I own too many cotton t-shirts collected over the years from company picnics, high school and college clubs and promotions from minimum wage jobs. I own so many, in fact, that my mind has created a simple way to sort them. I wear 5 in rotation to the gym, to sleep or to change into after the gym but before showering. The rest are tucked away in a large tupperware box in my room, and I am reminded of each of them when I move or decide that the large tupperware box needs some organizing.
Since I have recently decided to simplify my life and get rid of things I haven’t touched, used or worn in the past 3 months, I began making a pile of all my old t-shirts to donate. To this, I added in clothes and shoes I hadn’t worn in a long while as well. In the midst of this gathering, a thought occured to me that I could actually sell my unwanted items and make myself a little profit.
I collected 2 overstuffed bags of my high-quality (just hardly used) belongings, squished them into my already overly squished trunk and drove down to the “new and recycled” clothing store. There was a long, long list of people ahead of me who all seemed to have had the same idea. As I waited, I watched the clerks rifle through sellers’ items and name off the prices they’d be willing to pay for each one. One woman fetched $55 for a deep purple wool coat. Another woman redeemed a grand total of $137 for her small bag of clothes and purses.
As I sat waiting my turn, I became increasingly more excited and more anxious. I was excited because I had just been planning on buying a few new tops for work or maybe some new running shoes with the money I’d get, but it seemed now that I might be looking at a much larger sum than I expected. I was anxious because I had been listening to the clerk’s spiel about how they are looking to buy “fashion-forward” items for fall of a “highly-sell-able” nature. What if the things I had brought were too fashion-forward? What if these pieces could command a much higher price than I had thought? Perhaps I should re-think some of the items I was about to part ways with. I looked through my bag a few more times and resisted pulling out the obvious jewels of the bunch (most of the bags contents) to keep for myself. In the end, I decided it would be much better to sell these things and have more space in my room.
When my name was finally called, I placed my bags on the counter for the grungy hipster lady to review. I sat back down and waited for her to finish passing judgment on my past few seasons’ tastes in apparel.
I sat back and watched her work — the unfolding of clothes, holding them up in the light, moving them this way and that and then refolding them back on the counter. From what I could tell, the yes pile was outnumbering the no pile by at least a foot, and I began imagining what I would spend my hundreds on from this selling trip and what I could bring to sell them next. If they liked those bold plaid pants, there were many more where those came from.
The buying lady called me back to the counter. She gave me two large, overstuffed bags (which I quickly recognized as the ones I came with) and offered me $17.50. It turned out the pile I thought was the yes pile was actually the NO pile.
Suddenly, my sweaters and long-sleeve t’s looking up at me from the bags looked depressing and drab. As I walked out, I thought back to try and remember why I ever thought it was a good idea to dress in all olive greens and plaids of brown.
Somewhat discouraged, but more desperate than ever to get rid of these clothes, I brought my shameful goods across the street to the thrift store where I was enthusiastically thanked for my donation. They even gave me a coupon for 20% off my next purchase of olive green and brown fall staples.