When my husband says "I found the perfect book/game/food/life-saving-medicine", my first reaction is "How much does it cost?" When my friends say "These are the cutest shoes that were ever created!" I say, "I think I can get them cheaper somewhere else." When small chicks chirp "cheep cheep cheep", my kids say "Mom, they're talking to you." I am, as I like to call it, "thrifty".
So you would think, wouldn't you, that I shop at "thrift" stores all the time, right? Wrong. I mean, I used to thrift shop with the best of them (starting in high school when most people around me didn't even know what a thrift shop was, I might add). I could turn a 1960's velvet cocktail dress into a work-appropriate jumper quicker than you could say "recycle". And then, we moved here. Bizarro World: the place where thrift store people think a holey, pilling, twenty-year-old polyester sweater is worth $20.
After hearing gushing stories from fellow bloggers about "I got a designer sheet for 45 cents and some Prada shoes for $2!" or "Look at the twenty yards of silk curtain I got for 25 cents and a handful of beans!", I decided that maybe I should revisit the whole thrift store idea.
Apparently I still live in Bizarro World. I hauled myself down to the local Goodwill store to see what they had going in the way of second-hand sheets or possibly some extra-large shirts in cute fabric that I could cut down for the kids. I swear on my mother's (non-existant) grave, here's what I found:
1) a sweater from 1993, acrylic, pilling, neon orange. $6.00.
2) a woman's blouse, circa 1999, rayon, ugly olive green floral and bamboo print. $4.50.
3) a duvet cover, date unknown, polyester blend, dishwater grey. $10.00.
Nothing in that store cost less than $3.50, their minimum clothes price.
As a comparison, here are some NEW items that I found at Walmart the next day:
1) girls' polo top with puffed sleeves and ruffled placket. $3.00.
2) woman's blouse, white cotton blend poplin. $4.98.
3) man's button-down plaid shirt, cotton. $4.98.
4) twin sheet set (flat sheet, fitted sheet, pillow case), cotton flannel. $19.95.
Given the choice between a $5 worn, used blouse and a $5 brand-spankin' new blouse, which would most people choose? Which would you choose? I'm pretty sure what I would choose. I think this question is pretty well answered by the fact that besides me, the only other people in that Goodwill store that Saturday were a young couple looking for cheap baby toys and a gaggle of college girls who were "going to a White Trash party" that night.
You heard me.
So. Feeling utterly and completely disgusted with the options (read: “the cost”) in this place, I finally decided to purchase one thing. Based on the fact that it was something that I couldn't make myself for the same price at home.
woman's cotton batiste skirt with matching underskirt and acrylic embroidery, size 10
I figured I could cut this down really easily and make a cute little summer skirt for one of the kids.
And that's what I did. I measured the length I wanted down from the waistline and trimmed both layers of fabric. Than I reseamed them as they were before (right sides together at the waistline) and then made two buttonholes and a channel for elastic. I strung the elastic through and stitched a piece of matching ribbon on each end.
Ta da. Embroidered summer skirt.
Of course, it's not all that hot. And I paid $4.50 for it. But whatever. I finished the stupid thing and maybe one of my kids can wear it. Maybe.
It's kind of dumpy-looking on TLo and it's too big in the waist for The Big One. I think I'll probably shorten the elastic and give it to The Big One, though. Which is kinda sad for TLo, as she literally has one shirt left that will fit her for summer. I guess she gets a new wardrobe. I don't think it will come from the thrift store.
EDIT: OK, I should probably say a few more things – I was trying to keep to under 5000 words, but oh well here they are:
1) yes, there are a about five other stores in town (typically with very small stocks) and I am going to check them out this weekend. However, based on previous experience, I have low expectations for anything different than what I experienced at the other store.
2) yes, I know that the whole point (apparently) of the Goodwill store is that you are (apparently) contributing to Goodwill and you get some stuff in return. As opposed to that they are providing stuff that you are getting for cheap for your own benefit. But still. One has to wonder who buys this stuff, since patently you can get nicer stuff for the same price from discount stores if you are a thrifty shopper, and if your goal is simply to donate money to a charitable organization then why not just give them the money and skip the junk? You got me.
3) it’s entirely possible that the bulk of “good” stuff that is passed through these stores actually gets turned over to those who really need it right away, rather than relying on selling it at a low price to them through the store. Which is fair enough, if that’s what really happens. I have no information regarding this. I hope that’s what happening, at any rate.