One of my friends wanted to help me with my shopping problem. We had endless conversations about the causes and motivations, and, of course, the guilt behind my spending habits or unfullfilled financial goals. One day she said to me “I think I figured you out. You enjoy the process of shopping, not necessarily the results. I know what you should do. You should go with me and check out thrift stores.”
My friend was born frugal. I strongly believe that there are people who are born this way. As a part of her frugal life style, my friend goes to thrift stores on a regular basis. She is a girl with a plan who manages to find unbelievable treasurers in thrift stores. The most surprising part, she somehow digs up a lot of new clothes that still have price tags.
Every time she shows me what she got in one of the thrift stores, I feel somewhat jealous: she is able to find treasures and spend less than a fraction of the price that I squander in the department stores.
Of course when she suggested to take me to a thrift store, I jumped on it. The possibility of finding a brand new designer raincoat is enticing. The idea of a slightly used designer bag is mesmerizing. I got carried away with my imagination and realized that I might not find these precious things in a thrift store.
Visiting the thrift stores was quite an eye opening adventure. I found out things about myself that I suspected but had never acknowledged.
I found out that I don’t have a lot of patience.
My friend asked me if I know what I want to look for in thrift stores. The problem is I never know what I am looking for when I shop. My method is very simple: I come, I look, I conquer. This unfortunately doesn’t work quite as well with thrift stores: you come, you look, you get lost… among racks of clothes, and clothes, and some more clothes. I glanced at “vintage” clothes. I stared at “better” clothes. I contemplated “discounted” clothes. I got frustrated and I quit looking pretty fast.
I also discovered that I am a paranoid hypochondriac.
I saw a nice pair of slightly used pumps with a price tag of $10. My friend told me to try them which I did. The next thing I know, the thoughts of getting some kind of nasty microorganisms on my feet flooded my mind. What if the person who owned these pumps had athlete’s foot? Can you get germs from wearing someone else’s shoes? The shoes went back on the rack.
Call me narrow-minded. Call me short-sighted. Call me a snob.
Honestly, call me whatever you want but I, apparently, cannot buy someone else’s clothes or shoes. My friend, on the other hand, does not mind it at all. “Clean it and wear it. You can’t beat the price,” she told me. No, you can’t beat the price. But I also cannot beat the feeling that I might be wearing clothes that belonged to a street walking transient.
Thrift stores can be fun and cheap entertainment for people who are not:
Impatient and imaginative shoppers
Unfortunately, I am all of the above, and thrift stores ended up being well beyond my imaginative and shopping addicted mind. Instead, they became a place where the hope of indulging in the same shopping experience as in department stores got swallowed up as I browsed the stores’ perimeter.