Monday, August 15, 2005
The Goodwill Ambassador
For all my talk about hating to shop at Walmart, the fact is, I love to thrift. And I don’t shop just for me, but for everyone in my circle of friends and family, whether they like what I buy them or not. I’ve been even known to drop off a “can’t leave behind” tee for our babysitter across the street, or a Spiderman raincoat for Nick’s best block buddy, JJ. Make no bones about it, I’m a self-titled ‘Good Will Ambassador’ and proud of it.
Part of it is that I love a good bargain. I only shop on half-off days, so either I’m incredibly smart, or monstrously cheap. Either way, I adore paying a whopping 50 cents for a brand name item that would easily cost me 30.00 at Gymboree or Childrens’ Place. Another aspect is the thrill of the hunt. It’s very primal – like hunting for buffalo: I walk in, I survey, I creep toward my prospect, I sniff, and then – blam! That sucker is miiiiine! (In fact, the same tactic landed me James.) On a psychological level, I love the idea of transformation. What’s walking and wounded coming in to the store can leave with the hope of a brand new life at the P. household. Yes, a little wash and clean, a little button here and there, and that Polo shirt is riding in style once again. I might have put my fixer-upper complex to rest when I met my self-contained, fully working husband (Truth be told, he fixed me up) but I let old demons run free the minute I hit a resale shop. No pot is too scuffed that good dish wash can’t fix, and no book shelf is too chipped that a funky coat of purple can’t restore.
As I type this, I have to wonder why it’s okay for me to shop at a thrift store, but I berate myself for shopping at Walmart and K-mart. I suppose the truth is, as ugly as this is going to sound, that it’s one thing to shop at a resale store when you’re doing it because you like it, not because you have to. Is that why thrift stores exist? Not just to serve the poor and needy, but to make Nordstrom deprived housewives feel like they’re still one leg up because they are spending money “just for fun?”
Whatever the reason, I don’t care. Even if I had a million dollars, I know I’d still thrift for all the reasons I already got into above. Besides, how else will I blackmail the teenage Nick without pictures of him after a particularly good hunt? (* Nick above in Sophia’s future X-mas dress. Fifty cents for a Baby Gap number that had been worn probably once. Now tell me that isn’t a great steal?)