Despite being one of the thriftiest people on Earth, I abhor shopping at Ross.
And TJ Maxx.
And Nordstrom Rack.
And any place that requires an inordinate amount of “digging” to find what I need. One would think that a cheap-o like me would call TJ Maxx my mecca, but one would be forgetting that my need for organization will always, always trump my frugality.
I have needed structure and order for as long as I can remember. Not an obsessive compulsive, lock-and-unlock-the-door-six-times type, but enough that walking into a store with rows and rows of clothes makes me want to turn around and flee.
Did I mention my other disorder, commitment-phobia? When it takes decades to make seemingly insignificant decisions (which boot? Black or brown? Knee-length or ankle?), it becomes nearly impossible to make decisions if nothing is in its proper place. How do I know if I’ve seen all of my paralyzing options if they are strewn down an aisle?
Last week, however, I had to make a concession: I was throwing a party, I needed decor, and I needed it cheap.
And I knew exactly what this meant.
I Binged all the thrift stores I could think of, and was a little embarrassed to find so many of them in such close proximity to my home. How did I not realize they were there before?
I walked into Ross and braced myself for feeling like a arachnophobe in a store full of spiders. But as I made my way to the back of the store I saw the rows upon rows of glass vases — exactly what I was looking for. I bent over to pick one up to check its price tag, and nearly dropped it to its death on the tile floor — $4.99! Was I hallucinating? Is this a joke? Or is this Merry Christmas to me?
I quickly stashed every last one of them in my cart, totally convinced that I had just snagged the deal of the year and surely 15 angry women would be coming around the corner to claim their vases too.
Jingle Bell Rock tinged in the background as I had these paranoid thoughts. No angry women. Just Jingle Bell Rock.
I hurried around the rest of the store convinced I was going to find a hundred other things I couldn’t live without, but sadly, Ross only had one treasure to offer me that day (or any day).
My next stop was Tuesday Morning, which was so chaotic and out-of-order that I almost reconsidered before making it past the front door. I walked down two aisles and saw that their glass vases were $9.99 — apparently not all discount stores are created equal. I felt a surge of pride at my wise Ross choice.
And even though Michael’s isn’t a discount store, it is decidedly crafty, and I had hopes it would be cheap. It was not. Not only did they not have anything I could use, but they had things I couldn’t use that were overpriced. I moved on quickly.
Twenty minutes later I was standing in Target because I couldn’t think of any more discount stores. Target had exactly the ornaments and ribbon I was looking for, but I realized that I felt like a failure for paying full price. And since I was in a such a panic about not being able to find more things I needed, I bought twice the ornaments necessary, grossly overestimating the size of my glass vases.
When I got home and started putting the vases and ornaments together, I realized that the vases were filthy. They were completely covered in dust and I spent 15 minutes hand washing each one. At first I was irritated, but that feeling quickly dissipated each time I turned a vase over to clean the base and saw the price tag. Yes, I thought to myself, I am willing to spend 15 minutes for $4.99 vases. Who wouldn’t?
I feel like I owe an apology to discount stores everywhere: Why do I judge you when you are so good to me?
The decorations worked really well, and I was thrilled with the look. In fact, I got several compliments on them throughout the evening, and now I am going to use them to decorate our home for Christmas.
I am secretly hoping that someone comes to my house and asks about my vases. I am looking for an opportunity to sound exactly like the radio commercial, “I got it at Ross!”