Friday, September 12, 2014

Local Shopping Challenge, Day 3: A feast for the senses

I knew going into this weeklong challenge that Friday would be the easiest day to meet it. For starters, Friday is the only day when our local thrift shop is open all day. (It's also open on Saturday mornings and for a few hours on Thursday, but even if you manage to get there during its alleged business hours, you may find the doors shut.) This store, as I've noted before, has a very limited selection that seldom changes, so most of the times I go in I leave empty-handed, but on those rare occasions when I find something I like, I can walk out with it for a dollar or less. Moreover, the store has recently expanded its selection to include several shelves of books, which are priced even cheaper than the clothes: just 25 cents for hardcovers and 10 cents for paperbacks. Plus, if you buy three of either, you can get a fourth free.

Friday is also the best day for finding free samples. While you can sometimes find samples at the Stop & Shop on other days of the week, Friday is the day when you're likeliest to see them. It's also the day when the local farmers' market is open during the summer months, and a couple of the vendors there either routinely or occasionally offer samples of their wares. And on top of that, there's often live music, which is a freebie of a different kind.

So I decided that when I headed out for my walk today, I would try to catch as many of these different freebies as I could. First I tried the supermarket, and I found that, sure enough, there was a big tray of bakery items cut into nice bite-sized slivers. There were fragments of both corn muffins and chocolate chip muffins, as well as one little chunk of doughnut, but the tray that was most picked over was the apple crumb cake. It certainly looked the most appetizing to me, and when I tried a piece, it did not disappoint: moist and flavorful and small enough that I didn't feel too guilty about indulging.

After that, I popped over to the Reformed Church to visit the thrift shop. It was open, but as usual, I didn't find anything new and exciting on the racks. I could have tried the bookshelves as well, but I decided that since I already had several unread books waiting in the queue at home, I shouldn't add to the pile.

Outside the church, in the community parking lot, the farmers' market was in full swing—and I mean swing in more than one sense of the word, as a local jazz trio had set up shop between the stands. When I emerged, they were playing an instrumental version of Pink Floyd's "Us and Them," which sounded really odd to me without the words. After that, they moved on to more traditional fare, like "Paper Moon." I also scouted the stands for free samples, but the only stall that had any was the pickle vendor, and he was already swamped. So I just bought some apples and a dozen free-range eggs and came home.

So I didn't find as many under-a-dollar items as I'd hoped, but I still think I did pretty well. Without spending a penny, I got to indulge all five of my senses: sight and sound with the free music and carnival atmosphere of the farmers' market, and touch, smell, and taste with the moist, cinnamon-y sweetness of the crumb cake. Three days down, and so far this "shopping" challenge hasn't cost me a cent. Though that may change tomorrow when we hit the town-wide yard sales.
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