Judging from the response I got on my last post, I think I made this Value Village situation seem much more exciting than it actually was. Like most breakups, no one thing just "happened". This breakup has been a long time in coming.
For the last year or so, I've been noticing something curious every time I go to good old Village des Valeurs. All my favorite brands (ie. the ones I can't generally afford to buy new and at their regular price) have been steadily becoming more expensive. To some extent, I expect this. Value Village has a much larger selection than the average little thrift store, and everything is well-organized, so sizes and specific types of items are much easier to find than anywhere else. I'll pay a little more for this kind of convenience. But only a little more.
When I started thrifting, I could easily find a pair of Gap jeans in the $5 range, and at our (now closed) small town thrift store I found several pairs for only a buck each just a couple of years ago. Even with inflation since that time, I think up to $8 is reasonable for a pair of second-hand jeans of a decent brand. But now, on average, I'm finding that Value Village is charging upwards of $13 for the brands that flatter my particular body type. At best, I'm getting them now for $10. If I find them for $8 or less, I look very closely, because it almost always means that they're fraying at the bottom or have a bleach stain or rip on them somewhere. As an all-round cheapskate, I'm rather good at finding deals everywhere I go, so I know that if I wait for a really good sale on the Old Navy/Gap website, I can find a pair of brand new jeans for $10 or less. So why on earth would I buy them used, worn and in need of at least one good wash for the same price or higher at a second-hand store?!
After picking up the Captain on Thursday, we made our usual trek to the big Value Village and I walked around the entire place, becoming more and more frustrated every time I found something cute that I wanted to buy, only to find that the price was barely less than I would pay on clearance from the original retailer. In a few cases, factoring in the cost of dry cleaning actually made the item more expensive than buying it new. In the end, I walked out of there with only a few books and toys for the kids, and absolutely nothing for me. That has literally never happened before. Value Village robbed me of the one true thrill of thrifting--finding an exceptional deal on something I love. And that's when I decided that enough is enough. The time has come. I need to see other thrift stores.
So that's it. Value Village and I are broken up, kaput, splitsville. Should I ever again find myself somewhere as stylish as Montreal, I may give in to the odd holiday fling. But as my main thrifting squeeze, Value Village has become way too needy.
Even in Manitoba where the thrifting opportunities are much more scarce than in other places, the opportunities do still exist. As they say, there are lots of fish in the sea. I just need to get out there and find them.