Dear Boulder, I understood, upon moving here 3 years ago, that this would not be the land of the chosen people, would not be the land of milk and honey. Most days, I can even accept that it is, in fact, the land of marijuana and kombucha.
But, Boulder, on tonite, this first night of Chanukah, I have a hard time accepting that you actually give a damn about anyone besides your pagan-christian, consumer catholic population. Diversity, my ass.
Quite simply, it should not, in a town of 100k people, of 7 different congregations, covering everything from the Chabad and orthodox to recontrsuctionist singalongs, one of the Top 10 Jewish Neighborhoods in North America (per Jewish Living Magazine), even the home of a sold out Ignite! Chanukah event (seriously, people, it's not enough that we're on Ignite 13? We're like the Law & Order of Ignite presentations.), take me 2 hours and 6 different stores to STILL NOT FIND hanukkah candles. On the first night of Chanukah.
I understand, dear Boulder, that my people are in the minority here. I understand further, that in the grand scheme of things, no matter what the Corporate Holiday Machine would like us to believe, that Chanukah is not only a mere speck on the holiday radar, but is also, technically, about as important as Arbor Day.
So let me break down what I've learned from two hours of fruitless searching in this fair town: Dollar Tree, Walgreens, and Savers disbelieve in Chanukah in total. No menorahs, no candles, not even a doofy smiling dreidel decoration to be seen.
Safeway USED to carry candles, but are currently all sold out - of the ones that fit, anyway, though they do have a selection that manager said her other customers rejected, because they were "too large".
Which brings me to: Rite Aid, which ONLY carries the $10 box of "designer" candles - and couldn't seem to sell a single one of them.
Rounding out my scavenger hunt, we have: Target, who in addition to a GIANT SEASONAL CHRISTMAS section, also graciously featured two poorly organized back-row ends of Chanukah gear, hidden away in the greeting card section, where they thoughtfully sold chintzy Chanukah decorations (hannukah tinsel! banners! smiling novelty dreidels!), 3 different types of menorahs, and - my favourite part - no Chanukah candles whatsoever.
McGuckins, believe it or not, were the clear winners on my search. They featured a small yet comprehensive selection of menorahs, dreidels, Chanukah schwag, and candles. To their detriment, while they had several different types and colors of designer candles in stock, they were also sold out of the standard blue box of Chanukah candles.
Let me explain something to you, purchasing managers. For reasons inexplicable even to us Jews, "designer" Chanukah candles exist. They come in pretty colors, and lavish boxes, and make excellent gifts. However, they will never be used. Because for some reason that NO ONE has figured out, every single designer Chanukah candle produced has a base that is larger than the candle holders that exists on most menorahs. Meaning that, while pretty to look at, they are basically completely unusable to us. And so, while designer candles may surely come at both a larger markup and profit for you, dear retail owner, investing in a large array of them (such as McGuckins) has done is ultimately pointless - because no one buys them. we are primarily, almost exclusively on the lookout for the cheapass blue box of "Chanuka Candles", the one the is covered in Hebrew, features the world's most out of focus gold menorah, and 44 basic swirly candles in white, red, orange-yellow, and blue. It should cost us no more than $2, and that's all we need.
It's not like there are Chanukah "trends" to keep an eye out for, no inflatible lawn decorations or neon pink tinsel christmas trees that may fester in your warehouse and never be salable ever again. Nosir, all we truly need is a sturdy menorah (which, let's face it, if it's sturdy enough, will last you a few generations) and a $2 box of candles. It's so easy. You can even err on the side of caution, overpurchase a few items, and then just put them out the next year. They don't go bad, they don't go out of style. They'll take up FAR less room in your storage area than the technicolor plethora of Snuggies you all seem to have in stock 365 days/year.
So, slichah, Adonai. This year, you're getting aluminum foil and tea lights, just like back at summer camp. Or if I can figure out a way to get this Snuggie to burn for 8 days and 8 nights, you can have that.