The Thrill of the Deal

Before the pandemic, I would go to a thirft store every week. I had thrift-store withdrawals in late March, but what could I do? They were shut down for the pandemic.

Then in May, when many of them reopened, I was one of the hundreds of people looking for a place to donate the stuff I had purged while staying at home during the shelter in place order.

I’ve ventured out a couple of times for other reasons and have come across open thrift stores. It is a risk to go inside, since I am in the 65+ group, thanks to me making it to last summer’s birthday.

Yesterday, I found the St. Vincent de Paul thrift store open in my beach town. I always need flower pots, so I ducked inside.  The white board said everything in the store was 50% off.

Suddenly it became a scavenger hunt, as in, I’m a scavenger, and I was hunting for a good deal.

Thrift stores have a lot of junk in them, so you have to learn how to focus on the good stuff. It involves casing the joint a couple of times, doing a sweep, doing a second sweep, constantly looking out for the needle in a haystack.

Score! A size xs pair of winter p.j.’s, too small for any of my relatives but perfect for a certain 11-year-old girl I know (her mom works for me).

Two button-down kid shirts, two good-looking t-shirts (for worker lady), The Nutcracker Suite CD and a shiny mirror ornament.

I got into the line behind an older lady who was buying some Christmas paper and gift bags. Her total was $1.57.  The clerk rang up the sale and told her the price. She stood there, smoothing and folding the single sheet of wrapping paper while the clerk and I exchanged glances. Then she squared up with the bags and put the paper on top. The clerk was patient. I was patient.

“Is everything half off?” she asked the clerk.

“Yes, your total is $1.57,” he said with no hint of annoyance.

The woman slowly opened her wallet and handed him a fiver.

The clerk gave her the change and asked if she wanted a bag.

The woman looked at her pile of items, hesitated, and then said no.

We waited for her to put away her wallet, zip up her purse, and gather up her purchases. She turned to glance at me, as if just noticing that I was there. A man waited behind me. None of us did anything to speed her up.

“Have a great rest of your day,” the clerk said.

I walked out with a grocery bag full of my goodies for $8.47.  Why is that such a thrill, to get seven items for that price?

Because everything else in California costs a fortune – gasoline, property taxes, water, power, internet, cell service, and so on and so forth.

I needed a gift for the eleven-year-old girl for Christmas. I haven’t been able to give her a hug for nine months.

Anything that can bring a bit of joy during the pandemic is something to be pursued. In other words, buy that expensive pastry, splurge on that shiny magazine, cook that fancy meal and be grateful for small mercies.

And for open thrift stores.

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