"Use your very last bottom dollar, if you have to. Just BUY THIS BOOK. You will laugh yourself sick and love every minute of it." - Jill Conner Browne, The Sweet Potato Queen
Welcome to the Bottom Dollar Emporium in Cayboo Creek, South Carolina, where everything from coconut mallow cookies to Clabber Girl Baking Powder costs a dollar but the coffee and gossip are free. For the Bottom Dollar gals, work time is sisterhood time.
When news gets out that a corporate dollar store is coming to town, the women are thrown into a tizzy, hoping to save their beloved store as well their friendships. Meanwhile the manager is canoodling with the town's wealthiest bachelor and their romance unearths some startling family secrets.
The first in a series, Bet Your Bottom Dollar serves up a heaping portion of small town Southern life and introduces readers to a cast of eccentric characters. Pull up a wicker chair, set out a tall glass of Cheer Wine, and immerse yourself in the adventures of a group of women who the Atlanta Journal-Constitution calls, "...the kind of steel magnolias who would make Scarlett O'Hara envious."
Praise for BET YOUR BOTTOM DOLLAR:
"In a first novel that is guaranteed to please Fannie Flagg and Bailey White fans, Gillespie introduces the Bottom Dollar Girls with a flair for timing and a cheeky Southern turn of phrase...Brace for a wild ride chock-full of Southern wit and downhome advice from a clutch of quirky characters you will hope to see again soon." - Booklist
"A winner of a first novel, filled with Southern-style zingers and funny folks." - Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
"The characters are the kind of steel magnolias who would make Scarlett O'Hara envious." - Atlanta Journal-Constitution
"Laugh out loud...this perfect summer read [will] find permanent beach-house residence." - Richmond Times-Dispatch
"What a delight! Bet Your Bottom Dollar is warm and witty, a feast for the heart." - Jennifer Chiaverini, New York Times Bestselling Author of the Elm Creek Quilts Novels
"This laugh-out-loud tale serves up Southern-fried humor with a spicy 'Steel Magnolia' kick... One would be hard-pressed to find any flaws in this carefully crafted work that reads as if your best friend was giving you the low-down on the latest gossip." - Savannah Morning News
Books in the Bottom Dollar Southern Fiction Series:
BET YOUR BOTTOM DOLLAR (#1)
A DOLLAR SHORT (#2) February 2015
DOLLAR DAZE (#3) May 2015
Part of the Henery Press Chick Lit Collection, if you like one, you'll probably like them all...
Karin Gillespie is national bestselling author of five novels and a humor columnist for Augusta Magazine. Her nonfiction writing had been in the New York Times, The Writer Magazine and Romantic Times. She maintains a website and blog at Karingillespie.net. Sign up for her newsletter on her website, follow her on Twitter or connect with her on Facebook.
|Product dimensions:||5.50(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.55(d)|
About the Author
Read an Excerpt
Yellow and red leaves spun around my face as I tramped up the cracked sidewalk to the Bottom Dollar Emporium. It was October in Cayboo Creek, South Carolina, and the fall air felt crisp as a pickle fresh out of the brine. The store's candy-striped awning flapped in the breeze as I rummaged in my smock pocket for my key. On my day off, I noticed, Mavis had decorated the display window with cutouts of jack-o'-lanterns and black cats. A grinning cardboard skeleton with accordion-pleated legs swung from the front entrance.
As I pushed open the door, a horrible moan sounded from somewhere above my head. I screamed, but not loudly enough to drown out a terrified shriek from the shadowy depths of the store.
I was about to turn tail and run when the store flooded with light and I saw Mavis, her face pale as paste, standing by the entrance of the stockroom holding a box of Frootee Ice Freezer Pops.
"Lord, Elizabeth, I like to have jumped out of my skin," Mavis said. "I told Attalee not to hook up that silly, moaning contraption, but she must have went ahead and done it. I came in through the service entrance this morning so it didn't get me."
I glanced up and saw a suspect speaker rigged to the door. I gave it a good yank.
"If I hear that sound every time someone walks in this door, I won't have a nerve left in my body," I said.
I crossed the creaking floor to the break area, where Mavis had settled herself in one of the plastic, stackable chairs. Mavis Loomis had worked as a clerk at the Bottom Dollar Emporium for going on fifteen years. Three years ago she'd purchased the business when its owner, Dora Phelps, had died from a stroke.
TheBottom Dollar Emporium used to be a Kress Dime Store back in the '40s, when retail stores still had a certain amount of glamour. The ceiling was pressed tin and supported by a series of carved wooden columns. The original sconce light fixtures still hung on the walls, and there was even a brass spittoon by the door. But the merchandise at the Bottom Dollar was anything but glamorous. We stocked everyday items -- from coconut mallow cookies to Clabber Girl Baking Powder to canisters of Comet. Most of our items cost no more than a dollar.
I poured myself a cup of coffee and sat next to Mavis, who was patting her short salt-and-pepper hair with the palms of her hands.
"I like what you did with the Halloween decorations out front," I said, stirring some Sweet'N Low into my coffee.
"I'll probably catch it from the ladies' league at the Baptist church," Mavis said. "Last year they gave me the dickens for that witch I had hanging in the window."
I nodded. "The Baptists are big on brimstone. Reverend Hozey wants his flock believing they're one sin away from frying in hell like Jimmy Dean sausages."
Mavis laughed. "Don't I know it," she said. "That's why I work in the church nursery during services."
A sputtering engine interrupted our chat. I glanced out the front window and watched Attalee squeal her 1963 Buick Skylark into a parking spot. Her front fender was attached to the body of the car with duct tape.
"Looks like Attalee had herself another mishap," I said.
Mavis blew on her coffee. "You know how crazy she drives. She sideswiped a telephone pole yesterday. I keep telling her she's too old to pretend she's Dale Earnhardt."
Attalee swung open the front door, winded as usual from rushing to get to work on time. She grabbed one of the columns to steady herself as she wheezed like a dog with a stick stuck in its throat.
"Something's afoot," Attalee said, recovering her breath. She narrowed her eyes mysteriously.
"And what might that be, Attalee?" Mavis said with a yawn. "Bunions?"
Attalee ignored Mavis and strode toward us, stopping short in front of the candy display. She drew back and pointed a finger at a bag of Halloween candy. "Land Almighty! What on earth are these bloodshot thingamagigs?"
Mavis craned her neck to see what Attalee was staring at. "Eyes of Terror gumballs," she said.
Attalee shuddered. "Well, they give me the heebie-jeebies, gaping up at me that way. Reminds me of Burl when he was on a bender."
Burl was Attalee's late husband -- a man who was fond of Old Grandad. He was reportedly pickled when he walked into the path of a Colonial Bread truck five years before.
Attalee parked herself in the chair next to mine. Although she was knee-deep into her eighties, Attalee looked like a wizened six-year-old, favoring floral dresses with wide lacy collars and twirling her gray hair into sausage curls that dangled girlishly down her back.
"As I was saying, something's brewing. I saw a couple of men on Mule Pen Road surveying the vacant lot across from the old Piggly Wiggly," Attalee continued.
"I wouldn't be surprised." Mavis dunked a powdered doughnut into her coffee. "That road is really building up. A Winn-Dixie's supposed to open up in the old Piggly Wiggly building soon. We got a Goody's last year. Who knows what's coming up next?"
"Myself, I hope it's a miniature golf course," Attalee said. "We're short on recreation in this town. If you don't like bingo, bass fishing, or bowling, you're flat out of luck."
"I wouldn't pin my hopes on a golf course," I said. "It's probably going to be something dull as dirt like a carpet shop or a Tire Town."
"Tires aren't such a terrible thing," Mavis mused.
Attalee snapped open her compact and touched up her eyebrows with a stubby black pencil. "Too bad they don't have dance halls anymore. That would liven up this place. The three of us could go there on Saturday nights. Two widows and a spinster, painting the town."
"Elizabeth's much too young to be called a spinster," Mavis said. "She's not but twenty-five years old. That's a baby still."
"Twenty-six," Attalee said. "Her birthday's three days from now. Ain't that right, Elizabeth? Shoot, in my day, you were a spinster if you were over eighteen and still didn't have a ring on your finger."
"Attalee," Mavis warned. She made a cutting motion across her throat.
"It's alright, Mavis," I said. "The word 'ring' isn't going to send me crying to the ladies' room."
I rubbed the finger where my engagement ring used to be. Sometimes I swore I could still feel it there, although I hadn't put it on in sixty-two days.
Not three weeks after Clip Jenkins had given me the ring on bended knee, he'd scrawled a "Dear Jane" letter on the back of a Hardee's bag and stuck it under the windshield wiper of my Geo Metro. After that, I'd wrapped the ring in a handkerchief and tucked it away in my underwear drawer.
"A comment like that might have started me bawling a few weeks back." I lifted my chin bravely. "But I do believe I'm finally getting over Clip."
Attalee nodded. "Men are like buses. You miss one, you hop on the next one that comes along. 'Course at my age, the bus service has slowed down to a crawl."
"Amen," Mavis said. She propped her tennis shoes up on an empty storage carton.
"The hurt hasn't gone away completely," I said. "It's still there, like a pebble in my shoe. Sometimes, when I'm alone, it'll gnaw at me."
Just this morning, I'd been looking for a ponytail holder in my junk drawer and I'd come across an old greeting card from Clip. When I saw his handwriting, I crumpled like a crushed Dixie cup.
"Well, y'all had been sweethearts since high school," Mavis said. "It's going to take some time to heal up completely."
I nodded and went to freshen my coffee. That's when I spotted Birdie Murdock crossing Main Street on a beeline toward the Bottom Dollar Emporium. Birdie was the publisher of the Cayboo Creek Crier. A visit from Birdie meant one of two things: She'd either run out of Silver Luster No. 5 or she had some news to report.
I scurried to flip the welcome sign from "closed" to "open," saying over my shoulder, "Birdie's coming this way."
Attalee groaned as she got up from her chair. Her back was curled like a cashew and she jerked to straighten it. "Am I on cashier duty today?"
"That all depends," said Mavis. She stood, adjusting her name tag and smoothing the dark green smock she wore over her clothes. "Did you bring your teeth?"
Attalee's bad eye flickered behind the lens of her glasses as she dipped a hand into her brassiere to adjust the long slope of her bosom.
"Lord, Mavis, today's Friday," she said. "Ain't you ever heard of casual Friday?"
Before Mavis had a chance to respond, the bell over the front door jingled and Birdie strode in.
Birdie was dressed in a pressed navy-blue suit that matched her saucer-shaped hat. She had a polka-dot hankie tucked into her breast pocket and carried a reporter's notebook under her arm.
"Hey, Birdie," Mavis called out. "Hope you're not here to sweet-talk me into taking out another ad. I'm flat tapped-out since I bought that brand-new cash register."
Mavis was so proud of that cash register. It was a Samso Model CT-A320 with a digital readout and a built-in calculator that replaced the one that had been used since the '70s. To celebrate its arrival, Mavis had staged a ribbon-cutting ceremony and served sparkling grape juice and party cookies that came in individual, fluted paper wrappings.
Birdie's pumps and purse matched the navy of her suit and her silver hair floated around her face in well-trained swoops. Her appearance was marred only by the scrawl of eyeliner just a shade too high up on her lids.
"Mavis, I came as soon as the news arrived over my fax machine," Birdie said. She pulled the polka-dotted hankie out of her pocket and dabbed her face with it. "I had to read it twice before it actually sunk in."
She thrust a piece of paper under Mavis's nose. Mavis took it and perched her reading glasses on her face. As she read, her eyebrows worried into a V. Me and Attalee peeked over her shoulder.
The press release headlined, "Super Saver Dollar Store to Locate on Mule Pen Road in Cayboo Creek, South Carolina."
"Four checkout lines with over three thousand items in inventory," Mavis said. She backed her face away from the paper as if it were crackling with heat.
"Super Saver expects to bring twelve jobs to Cayboo Creek," I read.
"The fastest-growing retailer in the Southeast with average monthly earnings of approximately $444.6 million." Attalee clawed at her chest. "Lord in heaven, the Bottom Dollar Emporium has less chance than a kerosene cat in hell."
I shot Attalee a stern look and then turned to Birdie. "You got any idea when's this supposed to happen, ma'am?" I asked.
"Not a clue. In the next few months, I'd imagine," Birdie said.
The paper shook in Mavis's hands and her voice sounded high-pitched, like she'd just inhaled a lungful of helium. "I only have fifteen hundred items and one checkout line," she said. "Cayboo Creek ain't big enough to support two dollar stores."
"Wait a minute, now." I laid a steadying hand on her shoulder. "Cayboo Creek may be small, but our customers are a loyal bunch. I don't think they'll abandon us for this new store just because they can choose from three different kinds of dishwashing soap instead of two."
"That's not so," Mavis said. Her voice squeaked with panic. "Remember when Goody's opened up? It ran the Vickery Family Clothiers right into the ground. And I was a party to that. Once Goody's opened, I never again stepped foot into Vickery's."
I wrinkled my nose. "Yes, but that's because Vickery's was so stuffy."
When I was a little girl, I remembered Mello Vickery sticking her nose in the dressing room when I was trying on one of their overpriced party dresses. She'd said, "Don't fidget so much, Elizabeth Polk, or you'll get that party dress all sweaty and I'll have to put it on the markdown table."
"They was even highfalutin about their under drawers," Attalee said with a nod. "Calling them foundations instead of bras and panties."
Birdie sighed. "I'm sorry to be the one to deliver this news, Mavis. But I felt you needed to know immediately so that you could develop a plan of action."
She peered at her watch. "I need to be scooting, gals. The elementary school is having their fall festival and I've got to be there to cover it. The city councilmen are taking turns in the dunking booth. Good-bye, all."
Birdie's heels clicked out the door and the three of us sat slumped in our chairs, the weight of her news pinning us down.
"'Plan of action,' she says," Mavis sputtered. "What plan of action? I'd be hard pressed to add one more register in here, much less three more. And forget about all that extra inventory; we're bursting at the seams as it is."
The three of us fell into a foul silence, interrupted only by the drip from the coffee maker and hum of the oscillating fan. Mavis's normally smooth complexion looked as rumpled as a sheet in a flophouse.
"I've got it!" Attalee bolted from her chair. "We undercut the Super Saver Dollar Store by a nickel. Instead of being the Bottom Dollar Emporium, we change our name to the 95-Cent Emporium. Those Super Saver folks will skedaddle out of town."
"Sorry, Attalee," said Mavis. "There's no way I can undercut the Super Saver. They got so many stores that they have tons of bargaining power with their suppliers. I've got enough trouble keeping most items priced at a dollar."
"There must be something we can do," I said. "It isn't right for a rich corporation to swoop into town and swallow up the business that you've broken your back to get."
Mavis cast her glance to the floor. "That's the way it goes all over this country. Only in the Bible, it seems, is David able to beat Goliath."
"That sounds like a fancy excuse to give up," I said.
Mavis trained her tired, gray eyes on me. "I ain't giving up, Elizabeth. I'm just facing facts. A minute ago, you were talking about the loyal folks in Cayboo Creek. I suspect some of them will stick with us. 'Specially our little group who comes in every day to shoot the breeze. But the odds and ends they purchase won't even be able to pay the electricity bill. Truth is, most people in town will take their trade to a newer, bigger store."
"We're just going to have to figure out some way to keep 'em here," I said. "We have to fight this. I know how important this business is to you, Mavis."
Not six months ago, Mavis had bought a tidy cottage on Persimmon Road after having lived for years in a double-wide in an aging trailer court by the creek. I knew that she counted on the profits from the Bottom Dollar to make her mortgage payments.
"To think how many years I scrimped and saved to buy this business," Mavis said. "And now it's going to be gone. Just like that." She snapped her fingers.
I jumped to my feet. "Not if I have anything to say about it," I said. "I'm the manager here after all. I have a selfish interest in keeping this place afloat."
Last year Mavis had named me manager and Attalee assistant manager of the Bottom Dollar Emporium. There wasn't anybody below us to manage, seeing as how we were the only employees, but we appreciated the gesture. Our pictures had appeared in the "Up and Coming" section of the Cayboo Creek Crier and Mavis had presented us with new name tags.
"That's sweet, darling," Mavis said, trying to conjure up a smile on her pallid face. "But I don't know what you can possibly do."
Copyright © 2004 by Karin Gillespie
Table of Contents
What People are Saying About This
Use your very last bottom dollar, if you have to. Just buy this book. You will laugh yourself sick and love every minute of it.
“In a first novel that is guaranteed to please Fannie Flagg and Bailey White fans, Gillespie introduces the Bottom Dollar Girls with a flair for timing and a cheeky Southern turn of phrase…Brace for a wild ride chock-full of Southern wit and downhome advice from a clutch of quirky characters you will hope to see again soon.” Booklist
“Use your very last bottom dollar, if you have to. Just BUY THIS BOOK. You will laugh yourself sick and love every minute of it.” Jill Conner Browne, The Sweet Potato Queen
“A winner of a first novel, filled with Southern-style zingers and funny folks.” Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
“The characters are the kind of steel magnolias who would make Scarlett O'Hara envious.” Atlanta Journal-Constitution
“Laugh out loud...this perfect summer read [will] find permanent beach-house residence.” Richmond Times-Dispatch
“What a delight! Bet Your Bottom Dollar is warm and witty, a feast for the heart.” Jennifer Chiaverini, New York Times Bestselling Author of the Elm Creek Quilts Novels
“This laugh-out-loud tale serves up Southern-fried humor with a spicy 'Steel Magnolia' kick… One would be hard-pressed to find any flaws in this carefully crafted work that reads as if your best friend was giving you the low-down on the latest gossip.” Savannah Morning News
Can the tiny, locally owned Bottom Dollar Emporium survive the arrival of the new and huge Super Saver Dollar Store in Cayboo Creek, South Carolina? Bet your bottom dollar it can. Karin Gillespie has written a funny and touching novel filled with rich, down-to-earth characters. A thoroughly enjoyable experience.
What a delight! Bet Your Bottom Dollar is warm and witty, a feast for the heart. This impressive debut will have readers eagerly awaiting another visit to Cayboo Creek.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
What a cute book! I was definitely in the mood for something lighthearted and this book, full of southern charm and wit, was just perfect to float my boat. Sisterhood, a bit of romance, mixed with some mystery, and huge belly laughs, these ladies of Cayboo Creek, South Caroline grew on me like white on rice. Ups, beware, reading this book might just change your speech patterns. Ladies from 20's to 80's meet and work in The Bottom Dollar Emporium, seeking everything from toilet brushes, to old fashioned toys and candies for just a dollar. It's a place to meet, share a cup of coffee and discuss anything and everything that comes to mind. Then dreaded news. A big chain dollar store is coming to town and threatens to outshine and outsell their little gathering place. Elizabeth, the store manager comes up with a few ideas to save the day. She's also being set-up to meet a new man after the love of her life broke off their engagement. Mix that in with some relatives that one might love but would rather keep to one self, and you've got a story that makes for fast and intriguing reading. This first book in The Bottom Dollar Series was a charmer for me. I notice that these books come in Audible too, so think I'll try that version for the next book. The accents should add another flavor to an already fun series!
I love the Bottom Dollar girls and I miss them. Its time for a new book! This books was great as all this series is. I love these books and they will stay in my library.
Very entertaining lighthearted novel. Characters I hated to leave on the final page and written with great wit. Do yourself a favor and curl up with this one. Looking forward to the second book in the series!
I received an advance reader's copy and immediately fell under the spell of this new author and her delightful Bottom Dollar Girls. From protagonist Elizabeth Polk, who flunked pin-curling in beauty school, to Attalee Gaines ~ who sports a bumper sticker that says, 'If you don't like my driving, stay off the sidewalk!' on down to Clip, Taffy, and a dog named Maybelline ~ Bet Your Bottom Dollar is a snappy slice of southern fiction that takes you through Cayboo Creek, South Carolina by way of the heart. Don't miss it!
The Super Saver Dollar chain store plans to open up their latest retail establishment in Cayboo Creek, South Carolina where they will compete with the local business, the Bottom Dollar Emporium. The owner Mavis is stunned by the news that the fastest growing retailer in the southeast is moving into her neighborhood. Most locals figure that the Bottom Dollar Emporoium will soon be history. However, Mavis and her employees Elizabeth and Attalee plan to put up quite a fight. Though the business is of major concern, the women have other problems to deal with too. Elizabeth can¿t stand her father¿s new wife and her former boyfriend ended their relationship with a note on a Hardee's bag placed under her windshield wiper. Of course Timothy Hollingsworth might be worth a look even if he is a southern Buddhist. Ancient Attalee has some physical problems that keep her up at night. Finally, even with a romance in the air, Elizabeth considers fleeing to her widowed sister in South Dakota, but not before this Davidette goes up against Goliath. Though limited in action, BET YOUR BOTTOM DOLLAR is an engaging insightful look at the battle between mega superstore chains and mom and pop operations that are changing the landscape. The story line is fun to follow as readers observe the three Bottom Dollar Emporium females struggle with the outside challenges, men, and other ills that make them seem so genuine. Karin Gillepsie furbishes a delightful glimpse into what seems increasingly more like the dinosaur with this fine deep gaze into small town southern living. Harriet Klausner
The funny and endearing characters in this book made for an enjoyable read. I am already well into the 2nd book in the series,"A Dollar Short," and I am finding it delightful also.
Enjoyed the characters and story.
A good story with likable characters. I plan on reading the rest of the series.
I enjoyed the book and even bought the next one. I didn't find it that funny. I have read funnier books. It is quite a small town story a lot of people to get to know and the story drags here and there but I found it good
The basic reason I chose to read this author was because of the reviews of this being a laugh out loud book. It wasnt, I never did, didn't even catch myself smiling. But, the story and it's cast of characters drew me in immediately. If I hadn't started the book in the middle of the night I might have finished it in one sitting instead of two. That's how much I loved this book. I am excited, as it is a series, and book #2 can be preordered now.
What a nice book( hey, it's Henery Press) but the story, albeit a bit predictable if you watch Soap Operas, can be a bit hard to follow. Elizabeth is a late 20-something whose hometown is very predictable.We open with the ending of an engagement, her job is in jeopardy, she figures she'll end up being a crazy cat lady workin' at the Dollar Store. And then, it not only rains it pours. A "liftoff box store" is moving into Cayaboo Creek, a new beau pops up, and thing with her crasy family get weirder and weirder. This is a fun book and a fast read. The characters need some fleshing out so they don't act so stereotypically "redneck". Why Liz doesn't see herself going to college makes me want to shake her, but that feeling does soften enough for me to look for the next book in the series
I bought this book enroute to rent some movies. Once I started reading, the flow kept on moving and I unfortunately finished it in one day. I enjoyed every minute of it, making me wish I lived in such a town.
Very good first novel. I read it within one weekend. I felt that I was actually there, in Cayboo Creek.
What a wonderful book. You don't have to be a literature professor to understand what this author wanted to pass on to the reader. Great fun, a great read. Can't say enough about it. Try it, you will come away feeling great.
A funny and caring story with wonderful characters. Extremely well written.
Having grown up in Aiken, S.C., just down the road from Cayboo Creek, I was interested in the local publicity about this book so I stopped at B&N in Augusta to pick it up. It¿s not the kind of book I normally read! If Gillespie and Simon/Schuster intended for this to be a serious study, they failed miserably, but if they intended to provide some light entertainment with interesting characters they did a pretty good job. I recognized my aunt Emma and the crazy furniture store owner who blared over television for years. The story is about kind, gentle people who don¿t have a lot of education, but have a lot of savvy and insight, like so many people that I grew up with. Of course it¿s a farce, but it is a pleasant. caring farce. I don¿t think it is a homerun, but it is a winner.
I picked up this book because it was reccomneded by the Sweet Potato Queen. This is a cute-as-a-button summer reading book.
A delightfully light and funny story for good summer reading. Not deep, not complicated, but very entertaining and extremely well written.
Out of fairness to the author, I like more serious fiction and may not be a good judge of commercial work, but if you like fluff this fits the bill. I got sick of all the characters talking like Ellie Mae and Jethro,so I had to skim parts and the story seemed borrowed from other books, but some scenes were funny.
The author doesn't understand the difference between writting lovingly about southern eccentricites and mocking them. She wants you to laugh at the characters (more accurately caricatures) and not with them. We never get a glimpse of the characters inner lives that makes the reader connect with them, and when we do get an inner thought, it is trivial information that makes the character seem stupid or pathetic. No one wants to hang out with country bumpkins, so why would we want to read about them? The author should read Fried Green Tomatoes or Wise Blood to see how to develop quirky characters and write about the south without demeaning them.