Sticker Shock

I just received a big case of sticker shock. Here’s what happened.

A few days ago I decided to buy a few items to replace some of the things that are no longer suitable for work. I found a pair of blue jeans, a pair of tan jeans, one pair of dress slacks, 4 short sleeve shirts, 4 long sleeve shirts and a belt. Guess how much this set me back? $39! Yep. That’s it. Only $39. So, yeah, the store I shopped at wasn’t a high end department store, nor a stylish boutique. It was Goodwill.

A couple of  years ago Liz made a commitment to buy only sustainably                                                                      produced clothing. Liz’s showed me how easy it is and I’ve done something similar this past year. In America today that really limits one’s choices. Most stores don’t carry organic clothing and if they do it might be a line of t-shirts. Certainly not enough to fill out a complete wardrobe suitable (pun intended) for the workplace. And ask the clerk which items are organic and sustainably produced and, well, you can imagine the look you’ll get. “Sustainable? Organic?” they say,  “That’s too expensive” or “There’s no demand for that.”  There are, however,  a few possibilities out there: organic hemp, bamboo, cotton, and recycled materials. Patagonia has a line of clothing produced from reclaimed jeans, made from plastic water bottles and some organic clothing. Hemp Shak and Bambu Batu have some things, but again, not enough of a selection to make a complete wardrobe. That’s where thrift stores and consignment shops come in.

People in our culture have so much that they dispose of perfectly good clothes. One shirt and the dress pants I bought were brand new. They still had the labels on them! There’s a thriving business in used merchandise, and people who don’t want to support unsustainable consumption can do their shopping there.

So I’ve been wondering how much it would have cost to buy similar things at local stores,  and this afternoon I went comparison shopping. Living close to the downtown, I climbed on the bike and pedaled on down. First stop The Gap, followed by Ross, Dress For Less, then Bloke, Uptown Jean Company and finally Hemp Shak.In each store I looked for items that were as similar as possible to the things I bought at Goodwill. If the item wasn’t available I made a substitution. An example was short sleeve shirts. Neither Gap nor Hemp Shak had them. I halved the price of their long sleeve shirt, which gives them somewhat of a break. Hemp Shak didn’t have belts, so I assigned it the same price as the second least expensive place.

So the sticker shock came about when looking at the totals:

Goodwill …………………………………..$39

Ross………………………………………..$180

Hemp Shak………………………………$505

Gap…………………………………………$525

Uptown Jean Company ……………$907

Bloke…………………………………….$1005

So, what was the savings? Plenty!

The spread between the two extremes, Bloke and Goodwill, is the price of a new MacBook laptop. The difference between Goodwill and Ross is the price of a fine dinner for four. Either way I’ll continue shopping for used clothing, saving money and perhaps taking a nice long trip this coming summer.

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