Tuesday, March 02, 2010

A venerable community institution

has annoyed me.

In actuality, it ended up doing me a favor and saving me some money.  But, it started out by annoying me.

Admittedly, not hard to do.

The Aspen Thrift Shop is an Aspen icon.  Untold numbers of volunteers donate untold numbers of hours to sifting through vast amounts of junk donated by the Aspen community.  I, myself, have donated many an item.  All proceeds are given back to the community.  It is all a very admirable and highly esteemed enterprise.

And yet . . .

Last week, I learned on Saturday morning that I would be attending a "ball"  that evening and like any self-respecting woman immediately decided that I didn't have anything to wear.  Oh, there were a few possibilities but really, nothing that seemed quite right.  So, I thought I'd drop by the thrift store just to see what they might have.  Upon perusing the $6 and up rack, I found two dresses with potential, neither of which had any sort of price tag.  

Having decided that I would take them both, decide in the privacy of my home which one would work the best and then donate them both back the next day, I went down to the cash register to pay.  

Here's where things began to go awry.  While I was waiting, there was an energetic discussion between several volunteers regarding what to charge for a necklace nicely displayed in the window.  With the customer standing right there, one volunteer arrived at the figure of $15, only to be adamantly overruled by the volunteer running the cash register who insisted on $25.  Hmmmm.

A couple of minutes later, it's my turn.  I handed the cashier my dresses, she held them up for scrutiny and said (remember, the sign on the rack said $6 and up), "Well, ok, let's see.  That'll be, um, $15 for this one and $25 for this one."

Startled, I looked at the sign prominently displayed which says, "NO BARGAINING!" and asked, "Um, how did you come up with those prices?"  After being told that it was based upon the quality and condition of the item, I remarked that it would be nice if items were marked so decisions based upon cost could be more easily made.  I then asked for a moment to think about it.

Now, I get that $40 is not a lot of money.  I get that the thrift store is a wonderful charity.  I get that the volunteers are volunteers and are doing the best they can.  I get that the rack said, "and up."  I object, however, to being made to feel that the price is determined by who the purchaser is, which is exactly how I felt.  Especially in a situation when I am clearly informed that I would be doing something wrong if I tried to negotiate a better price.

So, I decided to keep my $40.  And you know what?  I went home and found something eminently suitable hanging right there in my closet. 

The thrift store?  Well, they're out $40 and the opportunity to resell the dresses the very next day.  But, I will continue to gather up my discarded belongings and drop them off, as I always have.

1 comment:

Susan said...

I do hate bargaining because I never know if I'm getting a fair price. It's one thing if after some back and forth I get a price I consider fair, but it's another if I'm not able to haggle and there's no price marked.

IMHO they should just put prices on all goods at this store. Then customers don't think they may have been cheated.