Luck + creativity = success
For the most part, I hate shopping, especially for things like clothes. I don't like malls or department stores; I don't like big crowds of people; I find it excruciating to pull money out of my wallet and hand it over to someone else, even in exchange for something nice.
On the other hand, when I take measures to minimize the amount of money I have to fork over, I get into adventurous country. One such realm is the dollar stores, which get leftovers from other retailers and mark them down to a fraction of the original cost. The trade-off is that what's in the dollar stores is somewhat random. For example, not too long ago, one store had some super-premium brand shampoo and conditioner in the color-preserving formula – but only for red hair. Sorry, blondes and brunettes … but I'm set for a couple of months.
Another great place to save money is thrift stores. I've discussed them before, here, and here, and here, and I've given them passing mention a few other times. Even more so than the dollar stores, what is found at thrift stores can be seriously random. I have discovered that when I have a need, the thrift stores will provide, although not necessarily in the way I had envisioned at the start. Call it fate, or God, or whatever you happen to believe in, but the randomness of thrift stores has often led me to come away with something far better than I would have ended up with by going to a department store or mall boutique with something specific in mind.
Sunday, we had a shopping trip of that sort. First, I was looking for a dress to wear for the formal dinner-dance at my high-school class reunion, which is fast approaching. The Methodist thrift shop in Pagosa Springs is usually best for clothes, but that shop was closed – funny thing, they all seem to go to church on Sundays. The Humane Society's shop has a much smaller clothing section, but that was what was available. But in that small clothing section was the perfect dress – floaty, flowing chiffon in a swirling Victorian rose print, with empire waist, cap sleeves, and a solid enough lining to hide various figure flaws. That was eight dollars.
On the way to the cash register, I paused to look at the rack of CDs. There, I spotted a two-disc set of great artists from the mid-20th century – Doris Day, Petula Clark, Frank Sinatra, Bing Crosby, and more – Zorro's favorites. I figured he could use a little cheering up, so I nabbed the CD set for two bucks.
Then we went down to the bargain basement, where we stumbled on our greatest find. There were two brand-new, never-been-used, still-in-original-packaging inflatable life preservers for $16 each, a fraction of their original price. We pounced on them. Since May 1, Zorro has been wearing a life jacket every time he goes out on the water, but he's been complaining about how bulky and uncomfortable it is, and he's been saying he wants to get an inflatable. Well, now he'll have one.
Seek and ye shall find. For that matter, ye shall find even if ye don't seek.