We’ve discussed the Flinch Point, Closet Thrifter, Environista and – my favorite – Snake Eyes.
Since the yard sale, I’ve been stuck in the doldrums of Retail Remorse. Like Home Buyer’s Remorse, I’ll eventually get over it. I hope.
As I stared down 15 years worth of stuff from the kitchen, living room, dining room and basement; a guilty feeling crept upon me. I was edgy and annoyed. It took awhile to name this feeling. It’s Retail Remorse.
I’ve always dipped into thrift stores and resale shops, even as a child. When I was eight or so, I bought my mother a pin from the local thrift shop. I swore it was diamonds. Diamonds for 50 cents!
Some five years ago, I took the full plunge. Now, it’s a rare occasion that items – aside from groceries - from a conventional retailer are carried through our front door.
My one guaranteed conventional retail purchase is a quality-scented candle; it’s a deeply appreciated indulgence. I sporadically go to Anthropologie to the sale section to find a candle on sale, and it’s always marked above my Flinch Point. But, it’s a luxury item and I know that. I also check out what the store designers are displaying and sometimes mimic it in my home. What irony that their glorious displays are made from simple items: Mason jars, empty wine bottles, pipe cleaners, wire, sticks, paper, and –get this- white plastic drinking straws. Juxtapose the cost of these beautiful displays against racks of dresses priced $180 and up. My definition of great style is extracting the extraordinary from the ordinary. One cannot purchase that.
A funny thing happened this week. I went to Anthropologie, but there were no candles on sale. Sigh. The visit was not a total waste, I did make note of the gorgeous chandelier constructed from giant bundles of long sticks hung about one large, clear light bulb. It was inspiring.
I moved on to the nearby thrift only to pull a new Anthropologie candle off the shelf for $2.99. That’s two dollars below my Flinch Point. It’s Yuzu Peach from Illume. This really happened, no exaggeration. In a similar story I bought a vintage inspired Banana Republic jacket with its original price tag of $99.99 dangling next to the Goodwill price of $4.99. On the way home I stopped at a major retailer to purchase a $9 tube of mascara and, well just read the post, “What’s the bait and where’s the switch” because this story gets weird and disturbing for the consumer.
As I stared at the items all in queue to be toted out the front door for last week’s yard sale, I felt sick at heart. Sick because I saw how the conventional retail market had hypnotized me. Looking at all the stuff set for the yard sale, I saw waste. Granted it was nice and pretty but there was no argument, it was waste. At least it was waste for me, perhaps a need for someone else.
Years before I went full on thrift, I shopped sales. Let’s take the Pottery Barn that used to reside in Denver’s Cherry Creek mall near my home. I’d visit that store once a month. Like Anthropologie, I’d head straight to the sale area. Only I wasn’t out to purchase one luxury item. I would buy not out of a need but because I was led to believe I was getting a steal. The reality? I wasn’t purchasing the item. I was purchasing a deal. Deals are great, if they are of use or need.
I’d been fooling myself, thinking sale shopping was smart. It can be. But, often we are led to believe that we are coming out the winner by walking off with a 60% off item that will not have use. Enter Retail Remorse.
The shoppers at the yard sale were getting deals. But, I heard more than once, “This is a great price and a great item but do we need it?” That’s smart shopping.
Godspeed all thrift shoppers! Common sense is on your side as long as you focus on a need and not, as Dr. Suess called them in The Lorax, a thneed.
Our above the stove range microwave caught an innocent item on fire. At five years old the darn thing is toast. In our current economic state, we cannot afford the hefty cost of a new one. So, I purchased a small counter top microwave for $15 at Goodwill to meet our need. I do not appreciate planned obsolesce, as discussed in the post “Built to last? Don’t think so!” Once again this makes me think of the 60 year-old refrigerator still chugging out cold air in my grandparents basement serving as back up to the latest model in the kitchen that is probably just a few years old. That little fridge was built to last, not built to fail.