing and fiddling, I had it cleaned and filled with new litter, ready for the baby bunnies to move in to their new home. I was exhausted, but proud.
The new cage worked beautifully . . . for two whole weeks. It's amazing how quickly bunnies grow.