March 30, 2006

Cheap suit, but not a cheap

I've said it before, I'll say it again. Goodwill is the greatest place in the Home of the Free and the Brave. For those of you who don't know, Goodwill is one of the largest charity organizations in the U.S. that receives and resells used donations, largely clothing. Despite growing up in a household and extended family with deep-seated opposition to second-hand purchases, it was with the help of a post-college roomate and borderline poverty that drove me through the doors of Goodwill for the first time, and I don't think my life can ever go back to the way it was.

Granted, you get your lemons in the small piles of gold you find in Goodwill's aisles. That's just the over-exuberance of shopping in a place where you can afford to be careless. But I tell you, you get a winner 2 out of 3 times if you're like me.

My best purchase to date is a second-hand Nordstrom's suit. I priced these suits out a couple of years back in a Nordstrom's outlet when I was in the market for a wedding suit. A new suit was something like $500, and despite the slimy commission-driven sale's job I received, it was well beyond my means at the time. Even today, shelling out $500 to big-daddy Nordstrom would be a problem for something I'd wear 5-10 times in a year. But Goodwill saved me.

Actually, I see the word "God" in "Goodwill". (Not surprising, given that "God" and "good" are so closely linked linguistically.) There I was in the Bellevue Goodwill, scouting for kitchen utensils like potato peelers (got one!), can openers (got one!), and garlic press (no luck there), when I happened over to the men's suit section. Most of the suits were no good, either too big, or with cigarette burns, or too damn ugly (like that plaid number my dad jokingly asked me to try on). But there, out of the racks of men's suit pablum, came the navy blue, perfectly fitting, Nordstrom's men's suit I call my own today. Absolutely gorgeous. Price at the checkout counter - $34.99.

Now, you've got to be select about which Goodwill you frequent. The Goodwill in Bremerton is not the same as the one in Bellevue, nor is the one on Rainier Avenue equivalent to the one in Renton (though I've gotten good purchases in all of them, including two of my current favorite shirts.) Go to the Goodwills where the money is, that's what I always say.

You've also got to go through quite of lot of testing. One men's 44 suit might have no correspondence with a 44 of another mark. However, having done the Goodwill circuit a few times now, I've come to learn what women have long known and men have long scorned - trying on clothes, when they are for you and affordable - can be a highly rewarding experience. What's more, Goodwill's items are all organized so closely together, given that they don't have 10 of the same item on the same rack, so you can really see more options right in front of you.

Anyway, if you see an average height Farenj walking around Addis in a beautiful, perfectly fitting, navy blue Nordstrom's suit, you might just wonder if that's the guy that got the suit at Goodwill.


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