Shopping in NY can be a dream. Tons of fancy shops boast the best of trend and couture; but for those of us without disposable income, it can also be a shopping nightmare!
Anywhere else in America you can make amazing things happen on the cheap in vintage shops, but as any NY shopper can tell you, those rules don’t apply here. A vintage dress can run you a $100 bux easy, not to mention overpriced accessories and vintage fabrics. It can be really intimidating!
My advice? Never stop shopping!
Shopping does NOT equal buying, you do not have to BUY anything.
Last Friday, a common enough Friday by the standards of late January in frigid New York CIty, I decided to take a different route in to my office. Heading south from the 2nd Ave stop on Bowery I passed the bustling kitchen supply stores, the shut down and boarded-up shops that line the outer SoHo streets, and decided to take a right on Spring past the incredible ever-evolving graffiti wall which is always lovely and even better for the bleak winter weather.
I journeyed deeper into the heart of darkness…
The shops in New York are very intense, very overpriced, and very busy all year round. In the neighborhood surrounding my office in SoHo the energy that these shops and shoppers create can begin to feel like a cancerous plague. You feel it oozing over the sidewalks, you can hear it in the cackling laughter of girls weighed down with overflowing shopping bags. If you’re not careful, you too can lose sense; of your own value, of your morals, your opinions about cost, and wage, and work. You find yourself looking at items priced ‘on sale’ at $99.99 and think – ” Well, I could always delay my phone payment a few weeks, I need a break from technology anyhow!” – truth.
This particular shop isn’t named on google and they don’t appear to have a website, although I know it’s there and I know it has a sign. Somehow in all my visits, I don’t think I’ve ever read it is all. I’ve passed through many times, ogling over the perfect piles of pants worn in just so, and the rows of carefully hung blouses. Each item stinks of history in that ‘abandoned attic’ way we as humans universally appreciate. Treasures are usually well beyond my price range, and I hadn’t returned since the last time I’d stopped in to obsess over a $58 pair of white leather boots I decided were just too beat up for the money.
“If only they were $20” I thought to myself. Twenty dollars being the rare round sum indicating value & thrift which I learned in childhood. Anything over $20, especially in the thrift world is someone else getting the best of you. Under $20? There’s probably something wrong with it that the vendor knows and you don’t. My mamma taught me right.
To my surprise, this particular day there was a sign in the window “Boot Sale”.
The gentleman behind the counter was friendly and handsome and politely rambled off the deals and sales of the day and pointed me in the direction of the sale boots. An incredible array! Tons of styles and colors – And there amongst the shelves sat my shoes! My white too-perfect-to-be-true victorian style lace up boots! On the tag in red ink the number $58 had been scratched away and a $20 stamp stood in its place – just right!
Sometimes in my life, things go horribly wrong. People break my heart, or I dissapoint them, or I feel like I’m in the wrong place, is this my path? Then if I’m patient and lucky, fate will step in and remind me that I’m doing just fine, that everything is just right. Yes, yes, shopping is a poor example to most of finding this reassurance, but that’s what’s so magical about vintage shopping.
Finding a fantastic vintage item is ENTIRELY about right place, right time. If I had been 10 minutes later, someone from Tucson might have picked them up and would be walking in them down those hot streets right now. But that’s not what happened. In that moment all of life seemed to be lined up with me in mind, a moment worthy of celebration in a world so full of upheaval and disregard.
I handed over my $20 bill (no tax, $20 even, swoon) which was singeing a giant hole in my overall pocket, smiled gratefully, and walked (ok, maybe skipped) the rest of the way to my basement office.
No matter which pair
I wear them tight
White mostly, flowing side
bowed @ top as to keep them
Keeping me warm and safe
Dry and fast
But as much as I might marvel
@ the shoes I wear
It never ceases to shock me that
My feet are in there.