02 February 2018

Thoughts from the Beaufort Goodwill Store

How I feel when I find clothes that fit me.

Spring is coming soon.

It comes about three months earlier in the South than it does everywhere else. In fact, they skip past fall and winter, and each summer transitions directly into the next year's spring. It's really quite amazing. It was summer just a few short weeks ago, and it will be summer again in another few short weeks.

Even though there aren't dramatic seasonal shifts here, I still like to pretend there are. And occasionally, I still like to pretend I'm shopping for a new seasonal wardrobe. However, my budget won't let me pretend I'm rich (sad face); hence, my shopping sprees find me at... my local Goodwill.

As secondhand clothing stores go, Beaufort's is so-so. I've seen better and I've seen worse. The quality of the store mostly depends on your area, though not always: My hometown in Connecticut had a Salvation Army whose inventory resembled material my frugal mother would have tried to salvage for cleaning rags. But just a few doors down the street was a Goodwill that was trying very hard to be a boutique and sell only the nicest clothes for nearly full retail. Both stores seemed to do an equal amount of business, so I guess everybody was happy.

But, generally, the more affluent the area, the better you will fare on your thrift store missions. Rich people's discards are the best. They can't be old rich people, though, which is why I don't like the Goodwill on Hilton Head Island nearly as much. Too many aging Baby Boomers whose style is just old enough to be tacky, but not old enough to be classic. Southern California's Goodwills and such are where you really hit the jackpot, because people there are rich and young and trendy. Some of my nicest earthly possessions came from the Saver's in La Mirada -- brand new, name brand clothes and jewelry that I could never have afforded otherwise.

In any case, I'm a very inefficient shopper and I only go to Goodwill when I have 2-3 hours to spend. This is partially because I'm tall and weirdly shaped and it takes me a long time to find anything that fits properly from all angles. When I go to the mall, I don't need nearly as much time. I can head straight to the section that has whatever I'm looking for that day, and quickly find whatever they have in Tall or Long sizes. But at Goodwill, the tradeoff for being able to spend less money is that I have to spend much more time sifting through all the flotsam. I'm usually not willing to do this -- to me, time is money. But not today. Today, I have time, and not so much money.

As I look around, I can't help but wonder about some of the merchandise, and who thought it was worth the space it takes up in the store. I mean, nothing is in there by accident. Everything that comes in via donation is looked over and given a thumbs up by a store employee. Which means that somebody, at some point, looked at that stained muumuu or that broken crockery or that notebook with writing on every page and decided, Yeah, we can definitely sell this! In fact, some of the stuff -- like avocado green Tupperware and plaid bell bottoms -- would really be better off in a museum. An ancient history museum.

I pick out a few things and go to try them on. The dressing rooms are all locked, of course. You have to ask a store associate to open one for you. When I was a kid, I would just crawl in through the space under the door. But now that I'm a five-foot-ten adult who would probably get arrested for shoplifting or at least for Acting Very Suspiciously in Public, I ask nicely to be let in.

Why do they lock the dressing rooms, anyway? I get why big box retail stores do it. They don't want people stealing, because (obviously) the store would lose money. However, Goodwill gets everything donated to them, and whatever price they sell it for is pure profit. It's not like they have anything to lose; they never paid for it to begin with.

I start to feel yucky after being in Goodwill for too long. It's my cue to move on to something else, I guess. As usual, most of what I try on looks more flattering on the hanger than it does on me.

On a whim I went and browsed the men's section for Hawaiian shirts (Wesley loves them). I found one in a deep ocean shade of blue, that was fun-looking but not too crazy, and said "Caribbean Joe" on the tag. Well, it was practically made for him, I decided. It looked to be about his size. I'm never a hundred percent sure how things will fit somebody when I don't have that particular somebody with me, but for $1.99, I decided to take the risk.

Wesley tried the shirt on when he got home from work. It looked fabulous, and it fit perfectly. He was quite tickled to hear that I got it for almost nothing. "You know some old golfer guy paid $49 for this when it was new," he remarked, turning around to see his reflection in the mirror. He's blessed with that perfect hair and skin tone that makes any color -- any color at all -- look fantastic. He doesn't know what a rare and wonderful blessing this is, and he doesn't seem to believe me when I tell him.

Also, how is it that he gets more out of a three hour trip to Goodwill than I do, without ever having to set foot in the place?

Next time, I think I'm going to the mall.

1 comment:

  1. Because he has a wonderful wife! I say wonderful! Muumuu? Seriously?

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