Friday, January 11, 2013

Poppin' Tags

Since I have been able to drive, I've been shopping at thrift shops.  Not that I particularly needed to save money, I just found it fun to see what over people would throw-out/donate.  I've never found some of those incredible know, like the stories where someone will walk in an find a 1950's Stratocaster guitar for $25, or long lost painting by one of the masters for $10.  However,  I've got some pretty good deals throughout the years (at least to me).  Dr Marten boots?  Don't mind if I do for $6.  Laserdiscs in the vinyl record section for $1...that happened several times back in the days when Laserdiscs still cost $50-$75.  Probably the closest thing I ever saw to something amazing (and I just missed it by about 20 minutes...the guy was checking out) was someone's entire wood shop equipment set up for $10 each: table saw - $10, router with table - $10, drum sander - $10, squirrel fan dust collectors - $10, lathe - $10, etc...this guy literally got an entire woodshop for a couple hundred dollars.  Some of the equipment was older, but it was all top tier and very well maintained.  I would have loved it but I didn't really have the room at the time either.

Shopping at thrift stores is not all about great deals.  There is also the "WTF" factor.  Where you see something and you have no idea why anyone would ever own or buy.  Ugly Christmas sweaters abound, but I enjoy the trinket section for a good laugh, there is always something perverted there.

Thrifting does take work - clothes are only loosely sorted according to style (t-shirt, jeans, long-sleeves), you are going to have to look at sizes on anything you think you will like.  Records, CDs, books...all just thrown on their own shelf with no sorting, rhyme, or reason.  To go through and entire store properly could take hours the first time...but I am rarely that committed, I don't like shopping that much.  Subsequent visits every couple weeks will drastically reduce that time for future visits.  My favorite thrift stores (that I usually visit around once a month) I can usually go through in about 30 minutes or hit the highlights in about 10 minutes.  There is a lot of turnover, but enough is the same that I just need a quick glance to spot the newly arrived items that I might be interested in.  I usually only buy something about 30% of the time.  I wish I would stumble across all the old Megadeth t-shirts that I used to have...but so far it is not to be.

A couple months ago, I stopped in at Goodwill since I had some time to kill.  There happened to be a Crosley CR66 5-in-One entertainment center (record player, AM/FM radio, CD player, cassette player, with audio inputs to connect an MP3 player).  It looked like it was in good shape and the record needle looked brand new but the unit was marked "AS-IS." It was only $26 (they sell at Target for around $120).  They are not the best stereos in the world but I had been thinking about getting something like this to hold me over until I decided to build a new component stereo system...this is a cheap system, but for $26 it is a decent deal...I am not expecting miracles.  I wanted to check out a few other things before I left, so I didn't grab it (yep, broke the number one rule in thrift shopping...grab anything you are slightly interested in).  It was a little too awkward  to carry it around and I hate shopping with a cart.  

Ten minutes later, I go to grab it and check out but it is gone.  Oh well.  I go to the checkout to buy a couple CDs and their is a lady in front of me with record player.  She isn't happy, she seems like one of those people that has to argue about everything.  She's already argued that a shirt has a small tear so she needs a discount and now she wants to argue about the price of the record player.  The clerk gets the manager and the customer starts saying that $26 is too much for something that is "AS-IS" and she can't test it.  The manager didn't look like he wanted to deal with her so he dropped it down to $15.  She still wasn't happy. "This thing is only worth $10 and you'll be lucky that I pay one else is going to buy it, it's probably broke.  I'm probably just throwing my money away as it is."  The manager looks very conflicted...hiss face tells you that he doesn't want to go lower, but that he also doesn't want to deal with this woman who is just being a bitch.  

I decide to help out.  I poke my head around the lady and say "I'll buy that for $15."  Relief and joy floods over the manager's face and he says "Please step this way and I will check you out."  The look on the lady's face was awesome...just a stunned look of 'But....but...but...'  20 minutes later, I am at home.  The radio works, the CD player works, but the turntable doesn't.  Sadness.  I pop a C-clip off the spindle and lift the platter...within a minute I have the belt re-seated and everything put back into place.  It all works greatly.  not too bad for $15.  (OK, I haven't tested the cassette player because I gave/donated all my cassettes away about 10 years ago).

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