Are you a fan of thrift shopping? As a budget buyer, I have visited a number of second-hand stores from Goodwill to the fancy consignment shops. In my time thrifting, I have never twice run into a place like the Garment District. The Garment District is a thrift store in Cambridge, Massachusetts that sells a wide variety of second-hand clothing. From vintage, contemporary, to specialty items like military and other uniforms, the Garment District is a funhouse for spenders on a budget. The reason I go to the Garment District, however, is for their “By the Pound” event.
Every weekend, shoppers crowd the entryway to the Garment District waiting for the doors to open promptly at 9am. After walking up a few stairs, guest pass by the registers on the left and the Boston Costume Shop on the right (a department that specializes in costume rentals). In the back of the building there is a large floor space with a few oversized garbage bags in the center. These bales are filled to capacity with hundreds of pounds of women’s, men’s, children’s, and sometimes even dog’s clothes. Before the clock can even strike 9:05am, the bales are emptied, and the clothing is thickly scattered over the floor.
It is truly a sight to see guests (90% women) tearing into the bags, grabbing, and pushing mountains of clothing. The energy in the room is like that on Black Friday. If you look too closely, it is somewhat grotesque. Women lunge onto mounds of clothing like a step stool to reach for a treasured item just beyond their fingertips. Some come in armed with garbage bags, trample over the garments, and indiscriminately shove heaps of clothing, shoes, and purses into their bags as if they were robbing the place rather than shopping. Other customers are more discerning and pick up and thoroughly inspect a piece before putting it into their bag. Guests range from the odd child (who is forcibly accompanied on this morning errand), a few 20-something women, to many older women who seem to be shopping for themselves as well as family members. In one corner, I saw an elderly couple. The man was standing dutifully with his hands outstretched with a garbage bag so his wife could easily deposit her finds.
I don’t remember when or why I started coming to By the Pound, but I do have a lot of fond memories here. It is so peaceful for me to just listen to music or audiobooks while sifting through clothing. Once, I remember picking up what I thought would be a nice jacket for myself, only to discover that it was a men’s jacket. As I was putting down the jacket, I found a $20 bill in the pocket! I was so ecstatic. The $20 actually covered my whole purchase that day.
Today, when I left the Garment District, I racked up 8.6lbs of colorful items. At $2 a pound ($1 on Fridays), the grand total came out to $17.20. Thrift shopping is about the process. There are no dressing rooms at By the Pound, so I don’t know whether all 8.6lbs will be wearable. Even if nothing ends up fitting, I had fun and that is the point. I did not come in looking for anything and I left happy. Sometimes the process is more fulfilling than the result. I do not know what you are searching for, Dear Reader, but I hope your quest brings you fulfillment.