Saturday, September 12, 2009

Let's Make a Deal

I have always been a clearance-rack shopper (aside from that one unfortunate experience with the acid wash jeans). Always. I started when I began purchasing my own clothes with my own hard-earned grocery store clerk money. I wanted and needed to get as much bang for my buck. So that meant walking into stores at the mall and heading straight to the back. I'd walk past all the awesome outfits in the window and past all the NOT reduced merchandise to the back of the store where you find the marked down pieces. And pieces they were. No full outfits here. I bought tops and bottoms separately and hoped they'd match.

I've never grown out of this behavior - not even when I had the means to buy the entire outfits displayed in all their glory in the storefront. I do the same for my whole family now - search through clearance racks for spectacular finds and great deals.

I do it mostly for the thrill of a good buy. I do it because if I buy a shirt for $3, I can buy many more items and not feel nearly as guilty. I do it because I am not the most fashion conscientious person you have ever met. And though I like to look nice, the pursuit of the perfect ______________ does not consume me.

But this summer I have made a real effort (as previously mentioned) at garage saling (if that is not a verb then it should be). I do it mostly so we don't go broke buying clothes for our daughters. In the past I have tried my hand at garage sales and gotten very frustrated. I've learned its an art - something you need to practice at before you get to be any good. I can now walk into a garage sale and walk back out with nothing and manage to not feel guilty. And you should know guilt is something I easily apply to myself so this is a major accomplishment.

Now, I stay at home full time. So I have a closet that is full of nice things that I can't so much wear at home. I technically could but they wouldn't be all that comfortable (esp. not for nursing). Besides, it just doesn't seem right to wear the business-casual stuff when I typically am covered in baby/toddler slime by the end of the day. I made a small mental list of the few things I would like to get for myself this winter - with every intention of making a big shopping trip to Des Moines this fall. A shopping trip that would probably cost me several hundred dollars (once it was all said and done).

I needed/wanted:
Nice new pair of jeans
New winter dress
White button down blouse
A few new sweaters
A pair of brown or black leather boots (if I can find some that fit and aren't expensive)

As of this morning, I have purchased ALL of those items and I am thrilled!!!!!

New pair of jeans #1 - $3 (best pair of jeans I have ever purchased!)
New pair of jeans #2 - $1
New winter dress - $4.50
White button down blouse - $1
New sweaters (4) - $7.50
Brown leather boots - $1.50
Black leather boots - $4.50

Yes. I bought all of my "needs" for under $25. UNDER TWENTY-FIVE DOLLARS!!!!! People, I am downright ecstatic about my finds. I LOVE IT! I am so much happier about the clothes I got because I behaved reasonably and sensibly.

Garage sales are better than clearance racks. Because clearance racks are still located in the stores. Stores that contains gobs of beautiful but expensive clothing. If I go in a store, I inevitably end up coveting MANY MANY more things than I need or want or could ever possibly wear. Even one trip down the mall where I manage to WALK PAST the stores without going in causes my heart to long for things that are, quite frankly, unnecessary. If I go to the mall, even if I find and purchase everything I am looking for, I find myself longing for the items I liked but didn't buy. Do you have this too!? I also end up buying stuff that wasn't on my list. See for me, shopping at a big store or a mall is a problem. One I've just recently begun to recognize.

This is why I now love garage sales. Because I walk in, find a beautiful sweater, buy it for $3, and am not consumed with the thoughts of the other cute sweaters that were out of my budget. Garage sales have freed me from a longing and a plague of greed that I thought would never be conquered.

Its still a challenge. I run the real risk of buying something that does not fit (you can't very often try on anything other than shoes or a jacket) or something that is damaged in some hidden way. I have to work at it - really inspect stuff. Ask myself if it is comparitively priced. Decide if I really love it - because if I don't I won't wear it. Buy items that are not overly worn. Try every zipper at least twice. Make sure there are no missing buttons. Inspect sweaters for holes or loose threads. Determine if it is clean or can be cleaned. Give myself permission to be really picky.

But to me, its still worth it. Because for the price of one pair of jeans, I just got every single thing I needed for the winter in a few relaxed mornings of garage sales in my very own town. And there is this nifty void in my heart where normally there would be oddles of coveting happening that has been filled with happiness and peace.

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