Monday, February 18, 2013

Why I Heart Thrift Shopping.

"I’m gonna pop some tags, 
Only got twenty dollars in my pocket, 
I’m, I’m, I’m hunting, 
Looking for a come up, 
This is f#@*ing awesome."

That's the hook from the number one song in the land this week, as sung(?) by Seattle's own Macklemore.

Why would I post these questionable lyrics to such an otherwise conservative weblog? Is it nothing more than the feeble attempt by a rapidly decomposing Baby Boomer to maintain just a sliver of relevance?

Yes. But there's more to it than that, my friend.

This song is about thrift store shopping. Let me quickly translate this man's brilliant lyrics, if I may:

"I'm gonna pop some tags,"—I fully intend to purchase some previously owned clothing or accessories, at which time I will sever the plastic tie which binds the tag to said merchandise, either with a pair of scissors or my freakishly honed canine incisors.

"Only got twenty dollars in my pocket"—Usually I use my debit card, but this time I happen to have a twenty because a co-worker paid me back after I fronted him a beef brisket hoagie and some chipotle kale chips at Whole Foods on Friday.

"I'm, I'm, I'm hunting,"—I am, I am, I am looking around a bit.

"Looking for a come up,"—Searching for an item which might strike my fancy.

"This is f#@*ing awesome."—This is fucking super.

Does that help a bit? Good, because this is something you should know about. You see, thrift store shopping truly is awesome.

Let me back up a little. Ever since I've known my bride, which, let's see, began during the Ronald Reagan/Wham era, she has displayed a proficiency for unearthing bargains comparable to a pox-purging shaman. She's that good.

Using a baseball analogy, she's what you'd call a three-tool player—she possesses patience, discipline and an intangible skill in editing the racks and racks of dusty rabble to root out the pristine. Once home with her booty, her favorite exercise is asking the kids and me to guess how much she spent as she drapes sweaters and dresses and tops over the furniture.

"Nope, less!" she'll say after one of us lobs a number. Someone else will blurt out a lower amount. "Nope, less!" Finally, we'll totally lowball her and zero in on the total.

It's like The Price is Right where my wife is both Bob Barker and the contestant.

Yesterday, the master dragged a few neophytes along. Value Village was hosting a special President's Day sale, with fifty percent off everything, and since she's a "preferred shopper" (She filled out a form like the Safeway Club Card. I know, scary. Now Value Village can track our family's spending habits on used water bottles and frayed camping towels), we were allowed to use the savings a day early.

Hells to the yeah.

My wife, younger daughter and her friend were out of the car and six steps ahead of me by the time I chirped the lock on our filthy Hyundai, and by the time I'd entered the store, they'd vanished into the musty abyss.

Okay, let's do this, I encouraged myself. The few instances I've ventured to VV have involved Halloween costumes or just time killing, and once I've perused the t-shirts, sweatshirts, books and DVDs, I'm usually ready to roll over and go to sleep.

But since I knew that the tugboats had just released the rest of my entourage into deeper bargain waters,  I had to gird my loins for the long haul. I faced the rack at men's large t--shirts, cracked my knuckles and started the Value Village Two-Step, also known as "The Click and Slide."

These shirts are already cheap, and taking another half off tempts me like a perfect storm of Jagermeister and an old girlfriend's phone number. Every prospect must be thoroughly inspected. The tag will say three bucks, and I'll tell myself I can never own too many black t-shirts. Then, as I place it face-down into the basket the back will reveal the words, "Honey Bucket Employee Appreciation Softball Picnic, 2008—No Shit."

Got to be careful.

The final toll rang up around a hundred and twenty-eight dollars. But don't be fooled by the high price point; we looted that place like freaking Vikings. My daughter procured a red leather jacket, a lighted makeup mirror and a bunch of jewelry.

Her friend, while not able to take advantage of the additional savings reserved for clothing, purchased Bigmouth Billy Bass, a delightful, wall mounted talking fish with which she was reunited after her mother cast it to the scrap heap five years ago.

I found a Harvard zipped hoodie for my older girl and a Yale sweatshirt for me (Only at the Double V can two bucks plus two bucks equal Ivy League snobbery).

And again, my life mate, the Jedi bargain warrior, torpedoed the discount death star. Toting bags of tops, sweaters, jeans, sweatpants, a dress and a coat, she was compelled to suspend her quest for shoes and accessories based on humanitarian concerns for the tired and cranky.

Thrift stores have historically been looked down upon. People get a bit grossed out about wearing previously worn items, but come on. We live in a recycling, repurposing, composting and reusing society, right?

Before you judge, before you yuck yuck my yum yum, try popping some tags at your local thrift store. I guarantee you'll come home with some nuggets.

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