Thrifty, Part 2

The difference between thrift shopping in Colorado and South Carolina is mainly in the type of clothing bargain one finds. While it is easy to snag a Lily Pulitzer dress at the Goodwill near Isle of Palms, in Colorado, it’s all about the outdoors and the cowboy look.

So, like the Vikings hopping and sacking one community after another, as the rain set in each afternoon, we ventured to a new thrift store in the Durango area, hungry to lay claim to any hidden treasures we could find. By the end of our exploits, we hit at least seven stores, lugging off a heavy load of gems, including a $22 genuine leather jacket worth about $300 (I am so jealous of Rosa Marie), a(nother) cowboy hat for Hoffa, and my four dollar puffy vest.
After the Jailhouse, we stormed into the United Methodist Thrift store at 3:15 for our second plunder, where pillaging ensued. In half an hour, we seized all kinds of valuable goods from the racks. But we were cut short. I don’t know when stores started closing at 4 o’clock, but this one, probably manned by volunteers who made it very evident they were eager to listen to mountain music that night, were ready to go.
“Customers, please report to the cash register to make your final purchases.”
As they make this announcement, I am in the dressing room, and treat this appeal much like I do Mama’s calls for supper when I have not quite finished up with my work. Don’t worry, I’ll be there in five minutes.
Literally two minutes later, they are back on the loudspeaker. “The store is closing. Attention, the store is closing. It is time to go.”
Jesus, calm down old retired people. Not sure you could be too much more subtle there. I have one more dress to try on, and I’m probably going to buy it. Chill out a sec!
The dress was a go, and in a chaotic rush to make it out the door without physically receiving the boot, we all piled our findings on the checkout counter, helping  remove clothes from hangers and report price tags – none of which were over five dollars – to be manually entered into the register. All of our clothes were subsequently stuffed to the brim in a white kitchen-size trash bag. The rush worked in my favor, though; despite their meager price, I am not sure my padded spandex biker shorts would have made the purchase cut otherwise.
“How are we going to get all this stuff home?” Cain asked as we hauled our booty down the street.
It was a legitimate question, but I reassured him we would resolve that when the time came.
The spree continued. At one ten by thirteen foot sketchy hole in the wall, it may have been hard to navigate the piles of clutter, but if you found something good, it was practically free.
“Oh heck yes,” Georgia exclaimed as she pulled off an American flag blouse from one of the store’s two racks. “‘Murica forever.”
“Georgia, when are you ever going to where that?” I reprimanded.
“Ummm, basically to anything having to do with our country. Duh. I realized during the World Cup that I own nothing to display my ardent affection for my country.”

When Mama went up to pay for three shirts and a puffy Northface vest, the cashier-less cashier counted the items and said, “That’ll be five dollars. Plus forty cents tax.” He just stuffed the cash in his pocket, and I somehow doubt that forty cents will be submitted to the IRS. But hey, Georgia can now be patriotic, so I’m not complaining.
At Dunn Deal, another store selling more furniture and gear than clothing, I happened upon a pair of clip-in road bike shoes that fit my foot perfectly, and the price seemed right. I brought them over to my sisters for evaluation.
“You know, you should probably get a road bike before you get shoes,” Georgia suggested.
“Yeah,” I sighed. “I guess you’re right. It’s just hard when I know I won’t find a deal like that back home…” Plus, I thought, I might as well complete that new biker outfit of mine.
I returned to put them back on the shelf, but the owner intersected my direction. After talking about the shoe brand, its fit, and the hardly worn, fantastic shape they were in, I began to cave.
“If you were my daughter,” he disclosed, “I would be announcing to you that we are spending getting those shoes. Thirty dollars on a pair like that is a steal.” Of course, he had a vested interest in me buying these shoes, but his advice seemed genuine, so I went for it. I really am hoping owning all of the gear, you know, minus the bike, will encourage me to hit the roads more seriously in the future. Or at least a few more spin classes.
After almost entirely disregarding price tags up to this point, our next stop to ReRuns made me gasp, literally. Thrift stores that identify themselves as “high-end second hand stores” are one of my biggest pet peeves, and this was one such boutique. Once that article of clothing is back on the market as “lightly worn,” those stingy store owners need to realize that it no longer matters that that sucker was once marked at $85. It is not anymore, so don’t go off trying to sell it for $40. I might have scoffed a little too loudly. “They don’t make dresses like this anymore,” the stylish and age-appropriately dressed older owner retorted. Yeah, just like you. You’re cramping my steal-a-deal style, grandma.
After a very chilly and under-dressed semester in DC, I have become an advocate for owning the right clothes for the weather. The down coat I splurged for in Italy was one of my wiser purchases, and it kept me toasty for half a year plus a backpacking trip…and then it began to stink. Although I carefully researched proper washing methods for such gear, all that was left after the light tumble dry with tennis balls was a clumpy, featherless heap of nylon and a despondent owner. I already missed its squishy, body-heat trapping attributes, and I longed for another one.
Over the past few years, I have almost entirely converted to consignment stores, where my shopping has become economically frugal, though perhaps quantitatively excessive. In my experience, I have learned that you will likely be disappointed if you go in searching for a particular item. You just have to survey what is available, and let the right clothes and their beautiful prices find you. Still, with every door we entered, I had my eye out for that down coat. Day by day, we began to exhaust the host of thrift stores in Durango. Each time we entered a new shop, I searched for it; I just felt like I was going to find it – somewhere on a rack it would be hidden from the masses, just waiting for me, the destined second owner. But as the week progressed, that fate seemed increasingly less likely.
So I must confess, having been let down by my search for that ten dollar down coat, there isone exception to my stingy sprees. I’m a sucker for outdoor clothing brands. Marmot, SmartWool, Chaco, and so many other overpriced, Made in America, lifetime warranty rugged companies, you’ve got me. I consciously guard against this weakness by only entering REI or Half-Moon Outfitters when I do not have money. I did have money in Durango, though, and I did mosey into one of those local outfitting stores to happen upon the perfect down coat, and by the end of the week, after a thorough investigation of online prices and a daily visit to the same sale rack, I did, of course, crack. It was sixteen times more than the envisioned price tag, but that charcoal black, thirty percent off Patagonia was calling my name. Following a week’s worth of cheapskate shopping, I splurged on something that will not lose its European goose down, and I am glad I did.
After shopping almost everyday, our trip came to a close. To solve the predicament Cain addressed from the very beginning, we returned to Dunn Deal to buy a seven dollar suitcase; it is only fitting that our thrifty finds be packed in a reused item. We crammed and kicked and stood on top of our luggage to zip it up, but we successfully returned home with all of our thrift booty, and we made the most of our rainy afternoons. Our wallets are a little emptier, our drawers a little fuller, but I would say that a combination of Caesar’s famous phrase and our family trip Instagram hashtag #ComptonsConquer applies quite well to our thrifty ways.
We came to Colorado, we saw the sights, we conquered the thrift stores.
And now, if you have made it this far, you may be entertained by a just-shy-of-fifty item inventory of our ridiculous thrift store purchases.
Hoffa
Mud Doc Boots
Hat
Braided belt
Flannel shirt
Nice heavy jacket – barber-esque
Leather Cowboy hat
Baseball cap – 50 cents
Tie – 70 cents
Tassled Loafers
Mama
Gray Shirt
(With the caveat that she doesn’t need USA shirts and joke Jerry jackets.)
She is a minimalist. We could probably take a lesson from her.
Jessica
Patagonia down coat
Patagonia thermal shirt
Brooks long-sleeved running shirt
Yellow V-neck
White long-sleeved shirt
Lucky shirt
Gray dress
Bike shirt, shorts, and shoes
Puffy vest
Heavy pea coat
Colorado t-shirt
Georgia
USA vest
Jerry jacket
USA shirt
Gray striped shirt
Patterned belt
2 white shirts
Black shirt
Baseball cap
Rain boots
Denim shirt
Rosa Marie
Great western rocky mountain brass band festival, 2004 (what?)
Green beaded belt
Leather jacket
Floral dress
Hawaiian shirt
Fancy white going out shirt
Brown Native American Shirt
Blue jean dress
Nike shorts
Cain
Pullover sweater
Vest
2 t-shirts
Canvas Coat

 

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