Friday, April 1, 2016

Hitting the Sales and Other Spring Break Adventures

Shopaholic and Sister

That book title probably best sums up my two days of second hand shopping with my sister (Karen), though neither of us strongly resemble either Becky or Jess, the sisters of whom the title refers. Still, after you read my tale about being initiated into the world of thrift shopping, you’ll probably agree that at least one of us is a shopaholic.

Though I had been to thrift stores/charity shops previously, the closest I ever came to entering chaos was when I tried to browse on a Saturday afternoon during a Goodwill auction (not easy to push a cart between the narrow aisles with all the auction attendees standing around waiting for their lot to come up). Thrift stores, at least the ones we visited, are run with military precision. There’s no messing around on a sale day.

Until Tuesday I was a sales day newbie, a “virgin” if you will. I had no idea that a shopping cart was a hot commodity, or that you could only take a maximum of six items into a fitting room at one time. Thanks to the periodic announcements I learned all this and more as the store personnel are encouraged to repeatedly remind customers of store policy. It was almost like being in an airport, “Travelers are reminded to remain with their luggage at all times. Left luggage will be destroyed…”

Since the last Tuesday of every month is half-off day at Volunteers of America, we visited both stores in the local vicinity. At the first store we lucked out and didn’t have to wait too long for a cart, so once I spied an opportunity to snag one, I jumped on it and eagerly strolled over to my sister like a cat who had just caught a mouse.

After browsing the selection of purses hanging off the end of each aisle, I started down the jeans row where my sister was up to her neck in denim. My system for selecting jeans, besides looking for Petite Short on the label (like trying to find a needle in a haystack), was to only grab jeans with interesting looking pockets with a preference for tab pockets (whereas my sister is a label shopper). I soon had a pile of about a half a dozen, so I borrowed the cart to stake out a place in line for the fitting rooms.

Unless you have a devil-may-care attitude and aren’t bothered to try on anything, you need to allocate at least a half an hour standing in line, though I’m not sure I waited that long. I’m glad I did take the time since only half of the jeans actually fit, so it would have been a waste of money to purchase the other pairs.
Now I know how Sandy felt in "Grease"
The other two rules that are repeated loudly and often are “to remove all hangers” and “please make your final selection before reaching the cashier.” There’s a rack to place your hangers on near the check-out, so you don’t have to go out of your way to comply with this rule.

Since I was just learning, I ended up with one modest bag of items from each store. My finds of the day include a pair of navy blue Mootsies Tootsies shoes, a Coach crossbody bag and a little black Prada bag. Of course the purses might not be authentic since I only paid a dollar or two for each, but both were in pretty good condition, so I think I’ll get my money’s worth.
my little black Prada bag
Wednesday – Salvation Army Family Day and Half-Off at Ohio Thrift
Today I got a lesson in math when I was in line and trying to figure out the price of some books I had stacked in my cart. Salvation Army’s system is 90% off the cover price (if one is listed), or $1.50 for hardbacks and $1 for paperbacks (I think). My sister, a math teacher, reminded me (and the cashier) that the easiest way to compute price is just to move the decimal point over to the left. The store manager overheard my sister’s math lesson and complimented her. Turns out he used to be a math teacher too, so they soon struck up a conversation while the cashier rang up my pile of treasures. The manager reminded us that 82 cents on every dollar goes straight back to the charity helping all manner of people in need.

With that in mind, this time I think I outspent my sister, but not by much (perhaps $10 or $20?). My favorite purchase was an ivory colored vest jacket similar to the one my sister was wearing that day. I know it’s silly for an older sister to emulate the younger one, but I definitely do. That’s right Karen, I actually look up to you! (and not just because you’re a little taller than me too : )

After a couple pitas, some spicy fries and a little Baklava for dessert, we were ready to hit the aisles again. Since this was the farewell stop on our little tour of central Ohio thrift stores, we didn’t take any prisoners and decided to go to the larger outlet of Ohio Thrift (which was probably a mistake as you’ll read later). Got a cart fairly quickly, and like the previous day, my sister ran into another sports mom, so we stopped to chat near the jewelry showcase. Hence, the reason I ended up purchasing about half a dozen or so watches (two of which I later elected to buy batteries for). I also found a nice blue vase, a shabby chic mirror that looks like a window, and a Parisian picture similar to one that’s been hanging in our kitchen for the last few years. Because these objects were ‘Showcase’ items, there’s no discount, so you have to keep that in mind when totaling your purchases.

The strangest object I came across there was a brunette wig in a blue hat case. I slowly undid the two latches and hesitantly opened the box and almost slammed it shut when I saw all the hair. It was a little off-putting, but if it hadn’t been for the $15 price tag, I might have purchased it just for the vintage box.

As per usual, Karen and I split up for part of the time, but then ended up meeting in the purse/handbag/tote department where we spent perhaps an hour or so debating the merits of several dozen bags. Suffice it to say that I soon filled the cart only saying no to a select one or two. In the matter of an hour I soon regained most of the inventory I worked so hard to get rid of last autumn when I had my annual clear-out. Deep sigh.

I also have to confess to purchasing a rather sexy chic looking fanny pack (though I’m not sure fanny packs are either sexy or chic, but old leather certainly is). Though I swore you would have to kill me first if I ever purchased one, I somewhat fell in love with this one, but am unsure whether I will actually use it. I will DEFINITELY NOT WEAR IT AROUND MY WAIST.

My other weakness, and this is purely Karen’s fault, is my love for scarves. At one time in my life I only used to buy them to use as a decoration to cover a dresser or a table, and I still use some of them for that. However, when Karen gave me a makeover last year, scarves were something she encouraged me to embrace (as did my mother-in-law who has given me at least a couple over the years).

My finds of the day, at least at that store were a pair of navy blue Clarks mules with a chunky heel, and two point ‘n shoot film cameras with film still in them (and one with a brand new battery – worth way more than the price of the camera).

I’m sure you have guessed that it was me who, once again, outspent my sister. It was more than a little embarrassing that she had to help me lug my six bags of miscellaneous crap to her overstuffed minivan. “Just make sure you tell Andy that this isn’t all my fault,” she begged. Don’t worry Karen. Andy knows I’m weak and have no willpower, but those tight, skinny jeans and Ralph Lauren tote are all down to you! : )

A sales day newbie/virgin no more! Did you know the Ohio Thrift store even has a rewards program for its frequent customers. Must look into that….
The Queen Bee at Wholly Craft

Tuesday night I had enrolled in this class:

Crafty Woman’s History Month Textile Collage:

“In this special workshop with Dre of Too Legit To Quilt, you will learn the basic principles of textile collage and complete a women’:s history month themed collage using recycled textiles from The Supply Closet! No experience or sewing skills necessary. Collage topics discussed in this workshop include fabric selection, color, contrast, texture, adherence, and tools. You will cover each step of the collage process from idea to execution in this hands-on workshop and you will leave with a masterpiece of your own!”

Though I originally wanted to make a likeness of one of my female role models, Annie Leibovitz, perhaps that was a bit too ambitious. Moot point anyway since we were all assigned a more basic beginner’s project – a Queen Bee, because a bee is a symbol of femininity or something.

Dre (short for Andrea), created this awesome looking tapestry:

She told us she also created one of each member of the Dr. Teeth and the Electric Mayhem Muppet band and a gallery owner in New York state bought up the entire collection. Way to go Dre! Would love to see photos of them sometime (but as I’m not on Facebook, am unlikely to be able to view them).

Dre was an excellent teacher who emphasized ‘There are no rules.’ Glad she said that since I inadvertently glued my bee’s wings to its abdomen instead of thorax. We’ll call it a hybrid bee or one with a birth defect. No matter, still a cool looking insect anyway.

I only wish she had had some of that handy iron-on paper to adhere to the back of our material scraps, and an iron since using a hot glue gun was a bit fiddly (and I ended up spilling a few drops on my material, but left it since I didn’t want to burn my fingers trying to remove it). Plus, we ended up running out of glue. No matter, I know artists are on a budget, so I understand. I definitely wouldn’t hesitate to take a class with her again.
Marcia, Dre and Cindy with our bees

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