Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Custom Thrift Shop Party!

A good number of people have asked me to take them to the swap meets over the years, but  few have actually enjoyed the experience. It's understandable; it takes a specific personality to enjoy sifting through mounds of unwashed WTFs looking for a few precious gems (if you've ever thrifted with the thrift-averse, you know what I mean). Because of this, when a few of my former coworkers expressed interest in the swap meet, I didn't press it or take the initiative as I'd done in the past. I figured that, if they really wanted to go, they'd hit me up... it never really worked out.

Cut to a couple of months ago: inspiration hit. I knew there were people out there who wanted to shop secondhand but who a) didn't have the time, or b) weren't cut out for the process. I figured I could cut out the time and the process by just doing the shopping myself, picking up a bunch of stuff in their sizes and styles, and inviting them over to choose what they liked. It would be like a custom thrift store, where everything was cute, and everything fit!

I shopped, I bought, I dry-cleaned, I steamed. My friends got to come over and shop with a mirror, fitting room, and snacks. Three wonderful ladies agreed to test drive my hair-brained scheme.

I asked $8 for tops and sweaters, $12 for dresses, $20 for odds and ends that I'd actually paid - gasp! - retail prices for and needed to recoup some of the losses. I aimed for just above Goodwill pricing, to account for transportation costs, cleaning costs, and just a little for time and effort.

Friend #1 left with a cute Ann Taylor wrap dress, vintage periwinkle sweater, and Chaiken ruched wool skirt. Total: $28. Retail comparison: $118 for an AT dress, $436 for a Chaiken skirt.

Friend #2 left with an sheer blouse, cashmere Ann Taylor top, Gap wool sheath dress, seasonless wool Escada dress pants, H&M blouse, Garnet Hill burgundy cashmere cardigan, and leather belt. Total: $81. Retail comparison: $228 for short-sleeved Ann Taylor cashmere, $70 for a wool dress at Gap, $595 for Escada dress pants, $30 for an H&M cotton blouse, $148 for a Garnet Hill cashmere cardi.

Friend #3 took home a Free People sweater jacket, BCBG sheath dress, red Italian blazer, French made polka dot pencil skirt, J. Crew pencil skirt, and gray midi skirt. Retail comparison: $100 for a Free People sweater jacket, $300 for a BCBG LBD, $118 for a printed J. Crew pencil skirt. I don't know how to price the Italian and French brands, but they were darn sure more than 8 bucks.

Aside: See that picture at the top left? I don't know what I did to deserve such awesome friends, but my guests also colluded to bring me some early-birthday cookies and mini-cheesecakes made by her cousin. Three words: to die for!  In a world without consequence or calories, I would have devoured the lot in a single sitting. No hyperbole. 

How about you? Do you ever use your thrifty powers for the greater good? If you don't shop for your friends directly, do you help them spot deals online? Do people ask you about thrifty shopping, or are they just not interested?

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