Shopping Green, Guilt Free and Glamorous

In the past month, I have bought the following:  a stained glass window which is a reproduction of one at The Cloisters in New York, a Norwegian sweater, and a gold and maroon 10 x 12 Oriental rug. That’s just to start.

I also bought a to-die-for pair of Cole Haan shoes with little tassels, loafers that would be right at home in a country club.

In an effort to make polite conversation and stop my incessant name dropping you might ask me where I bought these items. After you named a few swanky department stores, I would triumphantly announce – The Junior League Thrift Shop in Evanston. I am kind of a reverse elitist. From my perspective, it’s okay to name drop if you got a fantastic deal and, after all, resale shopping is as green as it gets – not only is it local, it’s recycling with style.

The stained glass window is from the museum shop of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.  I know this because in the package with the stained glass is a warranty, no doubt stored by a pack rat like myself.  The warranty is dated 1978 and the color on the glass is guaranteed for fifty years. I have exactly 18 years left on the warranty. Are you starting to see how much fun this can be? You never know exactly what you’ll find or what story it has to tell.

Now about the Norwegian sweater – I was perusing the thrift shop when my eye caught a beautiful; red and white sweater with snowflake patterns, a grosgrain ribbon down the front and little engraved pewter buttons. I snatched it up for $20, went home and promptly googled the name and style of the sweater. On line it was $250. The same for the Cole Haan loafers except the Google price was $134; I paid $40 for them.

Writing this helps me understand the concept of retail therapy, caused by the swell of happy neurotransmitters when I think of what a fantastic deal I just got and how I’m giving these treasures a second chance at life. My overwrought conscience would never, I repeat never, allow me to buy any of these indulgences at full price.

Why would I buy a purse at Carson’s for $150 when I can buy a beautiful leather purse at the Junior League for $5? I feel like a time traveler from Brigadoon or a visitor from another planet when I wander through a real department store and look at the prices. Granted the Italian leather purse from the Junior League has a little character but, who knows what tales it has to tell and where it’s been on its journey?

So I have finally found a way to shop guilt free and have a lot of fun. The Junior League is the perfect cultural fit for me – I have the DNA of my string-saving Yankee grandmother, the minister’s wife who started me out on my thrift shop career, the social conscience of an observant Mennonite, and my shadow side, in case you have not already noticed is a bit of a snob … three threads of my life woven into the ultimate shopping trip.  No wonder I have an adrenaline rush when I come within a block of the store – how often can you do good, save money and buy loafers suitable for a country club outing (should you have the occasion to frequent one) all at the same time? I highly recommend it.

The Junior League Thrift Shop is at 920 Chicago Ave., Evanston, 847-328-5778.

In addition to being a rabid re-sale shop shopper, Linda Hoff-Hagensick, LCSW has been practicing as a psychotherapist for 35 years in Evanston.