Spring is here, officially on the calendar and kinda-sorta in the weather. With it's arrival comes my switch from Bay Rhum, my preferred aftershave in the colder months, to Royall Lyme. With its bright, clean scent redolent of fresh citrus, I find it to just the thing on a warm sunny day as opposed to the warming Winter spice of Bay Rhum. My last bottle was dwindling, and with only a few days worth left in it I needed to restock.
Thrift, cheapness, and even common sense would have me go to the internet to seek out the best price from among a number of purveyors, but instead I chose to get dressed and take the subway to Harvard Square to purchase a bottle from the Andover Shop. Best price I could find online was about $30 for a four ounce bottle. At the Andover Shop, I paid $42.50. So why would I, your humble arbiter of the ways of the dashing cheapskate, effectively waste $12.50 so needlessly? Have I gone mad? Is this the end?
Truthfully, I have a very sound reason for the occasional wasteful purchase such as this. If you've read this blog at all, you probably know that I am loathe to pay not only full retail but anything even remotely approaching it, for almost anything. As such, over the years I have developed a number of strategies and tips to share with you all on how the better things can be had for pennies on the dollar. It takes hard work and perseverance, but its worth it if you're crazy enough to think it is. Still, once in a while, it's nice to just walk in and buy something, and what's the point of all this hard nosed cheapness if you can't treat yourself on a minor extravagance sometimes?
Besides, it's not just a new bottle of aftershave I got that day last week when I bought this. I dressed in the morning and took the subway to Harvard Square, these days something of a treat in itself. I walked its historic brick sidewalks and visited the infamous Charlie Davidson at the Andover Shop. I spent a while marveling at the pile of gorgeous fabrics in one corner, than gained some inspiration for the coming Summer by looking through their newly arrived collection. I got to effectively sit at the master's feet for a bit as he handed down sartorial wisdom from on high, as he is wont to do, and even had a chuckle at one of his famously bawdy remarks, rattled off as though any normal person would say such a thing in mixed company.
You might say I paid $30 for the aftershave and $12.50 for atmosphere, context, and inspiration. Thrift shopping is something I will likely do for the rest of my life, even if I ever find myself in a fanatical position where it became unnecessary, a prospect which looks increasingly less likely the older I get. But if I don't occasionally at least visit the shops where the goods I like to buy hailed from originally, I lose some of what makes them valuable to me. True, I know these things are expensive at the start of their life cycle, but it's not just material and construction that makes them so. There is an undefinable meaning and essence imbued in these things, and you can feel it when you see them in their natural habitat. It may be that more than anything that makes them so desirable when I do find them for next to nothing amid a rack full of utter garbage. Indeed, it's that undefinable quality that drives to me to collect and wear these things at all in a life that requires simply that I be dressed, in anything. The extra $12.50 also buys perspective.
So, odd as it may seem, one of the rules of thrifting, perhaps one of the most important, is to go to a nice store and spend too much on something once in a while. As long as you don't make a habit of it, no one has to know.
p.s. apologies for the sparseness of posting here these last few weeks. I needed a break, but will return to more frequent posting soon.
p.p.s. S/S 2014 happening now in the online Shop, with more to come soon. Check it out.