Luke Skywalker: “3PO, tell them if they don’t do as you wish, you’ll become angry and use your magic.”
C-3PO: “But, Master Luke, what magic? I couldn’t possibly…”
Luke Skywalker: “Just tell them.”
Star Wars VI: Return of the Jedi
This may be my next step if the local thrift stores don’t stop trying to make their stores as difficult as possible to shop in. I resisted the thrift store world for decades (because of a bad experience as a kid), but I’ve grown to love them in the past couple of years. An old friend, Qui-Gon Jinn, used to say she thought of them as life’s ”storage unit”. Don’t need these black slacks, take them to the thrift store. Two years down the line, if you need another pair of black slacks you go back and pick up a pair of black slacks, paying a small “storage fee” of roughly $2-4 dollars for the service. No, you won’t get the exact same black slacks you dropped off, but really what’s the big deal? They’re black slacks.
Nearly all of the local thrift stores here in lovely Des Moines sort their clothes by color, instead of by size. A little clue here folks: I can easily find a white shirt from within a selection of size small shirts. It’s far harder to find a size small shirt within a selection of white shirts. Similarly, it’s much easier to get a “I hate shopping” teenager to try on cargo pants (that he’s going to out-grow in less than a season) when you don’t have to check the size on every. single. pair of cargo pants in the mens department. Shockingly, this annoys the crap out of boys that hate shopping.
Since I’m venting my spleen, it also annoys me that they don’t sort out the obviously damaged, worn or stained merchandise. Sure, some people don’t care if there’s a nasty ketchup stain down the front of a white top if they’re only going to wear it to work at a dirty, nasty, greasy tool & die shop (i.e., my mother). Maybe someone is just looking for a cheap source of cleaning rags. Perhaps another person is looking for bits and pieces of material they can morph into something else. That’s great! Reduce, reuse, recycle! So sort those “not likely to be worn in public as-is” duds into a special “scratch & dent” ultra-savings section like you find in an appliance store. For example: all green tagged pieces on these racks or in these bins (still sorted by size, please!) are 25 or 50 cents each. The vast majority of people are looking for good quality used clothes that don’t look like they’re been worn to within an inch of their lives or missed out on the great Washing Machine experience of 2008.
The racks, where do I start? Clothes should not be immobile on the racks, they should slide a little so that the shopper can actually SEE what something looks like rather than having to make a judgement from the sleeve alone. Slide, glide, move; pick your term. If I go into a store and the racks are so tightly packed that I can’t pick one item without fighting off the two on either side, I am more likely than not to just walk away. You do want us interested in the things you are offering, right? To be so, I have to be able to take a good look at it first.
And what’s the deal with the tiny, poorly lit dressing rooms? When I can’t judge how something really looks like on me, I’m not likely to buy it. Oh, and since I’m on a roll, it also annoys me that a “no returns” policy appears to be the norm out here. Which just sucks. The one that I know of that does let you return things within 3 days does so because they no longer even HAVE a dressing room anymore, and even then they only give in-store credit for returns which isn’t exactly the same as getting your money back. If I can take an item home, check to make sure it will go with some of my other items (or give me time to find something to go with it), I’m much more likely to buy it in the first place.
So here you go Goodwill, Salvation Army, Junior League, and the other thrift stores out there that want to outfit the frugalistas of the Midwest:
- Sort out the “scratch & dent clothes/items” on a seperate rack/location.
- Again: Only clean clothes in good repair on the regular racks.
- Leave room for clothes to slide a bit once the above sorting has been done.
- Have several decent sized dressing rooms with full-length mirrors and good lighting.
- Allow for returns. This is essential. Returns within 30 days – with tags intact – is ideal. Go crazy and make the “scratch & dent” items No Returns if desired.
It’s really a shame about the anti-customer practices here because I bought nearly all my clothes at the West Michigan stores that sorted by size and – again, key- let me return things up to 30 days. Those stores behaved like… you know, actual clothes stores. For that courtesy, I gave them my business and my loyalty. I can’t say I feel the same about the thrift stores here in Des Moines. I find that I’m much more likely to poke around, find a few cute “maybe” things and leave with all my money still in my pocket because I don’t want to risk that they aren’t going to match anything else I own.
If you make it easy, we will buy more.
If we buy more, you can do more for your programs.
“I’m a Toydarian, mind tricks don’t work on me. Only money. No money, no parts, no deal!” – Watto, Star Wars I: The Phantom Menace
Maybe I’m not quite as bad as Watto, but I do love a good deal – especially now that I’m being forced to rein in the budget something fierce. Since I don’t know if everyone else knows about it, I’m going to put in this link to Amazon.com’s bulk-buying Subscribe & Save program. I l.o.v.e this program. Every time I order something from it, I get free shipping and an automatic 15% discount. Woo-hoo!
What reminded me was that I just ordered some more HE detergent for my front-loading washer today. I get paper products (my much beloved Seventh Generation toilet paper, paper towels, and bath tissues, for example), Dad Windu’s favorite face wash (very hit or miss at the grocery store), “lady items” and other such bulky non-perishables this way. I’m a huge fan of buying local and supporting local merchants, but I’m also a big fan of being able to get my weekly groceries on my bicycle (hard to do when you’ve got lots of bulky items) or – if the load is really light – walking there and back. Plus the local grocery doesn’t even stock Seventh Generation stuff (yes, I’ve requested them) – and that bugs the crap out of me! So the the UPS truck pulls up and delivers 6-7 months of TP in a big o’ cardboard box.
To get the great deal, it makes me pick a recurring period (1, 2, 3 or 6 month time frames). That seemed a bit risky until I realized that I can cancel the repeat order immediately after buying something if I want to. They also send you a reminder email about a week before sending out the next shipment, too, so you can skip the upcoming order if you wish. Generally I order everything on the 6 month plan and move the order date back or forward as needed.
I hope this helps some of you out too.
[Luke has proposed to bargain for Solo's life]
“Bargain rather than fight? He’s no Jedi.” - Bib Fortuna, Star Wars VI: Return of the Jedi
Dad Windu and I have been on a movie kick lately. We’re pretty much working our way through the DVD section at our local library, in fact. Dad Windu is a big fan of seeing new movies right away, while I usually can wait to see something after it has hit the cheap theater or comes out on DVD. If given the choice, I prefer the cheap theater – what is it about movie popcorn – but there really aren’t too many movies that I simply have to see on the big screen to fully enjoy.
This past weekend I saw a couple of great movies (The Good German and The Quiet Man) and a piece of fluff (Because I Said So). The Good German was interesting less for its placement in post-WWII occupied Germany than for its scraping at the underbelly of corruption that necessarily follows war. My great-grandparents (my mom’s grandparents) were stationed in Germany following the war and it was also fascinating to see the urban landscape as she had described it. Several of the things she talked about came back to me as the movie unfolded.
I’m going to just say it. I don’t like John Wayne movies. It’s true; I don’t. Except for this one, that is. I just love watching The Quiet Man. I know as a mom, a descendant of the Celts and a woman, I am probably supposed to get my panties in a twist about lots of things in this movie (i.e., the need to fight to preserve one’s honor, the stereotypical drunken depiction of the Irish, the way Sean treats Mary Kate in the end and the manner in which she responds), but The Quiet Man has me laughing almost from beginning to end every time. I love this movie and had a grand time introducing Padawan Learner to it.
The mental fluff (every movie weekend seems to need one, right?) was Because I Said So. Intrusive mother tries to marry daughter off. Daughter finds different, perfect guy. Mother tries to push her choice on daughter. Disasters and gratuitous sexual references (and partial scenes) ensue. Completely predictable fluff. Time could easily have been spent in a better manner (such as flossing my teeth, washing dishes, staring at the wall), but at least I got a ton of rows knit on the new sweater I’m making in the round – knit top down. The best part was seeing one of the side characters holding Aunt Beru’s fabulous wedding shoes in the middle of the movie (1:55 in, if I remember correctly).
Lando Calrissian: “Lord Vader, we only use this facility for carbon freezing. If you put him in there it might kill him.”
Darth Vader: “I do not want the Emperor’s prize damaged. We will test it on Captain Solo.”
Star Wars V: The Empire Strikes Back
Here’s a shout-out to anyone that is getting more and more afraid to look in the back of the pantry or the bottom of the deep-freeze. Kethry announced tonight that she is going to participate in Catz’ Corner’s Use it up April, and so am I. To be honest, I didn’t even know there was such a thing when I decided yesterday to try not do any but the most essential grocery shopping for April, but I think Catz is on to something. Waste is waste and reducing it is in all our best interests. This can only help to s-t-r-e-t-c-h out next month’s lean income and will be a real help in getting us ready for the bounty that will be coming with the next growing season at the CSA.
Obi-Wan Kenobi: “These Kaminos, are they friendly?”
Dexter Jettster: ”That depends.”
Obi-Wan Kenobi: “Depends on what Dex?”
Dexter Jettster: ”On how good your manners are, and how big your pocketbook is.”
Star Wars II: Attack of the Clones
A lot ‘depends’ lately. I find myself saying that word frequently now.
Will Dad Windu have a few weeks of unemployment before taking on that summer field rep position? That depends on how busy he stays in the office.
Will Padawan Learner be able to finish the Season Three DVD set of Doctor Who before it’s due in a week? That depends on how much fresh air and sunshine he feels he needs today, tomorrow and during the evenings next week.
Can I feed us all for $250 a month until we know what’s going to be happening in the fall, without threat of mutiny? That depends on how creative I get with my cooking and if I keep myself to a menu plan.
Will Dad Windu get laid off in the fall? That depends on whether any work comes in for the fall and winter design rush.
Can Padawan Learner keep going to his much beloved, yet rather expensive, trampoline class 1-2 times a week through the summer? That depends on whether family and friends would be willing to contribute to that for his birthday, in place of a physical gift.
Will DW, PL and I keep our exercise routines going now that the YMCA membership is no more? That depends on how determined and motivated we remain.
Can I cut our second car out for the summer if DW is going to be out in the field working 50+ hours a week? That depends on if I can figure out a way to get us to trampoline class, the CSA and friends’ houses on the bus or bike.
Is it possible to cut out all paid entertainment for five or more months? That depends on how creative and resourceful we get.
That depends. That depends. That depends.
Will we get through this? Yes, most definitely.
“Watch that cross fire boys.” – Luke, Star Wars V: The Empire Strikes Back
What a wacky 24 hours the universe has tossed at us.
Dad Windu was pretty sure he was getting laid-off yesterday afternoon, but he’s still employed thankfully. The entire firm is taking a 10-20% pay cut indefinitely (higher ups getting the higher amounts) which – ouch! – sure is going to hurt. We’re happy to share the burden though if it means no one else has to get let go. Conveniently, I had black beans and rice soup planned for dinner tonight. A frugal meal for tight times.
Uncle Owen called last night to tell us that he ruptured his achilles tendon. Poor thing! An MRI and possible surgery (with a multiple week month recovery period) are being ladled onto his plate now. What could be worse? Well, he does have to figure out how he and his pregnant wife are going to move all their stuff into their new house next week. I wish they didn’t live on the complete other end of the country and we could help out!
And apparently Padawan Learner was a little too slow passing by Dad Windu last week. After working on lessons for the bulk of the day, he voluntarily took a nap from 4pm – 6:30 pm. He actually said, “I think I’m going to go lay down now” and quickly fell asleep. He’s been feeling the same blah symptoms DW had since he got up, but was able to eat some dinner and has been happily watching TV in the basement with Dad Windu so here’s to hoping that he just had a weird little “thing” that has passed or will pass quickly.