Retailers never just roll over and die. They tend to fade out over the course of a month or so, during which time they try to recoup as many bucks as possible through close-out sales.

These are typically rather hurried affairs, complete with rather lofty claims posted in the front window. In the case of Fantle's, the recently deceased drug chain, Betty Manning, of Fairfax, can tell you all about front-window loftiness.

Betty chanced past the Fantle's on Cedar Lane in Vienna one day in early September, just after Fantle's had announced its demise. In the front window were several splashy signs that promised "savings of 50 percent off and more." Right in front of the 5 and the 0, but in much smaller type and much less splashy colors, were the magic words: "Up to."

Thinking that the Good Ship Lucky had just docked, our heroine went inside and bought a few things. When the cashier broke the news that Betty's purchases rated only a 10 percent discount, she hit the roof, followed shortly by the manager's office.

But the manager wouldn't change the terms of the sale. No, said she, Betty could not return the items she had just purchased. No, said she, Betty could not upgrade her discount from 10 percent to 50. The truth was in the window, the manager said, even if some key portions of it were in type so small that Betty could barely read it.

Asked to comment, Gloria Kornasiewicz, the chief of investigations for the Fairfax County Office of Consumer Affairs, said the Virginia Consumer Protection Act prohibits false advertising. "I would say that in a situation like this, {the Fantle's signs} could be deemed misleading," Gloria said. However, she added, no written complaints about the Fantle's going-out-of-business sale had been filed with her office as of the last week of September.

By the way, at Betty's request, the Fantle's manager did locate two items in the Vienna store that were marked 50 percent off. They were ceiling fans, and a few Christmas items. Don't all cheer at once.

Betty's bottom line: "I hope {my letter} will help some people save their money and buy something when it's really on sale."

My bottom line: You've never heard better advice.

Nettie Dillon, of Rockville, met a knockout of a teenager the other day. Here's hoping he's reading this. He deserves all the praise I can heap on him.

He deserves it because he helped Nettie when she really needed it. The scene was the checkout line of the Giant Food store near Nettie's home. She had just done her marketing, and the clerk was processing her purchases. "But when you're 81 years old, you sometimes don't even remember the simplest things," Nettie said. In this case, she had forgotten to pick up a jar of mayonnaise.

If Nettie had been a typical shopper, she would have thought only of herself. She would have asked the people behind her to wait a second. Then she would have gone and found the mayonnaise. Then she would have returned to her place in line. By then, of course, everyone behind her in line would have been fuming.

But a young man of about 15 who was behind Nettie in line overheard her mayonnaise angst. He volunteered to chase down the mayonnaise for her. It didn't take Nettie long to accept.

Icing on the cake: The teenager could have grabbed the first jar of mayo he saw, to speed Nettie and the rest of the line along. But from way back at the mayo display, he shouted: "Do you want regular or light?" This was truly a guy who believed in doing the whole job and doing it right. Well done, mayo man.

Next up is a young hero whose name we know. He's Tim Hamilton, a manager at the AMC Carrollton 6 movie theater in Prince George's County. As you'll soon hear, he's not one to stand on ceremony, or to duck a tough decision.

Robert Bodine, of Lanham, took four kids to see "The Jungle Book" at the Carrollton 6 one recent afternoon. The ad in the paper said there was a 1 p.m. show. So did a sign over the cashier's window. But the first showing had been bumped back to dinner time by downtown management, without notice. Naturally, the kids were all terribly disappointed.

Robert asked if Tim would simply show the movie anyway. Tim called a downtown manager to ask permission. But that manager was unreachable.

Wouldn't most managers freeze in their tracks at this point? Wouldn't they worry about getting in trouble or getting fired if they "went solo" and decided to show the film?

Not Tim Hamilton. He ordered up a special showing on the spot.

As Robert Bodine says, it's refreshing to meet a manager who doesn't "delight in telling us we can't have what we want." Other managers, please tell your backbones to copy.