Of all the thrift shops in Highland Park and its immediate environs, the Tower Thrift Shop is the only one I visit regularly. It's within walking distance, it has a bigger selection than the other Highland Park shops, and its prices are even lower than Goodwill's—just $1 for most tops and $2 for pants. And while the clothes aren't as well organized as at some stores, they are at least loosely grouped into small, medium, and large categories, so I don't have to examine every single garment in the store to figure out which ones are likely to fit me. Its biggest drawback is that its hours are limited, but I can usually manage to make the time to stop by on a Friday—especially during the summer, when our weekly farmers' market is being held in the parking lot just outside the church where the thrift shop lives.
Yet despite these many advantages, my trips to the Tower Thrift Shop are very hit-and-miss. Sometimes I find two pairs of pants in my exact size, just like magic; other times I flip through every rack in the store and find nothing that looks remotely useful. So I had little idea what to expect when I headed down there today. Would I finally hit my thrift-store shopping stride, or would I strike out yet again?
At first, it looked like this trip was going better than any of the others. I actually found several pairs of pants worth trying on, in an assortment of fabrics: shimmery grey fine-wale corduroy, fully lined black wool, and some sort of lightweight synthetic. But alas, not one of them actually fit well enough and looked good enough to be worth the $2 they were asking. I also tried on a grey wool sweater in a boys' size XL that mistakenly got filed on the women's clothing rack. This was something I'd been looking for specifically, and the overall size and sleeve length were actually about right on me, but the boxy boy-sized cut just didn't look good. So, regretfully, I returned that to the rack as well.
In the interests of giving the store every possible chance, I made a point of checking out the bookshelves, as well. Our town doesn't actually have a used bookstore anymore (in the 13 years we've lived here, two of them have gone under, and so far no new one has emerged to take their place), but the Tower Thrift Shop has a rather motley assortment of volumes at truly unbeatable prices: just 25 cents for hardcovers, 10 cents for paperbacks, and if you buy two, you can get a third for nothing. But this time, nothing on the shelves particularly jumped out at me. I suppose I could have bought something just to buy something, but right now, we already have several books at home on the "to be read" pile (including our new Wilkie Collins from Hole in the Wall Books), and I just didn't feel the need to bring home any more. So once again, I walked out with plenty o' nuttin'.
Unfortunately, I fear that I won't be able to make my final Thrift Week excursion tomorrow, either. I was planning to stop by The Second Time Around in Pennington, a somewhat larger and nicer thrift shop that I seldom get a chance to visit, before going on to a belated birthday dinner with my parents. But it looks like both plans are going to have to be postponed, as we're currently expecting blizzard conditions all day long, with total snow accumulation of about a foot. So it looks like my Thrift Week thrift-shop binge is coming to a premature and rather unsatisfying end. Still, I will make a point of visiting the Pennington store some time in the next month or two and reporting on the results. I remember patronizing this store in the past, back when I lived in Hopewell, and it was pretty good back then—and at this point, I feel like it's become my personal quest to discover at least one good thrift store in Central New Jersey where I can reliably find useful stuff.