I am sure that there will be retailers who think what I have to say is outrageous! But I don’t want them to think that I am telling the public not to shop locally, because I really am not. I shop locally and am always pleased with what I buy. However, I would like to add that if local retailers would be sure that they and their employees were not just helpful but pleasant, they would find that their bottom line would be one to be proud of. But what I really want to talk about today is the other way to shop.
First, I should tell you that Malcolm has been amazingly helpful to my grandson McKinley. He has been away at school for four years and has had to wear a sport jacket every single day. He graduates from Tabor this May, and right now, as I speak, he has 16 jackets! Neither he nor his parents ever bought one. Nope, his grandfather took jackets as his personal task.
I want to tell you that Malcolm is so picky you would think that he would have to go to Brooks Brothers for most of them. However, he has never spent more than $5 for any of them. And believe me, every single jacket that he bought looks brand new and from what he tells us, is cut beautifully. And this is how he did it. He goes to almost every thrift shop on the Cape and here in central Vermont. And for some reason, sport jackets are quite easy to find. How much would one of these jackets cost if you had to go and buy them at retail? Probably about $250 to $400. I think that if you added what he paid for all 16 of Mac’s jackets, you would find that they cost under what they would have paid for one new one! Oh, and he has bought Sebastian two and several of his friends, at least one.
What I am trying to tell you isn’t that Malcolm is a great shopper, no, what I want you to know is that thrift shops are a wonderful place to look through before you go and spend the big dollars! Actually, I do not really enjoy shopping, even at a thrift shop. But I do occasionally and I, too, have found super, super bargains. Just this winter I went into my local thrift shop and bought myself a terrific sweater. It looks like a Scandinavian one and I paid $3 for it, and every time I wear it I get lots of compliments. I also have two that I paid retail for, which was over $100 each and this particular one is more comfortable and gets me a lot more compliments. Who would have thought?
Before this winter, I hardly ever bought anything online. But this winter was so long and so snowy that I spent more time on the computer and had more opportunity to peruse the bargains that were offered to me. I have learned several important things, at least for me. But I have also learned that I can almost never fill out all the information that I need in order to buy the product that I want. And if you need to call the place that you want to order from, it is not only much more user-friendly, the people on the other end are very helpful and very friendly. At least, most of them are. One particular store – where I have bought more than I should have for my grandsons – is so nice on the phone that I always feel a little guilty that I haven’t bought more!!
There used to be a store in Montpelier that I always tried to avoid because the sales lady was not nice and made me so uncomfortable that I never went there unless I was desperate. And I am sure that whoever the owner was would have been upset if they knew how I felt. Fortunately, that woman is gone and the store has closed and those that are still there are much better as customer relations go, a least I think that they are.
One of the driving forces of my life is this, I will not spend a penny anywhere where the person who is either selling me something or doing a certain service for me and isn’t friendly and polite. I think that there are too many people in the service business who don’t think that their being nice is important, but I do. And I do try to be nice to everyone else, too. What is interesting is that I can tell you almost 100% where someone has gone out of their way to be helpful and nice to me. I am still talking about the lovely young woman at TJ Maxx who helped me empty my cart, check me out, loaded back my cart and then pushed my cart to my car, where she unloaded it. And believe me, I still look for her every time I go there. Her kindness was amazing and I just hope that someone is helping her wherever she is.
Kindness and politeness are so good for just about everybody and everything, so you have to try and pay it forward. You will find it is good for what ails you, and even your soul.
Back to my original thought, which is if you look, bargains are just waiting for you at almost every thrift shop. You don’t have to buy if you don’t find just what you want, but checking for what you want at a fantastically lower price won’t hurt! We do find lots on the Cape, because so many people go there to retire and then one of a couple passes away. So terrific items in great shape just abound. But Malc has also found bargains galore right here in central Vermont, and I have, too. And what makes most thrift shops even better, most are run to benefit your local hospital or charity. So, give them a try, and you will be amazed at what you can find.