Monday, July 22, 2013

Poppin' some green tags

Last week Brian noticed that his old belt was nearly worn out and asked me to keep an eye out for a new one. I thought our little local thrift shop would probably have one, but when we stopped by on Saturday morning, we found no belts at all in the men's section. I thought maybe they were filed with the shoes, but when we checked there, the only belts we found were clearly for women. So we decided to add a stop at the Goodwill store in East Brunswick to that day's errands.

As I noted back in February, we don't visit this store that often because it's not really on our regular route, and my last trip there was pretty much wasted. But if we're already headed out to one of the home centers in East Brunswick (which we were), it isn't that big a detour to hit the thrift store too, and I figured that even if it didn't have anything for me, it should at least be able to provide us with something as simple as a man's belt. Well, it did...and, to my surprise, a few other items besides.

Since the belt was our primary objective, we went looking for that first. Brian tried on a couple and found a simple black leather one in a suitable size. It was priced at $12.99, which seemed a bit high for a thrift shop item (though I've never actually bought a man's belt before, so maybe I just don't know what they should cost). However, the tag on it was green, and we were there on a green-tag day, which made the final cost a much more reasonable $6.49.

Then, having found what we came for, we split up to scan the rest of the racks, just in case we happened across anything else we could use. Based on my last visit, I wasn't actually expecting to find anything, but as I flipped through the racks of grey tops (the same ones I'd perused without success on my last trip), lo and behold, I actually found a V-neck cotton pullover that fit pretty well. (I didn't bother waiting in line for a fitting room, just pulled it on over my T-shirt right there in the aisle, and while I couldn't find a full-length mirror to evaluate it from every angle, I was able to see enough of myself in the mirror by the hat section to tell that it looked okay.) This was priced at $7.99—which might have been a bit higher than average due to the Calvin Klein label inside, a feature that doesn't actually add any value for me—and it was a yellow tag, so we had to pay the full amount. But after having spent much of last winter and this spring searching for a simple grey pullover, both in thrift stores and in catalogues, without success, I decided anything that fit me was a bargain at the price. 

I then wandered over to the shoe rack, where, once again, I wasn't really expecting to find anything in my size. And I didn't, exactly, but I did find a pair of sturdy hiking boots in black leather (which I'm willing to wear if it's bought secondhand) in a men's size 5 1/2. That's a little big for me (a men's 4 or 4 1/2 is closer to my usual size), and when I tried them on, they were indeed a bit roomy in the toe. However, they still felt reasonably snug, and would presumably be even more so with a heavy winter sock. And since, as you may recall, I have some doubts about how long my current pair of winter boots will last, spending a little money on a backup pair seemed like a reasonable idea. These were priced at $14.99, but the green tag on their soles reduced them to $7.49. And since they're a well-respected brand (Timberland) and have no visible wear on the soles and just the faintest hint of scuffing on the uppers, they should hold up quite well.

When I rejoined Brian, he was carrying two items: a pair of green shorts and a videotape of the movie Little Big Man. Yeah, a videotape—remember those? We tend to buy new videos in DVD or, more recently, downloadable form, but we've held on to our old VCR, and it allows us to take advantage of the occasional great deal—like this classic film priced at a mere 99 cents (49 cents with the green tag). The green shorts were in a cargo style, which isn't Brian's usual preference, but they were also a size 34, which is small enough for him to wear (after some recent weight loss) even without his new belt. The tag on them was red, but at $4.29, they were still a bargain. (At home, fresh out of the shower with no shirt and his hair uncombed, he put them on and said, "Look, they're Abercrombie and Fitch! Do I look young and hip?" Um, no, but did you actually want to?)

So altogether, we got shoes and a sweater for me, shorts and a belt for Brian, and a movie for both of us—including several name-brand items—all for $26.78 including tax. (Clothing isn't taxed in New Jersey, so the only sales tax was 3 cents for the movie.) For me, that made this trip satisfying enough to cancel out the disappointment of the previous one. So I've now revised my opinion of this Goodwill store from "not worth the trip" to "hit or miss": you might find nothing of use, or you might find lots, and there's really no way to predict which ahead of time. Thus, while I still don't consider it worthy of a special trip (that might only end in disappointment), I do now think it's worth going just a bit out of our way to stop by, if we're already in the general area, to see if we happen to strike it lucky.
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