We have touched on the subject of charity thrift stores here before, but barely scratched the surface. One of the main reasons for starting this blog was indeed our frustrations with these types of stores. So let’s finally begin an initial review of these “charity shops.” First we’ll differentiate “charity” thrift stores from commercial ones. There seem to be less of the non-charitable types out there these days, but they can be found. Many of the ones we used to frequent have gone out of business. Most of them I would classify as an alternate type of antique store or more accurately – resale store – but dealing in more recent “vintage” clothing and household items. If you like fashions from the 70s, they can be a treasure trove. Of course one primary difference is that they generally sell items that the owners purchased themselves or are there on consignment. Charity thrift stores, on the other hand, sell things that were donated freely, often as a tax deduction. So understand this point: they are selling items that cost them nothing, and often a small percentage of those goods become tax deductions for those who donate to them. Thus in a way, the government is helping to fund their inventory.
A few days ago this article was simply going to discuss a TV commercial that Betsy and I cringed at every time it aired. The commercial in review here is for Talbots, a “Women’s Clothing and Apparel” store. The music is the first thing I noticed – a jarring, growling female singer going on about evolving, revolving, revolution and history repeating. When I actually watched the commercial I was annoyed by the woman who the ad focuses on. She’s oh-so properly dressed in what looks like a business suit with leather gloves and a big purse hanging from one arm. She’s swinging her hips like a runway model as she walks through city streets. Most annoying to me was the smug, almost predatory look she has throughout the ad.
Ok, not every post here is going to be grouching about something. Sometimes I come across an exemplary example of a business that is a gem among many lumps of coal. Well, a little grouching. Generally, health food stores are among my pet peeves. I’ve become somewhat of a health-nut as I’ve gotten older and this has led me to search for many things that usually can only be found at “health food” or vitamin stores. My opinion of most of them is that they are run by rude people and are way overpriced. But there are two such stores I’ve found that have reasonable prices. One I’ll talk about another time. The other, which also has a bonus of nice, down to earth proprietors is the Corner Health Food Store in Mundelein, IL.
Almost every Saturday we go to a number of different shopping venues in one or two trips. Garage and estate sales as well as thrift shops and grocery/produce markets are our favorite vices. When we get more diligent at blogging and taking pictures, there will be better reports on individual visits, but here are just a few memories from our travels on 9/10/11. The Rolling Meadows High School Music Boosters had a Community Garage Sale in the high school parking lot. They have this once a year every September and we usually visit. I assume part or all of the proceeds go to the RMHS music program. There were more tables and merchandise than previous events and generally prices were good with some great bargains to be found. I purchased a few old Transformer toys for my daughter’s husband who collects them and a Marvel Comics graphic novel originally priced at $19.95 for just 50 cents. As I said, the prices were reasonable, however there was one woman who had a two tables of things that were priced out of this world. We first noticed a small aluminum bowl. You see these everywhere. It’s one of the most common items to be found at garage/estate/rummage sales. They usually sell for a buck or less. This one was pretty beat up and it was priced at $9.00. What??? I immediately moved on to the next table down the line, but couldn’t shake off thinking about that woman. I was tempted to go back and politely ask her how she determined her prices. I wasn’t that bold this time and didn’t, but I went back to look at what other things she had to sell later on our way out. Children’s books, well used for $6 to $10 that everyone else was selling for 25 or 50…
Ugh. While watching a US Open match this week, I was forced to endure one of those lame, stupid, annoying and played-to-death Geico commercials. This one features their dumb “Caveman” trying to hit tennis balls flung at him by a ball machine next to which Billie Jean King sits. At first I thought it was a new one, but Betsy thought it wasn’t. After some quick research I found she was right. It originally came out last year. If you haven’t seen it already, here it is if you dare: I have to say these caveman commercials are the worst, but I detest all of their various ad campaigns. The Gecko, the Question Guy… oh I almost forgot the “money eyes” which were almost as horrid. There are others. Perhaps I’m being unreasonable, but I would not go to Geico for my auto insurance no matter how much money they would save me.
OK, I want to get my opinion out there about awful, horrid commercials. I’m fully aware that I’ll likely never be the first, or even the hundredth to blog about any of them. There are, after all, entire websites devoted to discussions about commercials. But I want to share my take on them nonetheless. After mulling over my choices among commercials currently airing, I decided to talk about a Target commercial which I found called “The Denim Song.” I find it to unbelievably annoying and stupid. My first question is, Who is this targeting? I can’t imagine it would convince students OR their parents to shop there because it’s so lame. Watch the video if you don’t mind nails on a chalkboard: So I did some research. I was somewhat surprised that it seemed to have some fans who claim to love it. However I was floored when I discovered this commercial has IT’S OWN FACEBOOK PAGE! Wait, What??? This is indeed a new age when commercials have a Facebook page. Well I still think the commercial is annoying and stupid. And perhaps that was the intention.
There’s a lot we have to say about thrift and resale shops. A few years ago they used to provide real bargains. Today most of them are run like corporations. We often are bewildered by the high prices that are nearly at retail levels. It seems the people who set prices are either ignorant of an item’s real value or outright greedy. A new Goodwill store recently opened near us and we have donated many bags of stuff as we attempt to divest ourselves of years of accumulated things we don’t need. After we dropped off some stuff yesterday we went in to browse. I could cite example after example of confusing prices (and as a matter of fact will do so in the future). There were two things that stood out at this visit. Betsy found a nice piece of Lusterware priced at $1.99 which she estimated would sell for around $10 at an antique store. At the same time just down the aisle I found a pair of plain wooden chopsticks similar to what you would get at a restaurant for .99 cents. The Lusterware certainly would be a good bargain, but who in their right mind would buy the pair of chopsticks?
After a couple of fitful starts followed by long, procrastinating months of no activity, we have once again attempted to get this blog on its feet. The big difference this time is that we have entered the world of social media – both Facebook and Twitter – and understand how to leverage it to spread the message. As the title implies, the primary purpose of this blog will be to comment on the world of Consumerism. The things we like, dislike and utterly disdain about products, advertising, shopping, dining and our general interactions and observations about the world. That’s not going to limit us to only certain things. We’ll write about what we want when we damn well please…