It’s the most wonderful time of the year! Now those lyrics may normally be heard on the radio around Christmas but for millions of parents across the nation and around the world, these words convey an entirely different meaning… …school is back in session! And while their parents may be thrilled at the prospect of shipping off their kids for another fun-filled year, the students more than likely are not terribly enthused. The task of finding classrooms, memorizing locker combinations, and piling on hour of after hour of homework somehow overshadows the excitement at returning to the old classrooms. The only thing kids probably enjoy in preparation for the new school year is the annual ritual of school shopping. Now when I was a kid, it was mandatory to visit the ubiquitous Buster Brown shoe store to be outfitted with decent footgear for the first day of school. This part, for me, actually wasn’t too bad. I enjoyed all the fussing of the lady helping me try on my new lace-ups, and certainly secretly thrilled in the smell of the leather. Buying a pretty new dress also was something to look forward to as my mother and I visited our local department store. And so it was that on the first day back to school, I’d be resplendent in my red gingham dress, matching red socks, and spiffy new footwear shining in the sun.
Fast forward a few years and now as the mother of an emerging fashion-conscious teen boy, I find myself in the bittersweet position of rejoicing in his starting back at school and feeling the sting as I part with more money than I’d like to outfit him for his high school experience.
As I mention in my book, Second Hand Roses: The Junktiquing Road, this whole buying-retail thing now, with my years of thrifting experience clouding my judgment on what constitutes a normal price for things, I take great umbrage to the thought of parting with more than $10 for a pair of jeans!
A visit to Sears a while back found me on more than one occasion laughing out loud at the prices displayed on the racks.
Avoiding the sidelong glances of the saleslady stacking T-shirts nearby, I muffled an indignant snort or two as I scoffed at the temerity of the store to price a simple hoodie at well over $50. Are they serious, I thought to myself, looking over the cheap plastic zipper, destined for breakage within a month or two. The thing looked no more substantial than an overgrown sweatshirt; the only seeming justification of such an outrageous price being the tiny label stitched in the neckline. Did they expect the wearer to turn the jacket inside-out, so as to impress anyone with sharp enough eyes to see the tag?
Nevertheless, my son has his heart set these days on certain brands and while I could afford that $50 hoodie, quite frankly it’s more often than not that I have returned from a thrifting run at my local Goodwill, bag full of clothes, (some of those very name brands he so covets), paying LESS than $50 for at least five outfits. And they’re outfits he can wear with pride, labels and all, and no one is the wiser as to how much actually got spent on them. He’s cool for one-quarter the price, at least!
Once again I have found this trend continuing and documented all over the web. In one article, on the website NBC4i.com, entitled Back to School on a Budget, author Steve Wainfor mentions
….And it’s not just saving on clothes. From backpacks to lunch boxes, secondhand stores offer all the essentials at half to one-quarter of what you would spend for retail.
So until this economy turns around (hopefully soon!) why don’t you join some of your neighbors at your local thrift store? You may be amazed at what you find.
“Labor Day is a glorious holiday because your child will be going back to school the next day. It would have been called Independence Day, but that name was already taken.” ~Bill Dodds