11 December 2007

idle(prattle): thrift shopping

Mrs. Fashion wrote a recent post {"Role Reversal"} that inspired this post. She asked if readers have noticed the trend of how a lot of charity shops are no longer for the poor - instead the middle class folks, therefor the prices have gone up and really don't always serve the people truly in need.  Basically, have you noticed a role reversal between poor and rich shoppers and their destinations? It made me think about one of my recent shopping experiences...

While on holiday a couple of weeks ago, I noticed a thrift shop's grand opening banner and made a mental note to make a visit. Leaving my boyfriend behind at the house because in his own words, - "I'll only hold you back."  So very true.

Once inside, I noticed a sign that said one paper bag full of clothes for $5. I asked for full clarification from the clerk (one must know the rules of engagement.) and he said that I could fill it up with clothes, shoes, handbags, belts, anything in the store. Ok, so I made my first walk through and picked up three dresses. Made my second round and picked up a clutch, five belts and two shirts. My third round, I got a shopping cart and started to seriously consider the pants.  The fourth round, I got a second brown bag and asked the clerk if they took credit cards. On the fifth pass, I discovered the skirts and offered styling tips to the woman trying on a sweater in the corner. Seriously.

So, there I am in a shopping haze, throwing everything that remotely caught my eye into my cart. It was a liberating feeling...I paid my $10 cover and could grab whatever I wanted. The only thing that I passed on were the shoes. Reasoning that - one: they would take up too much room and two: I am not too keen on second hand shoes. Maybe except for boots because I always wear socks with those.

I am back at the skirt rack when my hand lands upon an Armani charcoal grey wool skirt. I grab it and look quickly around as if anticipating hoards of women waiting to fight me for this skirt. None do. I don't even look at the size. It is mine now. I bury it one of the bags, just in case. This discovery gives me a second wind, and I score some Michael Kors pants with the tags still on,  along with a YSL and cK shirt for my boyfriend, a Ralph Lauren sweater for my dad and blazer for my mom.

I position myself behind a rack in the back to take inventory and do some serious packing. An older woman wearing a Christmas applique sweater approaches my cart and immediately I become very territorial. Instead, she tells me that the proper way to fit the most items in these bags were to roll not fold them, and that I could just steam them out later. With with advice, I ended up with just enough room for another two skirts and tops, which I pickup up on the way to check out which felt like the walk of shame.  Here I am, trying to scheme to fit the most clothes in my bag, which is filled with the most random (however, prized) stuff.  I really thought the clerk was giving me the stink eye. I paid, carried out my bulging bags and tried to ignore the clothes that I didn't see displayed on the sidewalk.

I try to reason to myself that I donated my money to the charity even though I prevented another woman from having a classic, tailored pencil skirt that will never go out of style. Right? In the end, I walked out with approximately: 3 dresses, 5 belts, 1 killer navy blue clutch, 2 pants, 3 sweaters, 27 tops, 13 skirts, 1 blazer, and 1 vintage dark green knee length wool coat; all shamelessly packed into two brown paper bags. How? I do not know, because once unpacked back at the house since the paper bags began to tear, took two big garbage bags to transport.  I am told that in times of stress, that one is able to come up with creative solutions.

Thinking back, I don't think I was the only one who was theoretically out of place. First, the location of the shop. It was across the street from a golf course and spa. Second, one of the ladies around me kept saying that she was just browsing and she really didn't need any more clothes before she cleaned out her closet. Now, correct me if I am wrong, but the truly needy don't have this mentality. And finally, (the coup de grâce) during my brief sweep through housewares, I overheard two women comparing the boarding schools they sent their children.

I like thrift store shopping because of the hunt and finding that one of a kind item to fit my style. There are a few thrift shops that are still the essence of charity shops and they are located in the neighborhoods they need to serve. Because of the location, the price ceiling is minimal.  For the others, you will consistently bump into hipsters and stylists browsing through. My only hope is that since they have raised their prices more money is going to the charity. I can only hope. I did look at the normal price of the clothes that i bought, and shirts are going for $2 and skirts for $3.  I made out major and admit I am greedy. However, I still try and remain positive that the thrift stores that find themselves in the better neighborhoods are positioning themselves to make more money off the people who can afford to give and giving back to those who need it most.

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