I started my day off right with a view of the bay in New Haven, Connecticut and an actual wake up (no snooze-- ok, well, maybe one) before the continental breakfast was over in the hotel downstairs. After a quick cup of juice and bite of yogurt I popped in the car and headed over to the Goodwill in nearby.
It had just opened and there weren't many folks looking around yet, so I entertained myself with t-shirt and knick-knacks.
One thing I have definitely noticed in recent days as I make my way closer to NYC are vacation trinkets and souvenirs from places I rarely ever see-- Sweden, Norway, Switzerland-- not the typical Cancun and Las Vegas fare.
Also, shoppers I approach are a little more weary of being photograhped in a thrift store here. After getting shot down a few times and feeling a bit sorry for myself, I start to chat with some of the staff there, including Chanel, who tells me she didn't thrift until she started working here. She really likes frogs, so she keeps an eye peeled for frog things when she goes thrifting.
It's there with Chanel at the checkout that I meet Rachel, who is here with her husband looking for a Hawaiian shirt for a luau coming up this summer. They come in because they like looking for a bargain, plus now thrifting is all cool.
"Years ago this was unheard of," she says. "Now it's common."
She also likes the earth friendliness of it. "It's kind of like recycling, instead of always buying something new all the time."
I find a Sweden t-shirt that I can't leave with, so I check out and point HaRVey2 toward the west along I-95, when I come across a thrift store in Stratford, CT called New and Nearly New Thrift Shop run by an auxiliary of women. It benefits The Kennedy Center, Inc, which creates jobs for handicapped individuals in the area. Most of the volunteers are mothers of clients, or know someone who is, which makes this place all the more special
It's here that I meed Hershel, who is a regular here. His Italian suit and skull-and-crossbones-tie, combined with his Atlanta baseball cap create quite a presence in the store, and I can't help but strike up a conversation with him.
He's proud of this suit and it's clear he knows his stuff. It's a Donna Karan Italian wool suit, which he of course found at a thrift store. He's been thrifting for over 30 years now.
He tells me he once found a Chanel handbag for $5 that he saw was worth $800 online. " I gave it to one of my daughters and she lost it," he says, looking a bit defeated. But hey-- how many dads can spot a Chanel bag in the first place, right?
A volunteer at the store stops to chat. I tell her about the project and her eyes get huge. "I have to hand it to you!" she says. "I couldn't travel like that all alone!" I have to stop a minute and do a gut check-- am I crazy?
Oh, yes. That's right. I am. That's been established already.
I set my sights back on the highway, knowing NYC traffic awaits me. But before leaving Connecticut, I have one more stop to make in Westport.
Driving in off the interstate, I pass a Shake Shack a block away from the store.
Proof that dreams do come true, my friends.
I pop into the store, which has a gorgeous blue sculpture directly over the secondary doors made up of donated items and spelling out "GOODWILL." I saw something like this at the Omaha Goodwill Boutique I stopped at in 2011, but it was behind the cash register. Such a cool idea to incorporate art and secondhand goods!
Inside there's a women's boutique area that seems to take up half the store. It's where all the high-end stuff has been pulled onto separate racks for easier hunting. It's like a veritable who's-who of clothing designers. There's a Coco Chanel quote gracing the wall behind all the upscale donations currently hanging for sale.
I notice a one shoulder Lily Pulitzer number that still has the tags on it-- only $75. The tags say it was originally over $200.
Of course it's tiny. Lots of stuff here is. Tiny people here in this part of Connecticut, apparently. Makes me long for the days of Montana and North Dakota where I couldn't sneeze without hitting a pair of size 10 pumps.
It's seriously hard here to find anything that's not designer. The donations are great-- but the prices are made to match, too.
A customer stops to tell me that people who are needy don't really shop here, it's more for people just looking for bargains. While it might be more true here than a lot of places, I know better-- neediness comes in all shapes and sizes. Even here in Connecticut-- I'm sure of it. Besides, it's gotten so cool to thrift shop now for a variety of reasons that it's not obivious anymore who's shopping here or for exactly which reason.
I meet Nancy, who has found a curtain rod her daughter needs. I love how she's holding it like a proud farmer in American Gothic. She says her mom got her into thrifting when she was young.
"But back then I didn't think it was cool," she smiles. "If you wait, you can find anything."
I spot a cute small leather Banana Republic purse that seems perfect for summer, so I check out of this label-wonderland and hit the road again-- this time with my eyes on NYC.
It's only 3, and my GPS says it's 45 minutes to my friend's house in Park Slope.
WELL-- two and a half hours, a teeth-gritting traffic jam, some epic honking (not mine), a few choice words uttered and a nap in my car later, I was greeted by the lovely Miss Kristen outside her apartment. What a sight for sore eyes!
Every time I come into NYC I feel A) Like a total troll-- the ladies here are always so flipping gorgeous. B) Like Unfrozen Cave Man Lawyer (this city frigtens and confuses me!) and C) like I should never move to NYC because of reasons A & B.
So I leave you tonight from a comfy couch in Park Slope. Tomorrow I'll head (via subway, thank goodness!) to a Goodwill store near Washington Park in Manhattan tomorrow morning before hopefully dodging rush hour and high-tailing it to my mom-in-law's house in South New Jersey tomorrow evening.
Three more days!
THREE MORE DAYS!
ALL 49 STATES WILL BE DONE IN THREE MORE DAYS!