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Product Review: Field & Stream Vertical Fishing Rod Rack

Field & Stream Fishing Rod Vertical RackBy Mike Thayer

I've been told that fishing rods are to men, what shoes are to women...

I'm OK with that, a man can't have enough fishing poles...

I recently purchased a vertical fishing rod rack made by Field & Stream.

I've got spinning rod and reel combos in one fishing rod rack, baitcasters in another, this Field & Stream rack is for my spincasting rods. 

It holds six rod and reel combos like your typical rod rack, but it's not typical in looks.  This one is dressed up, with a nice wood finish, complete with a Field & Stream brass name plate.  The rod cutouts are even lined with felt, to protect your rods from scratches.  I'm not sure how necessary that is considering all the punishment a typical fisherman puts on his rods, but it looks good.

Field & Stream Vertical Rod Rack
Keyhole fittings provide for a 'floating shelf' look

The two piece unit installs using keyhole fittings in the back of each piece, which gives you a nice floating shelf type look free of unsightly screws.  But it can be a bit of a pain in the butt to install if you're off the slightest bit with your measurement for the screw holes.

For installation, I used a piece of painter's tape, laying a strip along the entire back of the top rack piece, then taking a pencil to punch out a hole where the two keyholes were inlaid, creating an impromptu template. I then transferred the tape and applied it to the space I wanted to fasten the rack to.  Easy Peasy, checked for level, drilled in the screws just short of flush through the punched out holes and into the mounting surface, pulled the tape and secured the top section in place.  With that good looking wood top rack piece now secured to an oak cabinet, "Looks beautiful" I said to myself.

Field & Stream Vertical Rod Rack
Rod cutouts fail to keep rods secure

Time to install the bottom rack piece...   My mistake, was using the same piece of tape 'template' to drill holes for the lower rack piece.  I assumed the measurement for the two keyholes in the bottom piece would be the same as the top piece.  NOPE!  So I had to do a new tape 'template' for the bottom piece and drill a new hole.  Not a big deal and my bad, measure twice, cut (drill) once....  Drilling into a solid wood surface making the need for the plastic anchors (provided) unnecessary, installation took maybe 10 minutes tops.  It wouldn't have taken that long had I measured twice, drilled once...

The vertical rod rack looks great and matched up quite nicely to the oak cabinet I secured it to.  But I do have a couple issues with this rack.  The cutouts in the top piece don't keep fishing rods in place.  Any slightest bump, vibration or inadvertent touching of or accidental brushing against a neighboring rod dislodges rods from the rack.  Pulling one rod from the holder and just slightly hitting the next rod over causes a tumble...  Shutting the cabinet door which this rack is secured to, causes a tumble.  The all metal vertical rod rack I have installed on the opposite side of this cabinet doesn't have this issue.  All rods remain secure and in place, regardless of bumping, vibration, accidental contact...  The other issue I have with this Field & Stream unit is the bottom rack.  I didn't think it through at the time of purchase in being so enamored with the wood finish, but it only accommodates conventional handles, full grip styles and some split handle models.  It's not designed for pistol grips, extension handles or many tapered (fighting butt) models.  You can still set the unconventional rod  handle over the pre-drilled handle hole, but it's not truly secure and only compounds the problem of the top section not keeping rods in the rack...  A handle slides left or right, bumping the next rod, dislodging a rod tip from the top rack, and then there's the possible cascading effect.  Solution:  Make sure all non-conventional handles are NOT side-by-side.  To keep all rod tips in place, I've fastened a small bungee cord along the entire outer edge of the top piece, so rods can no longer slip out.  Kind of takes away from the dressy look, but it's now functional and keeps the rods in the rack. 

Field & Stream Vertical Rod Rack
Rack does not accommodate all handle types

Costing me $24.95 at Cabela's, I'm giving the Field & Stream Vertical Rod Rack 3 out of 5 Bachelor on the Cheap stars.  It looks really nice, but it's not all that functional, failing to truly secure fishing rods in place.  Despite the Field & Stream name, I do not recommend this rack.  Find a metal or plastic rack that doesn't allow rod tips to slip out and can accommodate all the various rod handle grips.

3 stars

$pend Wisely My Friends...

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Field & Stream Vertical Rod Rack
Looks good, but there are better racks out there.

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An Amazon Prime Membership is SO worth it

AmazonBy Mike Thayer

If you can't find what you're looking for at that brick and mortar store or two that you like to shop at in your neck of the woods, you'll probably find it on Amazon.

Their prices are competitive too.  I'm a price comparison kind of guy, always on a mission to find the lowest possible price for an item without sacrificing on product quality.   Time and again, Amazon is among my top three when it comes to purchasing decisions.

Amazon raised their monthly subscription rate this year to $14.99, up from $12.99.  The annual cost is $139, up from $119.  That price hike did not deter me from maintaining my membership.  There are just so many things Amazon does beyond shopping that makes it SO worthwhile.

Prime benefits:

  • Free shipping options.  Free shipping is a big deal, especially on purchases under $50, which seems to be a minimum threshold amount for many online retailers to qualify for free shipping.  What looks like a reasonably priced item at $20 on another online retailer, can become cost prohibitive for some folks when a shipping charge of $9.99 is tacked on.
  • Thursday Night Football.  New this year, the broadcast of NFL games on Thursday Night Football is exclusive to Amazon Prime and being an avid football fan, this perk alone makes membership worth it.
  • Movies and streaming entertainment.  With a large library of movies, TV shows, documentaries etc., here's another benefit that makes a Prime membership worth it, even if you don't do a whole lot of shopping online.  Their lineup includes new release movies, with options to rent or buy.  Want to save money on your cable television bill?  Consider streaming with Amazon Prime.
  • Grilling Good Eats by Mike ThayerBook reading and publishing.  I just published a book, an ebook version and paperback, using Kindle Direct Publishing offered through Amazon Prime.  It's a great perk, making it yet another benefit that alone is worth the Prime membership.  If you're not an author, no worries, you can download stories to your Kindle for free with Prime.  Sweet!
  • Music.  Amazon recently updated the music benefit you get with a Prime membership that now includes the largest catalog of ad-free podcasts; exclusive podcasts; more ad-free music, increasing from 2 million to over 100 million songs in shuffle mode; all-access Playlists, where you can pick and play any song.
  • Gaming.  Prime members get access to free games, in-game content and a free monthly subscription to Twitch.tv as well as access to playing games for free on Luna, Amazon's cloud gaming service.
  • Photos. Take advantage of unlimited full-resolution photo storage and 5GB of video storage on Amazon Drive.
  • Groceries.  If you're into online shopping, preferring to do that than shop brick and mortar, then you'll love the ability to buy groceries at Whole Foods Market.  Amazon bought them in 2017.  Members receive exclusive savings online as well as in-store.
  • Deals and Discounts.  In addition to Amazon's Prime Day, an annual one-day event in July where shoppers enjoy deep discounts, Amazon is always offering some kind of deal and/or discount such as Early Access Sales, Early Black Friday promotions and more.

Bonus:  I live in a town with an Amazon Distribution Center nearby.  Many times, the item I purchase is in stock at that center and it's delivered the next day.  That's just as good as hopping in the truck and driving to a brick and mortar store, especially when I'm doing some late night shopping when those traditional stores are closed.

There's something for everyone at Amazon Prime.  If you don't already have a membership, you might want to consider getting one.  I'm giving Amazon Prime 5 out of 5 Bachelor on the Cheap stars.  The shopping is great, the products are good and just look at all those membership benefits!

5 stars

$pend Wisely My Friends...

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Lens Wipes vs. Lens Cleaner - which one is better?

Zeiss lens wipes and lens cleaner
Do you prefer wipes, or the spray?

By Mike Thayer

For those of us who wear glasses, some kind of lens cleaner is a must have.

For guys, a handkerchief works OK, provided it's clean, but you have to apply some kind of moisture to the lenses to actually get them clean, otherwise you're just spreading the smudges and dirt from one spot on the lens, to the entire lens surface.  My Dad literally covers a lens with his mouth, exhaling on the lens to fog it up, wipes it down, then does the other lens.

A shirt tail can work in an emergency, but long term this is actually a bad thing, because it will prematurely wear down any coating you might have on your lenses and scratch them up with repeated use.

Kleenex or paper towels is a big time no-no!  Don't do it!  This is worse than using a shirt tail.

Enter, Zeiss Lens Wipes and Lens Cleaner.

Suitable for all types of eyeglasses, these products are especially effective in cleaning and preserving coated lenses.  And they're not just for glasses, they effectively clean other types of lenses, such as binoculars and cameras, as well as cell phone screens and tablets.

I use both the lens wipes and lens cleaner, but I prefer the wipes, using the spray cleaner as a backup in case I temporarily run out of the wipes.

Wipes Pros/Cons

Pros:  These pre-moistened individually wrapped wipes are convenient as heck, clean thoroughly, they're non-abrasive, streak free and mobile.  I've got the main stash at home, I keep some in my truck, some are packed in my travel bag.

Cons:  There are no cons, unless you run out.

Cost:  Around $5.75 for a 100 count box

Cleaner Pros/Cons

Pros:  The spray used to be my preference.  Combined with a clean cloth the spray is a clean that's tough to beat and there was a time when the wipes weren't as streak free as they are now.  An 8 ounce bottle of lens cleaner will last you a lot longer than a 100 count box of wipes.

Cons:  The spray is only as good as the drying cloth is clean.  A dirty cloth will leave a slight waxy-like film on the lens surface.  It's irritating to look through.  The easy fix is to reach for a clean cloth, but now that wipes are improved, it's why the spray cleaner has become a plan B.  The cleaner is not as portable as the wipes, with the 8 ounce bottle and a cloth taking up more space than a few wipes.  You can purchase one of the 'kit' options that includes a 2 ounce bottle of cleaner, making it more mobile friendly.

Cost:  Around $5 for an 8 ounce bottle of cleaner.  Pay about the same for a 'kit' version that includes a cleaning cloth and a 2 ounce bottle.  A kit of two 8 ounce bottles and two cleaning cloths will run around $11.

Both Zeiss lens cleaning options are effective, reasonably priced and I'm giving them each 5 out of 5 Bachelor on the Cheap stars.  Which one you'll choose for everyday cleaning is a really a matter of personal preference.  I like to have both on hand, but appreciate the convenience of the wipes over the spray.  

5 stars

$pend Wisely My Friends...

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Product Review: HSS 3-Shelf Stackable Freestanding Wire Shelves

HSS 3-Shelf Stackable Freestanding Wire Shelves
Durable, inexpensive, looks good.

By Mike Thayer

The kitchen in my house is a galley style kitchen (that means a layout that features two parallel walls with a walkway between them for those of you who live in Valley Center), it's functional and efficient, but being on the smaller side, it's limited in counter and cabinet space. 

I love to cook and as a result of that passion I've got just a 'few' kitchen gadgets and a collection of pots, pans and various baking dishes.  With counter space at a premium I can't keep some of my small kitchen appliances like a blender or rice cooker out on the countertop ready to use.   With limited cabinet space, well, that means some of my kitchen equipment has to be stored in another room.  

I thought shopping for small kitchen appliance storage might present a bit of a challenge.  I needed a shelf unit, cart or cabinet of some sort that is sturdy enough to handle some small appliance weight, can be staged just outside the kitchen for easy appliance retrieval, looks decent and doesn't cost me an arm and a leg.  I looked online on Amazon, then checked out the Walmart website and kind of unexpectedly, found what I needed.  My online search was over!

Enter the HSS 3-Shelf Stackable Freestanding Wire Shelves.

Perfect for my galley kitchen, this inexpensive but durable wire shelving unit is a perfect fit just outside the galley entry from the dining room.  The shelves are adjustable and can hold up to 250 pounds each.  Evenly distributed, the unit can handle up to 750 pounds.  I can also upgrade the unit if needed, by purchasing pole connectors to stack another 3-shelf unit on top for a total of six shelves.

The unit was easy to assemble, no tools required.  It's commercial grade steel construction, the feet are adjustable for uneven floors and the black finish looks good with just about any decor.

Costing me $22.96 at Walmart, I'm giving the HSS 3-Shelf Stackable Freestanding Wire Shelves 5 out of 5 Bachelor on the Cheap stars.  It's sturdy, can handle a good amount of weight (Cuisinart Appliances aren't light) and it looks good.  It's worthy of a repeat buy and I'm probably going to need another one!

5 stars

$pend Wisely My Friends...

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Product Review: JXWing Stainless Steel Fish Spatula

JXWing Stainless Steel Fish Spatula
Purchased on Amazon

By Mike Thayer

Everybody needs a fish spatula!

Even if you don't like or cook fish, this kind of spatula is fantastic for handling all kinds of delicate foods.  'Fish' poached eggs out of the poaching liquid without breaking the yolk (see what I did there with 'fish'...).  Handle crepes with ease and no fear of tearing them up.  Flip an omelet like a pro.  Thick, plastic spatulas just won't do when it comes to flipping, moving and lifting delicate foods.

Needing a fish spatula for my utensil drawer, I recently purchased a 304 Stainless Steel Fish Spatula made by JXWing on Amazon.

The blade on this spatula is super thin and flexible, allowing you to easily slide under foods and the wide slats easily drain liquids and oils when lifting delicate foods out of the pan.  The angled blade allows you to butt up against the side of the pan, getting more spatula under whatever delicacy you're preparing.  This thing can handle foods from light crepes to thick steaks and it's versatile on the stove or on the grill.  The non-slip ergonomic handle has a very comfortable grip, even for left-handed folks!  If you're into hanging your utensils, the handle accommodates that.  Bonus, it's dishwasher safe. 

Costing me $8.99 on Amazon, I'm giving the JXWing Stainless Steel Fish Spatula 5 out of 5 Bachelor on the Cheap stars.  It's reasonably priced, is great with delicate foods and it's made with quality materials.  You could easily pay between $16 and $25 for something very similar, even at Walmart.

5 stars

$pend Wisely My Friends...

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Product Review: Sattiyrch Step Stool

Sattiyrch Step Stool
Assembly instructions, screwdriver included.

By Mike Thayer

Needing to change a light bulb in a hallway that is just out of my 6' frame reach, I realized I needed a step stool for the house.

I've gotten by up to now, OK, never needing a step stool up to this point since moving into the house in August of 2021... So online shopping I went.

I didn't want anything too big or bulky and I don't really have a need for anything beyond an extra step, so I ruled out multi-step and the taller folding step stool models.  I just needed something simple, one step, preferably metal, sturdy yet compact, something that I can tuck away in a corner when not in use.

I looked online at Walmart, Home Depot, Lowe's and Ace, with step stools ranging in price from $10 to $129...  $129?  I'm not paying that much for a stool!  I found a couple of stool options at those online sites that would suit my needs, but they weren't in stock at the store and would have to be shipped, taking 5-7 days to arrive.  So on a whim, I found what I needed on Amazon and it was on my front porch the next day.

Sattiyrch Step Stool with Anti-Skid Rubber Platform
Sturdy, compact, can tuck away in a corner when not in use.

I purchased a Sattiyrch 9.5" Step Stool with Anti-Skid Rubber Platform.

Heavy Duty with a weight capacity up to 350 pounds, this stool is the compact, sturdy extra step I was looking for. It arrived needing some assembly, as most products shipped to your house usually do, but attaching the legs to the step was easy peasy.  The directions were clear and a screwdriver was provided to secure the hardware.  Assembly took all of two minutes, if that.  The anti-skid surface is comfortable and good whether you're barefoot, wearing socks or have slippers or shoes on. 

Costing me $27.89 on Amazon, I'm giving the Sattiyrch 9.5" Step Stool with Anti-Skid Rubber Platform 5 out of 5 Bachelor on the Cheap stars.  It was reasonably priced, lightweight yet heavy duty and I'm able to easily tuck it away in a corner for easy access when not in use.  

5 stars

$pend Wisely My Friends...

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Product Review: Luster Leaf Rapitest Rain Gauge

Luster Leaf Rapitest Rain GaugeBy Mike Thayer

One of my favorite leisure time activities if I'm not fishing, is gardening/landscaping.  Every morning, weather permitting, you'll find me outside in the yard, taking a 'garden tour' of sorts, checking veggies, pulling a few weeds, admiring flowers and watering - and watering a lot with the Wichita area in an extreme drought situation.  I've pretty much let the lawn go dormant, but in addition to the veggies and flowers, I'm watering trees and bushes.  This heat and long dry spell has not been good for my magnolia tree out front.

So, with this drought going on, what do I do?  I buy a rain gauge!  Wishful thinking?  A Fruedian rain dance perhaps?  Nah, it's the power of positive thinking.  At some point, it's going to rain, and then some.

Luster Leaf Rapitest Rain Gauge
Durable plastic, easy to place in the ground.

I haven't bought a rain gauge up to this point because I don't have an ideal place to put one.  In the past I've always had some kind of structure out in the open but in close and easy view from a window, a fence post or a deck rail that I could secure a rain gauge too.  It was nice to just simply look out the window and read the rain gauge.  The exterior layout of this house isn't that convenient.  With a chain link fence out back rather than wood and no deck, the type of rain gauge I've been accustomed to purchasing isn't practical.  So without any type of wood structure within eye shot of the house, I had to go for a different type of rain gauge.

Enter the Luster Leaf Rapitest Rain Gauge.

This one comes with a holder you can stick in the ground or a container.  I've got a pretty good sized planting area adjacent to my back patio that is within eyeshot of the house, so that's where it went.  The gauge itself is easy to read and is scaled in inches and millimeters.  The clear polystyrene gauge measures rainfall up to five inches.  The stake is multi-piece, so I could shorten it to adjust the height if I wanted to place it in a container rather than the ground.  Both the gauge and the stake are made of plastic, so I won't have to worry about rust or glass breakage.  There is a downside to going with inexpensive plastics however.  The UV light from the sun will eventually take it's toll, yellowing the gauge making it tougher to read and those rays will make the stake bitter over time, resulting in breakage.  I can prolong the life quite a bit by simply and easily storing the rain gauge in the garage for the winter. 

I purchased this rain gauge for $9.99 at Johnson's Garden Center, using my loyalty cash.  Reasonably priced and very easy to assemble, with proper care it should last quite a few years.  The ability to easily remove the stake from the ground or a container to relocate it or store it for the winter is a big plus.  You can't to that with many of those plastic 'nail it to the wood post' type of rain gauges.  I'm giving the Luster Leaf Rapitest Rain Gauge 5 out of 5 Bachelor on the Cheap stars.

5 stars

$pend Wisely My Friends...

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Product review: Tujol Wind Chime

Tujol Wind Chime
Great sound

By Mike Thayer

Sometimes you just have to unplug from life, no TV, no radio, no computer, no cell phone.

When I unplug, I'm usually either fishing or doing some kind of yard work be it gardening or a landscaping project.  Sometimes it's good just to chill on the patio or front porch and do absolutely nothing.

I love being outdoors.  There's something soothing about listening to the birds chirping, wind whispering through the trees, rustling leaves in the fall.. and chimes.

Chimes, soft toned, can provide some great sounds.  Comforting and peaceful, the sound of wind chimes is something you can fall asleep to.

I picked up a set of wind chimes from Amazon, sound unheard...  I know, kind of a gamble and I usually like to hear chimes before purchasing.  This set makes crisp and pleasant sounds with the musical notes playing in the wind with 6 metal tuned tubes of different lengths, the tones gentle and melodic.  I hung this set on my front porch.  I think I'll purchase another set for my back patio and garden.  

Costing me just $7.99, it's not a large set but it's not one of those tiny, over-priced sets either.  There are six polished aluminum tubes that range in length from 6.8 inches to 10.9 inches.   They came nicely packed too, no string mess to untangle.  The total length of the chime is 28 inches from the hook to bottom.  It's a nice medium size and puts out wonderful tones, not too harsh, not too high pitched.  As Goldilocks might say, "It's just right."  I'm giving the Tujol Wind Chime 5 out of 5 Bachelor on the Cheap stars, it's worthy of a repeat buy.

5 stars

$pend Wisely My Friends...

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Product Review: Nalupatio Bar Table & Chairs Set

Nalupatio Bar & Chairs Set
Framework & seats out of the box

By Mike Thayer

I started a new project this weekend. I'm turning what has been a traditional family room style space in my house - fireplace, couch, love seat, a large flat screen TV, stereo, coffee table, side tables - into a "Man Cave" Bar & Grill! The traditional furniture has been removed, I'm going all out Bar & Grill theme here, TVs on every wall, enhanced lighting, full bar, bottle/beverage cooler, stools for the bar and bar table seating in the open area. I might even have enough space for an arcade game or two.

The first thing I put together for my Bar & Grill themed room was the bar. You can read how that went here:  Product Review: Tribesigns Home Bar Unit

Nalupatio Bar Table & Chairs Set
Lightweight, yet quite sturdy.

The next item to assemble was the Nalupatio Bar Table & Chairs Set.  This set provides some additional seating in the room, a place to set your drink, or perhaps lay out some appetizers/bar food on.  I'm into the industrial look, so that's what I got, metal and wood, a table and two stools.  The company calls them chairs, but they're stools.  The table measures 43 inches in length and has a height of 35 inches.  The stools sit at just over 25 inches and can tuck under the table when not in use, a nice feature. 

The box was packed well and delivered in good shape with no damage to the product to report. This is light material, yet quite sturdy.  And while the instructions, wrong word, illustrations were decent enough, none of the parts were labeled.  It was picture reference only "instruction."  Only two tools were needed to complete the assembly which were provided.  It took me about 20 minutes to put the table and stools together, not bad.  The company states it should only take about 10 minutes, but that's a bit of a stretch.

Costing me $128.99 on Amazon, this set has the look I'm into, it's lightweight yet sturdy. A nice addition to my new Bar & Grill themed room, I'm giving the Nalupatio Bar & Chairs Set 4 out of 5 Bachelor on the Cheap stars.  It's reasonably priced, my only knock is the on the instructions and the parts not being labeled.  Had I not paid attention to the pre-drilled holes on the table legs, I would have reversed how they were supposed to be installed for proper support bar installation.  More attention to detail on the part of the company is needed to provide a better assembly experience.

4 stars

$pend Wisely My Friends...

 

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Product Review: Tribesigns Home Bar Unit

Tribesigns Home Bar Unit
It's got a nice black metal mesh industrial look

By Mike Thayer

I started a new project this weekend.  I'm turning what has been a traditional family room style space in my house - fireplace, couch, love seat, a large flat screen TV, stereo, coffee table, side tables - into a "Man Cave" Bar & Grill! The traditional furniture has been removed, I'm going all out Bar & Grill here, TVs on every wall, enhanced lighting, full bar, bottle/beverage cooler, stools for the bar and bar table seating in the open area. I might even have enough space for an arcade game or two.

First things first, the assembly of a new home bar unit.  A man has to have priorities, the actual bar for this 'Bar & Grill' themed room must come first!  I wanted a quick turn-around on this conversion, so I went with assembly furniture on this one.  What I purchased is a three tier unit with stemware racks and 2 shelves providing storage for wine and spirits.  The built-in stemware racks hold up to 15 wine glasses, flutes or snifters.  Glass size does dictate capacity of course.  It has adjustable feet to handle any uneven floor issues and comes with a foot rail.

Tribesigns Home Bar Unit
Plenty of room for storing glasses, wine, spirits

The box was packed well and delivered in good shape with no damage to the product to report.  It is a heavy box however, so it could be a two-person lift for some.  All the parts were labeled and only two tools were required to assemble the unit, which were provided.  The instructions were illustration only, there were no written descriptions or warnings such as "Make sure part 'X' is facing front with the arrow pointing up."  For the most part the illustrations were pretty straight forward and the total assembly time was about one hour.

Costing me $229.99 on Amazon, I'm pleased with this bar purchase.  It's got a good look, it's sturdy and it was fairly easy to put together.  With a budget of $1,000 to convert this formerly family style room to one with a Bar & Grill theme, the bar fits into my budget nicely.  I have a wine/beverage cooler, stools, signage, bar tables, wine racks and other accessories to buy!  I'm giving the Tribesigns Home Bar Unit 4 out of 5 Bachelor on the Cheap stars.  My only concern is how the bar top will hold up long term, it's a laminate.

4 stars

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