Thursday, January 21, 2016

Thrift (Shop) Week 2016, Day 5: Greene Street Consignment

Greene Street Consignment in Princeton is a far cry from our so-called consignment shop here in Highland Park. Where Pure Green is dim and cluttered, Greene Street is bright and spacious. The racks are well organized, with clothing actually sorted by size; there's plenty of room for hangers to slip on and off the rack, and plenty of room between the racks for shoppers to pass by. Shoes are neatly stacked on racks, so you can actually see the entire available selection at a glance. And there are plenty of fitting rooms—clean, well-lit rooms with hooks for your clothing selections and a stool to sit on as you take off your shoes. For me, after the low-rent thrift shops I've been experiencing the rest of this week, this was unimaginable luxury.

Compared to those other stores, Greene Street also offers a much wider selection, with a focus on upscale brands. For instance, I spotted sweaters on the rack by the likes of Ralph Lauren and Ann Taylor, and pants by Michael Kors (without the words "for Target" tacked on). Clothing tends to be newer, too; I happened to overhear a conversation outside the fitting rooms between an employee and someone who was interested in bringing in some clothes to consign, and the employee was explaining that anything more than a year or so old probably wasn't worth bothering with, because they wouldn't be able to sell it.

Of course, this posh atmosphere comes with much higher price tags than the ones I'm used to seeing at Goodwill, or even at the local "vintage" and "consignment" stores. I saw sweaters ranging from $20 to $50, and some pairs of pants for as much as $70—comparable, or in some cases even more, than I'm accustomed to paying for new clothes off the rack. Of course, I'm sure that it's much less than those particular brands would cost to buy new, but then, I wouldn't be shopping for those particular brands if I had to pay full price.

Still, I was determined not to be put off by the prices. I figured that I probably wouldn't be spending any more on these consigned clothes than I'd pay at Sears or Target, and I thought, or at least hoped, that with the wide selection on the racks, I'd actually have a better chance of finding something I liked. Unlike the local stores I'd visited on Tuesday and Wednesday, this one actually did seem to have a good assortment of practical clothes for everyday wear, including shirts, slacks, and sweaters in a reasonable range of sizes. So it looked like if I was going to find anything, this was my best shot.

At first, matters looked promising. As I browsed up and down the racks, I found several garments worth pulling off the rack for a closer look, but none of them looked like it would really serve to fill a gap in my wardrobe. I did try on one pair of pants that looked like they might fit me—a bit long, perhaps, but they could be hemmed—and weren't too outrageously expensive at $32. But though I was able to get into them, they turned out to be a low-rise style that looks absolutely awful on me (something that wasn't obvious from the way they looked on the hanger). So the entire bottom floor of the store, from sweaters to shoes, yielded no treasures.

Upstairs, in the clearance section, the pickings were slimmer, but the prices were lower—not as low as Goodwill's, but getting closer to that range. I tried on a deep-pink wrap dress that looked like it might be a reasonable deal at $15, but it proved to be too big in the shoulders, too low in the neck, and too skimpy everywhere else—though that might have been partly because I had a lot of trouble figuring out exactly how the thing was supposed to fasten. It was a bit like trying to tie myself into a pink toga.

So, sadly, despite the nice selection and atmosphere, I still left Greene Street empty-handed. It was a bit of a consolation to know that at least I had managed to get a look at everything on the racks, so if I hadn't found anything, it must have been because there was nothing to find, and not because there was some hidden gem buried so deep that I couldn't unearth it. But this was cold comfort when I reflected that even a really good thrift shop apparently couldn't provide anything to suit me. If my ultimate goal for this thrift-shopping binge is to fill all the gaps in my wardrobe, thereby eliminating all need for cheap, mass-produced clothes from third world sweatshops, then the prospect of completing my quest successfully seems to be looking dimmer and dimmer.
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