I just had the best day with my friend Misty. Because our lives go at mach-one speed, every month we meet for breakfast and catch up. Today I proposed an adventure. Instead of our regular haunt, I had a plan. We would meet at Two Hippies Breakfast Joint on Seventh Avenue for the “catch-up” and then proceed two blocks south for a shopping expedition. There was purpose in my plan.
I left prison with $50 and very little else. The clothes I wore were a gift from my friend Carolyn. Since prison, my budget is, shall we say, challenged. But that’s ok. I have discovered thrift shops and consignment stores and can’t imagine ever paying retail again. Last week I learned about another “recycle” store to add to my growing list, Flo’s on 7th, www.floson7th.org, benefitting the Florence Crittenton Foundation for girls. On Saturday, they were having a special sale of designer shoes and bags called Heels for Healing. It was too good to pass up.
When we walked into the store, we loved the layout and the very helpful staff of volunteers, many of them from Shutterfly, a very community-minded company. They had indeed collected some fantastic designer shoes and bags, including real treasures from Christian Louboutin, Ralph Lauren, Stuart Weitzman, and the list goes on. Handbags included vintage Gucci and even a Chanel. I could have spent a fortune but restraint was the order of the day. I found a perfect pair of black Kenneth Cole sandals and a St John skirt plus what every woman dreams of, the perfect black bag. It was brand new but without the fancy designer label. Didn’t matter. It was love at first sight and all the other women around me looked envious. When shopping, it always helps to get approval from your sister shoppers. Misty, who is a perfect size six, found the most adorable Kenneth Cole skirt in black and white wool hounds tooth with the tiniest black lace hem to give it real pizzazz. She’s going to wear it with her new red bag that provides the perfect color accent. We can hardly wait for winter now. By the way, the St. John skirt won the prize for best price of the day. It was $4.
After prison, I knew I couldn’t go to the malls. That was way out of my budget. But I did need some clothes. Quite by accident, I discovered, the Lutheran Thrift Shop in Mesa. I happened to wander in on a Tuesday and learned that on Tuesday, EVERY TUESDAY, all their clothes priced under $10 are one dollar. Yes, you read right. One dollar. How can you go wrong? I have found Ann Taylor there and Banana Republic and even Ralph Lauren but mostly I find fun clothes to wear in the Arizona heat. For a few dollars, you can really jazz up your wardrobe.
I’ve also discovered the Goodwill. You know, “Good Stuff, Goodwill.” Because they are all different, I hate to pass one up. You never know what irresistible chachkas are waiting inside. The chachkas are different but the stores are the same. They all have that musty, dusty Goodwill smell, not like the perfumed atmosphere of Neimans or Saks. Never mind. Much of our flat was furnished with treasures from Goodwill. The prices were so good that when we tire of them, we won’t feel bad about replacing them. I think Mesa has the best Goodwills but I’m always ready to explore new ones . Did you know that Goodwill has a website now like eBay where they auction off great stuff from all over the country? Check it out at http://www.shopgoodwill.com/It is brilliant.
For furniture, I can’t pass up the Hospice thrift shop, The White Dove, on 7th Ave. It always has beautiful things and the store is laid out very professionally, like an upscale boutique. Their prices are very fair and the staff is wonderful.
The consignment stores are another shopping thrill. My favorite is Second Look on Shea and 32nd St. It really feels like a proper store. They are very picky about what they take and everything seems new. My husband loves the men’s department and their home wares department is beautiful. Besides the welcoming atmosphere, their staff is always lovely. They make us feel special, like we are spending a million dollars instead of looking for bargains.
I could go on and on but you get the point. There are lots of people who have challenging budgets right now. It’s nothing to be ashamed of. I’m pretty proud that I’ve managed to furnish our “Blue Abode” with such bargains. We call it the Blue Abode for obvious reasons. It’s decorated in blue and white. After the monochromatic grey and brown of prison, blue is such a happy color. It’s the color of sky and freedom. This darling chair is part of a set I found at Goodwill. They were $10 each. The silk flowers were $2 and the lamp and table were gifts from friends. I love cast-offs. They are treasures to me.
If you have a thrift shop store or story, I wish you would share it with me. Everyone has a story. What’s yours?