Have you ever known someone who has that special knack at finding bargains? The kind of score that gives you a twinge of envy and a slightly sick stomach?
“Oh, gee. I can’t believe I just found this brand new Coach purse for $3.50. Ah-mazing.”
Yeah, well that is not me. I would be the person who was standing next to the person who found the ridiculously priced Coach purse while holding the Gloria Vanderbilt purse priced at $10.50. Yep. That’s my kind of bargain luck.
So, I will never profess to be a “bargain shopper,” although it is not from lack of trying. I just don’t have the gift, and I do believe it is a gift.
And, although I don’t possess the “gift” it does not hinder me from getting the occasional motivation to hit the local St. Vincent de Paul’s for my own attempt at bargain shopping.
It was during one of these recent trips that I discovered some truths about thrift shopping and would like to share them with you.
1) Only people with very small feet donate really good shoes. My inability to find a shoe in a size 8 1/2 that did not feature pirate-sized buckles or 4 inch platform heels could be due in part to my bad bargain mojo. But it become apparent to me that if I wanted some decent kicks I would need to research foot binding.
2) Shoppers are very territorial over their place at the half-price bin. I thought there was going to be a bit of a throw-down when I accidentally stepped in front of a very serious woman in curlers and crocs. “Oh, I apologize. Is this your bin?” I asked her, albeit a bit sarcastically. My attempt at humor only managed to infuriate the lady to a point that lead me to shop with one eye on the her at all times.
3) Shoppers are eager to share their recent bargains with you. I heard no less than three different shopping stories from as many people during my stint at the thrift store. At first, I was flattered that these ladies wanted to share their finds with me. And then, as the stories of “bargains” grew much like that of a fisherman’s “big catch” story, I realized that I was being subjected to more of a brag fest than anything else, which only heightened my own shopping insecurities. I toyed with the idea of spinning a bit of my own yarn but decided to wait until my next trip out to give me some time to work out a really good one. I know. I’m not proud of it.
4) Nobody likes a critic. To be quite honest, this one stumped me a little bit. I noticed that if I spent an extra minute scrutinizing a specific item I was met with a few derisive looks and, at times, open contempt from my fellow thrift shoppers. “There ain’t a thing wrong with that there shirt,” I was told at one point while perusing what appeared to be a stain on a Jack-sized tee. “Oh, I think there might be a grease stain here,” I answered the onlooker. “Nothing that a little Shout won’t fix,” I was reminded with a sneer which held an undertone of “get over yourself…it’s a thrift shop.” I’ll be needing a little thicker skin if I plan to make a habit out of this bargain hunting.
5) The bargains are really there…if you look hard enough. I spent a good forty-five minutes attempting to find an especially “thrifty” item or two to no avail. I had about given up the hunt when I suddenly came upon a specially-marked rack offering 50% off toddler clothing. Huzzah! Gap, Old Navy, Osh Kosh and the like for…get ready for it…fifty cents a piece! Anybody who has spent a small fortune outfitting a three year-old who’s very character seems to be hellbent on destruction can appreciate the idea of a half-dollar shirt! Black marker graffiti art and spilled mustard hurts a tiny bit less when adorning a cheap t-shirt.
I’m a believer now. With a little resilience and some heady determination bargain shopping can not only be a successful venture but kind of fun at the same time. Although, my next trip out I’ll be ready for the curler-headed Croc-wearing professional thrift shopper and reserve my place at the bargain bin before she has a chance to elbow me out of the way.