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Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Drycleaning Tags at the Thrift Store: A Small Town Story

It's that time of year. As a teacher, I am inundated with work to grade. At home, I receive zillions of catalogs from places I've never shopped. Oh yeah, and my email inbox is full of tempting offers. I'm only human. I AM tempted.

As always in such situations, I engage in prophylactic shopping. I go to the thrift store. Last week, I went to Goodwill for the first time in a long time. There I looked around and saw nothing, thereby confirming my recently adopted NO GOODWILL policy.

Then I wandered over to the men's section. Mr FS and Frugal Son keep telling me they have enough. Plus, men's clothing is usually in short supply, in bad shape, and of poor quality. Then I saw a little node. In the node were a bunch of Zegna linen shirts in the very size of the two men in my life. So I looked around the men's section and filled up my cart (or buggy, as it's called in these parts).

I sat down with my finds and only kept the very, very best: a few shirts, an unworn cashmere muted plaid blazer, and a few other things. With misgivings, I put the rest back, knowing that I would probably never see another $5.99 Armani suit in the very size of my beloved men. It was not in good shape, alas.

Then I saw a cleaning tag: B Colwell. B Colwell, B Colwell, I mused. Could BC be a doctor? I once purchased a Burberry shirt that had the tag of the oral surgeon where I've dropped so much money. I once saw--but did not purchase owing to bad karma--a men's cashmere sweater with the tag of the dentist who dismissed us from her practice earlier this year. And, of course, all the fancy Italian women's clothing I bought a while back  had the tags of a doctor specializing in breast augmentation and tummy tucks.

Then I remembered who B Colwell is! He is the husband/partner of the woman who founded a retail empire of elegant clothing and furniture in my little town and elsewhere. I think her elegant empire may be down to one furniture store in New Orleans now.

Coincidentally, the local paper ran a story about the elegant couple just the other day. You can scroll through the pics and see their all-white apartment in New Orleans. Their big house has been for sale for a few years. You can buy it!

Thanks Bryan for the donations. I am enough of a bad person to wonder if Vicki donated some of her wardrobe. I didn't see anything. A few years ago, Vicki and her equally beautiful mom Audrey and sister Tricia had a yard sale at the fancy house. It attracted hundreds of mostly women who were willing to pay almost full price for their used garments and furniture. She is a retail genius.

Watching things circulate through a little town....interesting. Peace on earth, GOODWILL TO MEN.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

We Interrupt Regularly Scheduled Broadcasting....Reno Show!

Sorry Readers. Today will not be a report on how I struck out at the thrift store or--oh joy!--found some milk reduced for quick sale on the very day we needed to make yogurt. Such are my usual simple pleasures.

No. I am here to say that the make-over show that picked the house Frugal Son lives in finished work yesterday. The make-over took one week. The show will air in December. I have never seen the show (it is fairly new and it features Amish people). In fact, we've never seen a DIY or HGTV show.

This opportunity fell on us out of the sky when one of Frugal Son's roommates was working as a gofer on a tv production in Mississippi. The producer asked if he knew of a neat house in New Orleans that needed a makeover. He said, "How about mine?" Thank you, Colin!

I haven't seen the finished results yet, but Frugal Son likes them and is rather reeling over the whole experience.  I don't think we can post pics till after the episode airs in any case. The only hint I've had of the treasures within is on the Facebook page of one of the companies involved.

I had a nice chat with the Amish fellow on the right (if you click on the Facebook page above). He overheard my saying that I was hungry and he offered to share his po-boy with me. I accepted.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

After One, Le Deluge? How do you stop shopping?

Last year, when I turned 60, I made a list of four Eileen Fisher basics that I wanted. I decided that it was too hard to find basics (plain black whatevers) at thrift stores, my usual haunt. And luckily enough, without squandering too much time, I got all of them at around 60% off. As I mentioned in my last post, I call Nordstrom and have them price match if possible. Then I get the famous Nordies guarantee.

Luckily too, my purchases came right before I went away for 6 weeks. I seldom shop for clothing when I'm on the road. So there was an endpoint.

However, as I mentioned also in my last post, I bought a long EF black skirt to replace the one I wore last summer. But then...the desires swelled. I also put about eight items in my shopping cart.  I waited a few hours and all but two were sold out. Thank heavens!

Sometimes I think I am addicted shopper using thrift stores as my methadone.  Buying another of a beloved skirt led, in my case, not to satiety, but to desire.

Is that normal? What does one do to turn desire to satisfaction?

Friday, November 7, 2014

Succumbing and Not Succumbing to Sale Temptations

It's that time of year. When all the things you rejected as too expensive are now 40% off.  Sometimes more.

For me, the true tempters are simple basics. Usually--and here I reveal  my age, socioeconomic whatever, and aesthetic (not to mention my lack of a waistline)--I crave Eileen Fisher. The crepe pants, the plain skirts, the long tanks. These are not show stoppers, but workhorses. Last year, I decided to get over my tooooo cheap ways, and buy a few pieces. I eventually found them all at an acceptable price (for me) and they went a long way towards making getting dressed easier.

Within the last few days, most every blog in the universe announced the arrival of a Nordstroms 40% off sale. I did what I always do. Put a whole bunch of EF items into my shopping cart. Then--in an effort at prophylactic shopping--I headed over to the Food Bank Thrift. There I found a forlorn and filthy looking long cashmere cardi of a brand I like as well as EF. I bought it. I washed it. It is nice! I saved it from an ignominious fate!

I checked back at Nordstroms and was relieved to see that several items had sold out. Phew. I was till tempted by one skirt: the long EF foldover waist skirt. I got one last year and wore it at least 30 times in Europe. It is rather raglike at this point. I found one even cheaper at Saks, so I had Nordies match the price.

Love: price matching, free returns, free ship, no deadlines.

Today I'm tempted by another EF item at another place. Always another temptation. I try to counter this with my knowledge that there is always another bargain.

How do you resist temptation? (No pictures of the things that are tempting me. I don't want to tempt you. Plus, I'm lazy. Win-Win)

Sunday, November 2, 2014

A Peek at our Future Declutter: 112 linear feet of books

Frugal Son is living with two roommates in a house in New Orleans. Thanks to one roommate who was working on a filming project with a producer, the house was chosen for a makeover on a reality show! Our main request: bookshelves.

Mr FS and I have long been accumulators of books. We are constant readers, but things had gone too far. Perhaps it was the tempting offer: 5 books for a dollar at Goodwill. The poor books languished and languished. Of course, they needed to be rescued by an appreciative person, who might even get around to reading them someday. Luckily, Goodwill raised its prices recently, which eliminated the need to get books in groups of five. Both our children are readers and we couldn't wait to give them some books. The moment has come for Frugal Son.

The designer told me to prepare for more than 100 linear feet of shelves. She offered to buy books in bulk to stage the shelves. OH NO! We have the books, plus it's so wasteful to buy all those Reader's Digest Condensed books by the foot.

I am about halfway through the culling. That's a lot of books. And guess what? I've hardly made a dent.

This is a vision of my future declutter. My parents weren't readers, so when they retired and moved, they didn't have books to contend with. (That's probably why I love books in quantity.)  Mr FS came from a set of readers. They had zillions of books, but could barely stand to give even a few away.  (That's probably why Mr FS loves books in quantity.) Then--because of health issues--they had to move. Mr FS spent a week in California packing books for the move. Then they had him bring boxes upon boxes of books that wouldn't make the move with them to a charity shop. The charity shop rejected the books.

Frugal Son can't wait to get his library. He is especially eager to peruse the cookbooks I've set aside for him.

Meanwhile, I came upon some books I should read. I started The Assistant by Bernard Malamud. It is an incredibly powerful book, so powerful that I can only read a few pages at a time.  Since I started the process, I have not bought a single book. I have so much to read!

Check out these photos of the office of a famous decorator. I have the books, but not the exquisite decor, alas.

I figure we have about five years to get rid of the excess. Did you have an event that knocked some sense into you about over-accumulation?