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We encourage you to follow our example.
OUR RESOLUTION FOR 2013: we will no longer buy at retail stores, shopping malls, etc. – except on that very rare occasion when we can’t stop ourselves – but as time goes on we hope our faith in the system sustains us and we can make it through with this new way of life.
In 2013, we are only going to buy from Estate Sales, House Sales, Yard Sales, etc.:) Fantastic. It is about time someone tried that.
While this may sound a bit self-serving, since a part of the Bettina Network is about managing public and private sales, this idea has been hanging around far longer then our business.
Society looks at people who try this as those who do it out of desperation and can only afford to buy at “used goods” sales. Even those who can only buy this way feel sorry for themselves and pine for the day when they can shop the malls and all the other retail places to shop. They have been pitied by most of us for having to live on such merchandise. Those who are wealthier tend to buy at “antique sales” – showing their upward mobility and class status change, especially if they are buying at antique auctions of the New York and California variety.
We used to go to such sales to buy the choice pieces which couldn’t be found anyplace else. And then one day we noticed there was a screw driver – practically new for only $1.00. The exact same item was much more expensive in the Hardware Stores because I had been looking and pricing them trying to figure out average, better and best – so – hey – why not buy it here, especially since the one I was looking at was one deemed the “best”.
And then we began to notice other things and began to really enjoy the sales. We buy all of our clothes at estate sales now and we dress beautifully – mink coats, rabbit jackets, racoon long coats practically dragging the floor (because they were made for someone taller, but it looks much more lush on us), fake fur capes, leather gloves and more. We even buy our stockings and undies at sales. AND – before you make ugly comments, they are all brand new with the price tags still attached and with the stockings, they are still in the sealed plastic wraps. Most people seem to buy more than they need so they won’t run out – and they don’t – death catches them before they run out of stockings or other such things. We even find an enormous amount of clothes – brand new – with price tags still attached – and some are more than 30 years old. They have been in someone’s closet forever and never worn.
I love to find houses where the people who lived there for years had their everyday items, which they used all the time – and their “good” items, which were never used. I can go through those houses and come out needing help to carry stuff to the car and have spent about $70 to $90 instead of the four figures such things would cost at the retail and luxury stores. The luxury stores are where most of the “good stuff” comes from. The everyday heavily used items have come from the discount stores and aren’t good for much except discard. The “good stuff” has generally been purchased at great personal cost because it shows an upward movement and is not used because the people buying it and using their everyday stuff while saving the “good stuff” know they can only afford to buy such once in a lifetime so it can’t be used. A dilemma which has shown up some interesting new habits throughout this consuming society. The “good furniture” in a middle-class home was traditionally covered in plastic. That habit has come in for many jokes and for much poking of fun, but think about it. If you can only afford to buy a beautiful sofa once in your lifetime and know you can’t afford to have it recovered and it can be cleaned only with great difficulty and high expense you have to do something to preserve it. The alternative is to live with a lesser item and that doesn’t work in this upwardly mobile, consumer ridden society. We always aspire for more then we can afford – and generally overlook real gems under our noses which would give us a better and more elegant lifestyle.
We also began to notice we could buy all of our cleaning needs at these sales for $1.00 and sometimes even as little as $.50. We found Gel Gloss – new and unopened, which costs much more than the fifty cents we paid for it. And on and on and on.
And then we started picking up all other kinds of things we hadn’t thought about buying at house sales. – Last week at a sale there was a new piece of heavily quilted and tufted aluminum foil. We didn’t know what it was for, but it looked ideal to be cut into pieces to put behind the radiators to keep the heat reflecting back into the room – thereby saving energy. It cost us $2.00. As we were leaving the woman who organized the sale said – “hi, are you going to insulate your hot water heater”? Wow – we realized that is what it was for, so instead of cutting it up, we went home and wrapped the hot water heater so it would be insulated and reduce our gas and electricity bill. Wouldn’t have known that – and before arriving at that particular sale, I was thinking about calling a plumber to get our hot water heater wrapped. As we were leaving the sale, an elderly gentleman, realizing we knew nothing about wrapping hot water heaters, and was observing when we discovered I didn’t even know what it was that I was about to buy, gave us a lesson on how to do wrap the hot water heater when we arrived home.
So now, we are really on the look out for EVERYTHING and realized – if we went to the sales with a list of what we need – we might not find it at the first sale, but shortly thereafter we will turn up what we need at a fraction of the cost. All of my Christmas presents came from house sales. That was fun and I didn’t have to break the bank to celebrate Christmas – and my love is giving handcrafted, unusual items as gifts. The sales let me do all of that.
History buffs should love this way of buying. I have learned so much history in the process, that I can’t believe I have come so late to this way of being a consumer. And the real treat is to be able to look around other peoples houses to see how they live. I have picked up decorating ideas, organizing ideas, – have seen lifestyles I didn’t dream existed and more from traveling around to house, garage, yard and estate sales.
I guess you might say we are becoming estate sale addicts. Can’t go the week without finding a sale. And you know you are addicted when you buy a size 9 boot when you actually wear a size 7 because it was $5.00 and you saw the same boot at Neiman Marcus for over $300.
There is – surprisingly – a community that forms around these sales. You get to know other people at the sales because you travel around shopping this way and they are far friendlier than the people I see at Bloomingdale’s. Even the store clerks at Bloomies treat me arrogantly and I bathe every single morning. When they talk down to me I almost want to say – ‘I have more money than you do – so there’. But I am far too old to let my inner urgings take over.
The people selling at estate sales are quite a different crowd then the retail clerks at the Macy’s of the world. They know more – for one thing. They generally can tell you all about the merchandise they are selling because they are collectors of antiques and other items and have to love and know history to do that. I have learned so much about life at these sales. There is always an anecdote that has to be told. The sales conducted by the family are just as interesting because you get to know when and where particular items were collected and how grandmother loved that vase and you hear the story of the clock grandpa bought or the piano where they had to have soup for years thereafter because they spent so much money on it, but they wanted their children to have a piano and the best they could buy – and now were selling it because the grandchildren weren’t interested in it – they wanted a new piano, much more poorly made, with a lesser sound, but which looked “new and modern”. A little olive oil rubbed into that ‘old’ piano for a few months would make it look beyond ‘new and modern’, it would look old, treasured and exquisite.
One of my grandchildren expressed the appallness of her parents about my buying shoes someone else had worn. So I have developed a recipe for all of you to use when buying used shoes, boots, clothes, etc. and it goes like this:
For shoes, take cotton – or old newspapers – and sprinkle it liberally with essential oil of lavendar – preferably organic essential oil of lavendar. Stuff the shoes with the cotton or whatever you are using. Drop them into a plastic bag, of which you have many from the store – don’t go out and buy new bags – and let them sit on the side of a storage room or other out of the way place for a couple weeks. Anything in that shoe will have vanished when you take it out of the lavendar-scented bag and your shoes will smell heavenly.
For used clothes – we buy “dryel” or “woolite”. We buy “dryel if it is something we think needs to be cleaned in a plastic bag or “woolite” if we just need to purify the items. Put the clothes or afghans, draperies, or whatever you have purchased that needs cleaning, in the “dryel” bag and put it in the dryer for a turn on the “normal” setting. When the dryer stops, immediately take them out of the bag or the dryer and let them hang until the odor of the dry cleaning substance begins to fade. Then you can either send them to the dry cleaners if they need spots and such removed or they are ready to be put in your closet without fear of whatever contamination by another human being worries you.
Essential oil of lavender, which you use in the shoes, is a disinfectant and can be used in many other ways.
I needed a stand for my television set and nothing I found seemed to fit. Everything I liked was over $100 – way over – and made of pressed paper. However, browsing an estate sale I found a beautiful Oriental cabinet, just the right height – with bamboo trim, beautifully lacquered and painted with semi-precious stones worked into the painting for $45. That was my final sign that this was the way to go. I was thrilled – brought the cabinet home and it was perfect. It had drawers in the front so I was able to put all of the things I stored in the present tv stand I was using, in the drawers and the look dressed up the room unbelievably! The old tv stand that I needed to retire was made of pressed paper (that imitation wood) and was beginning to just fall apart – as such things do after only a few years.
I could go on for pages. We have converted several Bettina Network host families to stop shopping in retail stores – so we will tell you the stories of their adventures or misadventure as they happen and will also try to introduce the topic at breakfast to see if any of our guests find this a great lifestyle or if they find us crazy.
Hopefully, we will come up with tips to help you as you take up this new passion.
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