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.
[Chewbacca is carrying a dismembered C3PO in a net bag on his back]
“If only you’d attached my legs, I wouldn’t be in this ridiculous position. Now remember, Chewbacca, you have a responsibility to me, so don’t do anything foolish.” – C-3PO, Star Wars V: The Empire Strikes Back
What? Two posts in one day? Has the world gone crazy? Perhaps.
In my effort to find these little beauties on super-secret sale, I ran across a website called SHOEBACCA. It’s no Fluevog, I grant you, but it looks like it has the makings of several wasted afternoons in my on-going great shoe search. While SHOEBACCA doesn’t carry the Aldo brand, and I was forced to order elsewhere, I feel it is my inter-galactic duty to pass along an online shoe store making a passing reference in their name to Star Wars. The Force is with them.
You’ll be glad to hear, I am sure, that not only did I find the above lovelies on super-secret sale and in my size, but I ended up getting them in both black and brown. They are, indeed, fabulous.
“It’s all Obi-Wan’s fault. He’s jealous. He’s holding me back.” – Anakin Skywalker, Star Wars II: Attack of the Clones
Just like UPS. They’re jealous and holding my package hostage.
Friday morning I bought a laptop. I know, a laptop! Finally, I can surf the web check my feed-reader obsess over email label my photos further Padawan Learner’s education anywhere we happen to be. Just like nearly everyone else. Pretty soon we might even get one of them fancy cell-u-lar telephones. But probably not. (There probably isn’t really a future in such technology.)
Because Microsoft is bringing out Windows 7 in just a few days, one of the local electronics chains was off-loading PCs at knock me down prices. I was lucky to find one that suits our needs well, offering what we wanted and needed most – lots of RAM & storage with a speedy little processor. I ended up having to order it online, because the only one they had left was a display model (with no discount for that concession, either). Generally I’m happy to get a display models, with a corresponding price reduction of course, but not for something as delicate as consumer electronics. While I did hang out and pet a MacBook Air for a while, I just couldn’t justify the extra expense to Dad Windu. *Please excuse me while I go cry into my sleeve for a moment.* Now I can only ask myself: “What have I done?!?” When did spending money get so hard? I used to be so good at it!
So I ordered it online yesterday morning and it was shipped out speedy quick – by early yesterday afternoon. It is now sitting in the UPS shipping hub, approximately 15 minutes from my house. UPS does not deliver on Saturday. You may not pick up your package personally on Saturday. They have it just sitting there. Mocking me. Monday will not come fast enough.
Now I just need a suitable Star Wars name for my new plastic friend. What do you think of Probe Droid?
“Why do I sense we’ve picked up another pathetic life-form?” ―Obi-Wan Kenobi, Star Wars I: The Phantom Menace
After Padawan Learner left for lunch and a movie with his grandma today, I biked over to the super-mega-regional-chain grocery store to pick up the things I needed for the week’s recipes. Although I’ve got a boatload of veggies in the fridge, many of which I’ve never cooked with before, I still needed to buy some staples that I’d run out of and some things to round out the recipes.
After locking up my bike, I headed into the store and grabbed one of those half-carts that I love so much. Throwing my helmet into the top basket, I headed back to the can return area with a few beer bottles and my (cat sitter) niece’s 2 liter soda bottles. After dropping them off, I began cruising the store.
After a few aisles, the following conversation took place:
A kindly older woman looked at my helmet and asked in a very concerned voice, “Honey, did you ride your bike here?” (I really, honestly do love it when older people call me Honey. It’s so cute.)
Smiling my best and friendliest, biking is for everyone smile, I replied, “Yes, ma’am I did.”
“Well, you’re going to need to put some of that back then,” pointing into my mini-cart, “because there isn’t any way you’re going to get it all home on your bike.”
“Oh, it’ll be alright. I’ve got baskets on the back of my bike to carry stuff in.”
“Still, there just no way,” she said, shaking her head at silly ol’ me.
A few aisles over, another woman said roughly the same thing. Tsk, tsk, tsk-ing, as she looked at my growing pile. And another woman in the dairy section said the same thing, with agreement from a man who looked over to see what the situation was.
Getting into the checkout lane, the cashier began ringing up my order and I asked her to please bag my stuff in the bags I’d brought (one of which is an insulated bag so my Dove dark chocolate butter doesn’t melt). For the record, doing this appears to drive cashiers batty.
Pulling my helmet out of the way as I unloaded the mini-cart, the cashier did a double take, stopped scanning, and said, “Girrl, did you ride your bike here?”
“Yes, I did. It’s only a couple of miles from my house and my bike has baskets on the back for the groceries.” I was getting into a groove saying that.
“Well, you ain’t gonna be riding your bike home today. You’ve got too much stuff for doing that.”
“It’ll be OK. I’ll rearrange the bags a little once I’m outside. I’m sure it’ll all fit.”
“Um huh.” And with that, she dismissed me as a hopeless case and continued scanning my groceries.
“Seriously, I’ve got an extra backpack for the stuff that I can’t get into the baskets.”
At this point, the people behind me in line, including the guy from earlier who I’m pretty sure followed me into the checkout lane just to see the show, began to voice their agreement with the cashier. “Uh uh.” “No way.” “Girrl, you’re plum crazy to think all that’s gonna fit.”
Well, by this point I was determined to get home with all my groceries in just two bags and a backpack, on my bike, if it meant that I’d end up eating half my groceries out in the parking lot! “Oh, I just love the taste of peanut oil on a warm summer day!” I am a determined woman. Perhaps also a bit pigheaded, but certainly determined.
“I have got to see this!” a voice behind me said and wouldn’t you know it, a little group of people followed me out to my bike and watched me pack all my stuff up - in two bags and a backpack, thankyouverymuch. While I was shifting things around, they asked me a few questions about my bike and why I ride it to the grocery store. “Don’t you have a car?” (Yes, but I’m not driving it this summer. I like to ride my bike whenever I can.) “Do you think that gas is just too expensive now?” (Not really, I’ve lived other places where gas is much more expensive. I like the exercise.) ”Did you have to get a special kind of bike?” (No, it’s a normal, everyday bike. The style is called a hybrid.) ”Did your bike come with those baskets?” (No, I bought them online but you can order them from the bike shops around here. They’re around $25, less than a tank of gas.) “What if it’s too hot or raining outside to ride?” (I take the bus, wear a rain jacket or get a little damp.)
As I rode away, my little group actually cheered me on for being able to get everything packed away. I even heard the guy say, “Screw $4 a gallon gas. I’m getting a bike!” My first convert.
Here’s the bags packed:
And the bags unloaded:
What was included in the bags:
- four bags chocolate pieces (ostensibly for Dad Windu)
- peanut oil
- 2 bottles olive oil
- bag cashews
- pound butter
- package tofu (don’t tell Dad Windu)
- large container yogurt
- 3 small containers yogurt
- parchment paper
- 2 boxes cereal
- canned artichoke hearts
- soy sauce
- large onion
- 2 heads garlic
- 3 boxes of chicken broth
- 2 large cans whole tomatoes
- bag of onions
PS – I completely stole the idea of pictures and a list from aLex over at Hank and Me. I hope she will forgive me.