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Friday, May 16, 2014

Thrift Store Fun, Thrift Store Folly

Unlike many of the financial "experts" in the blogosphere, who counsel us to "make more money" (as they did, by selling their blogs for several million dollars), I am a big believer in saving dollars here and dollars there. The financial bloggers, many of whom have retired on the proceeds of their blogs, also counsel us to "negotiate for more money." Hear that legislators???? My pennies and dollars are all that remain in my control.

Hence my killer grocery shopping skills and my thrift store acumen. Perhaps I was karmically sent to my town because we have--no question--about the best and cheapest thrift stores I have encountered. Plus, in a small town, you see the same people every time you go to a thrift, so one has some social interaction.

Today, when I got home from administering my last final, I was completely exhausted from sucking up all the panic and misery of my students. I HAD to go to a thrift store for the spa experience. A trip to Goodwill--about 3 miles--was too much, so I contented myself with the little Food Bank thrift, which is about 1/2 mile away.

Well! Paul, the former manager of the thrift shop, who has since been promoted to an administrative position at the food bank, was at the register and boy was he crabby. You see, the people working at the thrift have been running 1/2 price sales and playing "let's make a deal" for a few weeks. They also missed a Dooney and Bourke bag and put it in the $1 bin. Paul saw that. (No, I was not the lucky buyer.) He told me that REVENUE WAS DOWN. WAY DOWN.

EVERY SINGLE customer whined about the renewal of full prices (i.e. $2.50 for most clothing). EVERY SINGLE customer asked Paul to lower the prices. I was too scared to ask him! I did point out that prices had to be low at thrifts because people made a lot of mistakes in purchasing. Some items have damage that one doesn't see till one gets home. ETCETERA. He finds me rather amusing, so I did cheer him up a tiny bit.

Anyway, I bought some beautiful fabric samples. Don't ask me why. I can't sew. I do have a love for fabric and seeing gorgeous linen blend fabrics--some toiles, many printed in England-- just wiped me out. I could not resist. I'm hoping the creative Miss Em will help me figure out what to do with them. Some of the pieces are pretty big, 18" by 45," though most are smaller.

The one useful thing I got was a little cuisinart mini-prep processor. I have one, but I got it for Frugal Son, a fabulous cook. I even plugged it in to see if it worked.

When I got home, Mr FS sighed about the fabric. He took one look at the mini-prep and said, "There's no blade." OOPS. I, the usually careful shopper, had just wasted a few dollars on a defective item. Just as I had told Paul. If he's not too crabby, I'm going to tell him next time I see him.

Still, I helped support the food bank.

Bailey & Griffin 20754 56


Gam Kau said...

I've had my share of thrift store fails, but as you say, at least the money goes to charity. I am not a sewer either, but that hasn't stopped me from amassing a collection of fabric, somehow I just really like textiles. I did manage to turn sari fabric into curtains at one point and that worked out pretty well. Your fabric samples sound really lovely, I'm sure you'll find a use for them. Funny how 2nd hand shopping can be so relaxing for some of us. Even when I travel I enjoy seeking out thrift stores. Chronic frugalness I suppose. :)

Sharon said...

I can only dream of prices that low at our local thrift stores (SF Bay Area). $2.50 might get you a faded, stretched out tank top. Decent pants/jeans are close to $10 only go up from there for better brands in good condition. Do you not have "pickers" there? Those are people who swoop through Goodwill and the other charity shops buying up things to bring to pricier vintage shops and now to sell online also.

Frugal Scholar said...

@GK--I think I may suggest that my andy daughter make some lavender sachets with the toile.

@Sharon--Maybe I'll write about thrift shopping in your neck of the woods (Cotati). I wouldn't even bother going to thrifts in SF--way too competitive! I should write about pickers too--having been one myself in grad school. I'd say about 90% of the people shopping at thrifts are buying for resale.

Duchesse said...

Our thrifts let you return anything defective, I think you have a week.

Lavender sachets sound like a fantastic use for the fabric. Or if ambitious you could make lingerie bags, using another material for the back. nice way to keep your tights or bras organized, for home or travel.

Frugal Scholar said...

@Duchesse--No returns officially, but one nice fellow said I could exchange. Lingerie bags! I will suggest to Miss Em. Some of the fabric is so beautiful that I hesitate to cut it--even though most pieces are only 18" by 18" or so.

Shelley said...

I too have a weakness for the sensual pleasures of fabric - textures and colours are so lovely! Perhaps you'll take up some simple sewing when you are retired and have more time.