Thursday, January 15, 2015

Some thoughts on shopping

If there is one area where I differ from hard-line homesteaders, it's in shopping.  Not essentials/supplies shopping, but fun shopping. You see, I love to shop, and I will never pretend I don't or lie about it.

I grew up in urban Los Angeles during the 1960's era, back when Downtown was glamorous and shopping was an acceptable hobby for a young housewife with a daughter to clothe, which is what my mother was.  And so my mother took me shopping.  Shopping on Brand Blvd. in Glendale, where we hit everything from the big JC Penney store (which had an escalator in the center of it!) to the myriad of locally-owned clothing and shoe stores, where she bought most of what we wore.  

Mecca for Los Angeles shoppers -- Bullocks Downtown

Downtown Los Angeles was what my mother hit during what were called the "month end sales."  At the end of each calendar month, the BIG stores -- Macy's, Bullocks, etc., which had elevator operators and helpful salesladies strolling the floors in gorgeous ensembles -- put clothes on sale that would be expected to age off the floor soon, due to the changing seasons. Never mind that Los Angeles had zero seasons.  The fall and spring collections didn't care, and neither did we.

And then there was lunch, which always came after shopping.  If my mother was feeling rich, she splurged at one of the cafeterias in town -- Clifton's downtown, or The Hollander in Glendale.  If money was tight, it was a grilled cheese sandwich at the Woolworth's luncheonette, in back of the store. Then a bus ride home, toting our shopping bags.

Clifton's Cafeteria, Downtown Los Angeles
So my own memories of shopping are extremely pleasant ones, as you can probably tell. 

I do have another memory which greatly influenced my life today.  This one is of my grandfather and his employee Helen, who had a daughter about my own age.  One day we all took a little jaunt, after school, to what Helen called the "Specialty Shop."  On the racks were clothes my mother normally could never have afforded, but on this day I was allowed to bring home a couple of gorgeous wool jumpers and three sweaters.  

Because the Specialty Shop, you see, was an upscale thrift store.  And thus began my lifelong love affair with thrift store shopping.

And so, yesterday when I got the "shopping bug" I drove down into town, to the local Goodwill and did some browsing.  I found two summer blouses for three bucks each (I always shop off-season, as the selection tends to be more plentiful) and these three vases. Vases are 66 cents each at the Goodwill, and so these beauties cost me a grand total of $2.00.  And the fluted one to the far right is pure leaded crystal.

I love giving the gift of fresh cut flowers from my garden to coworkers when they have birthdays, and adding a nice vase makes the gift even more special.  So a small collection of 66-cent vases is in order here.

And it's only you and I who know the vases only cost 66 cents, so keep that on the QT, okay? And if anyone asks where my blouses were bought, I will just smile and tell them I got them at the Specialty Shop...where a girl who loves to shop can indulge herself without breaking the bank or her beloved homesteading rules about re-using and re-purposing as much as possible in this world.


  1. Gorgeous vases. Especially the white one!

    I remember the glory days of the big downtown department stores with their elegant chandeliers and restaurants. How I miss them.

    I also love thrift shopping. I have expensive taste and a wardrobe full of cashmere sweaters and Ralph Lauren, but they are all second hand. Some from thrift shops, some from eBay. All purchased at a fraction of the original cost.

    I love wool Pendleton sweaters too. It's amazing how fast the past season's sweaters appear on eBay. Every fall I find one or two sweaters I love, and sure enough by spring, someone is selling one on eBay. There is an automatic search feature on eBay that you can custom tailor to search for items you want.

    Kudos to you for your finds at Goodwill! My sister-in-law is a champion thrift store shopper. She likes to give gift baskets and finds her baskets on the cheap at thrift shops. Such a smart way to shop!

    1. It really is, and the best part is that it's pretty much guilt-free, since you're not paying big bucks for anything! But oh, just to stroll through those old, glamorous department stores one more time would be a wonderful thing....if only they still existed.

  2. Here's where we differ. I don't like shopping for clothes of any kind. I just wish work clothes, church clothes & 'about town' clothes would just pop up for me each morning. I really find putting together an outfit a chore. I do however, love thrift store & estate sale shopping/looking. I can usually be in & out within 30 minutes or less, depending on if I spot something. If I have to do the girlfriend shopping thing I much prefer smaller 'specialty' shops.

    1. Well, you are definitely not alone in your thoughts. What got me thinking about this was another blog I like to read, Root Simple , and they were discussing clothes and how much more practical a uniform would be. But for me, I love experimenting with color and styles, and clothes allow me to do that...I just have to find ways to do it on a budget and still get quality pieces! If you are interested, the blog post on Root Simple's site is here. I think you'd find a kindred spirit as far as clothing goes:

  3. Well I don't mean to rub it in-but your vases cost a king's ransom compared to my Goodwill vases! Here they are 3 for $1. Haha :) like you, I pick up a few here and there for giving flowers or herbs--of course they went untouched last year as my garden was a joke, despite the best growing year in decades...ugh! (Fault of lazy gardener).
    My mom worked at Sears and still talks about how much she loved that job. I would have loved to shop those department stores when they were in their prime. sounds like you just barely made it!
    I love to shop for everything except clothes. No matter what weight I am, I hate it. The era of online shopping was a godsend! But antiques, plants, cars (I am a legendary negotiatior, so am often asked along on this), and especially-food, I love. Have you ever bought, even just picked up, a piece from an antique/thrift store and felt it had bad energy? Some friends and I were talking about this the other night and I found it very interesting. I certainly have.

    1. I have not had that experience with antiques, but can certainly understand it. I DO get it with rooms. Sometimes I am browsing through pictures in Architectural Digest and find that some images of rooms fill me with unease or even a feeling of slight nausea, as opposed to others which are neutral-feeling or positive. They can be beautifully decorated rooms, but something about them is severely "off," and I totally pick up on it, whatever it is.

    2. Oh, and I wanted to add I am green with envy over your vase prices there! 3 for a dollar? That's great!