Wednesday, March 15

La Botique de Sally Anne

I have a secret that I don't share very often. I am a label snob. I have always liked brand-name clothing and for quite a bit of my adult life, I indulged. But 10 years ago, I found myself deciding to quit my full time job and stay home with my baby, and I became poor for a while. So my ingrained habit of buying 2 or 3 suits at Casual Corner then hitting Kauffman's for the next sale on Liz Claiborne had to be curbed. Eventually my craving got the best of me, and I was dragged by a friend into a place I would generally turn up my nose to. Once I gave it a chance, I found out that the Salvation Army is a wonderful place. I have another friend who accompanied once and she loved the experience, but admitting she shopped there was a bit too much for her, so she dubbed it "Sally Anne's" (the initials S.A.) After my first trip, I was hooked. I had found where all the people like me take their clothes. There are original owners who get too fat or too skinny for something, the ones who quit a job or start a new one and don't need their brand name togs anymore, the ones who need to get rid of some of their designer duds to make room for new ones, etc. I left my first shopping trip with literally bag loads of amazing stuff. The biggest thrill came the first time I decided to actually admit where I'd gotten a particular peice of clothing and the person's jaw dropped. First because she couldn't believe such a find would be cast off at a thrift store and second because she knew me to be a mall rat and didn't dream I'd enter a thrift store. Once I became able to return to traditional shopping, I found I still got the urge to hit the thrift racks every once in a while and see what I can find. Today was such a day. For $66 dollars, I came home with 20 items, all in new condition, a couple with the original tags on them. I got: 3 pairs size 10/12 snowpants for the kids, Caroline a dress for Sunday and 2 shirts, Eric a flannel-lined pair of jeans and a shirt. For me - 5 pair of dress pants, 1 dressy skirt,1 pair casual pants, 4 shirts, 1 sweater and the fabulous find of the day - an Ann Taylor blazer. Other brands I bought today included Izod, Old Navy, Columbia, Geoffrey Beane, Talbots, Chadwicks and Rafaella. Since I'm very experienced in persuing this passion on the sly, I have a few tips for you in case you try it out for yourself.
1) Don't even try if you don't like to plow through racks of stuff, much of it junk. Yard sales are a good test. And in some stores, you do have to get used to the smell.
2) Go expecting to find nothing. Then if you hit the jackpot, you'll be thrilled.
3) Don't buy anything you wouldn't be ready to wear exactly the way it is (after washing, of course). That includes no stains (the original owner has already tried to get them out), alterations (unless you have a seamstress who knows your measurements already- you'll never get it altered) or any other fixer-uppers unless you already routinely sew on buttons, hem pants and fix torn seams. This rule also includes not buying anything that you have to lose 5 pounds to fit into. Otherwise next week you'll be re-donating the same items you generously bought the week before - they don't give refunds or store credit at these places.
4) Don't buy it if you wouldn't buy it at the mall. Even if it is a $75 shirt that is marked $2, you won't wear it if you don't like it.
5) Don't buy anything that has that "broken in" look. Go for "like-new, looks-unworn" only. If it appears already worn, whenever you go out in it, you'll wonder if people can tell where you got it, and you'll be too embarrassed to wear it anymore.
6) Stay away from anything black unless it pops out as the darkest black on the rack. Black doesn't fade to charcoal, it fades to light black so it looks already worn. Everybody will believe you when you tell them you got it at the thrift store. That goes for pills, fades or anything else that happens in daily wash 'n wear.
7) Stay away from sweaters. Almost always (except for the one I bought today), it has been shrunk by somebody's dryer, stretched out by somebody's washing machine, or it was in style in the 80s when the original owner bought it and they've just now gotten rid of it.
7) I'm sorry to say this, but you have to try every single thing on. If anything is wrong with it, you'll be able to tell why it was donated to the thrift store. Weird fit, hidden rips, strange stains and other things will show up when you try the item on. Be prepared for your hands to be a little grimy and to need a shower afterward. That's normal. But you can take care of that while you toss the first load of your haul into the wash.
8) Most thrift stores have one day a week where everything is on "sale". You can't imagine how I felt getting that Ann Taylor blazer for $4.50 instead of 9 bucks!

If you try it and decide it's not for you, that's okay--it's more for me!

4 of Your THINKS:

Anonymous said...

I just loved this article. I used to make my way to goodwill back in the days I lived in FL. I love those kinds of trips and now you have me wanting to take this sport up again. I will have to definitely make a plan and visit my nearest "La Boutique de Sally Anne!" I'm so stoked!

- Debbie

Crystal Breeze said...

We still think alike Jen. I am still sporting my Liz Jeans that I got down in Waverly's Salvation Army for 4 bucks. Even though they are a size 14 and alittle to tight right now I still am squeezing my butt into them cause I like them that much. Congrats on your find.

Anonymous said...

I did shop at SA one time, I was a teenager and bought a skirt (size 6!!, where did those days go??). I haven't shopped there since, but donate constantly! I have in the past bought many name brand (Osh Gosh, Columbia, Levi, etc.) clothing at garage sales and do not see a difference! WOW, I have to try it sometime. I have donated great items, from old purses, shoes, pants, shirts, etc and they were in great condition so I see where you would find some great stuff!
You are a great shopper Jenn!

evelyn said...

Way to go...that's my girl. I love to shop and even more love "the find." I think it is akin to a guy's getting the "kill" during the hunting season. I love the Sally Anne name...still love Fabulous Finds the best. Mom