Sunday, April 27, 2008

Thrift store nemesis

I have one. Do you?

She's a capri-clad mom who breezes by with an armload of wooden toys. She flashes me a smug smile. "Don't touch those, sweetie. Mommie's going to make a lot of money on Ebay today!"

She sees me flipping through the toddler dresses and cuts me off, mid-aisle. She doesn't even have any girls.

My kids are quietly looking at paperbacks nearby. "Oh, no, Ezekial!" her syrupy voice corrects. "We don't allow Magic Tree House in our home."

We pass one another at least once a week, yet all we offer is a silent nod. I'm developing an irrational dislike of a woman I don't even know.

I'm going to be really embarassed if she reads this blog.


Karen said...

That's hilarious! Love your enemy, right?

I don't thrift shop often but when I do I can get kind of intense about it.

We'll have to come up with ideas to foil her!

Or maybe, she's really saving you money and you should be thankful.

Anonymous said...

No, Meredith, I do not. I have seen more and more people in the thrift stores. I guess I just figured that the "harder times" that are getting my pocket book are getting to the others too. If someone can make a few dollars selling something brought for next to nothing at a thrift store on e-bay I think great. More power to them. It is an honest made dollar. I am trying to sell several things on Craig's list right now. So far no offers. After 1 week I have lowered my asking price 25%. Hope I can get some offers soon. I do not think there is much 'spare' cash these days for many people. With the cost of gas over $3.50 a gallon, a gallon of milk is $3.50 in our area. I paid $2.00 for a dozen eggs this weekend. I just think people are going to try to make a dollar where possible. Roxie

Brenda@CoffeeTeaBooks said...

I've seen people like this at the library book sales for YEARS.

I was going through the Landmark books onetime when a woman cut right in front of me and started taking them by the handfuls and putting them in a cardboard box. I mean... right in front of me!

Since I've volunteered at the sales for a long time, I told the President of the Friends of the Library about her. She knew exactly the woman I was talking about.

They have had to "talk to her" due to her rudeness before.

I found out she is a.. "Christian" homeschooling mom! Egad... that's exactly the kind of reputation we need to develop!

There's a guy who comes into Goodwill at the same time as me once in awhile (he is there everyday).

He does sell on e-baby but we have a friendly bantering that goes on between us! :)

Anonymous said...

Hi hon! It's me Alexia! Why don't you bring the kids to the park more often? Ezekial would love it! TaTa!

Anonymous said...

No, but I shop sporadically--if I went at the same time each week, I might see more of the same crowd!

Anonymous said...

If I saw you in a thrift store I would probably follow you around and pester you with questions, lol.

I have gotten agressive about wooden toys at a LLL yard sale. *blush*

Anonymous said...

Dear Anonymous #143, there is no need to be rude. What are you teaching your child? Remember the children learn best what they see their parents do. At least have the nerve to sign your name. Roxie

Shannon said...

Meredith - Is it twisted that I'm grinning to see you have a little dark side? :>
This is hysterical:)

Tammy and Parker said...


I just wish I had a thrift store that had ANYTHING good to purchase.

I'm praying to be able to hit a few yard sales this year.

Anonymous said...

I don't see too many of the same folks but I can usually spot the ones who are also resellers. The mid-aisle cutters or the ones that park themselves right at the end of your cart grate my nerves at times. I usually don't say anything and let my gaze fall on them as I wait for them to move. Usually they will look up and I will give them a polite smile and ask if they would like to trade places. More times than not, I can kill more flies with honey than vinegar.
On on a completely unladylike note, I'm sure to load up on the fiber before I go thrifting, just in case. My granny said there was always more room on the outside. ;)

Ann'Re said... thrift store nemesis is a bit different. They are the ones who have many unruly little children that run and yell all over the thrift stores and play with everything as if it were their personal playground. I had one little girl get very angry with me because I wouldn't move the cart out of the aisle so she could continue riding the big wheel around the store.

Anonymous said...

I hate it when I have to deal with someone like this in my life!! But I usually find (once I cool off a little!) that God is trying to work on something in MY character when this sort of thing happens. Sometimes, I begin to feel like it is purely MY efforts that are responsible for snagging the good deals in life, and when I see someone playing the "bargain hunting game" in an unfair way, it really gets to me. At those times I find I am focusing on the wrong things, and forget God's working in all of my life's circumstances to give our family what we need, exactly when we need it. Speaking STRICTLY of myself, (and not of you, Meredith), God seems to use people like this woman to show me what I sometimes act like to other people (even if it's unintentional on my part), or to remind me that no matter how much it seems like a woman like this is making out on her purchases in an unfair/unethical/unkind way, He wants me to trust Him, and not my own efforts. Obviously, that doesn't mean that we shouldn't work hard and do what we can to be good stewards of what God has given us, etc., but remembering that ultimately He will provide every good thing that we need helps me relax and have more of a "whatever" attitude towards people like this in my life.
Susan :-)

Marsha said...

My word, if you'd seen the earlybirds at our church pre-school's rummage sale! Some were truly astonishing in their demeanor - curt, clipped and rude. Others were just business-like and wanted no part of our "welcome to our church" chipper chit chat, they'd come to make a deal.

Interestingly, several of the seriously hardcore rummagers seemed to know each other, even though they clearly weren't "shopping" together. I asked one woman about it and she said that they'll all on "the circuit" together and consider each other competitors. Some resell anything and everything, some focus on certain items (one guy wanted books and another sought pottery and china) and some are just old-fashionedly frugal but they all apparently show up at all the sales in town and eye each other warily. They see each other all the time and spend all of that time suspicious of each other? Life's too short, I think.

Meredith said...

Oh, I'm not upset with anyone reselling things. It's just her overall manner that rubs me the wrong way!

And it makes me wonder how many shoppers see me on a regular basis...and if they are thinking similar thoughts about me.

In places like thrift stores and yard sales I try to err on the side of extreme friendliness, as I think it makes the whole experience more pleasant.

But it's funny how you can get into a mental competition with another shopper, even if you don't know her, and how that can affect your whole shopping experience.

Sheree said...

We have these shoppers at our local Catholic church's rummage sale. It opens at 9 a.m and its $2 a bag and the people come in there and shove you and grab things right out of your hands. I stopped taking my children with me because they would run right into the children and push them around. The parents who let their children run wild also bug me...but what bugs me the most about it is the parents who allow their children to take toys or other items FROM another child and act like its okay for them to do that!!

Jenni said...

It's funny, b/c I consider myself one of the stricter and more conservative moms I know, but I always seem to find a way to offend someone when we are out. I've heard comments on my kids singing the SpongeBob song when they see the cereal boxes (and they've never even seen the show!), and comments on my shorts being too short.

I think God puts these moments in my life to remind me of how easy it is to be judgemental(for me, especially of other parenting styles). And to help me continue to learn how to bite my tongue!!

Anonymous said...

Oh, you mean the yuppies? Oy. I haven't had to deal with them in our local thrifts so much as in other activities, i.e. when my son was signed up for a play group at a local park and I was mistaken for his nanny (whah... do I look THAT young?) and told haughtily that I was mis-pronouncing the name of the school that I live across the street from (and this person lives 6 blocks from and had basically made up her own pronunciation of Goethe).

Tracey said...

Thanks for keeping it real Meredith! I can relate.

Unknown said...

I would have to have left the store or I would have spoken before I thought.That always gets me in trouble.What is a magic tree house?Just curious.

H said...

I think we have a CVS nemesis in Smyrna although I never see her...every time I try to go in for a good deal on something it's all gone.

n. said...

heehee. I love it. yes at one point I too had a 'nemesis' and it was her not pleasant attitude that irked me. but i've since moved and have encountered only pleasant people in my shopping!

Anonymous said...

I don't have a thrift store nemesis, but I do have you to thank for my experiences with thrifting. I went for the first time on Friday and got some amazing clothing that I needed for work - great brands, really inexpensive - and I had been hoping to find a breadmaker - and found one at half price for just $5! I was so excited that I took a friend on Saturday, and I found 3 more things for work, all very inexpensive as well.

And I think if she, whoever she is, reads your blog, it might be a good message for her.

Anonymous said...

Maybe sometime you could strike up a friendly conversation with her. I find that if I can think of something complimentary to say--something that's truthful--it surprises the person and also causes me to soften toward them.

Also, if I find a way to pity a selfish or thoughtless person for their immature behavior, then I soften toward them as well and that always makes a difference in how I deal with them.

You didn't ask for ideas about what to do, but I felt compelled to share anyway.

Unknown said...

I have volunteered at our preschools rummage sale, and this year, I am running it. I am scared to death because I have seen some downright nasty behavior.

Around here, there is a sort of mafia of antique dealers who are out to rip you off. Every year, it seems to be the same people coming to our sale, and every year, there is pushing, shoving, arguing, etc.

One year, I had found some items I wanted to purchase, and hid them behind a curtain on the stage at our church, beyond where customers were allowed to go. I walked by the cashier table later and saw a woman with every single item I had hidden. I did not want anyone to think badly of our church, so I kept my mouth shut.

Our sale is on Saturday, and I am terrified.

TracyMichele said...

See, unlike kind and compasionate you... I DO take issue with people thrifting to sell and make money. LOL. (I know, let the hate mail begin.) I think thrift stores are there for those who NEED it. Those who are not ABLE to spend money on new items for themselves or their families. And for those who will appreciate the bargains and use the merchandise. The shoppers who are just going in to snag a name brand item in good condition just to sell it and make some money are really missing the boat. They are missing the intent and purpose behind 2nd hand shops and taking away from the people the stores really help.

While I dismount my horse, allow me to say, "Great post, Meredith!". :)

Kelly said...

Magic Tree House is a wonderful series of beginning chapter books . The children who are the main characters of the book go into their Magic tree house and travel through time to different places in history . My now 22 year old loved them when he was in second grade and as a children's bookseller I often suggested them for emergent readers .

Arden said...

Although we have a ton of thrift stores, most are over run by resellers. There is very little to be found unless you haunt the place. I've settled for cheaper clothing from WalMart and Target for the children.
My biggest pet peeve is we have 'junkers' come up from Kentucky and pick through the trash. I caught one about to take a bike from my front yard! I hope, hope, hope that gas prices start keeping them home.

Tiffany said...

The comments (especially Samantha's) reminded me of a strange encounter I had at a yardsale this weekend. I was going through a paper bag that was by a table in the yard. I was drawn to it because it had girl toddler clothes in it. The bag wasn't in an out-of-the-way spot, or behind the table where you pay. It was out with the rest of the stuff. I'd been going through it for about 20 seconds when a woman ran up to me and said, "You are going through my stuff!"
I had no idea, of course, but I apologized very sincerely because I never would have gone through her stuff on purpose. After I apologized, I realized that she was still staring at me and looking upset, so I said, "I didn't take anything." She looked down at my hands...I had to show her! I walked away and then she went through her stuff, I'm guessing to look for "missing" items.

Anonymous said...

I can say that it isn't just at thrift stores, I've had people walk in front of me (and my kids) at the library book sale without even an 'excuse me' just to grab a book that they saw.

Actually the worst was this weekend while we were grocery shopping-an older woman ran into me to get to the bacon. (And there was nothing on sale, either so I didn't understand the rush.)

Did I mention I'm 39 weeks along? And again no 'excuse me'? Really now! --Tracey

Anonymous said...

In places like thrift stores and yard sales I try to err on the side of extreme friendliness, as I think it makes the whole experience more pleasant.


Anonymous said...

There is never an excuse for just plain rudeness but I do disagree with tracymichele about whether or not it is ok to buy at thrift stores, Goodwill, etc. to resell. If I did not sell things on eBay, I would not be able to pay my bills every month (and I work a full-time job). I would never push or shove or "take" someone else's items. However, I go to the Goodwill almost every day looking for something I might make a small profit on. I don't think I am doing anything wrong by purchasing donated merchandise. I am just thankful it is available. And, it seems to me, there is plenty there for people to buy clothing for their families AND for people like me who NEED to supplement their income as well as buy clothing for personal use. I am doing nothing dishonest or, in my opinion, unethical.

Anonymous said...

It scares me to think what some people are going to do when they get tight on groceries. It is getting to be a more selfish and me-centered society we live in today.
Mrs. L.

Elizabeth Sue said...

Wow! I thought I was the only one with cuthroat thrifters in Goodwill...I try to laugh at it and tell myself there is more than enough to go around!

Anna said...

Ouch. Some of these comments really stung!

Anonymous said...

Ok, I wasn't going to comment, but....traceymichelle said she has issues with people who resale, and the thrift stores are for people who need it?? If I didn't resale, my 22 month old son might not go hungry, but I'm not sure I could keep a roof over our heads! I am a widow trying to stay home with my little guy, we need each other!, and I regularly go to thrift stores and yard sales. I buy for myself and my son, and I also buy to resale. It's an honest way to make a living! And these items are for sale to anyone with the money to buy them! Yes, you may see me going thru a rack of toddler dresses, even tho I have a son, but I really try to be respectful to anyone else who is shopping. And I have been known to pick up an item at the curb now and again, hasn't anyone else?? And I am from Ky, so I resent the other comment concerning "pickers" from Ky! If an item can be rescued from a landfill, doesn't that benefit everyone? So , please remember that not all stay-at-home moms have a husband out there working to provide for them, some of us have to make our own way while trying our best to care for our children. And resell is NOT an easy way to make a dime, it takes lots and lots of hard work! Ask anyone who makes a living that way!

V and Co. said...

lol! good to see it's not just me with a smug ebay horder mom! i really want to be mean but then how much better would i be...sigh.

Anonymous said...

I'm going to reiterate what the president of our little local thrift said to me:

Some people shop here because that's all they can afford. Some people shop here so that they can save up for a trip to Europe. We don't care -- we're just glad to sell things so that we can support these kids we're sending to school.

[Our thrift store's charter is to send kids from group homes to higher education -- everything from vocational schools to a 4-year-college.]

So, I guess the ebayers are okay. It is maddening to see a reseller snag a bargain you would have used. And it is frustrating to deal with rude people ... anywhere. But, I think the cashiers (at our thrift, where prices aren't marked) tend to give better deals to the polite or pleasant shoppers!


Edi said...

I can't believe someone would think that thrift stores (and I guess that means garage sales and the like) are only for people who "need it"! And who are those folks? How about if you have a salary of $200,000 but are deeply in debt? Can you shop there? I'd say if only the poor shopped at thrift stores - they'd be out of business soon!

I donate TONS of stuff to the thrift store and I don't care who buys it. I buy stuff at the thrift store too. Yes I could afford to buy stuff that is new and expensive but I believe we are responsible for the money God gives us and that means not just spending every penny we have, just b/c we have it.

Being frugal may allow someone to GIVE MORE to charities, churches etc.

I would say, for the most part - the folks that are shopping thrift are not the poverty stricken. Why does it matter? There are tons of thrift stores/garage sales and tons of used items that someone can find if they really need to. I like thrift stores also b/c I can find unusual items, I can find collectible items for myself or for others, and at one time in my life - I also found stuff that I could sell on eBay. The stuff I would sell on eBay were NOT necessities (ie a vintage sewing basket, an antique wallpaper stamp), so I don't feel like I was taking away things someone poorer than me needed.

Being wise and being frugal is not the same as being greedy or miserly. I could afford a $500,000 house perhaps, but live in one that is probably a fifth of that. Am I wrong for living in a house that maybe would be the only house someone poorer than me could afford? We bought it when we WERE poor!

But saying all the above - I agree that NO ONE should be rude or grabby in the thrift store. There are a few people at the thrift store I see regularly and I figure they are probably resellers - but if they have the time to do it - great. What I would not like is someone getting things held in advance (say someone knowing the staff and saying "hey if you ever get in a cool Lego set please put it behind the counter for me") of them being put out for everyone.

Anonymous said...

Y'know, this would irritate me to no end, Meredith. I'm glad you're so gracious; I have quite the acid tongue, and would probably tell Mrs.Capri Pants this:

"You know, Ma'am...your son is reading. You should be encouraging the good things, and one of those things is reading. What is so bad about a Magic Tree House book? Is it because you'd rather him read Proust? Really now...let your child be a CHILD."

Sorry...but as a librarian, that comment irked me to no end. I can see why parents don't allow certain SUBJECTS, but I can't tell you how many tell me "Oh, Magic Tree House/Junie B./ other series books are nothing but trash! I want him/her to read REAL books."

I had to say to one parent, "So...if that *points to a Junie B book on display* book isn't "real", then what is?" She just looked at me, stammered, and I chuckled as I walked away. Not the nicest thing, but hey, parents need to let their kids be kids.

And as far as an 'irrational' dislike of someone you don't know, just blame it on the preggy hormones.... "I like all of God's creatures, just some of 'em better stuffed." - Hope Floats.


Unknown said...

Meredith, you give me giggles. Nice to know you are not totally perfect after all!
Grin, BTW you have a PM waiting since like 1952.
hugs sweetie

Anonymous said...

Here is a totally different view, FWIW.

Having grown up as a princess and lived extravagantly as a single gal, I had to make a major attitude adjustment when I married a man with two sons and quickly produced a daughter. I went from having money to burn and doing so with great abandon to being responsible for the family budget and pinching pennies until they screamed. I had to swallow a great deal of pride to walk into Goodwill the first time I needed something for my family and could not afford retail. These days, I grab good stuff at the curb on garbage day, dig through the neighbors' recycling for their coupon inserts, and happily hit the Bargain Barn at Goodwill without a single thought for what others are thinking, but I did have a LOT of growing up to do before I got here.

All this to say, could it be possible that Lady Capri Pants is in similar straits and is too proud to allow anyone think that she is shopping at thrift stores out of need rather than for profit?

In any case, Meredith, Lady CP is clearly uncomfortable in her own skin. Don't let her have the same effect on you. You ROCK.

Amy said...

Well she sounds perfectly awful.

Rachel said...

Pretty is as pretty does---whether it is in the mall, or the thrift store.

Being polite doesn't take any more energy than being rude...

And I'm with you, Meredith, on the rudeness of some people.

That being said, I have been known to buy things to resell (there was a consignment sale twice a year in my old town). But mostly I kept it all--maybe not for a child I currently had, lol, but I've got boys and girls, and hope to have more dc later on, so the good stuff usually ends up packed up in the right box...

And I don't have a real problem for resellers, honestly. I try to give them the benefit of the doubt.

But you know, she may actually BE a reader...who knows? Some people see such things as a competition...sad as it is, it may be the only way she feels "good", to do something like that....

Anyway, I do hope that you are doing better--early pregnancy is such a roller coaster...


Amy said...

I had a lady who once took stuff right out of my cart. I was so irritated, I could hardly stand it.

I find I get pretty competitive when I see a mom who looks like me with kids around my children's age getting the stuff I want. I always hope there isn't one of me lurking behind a corner taking all the good stuff :)

Something to say said...

I could shop just about anywhere I would like, but seriously...why?

I love Goodwill and "junking". I have found great bargains and loved everything I've bought. I donate good used, unwanted new gift items and new unused items regularly to a local charity for their store.

It all comes full circle for most of us whether you think we should shop at bargain type stores or not.

Scribbit said...

I had a similar experience with one of the moms at the school but decided not to blog about it because first, it wasn't very nice and second because there was a chance however slim that she'd see the post. Too bad, she's great material.

Anonymous said...

I had a Mom treat me similiar in a thrift store once. She was mad apparently because I was buying the outfits she wanted for her daughter and she tried to talk me into not buying it so she could put it on layaway until she could afford it. She asked me how far along I was (She had more of a tummy pooch than I did), and proceded to show her distaste from everything to my bag to even my daughter. I figured that she was trying to make herself feel better about herself. Sad lady. Makes you wonder how people like that tick.
I think if I had a run in like that every week I wouldn't be able to hold my tongue.

Karla Porter Archer said...

when I went to Goodwill today, this was all I could think of!

I understand the mental competitions. I do it too.

xo ~K

amy said...

very funny!

Anonymous said...

I have never left a comment but have been 'lurking' for awhile now. I decided last year that it was both better for the environment and better for my budget to shop at thrift stores. I think that is how I found your web site.
I had an interesting experience at Goodwill with a women. It started bad but became a very positive experience. I found a small Quimper saucer that went with the colors in my living room. This women asked me if it was from Portugal. I showed her the back and she became very excited. "There must be more of that around here". She imediately jumped in front of me and grabbed two matching Quimper tea cups. I felt sad but I did like the colors of the saucer. I was about to do the right thing though and give her the saucer when I found the other saucer. She sadly said, "At least you can hang the saucers on the wall". I asked her if she wanted to trade and she agreed. We both went away happy with a tea cup set. After that she kept showing me other things. "You should get this, it would look beautiful in a kitchen. Don't you like this, it has the same color of blue as the tea cup." I felt guilty that I didn't want the things that she pointed out, but I enjoy looking at my tea cup and thinking of that Goodwill visit.

Kath Mattus said...

Ya know...some people are just plain rude. (shrug) Like you, Meredith, I prefer to be approachable and friendly, "heap on the coals" as our Lord said.

I recall many years ago (around 16-19yrs) during the time when I had my boys, I would go to the sale in Donelson that was done by the mothers of twins and triplets. We'd get there early and wait in line a couple hours. The women were so consumed with getting deals, I recall one such time when the woman behind me just shoved me into a table...and me 7 months or so pregnant!

After reading and following your blog for quite some time, I have no doubt you are a gentle and caring in your interactions.
Take care

Anonymous said...

Some of the commenters are rude. It boggles my mind why that would happen. If this keeps up, we're gonna rumble.
Lighten up, Ladies...I'm just sayin'.
Mrs. Fussypants

Daiquiri said...

So funny! :)

Poppy B. said...

The mother that drives me absolutely bonkers isn't at the thrift store or the rummage store (I use both and sometimes believe that I don't own anything I buy--I'm renting it from the rummage sale!)

No, my nemesis is the mom whose son is in my children's special needs karate class. She brings her younger son, who is the LOUDEST little boy I have ever heard. And she is also QUITE LOUD when she is teaching him the value of SHARING and TAKING TURNS, etc. It's like she wants the whole world to know what a wonderful mother she is.

Meanwhile, I'm trying to read, and doing my best not to hate the both of them into little tiny bits.

(Hi! First time commenter, although I've lurked for a while.!

vicvic said...

If I may quietly say, thrift stores are NOT there to provide clothing and necessities to the needy.

Thrift stores are there to sell donated items so that the profit on those items can be used to help the needy, or whatever cause the shop supports.

Thrift stores are like big garage sales - when we have garage sales, the purpose is not to provide cheap goods to those less fortunate, the purpose is to make a little money for ourselves and get our garage cleaned out in the process, etc.

Profit is the whole intent and purpose behind the thrift stores: to make money so they can do their work. If a goal was to provide goods to people who can't afford them, that would be a separate part of the program, like I'm sure it is in many of these organizations. But that is not the purpose of the thrift stores.

In fact, some thrift stores sell items on eBay themselves to boost their own profit. Goodwill has their own auction type website, I believe.

No hate here though - being kind and friendly to people is a personal goal of mine whilst thrifting, yard saling, or blogging, even if I try to profit from my efforts.

That said, my nemeses would have to be the local flea market sellers who race around town hitting all of the yard sales even before the advertised opening, sometimes knocking on doors the day before.

Anonymous said...

"It scares me to think what some people are going to do when they get tight on groceries. It is getting to be a more selfish and me-centered society we live in today.
Mrs. L."

First off...I want to say Meredith, I found your blog yesterday and I am, to say the least, enchanted!

I am saddened that people would be so rude. I'm angry that people are so eager to get a bargain that they can't wait in line like others. There's this idea that "we are entitled" to whatever...this or that and the "regular people" will have to just live with it. Seriously...

On another note, I seem to never find anything "good" at thrift stores around here. Most if not all of it seems to be junky. However, I'm military and I'm married to another Marine (i'm getting out to stay home with my son). We live on base and I tell you what...we can always find great stuff set out for trash day! LOL!