Monday, June 23, 2008
An afternoon visit to the thrift store
Today I spent a couple of hours at one of my favorite thrift stores. Most French thrift stores are nothing like American stores. The buying process is convoluted, it's dusty and dirty, and there's no nicey-nice customer service orientation like you get (more or less) at places like Goodwill. Yet, the crowds come. This particular store is only open for a few hours every afternoon, and you can see the line of people waiting to get in right before it opens.
There's a furniture section; a shoes section; children's and adult clothing; what they deem to be "nice" porcelain and glassware; a different section for crap pottery, mugs and knicknacks; toys; and books. That's not an exhaustive summary. Whenever you find something you like, you bring it up to the guy (it's almost always a guy) at the desk, he eyeballs your stuff, makes up a price on the spot according to how much money he thinks you have, and writes it on a piece of paper. He puts your stuff in a plastic bag and puts it under his desk while you go with your piece of paper to pay for your purchase at a central cash register, in line behind 500 million other people who are doing the same thing. Then you go back and show your receipt and retrieve your stuff. Rinse and repeat for every section where you want to buy something.
Today I found some super-cute vintage dish towels from the 60s: a couple of 1961 calendars with illustrations of the seasons, one of a working woman who can put together a meal in 10 minutes thanks to her trusty meat grinder, and a few celebrating French cheese, French wine and beer (I can definitely get behind those).