Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Thrift (Shop) Week 2016, Day 3: Sibel's Vintage

When I first came up with the idea of thrift shopping for Thrift Week, I couldn't manage to think of enough local thrift shops to fill out the week. So it came as quite a happy discovery when a brand new secondhand store opened up last December in a spot on Raritan Avenue that used to be a bead and jewelry shop. It actually changed hands quite suddenly; one week it was Ashley's Pearl and Jewelry, the next it suddenly had brown paper over all the windows, and before that week was out, the paper had come down to reveal a new display of assorted furniture, tchotchkes, and jewelry, and the awning over the store had been repainted to read "Sibel's Vintage."

Based on the contents of the window, I initially guessed that the "vintage" items for sale at Sibel's were mostly along the lines of furnishings and accessories for the home, but a pile of fliers at my local bank soon dispelled that idea. It promised that Sibel's carried a wide assortment of goods, including:
  • Vintage Silver Jewelry
  • Vintage Furs
  • Vintage '30s and '40s Clothing
  • Vintage Party Dresses
  • Vintage Hats & Shoes
  • Vintage Purses
  • Vintage Accessories
  • Antique Jewelry
  • Antique Furniture
  • Antique Mirrors
  • Antique Lamps
  • Antique Paintings/Art
  • Antique Collectibles
After seeing this mouthwatering menu, I entered Sibel's for the first time today with high hopes. The front of the store was filled with jewelry and various gewgaws, but toward the back, up a short flight of stairs, I found several racks of clothing, as promised. I didn't see much that looked like it dated from the '30s and '40s, but there was indeed a display of colorful party dresses, a rack of antique coats—fur and otherwise—and a wide assortment of shoes and purses, of varying provenance and price.

Unfortunately, I wasn't really in the market for an evening dress or a coat, and there didn't appear to be much in the way of practical, everyday garments. I did examine the racks of shoes, though, and actually went so far as to try on a pair of grey felt booties bearing the label "Blowfish Shoes." I couldn't find this exact style online, but similar styles on their website appear to sell for around $50, which would have made these a bargain at the marked price of $15—but sadly, they were far too tight across the instep. The proprietor, who I assume was Sibel herself, tried to interest me in other pairs of boots, including a size 6 pair of Uggs (definitely too small) and a pair of what I can only describe as mukluks, but nothing seemed suitable.

I felt a bit bad for Sibel, since I was the only customer in the store—perhaps the only one she'd had all day—and she seemed eager, even desperate, to find me something I would like. However, I wasn't about to blow $15 on a pair of shoes that didn't fit, or $75 on a velvet evening bag that I'd almost certainly never have a use for, just for the sake of giving her my business. But I did find a rack of tights for sale behind the shoes—new, not secondhand, though I guess they may have been acquired as remainders from other stores—and I figured I could always use another pair of those, so I spent $5 on a nice black cable-knit pair. They're actually not the ideal size for me, but the stretchy fabric is accommodating enough to adjust, and the price wasn't unreasonable.

So today's mission was, at best, a partial success. I managed to find something useful and give a bit of support to a local thrift shop that I certainly hope will thrive, even if it didn't happen to have anything to my taste. But if my ultimate goal was to devote more of my clothing budget to secondhand clothes rather than cheap, mass-produced ones, I'm afraid I didn't do anything to further it today.
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