Friday, January 20, 2012

Thrift Week Day Four: Buy Secondhand Day

I must confess, I initially didn't have high hopes for today's Thrift Week event, Buy Secondhand Day. Our town's only used-book store just closed down (which, sadly, isn't that much of a loss, because the place was nice as a hangout but terrible as a place to find books). We do have a couple of secondhand clothing stores, but both have serious drawbacks. One is a high-end consignment shop that charges more for secondhand clothes than the cheaper chains do for new, and also carries hardly anything in my size. The other is a thrift shop run out of a dim and cluttered church basement, which has great prices (suit jackets for $2, shirts for $1, shoes for $2 a pair) but a limited and seldom-changing selection. It's also open only about 11 hours per week: Friday during the day and a couple of hours on Thursday and Saturday mornings. So I knew if I was going to make an attempt at secondhand shopping in my home town, it was going to have to be today, but I wasn't terribly optimistic.

Well, when I got there, I was pleasantly surprised. Apparently the staff had been at work tidying the place up, because I found that the whole space was much cleaner, brighter and better organized than I'd ever seen it before. There was plenty of room to move around, and I could see all the items at a glance instead of having to squeeze between the racks to paw through them. I glanced over the shirts and trousers and then decided, just for the heck of it, to have another look at the women's blazers. This is an item I haven't worn on a regular basis in years (when you work at home, every day is Casual Friday), but it has often occurred to me that it would be a useful thing to have for emergencies, and right now the only one I own is an ill-fitting black thing that I picked up for five bucks at a discount store. I'd looked through the jackets before with no luck, so I wasn't expecting much—but to my surprise, I found a black, two-button jacket, originally from Ann Taylor, in a reasonable size, which I was sure I'd never seen before. It fit beautifully except for the sleeves, but I figured those could always be shortened if necessary; it'll just be a follow-up to Tuesday's Support Local Business event. And even if it costs me $20 to alter a jacket that I only paid $2 for, that'll still be only $22 total for a jacket that probably cost $150 or more when it was new.

So, for two dollars, I've acquired both a new-to-me jacket and a useful lesson: never give up on a local business, even one that's been in bad shape for years. So long as it's still in business, it always has the chance to improve. (Too bad it's too late for the bookstore.)
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