Friday, June 12, 2009

Madd Money: Would You Go The Thrift Store Route?

I used to think I was super frugal with clothes; not really flashy, not spending a lot on stuff, looking to get good value at low price whenever possible, but I tended to turn up my nose at the notion of going to a Thrift store or consignment store to buy clothes.

I’m not entirely sure where this attitude came from, or why I developed it, but for some reason it just stuck with me. Shopping at thrift stores was for cheapskates and losers, or it was for seriously overachieving hipsters looking to cash in their street cred by buying the tackiest stuff. This was definitely standard fare when I was in High School in the early to mid 1980’s. The Thrift Store Chic look was huge with a certain circle of people (especially those who tended to worship at the altar of the Paisley Underground… which I did, of course; it was sort of required if you were a fan of the Three O’Clock, Dream Syndicate or The Rain Parade, etc. Still, I think that always colored my impression of what I’d find there).

Earlier in May, I made plans to go out to a club with my band mates and check to see what was going on, and to that end, I wanted to somewhat look the part. Now, I have not really kept up much of a rock and roll wardrobe since I stopped performing, but I figured I might want to get something that at least wouldn’t make me look too much like a Silicon Valley styled nerd (which, lets face it, that’s exactly what I am today (LOL!) ).

I quickly became frustrated when I realized I’d need to spend a fair amount to get an “interesting” enough outfit to my standards... and that’s when it hit me… just for fun, see if you could construct an outfit from stuff at Goodwill! What?! But I don’t shop there! Well, heck, what do I have to lose but perhaps a little time to peruse? So off I went to the Goodwill Store in South San Francisco on El Camino Real.

First, I noticed something... there is a surprising amount of upscale and darn near almost brand new clothing at Goodwill! As I pondered this, I remembered what I did when I lost 50 pounds in 2007… I gave most of my clothes away in celebration. These clothes were also very new and relatively unused, but they just didn’t fit me anymore. I realized that I’m probably not the only one who went through these processes (not to mention on both sides of the spectrum) and thus, there are quite a few items that are practically new. As I was perusing I came across the following finds:

A pair of Gap 1969 black jeans
A super nice collarless long sleeve black shirt by La Strada Pavo.
A pair of Steve Madden “Bosco” boots, barely used
A Wilson Black Leather overcoat, mid thigh length

Were I to go to a store and buy these items new, I could expect to spend over $400. Instead, I got everything for just over $60.00. For the math nerds, that’s like getting those items at 15% off the new, retail price.

Yeah, but dude, their used clothes, and I’m sure they look it… well, just for grins, I decided to put them on and show Christina. She dug the look, especially the jacket (she said it gave me a bald headed Criss Angel look (and yeah, my wife has a thing for Criss Angel... I can’t explain it either (LOL!))). I didn’t share with her where I got them, just to see what she would say. After a bit, she came to ask me “by the way, where did you get the money to pay for those things?” She thought I went retail and got everything new. When I said I got them all from Goodwill, she was a little incredulous at first… I don’t think she believed me (LOL!). That clinched it!

Now do of course be aware that this was a good trip, and it was one where I was looking for a particular effect. One thing I can say about Goodwill is that sizes and merchandise vary considerably. It’s not like a department store where there’s one item in many different sizes. If you find something you like but it doesn’t fit, you’re out of luck for the most part. On the bright side, there are often enough items like it that you can find a good substitute. Your savings can also vary considerably depending on what you get. Shirts and shoes may be anywhere from 50% to 70% less than what you might find in stores. In the case of my boots and jacket, the savings were closer to 90%.

So yeah, I consider this particular outing a success. I picked up durable clothing, some a lot nicer and from brands I don’t normally buy, but I feel confident that they will last a long time, and I still have money in my pocket. Not bad for a half an hour’s perusing ;).

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