Sunday, March 08, 2009

Some ground rules for 'Goodwill Hunting'

Ever since college (when I was trying to make the nightclub money stretch as far is humanly possible) I’ve had a thing for Goodwill Hunting — the thrift store experience, not the feature film.

I mean, if you are a person who can enjoy the better part of an afternoon wading through racks and racks of color-coordinated outerwear (you’d never be caught dead in) to find an armload of bargains (now half-price because it’s Blue tag day) why would you ever endure a trip to the mall and empty your pockets for the sake of style?

It’s a sport unto itself. What woman, when asked about her Marc Jacobs’ anything, doesn’t absolutely DELIGHT in telling her inquisitor how much of a steal it was? The only thing better would be if she actually stole Marc Jacobs or fished him out of the trash.

I’m that woman, although I probably wouldn’t know Jacobs or Louis Vuitton if they tapped me on the shoulder to say ‘oui.’

But I digress.

Even when I had something resembling a disposable income I flatly refused to spend more than $15 for sweaters, $10 for jeans and $6 for t-shirts. Of course adherence to such an outdated formulary in the acquisition of new clothing components means that my wardrobe will always be “new to me.”

Now that I have children who are outgrowing clothes by the hour, Goodwill Hunting has even more meaning for me. I’m thankful that Ittybit, who is now fashion conscious, isn’t thrift phobic.

I can’t tell you how her wanting to spend her hard-earned “I-was-bribed-to-sleep-in-my-own-bed” money on new pajamas from Goodwill warmed my cold consumer heart.

But like all sports, Goodwill Hunting has some rules its players should understand:

1. DON’T SHOW UP EMPTY HANDED:* Need a new coat? Why not bag one (or three) of your old coats and drop them off in the collection bin?

While you’re at it throw in those pants you never wore, the paisley shirt you outgrew, and you might as well ditch the sweater you got last Christmas that had to have been a gag gift.

You can’t do much about the cosmetics counter mistakes that are filling up your bathroom drawers but you can absolve yourself of any and all clothing sins via tax-deductible donation.

*Of course in this vein, Ittybit – like all children – in an effort to get her hands on a new plush animal (that might have come straight from the CLAW machine at the local bowling alley) is keen on getting rid of the heirloom toys she has no current use for. “But I’m never going to play with that wooden pull toy (that was handcrafted by someone’s grandfather 100 years ago) THAT’s A baby toy!”

2. SPEND TIME NOT MONEY: There are bargains to be had if you are willing to spend time and look beyond and between the Circo and Massimo overstocks. If it’s not really worth $9 new, don’t pay $7 when it’s been dumped.

3. SHOP EARLY, SHOP OFTEN: Thrift stores are constantly getting new merchandise. You never know … you may be there one day just as those new fangled ride-on toys -- the very ones that snagged an Oppenheimer award and cost $70 each – are being donated by someone “whose kids just weren’t that into them.”

4. DON’T SWEAT THE SMALL STUFF: Your Neiman Marcus mistakes will always be pricier than your Goodwill gaffs. SEE RULE ONE.

Speaking of gaffs and Goodwill Hunting, I’ve never mentioned the time I quite literally ran into Matt Damon in Boston have I? I wasn’t watching where I was walking and nearly knocked him over. I apologized and he held a door for me. I thought he was quite a gentleman. But come to think of it, he never mentioned my sweater, which was new ... well, new to me.

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