Monday, December 15, 2008

What’s the Bait and Where’s the Switch?

Sometimes things don’t happen like you’d think. Here’s a story.

This spring, I hosted a baby shower for my dear friend, Thriftfully Modern Mommie. I don’t usually aim for perfection. I believe perfection is beyond definition and best left for Mother Nature to manage. But I tried to catch its scent and hunt it down when planning this event. I wanted my friend to weep, to feel surrounded by the love of her girlfriends before her new baby arrived.

It was a backyard brunch serving about 18 guests. I laid out a formal spread with tended centerpieces that matched my friend’s earthy nature with moss and ferns. Oops! I forgot water goblets. Two days before the shower, I drove to a nationwide retailer and bought three boxes of Luminarc large goblets. They were neither fancy nor expensive, just utilitarian.

I washed all the china and polished the silver plate flatware. To my surprise two of the Luminarc boxes contained very dirty goblets. Someone bought these glasses, used them, didn’t wash them, and then returned them. I paid full price for used merchandise. Was there a point in driving all the way back to the store to exchange them? My time is worth more, so I washed them - annoyed.

Many stores accept returned merchandise and put it back on the shelf at full price. I’m sure each store has its own policy – but haven’t we all bought goods in a re-taped box (at full price) at some point in our shopping careers? As members of the public, we’re not always informed. At least I wasn’t.

I cannot begin to count how many times I’ve bought brand new, tag dangling merchandise at thrift stores. My new hand-made Black Dog Rise mukluks are in my slide show. I paid $10 and they retail $350 online, that’s less than 3% of the retail price! I shall be buried in them because my feet are so cold, I doubt death will make a difference. I think my father and I could probably be instruments of torture with our genetic predisposition for cold feet. My husband will testify.

Today, while on my regular thrifting routine, I found a brand new Banana Republic cotton jacket that fits my oldest daughter, and it will be a holiday gift. It is darling, somewhat vintage in style. The Banana Republic price tag read $99.99 contrasted directly against the Goodwill price of $4.99 (5% its retail price). Unlike my goblets, it was used zero times.

So, let me see if I have this right. I pay full price for used goods at a major retailer. I pay used-goods price for a brand new, unused item at a thrift store. Once again, sometimes things don’t happen like you’d think.

Maybe I should not have posted this and kept it secret. Yeah, never mind. Thrift stores are junky and only sell mustard-stained t-shirts. They smell like gym shorts too.


French Mom said...

Brilliant! I too, have found brand new, tagged items at thrift stores and garage sales, like my form-fitting Pearl Izumi cycling shorts. Keep looking for those goodies... they're out there!

Stephen Lacey said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Stephen Lacey said...

Dear Ms. Shopping Go Lightly,
It seems you have not only found the solution, you've found the.....way. I love it. Keep on posting.