By Lisa Batten Kunkleman
What’s a person to do with the unworn clothes smothering the air right out of the closet? It’s a common dilemma, or so I hear. Tossing them is out of the question, as landfills are always a last resort for me. If it can be handed down, sold, donated or refurbished into a tee-shirt quilt by my daughter, I’m all for it. Clear that closet. But I refuse to thoughtlessly toss usable items into the trash.
Recently, I recruited that same daughter to help me weed out some unnecessary apparel. She was firm but kind. Together we purged dozens of items from my overstuffed closet. Even after purging, the racks and shelves look plenty full and will need further clearing soon. But at least my clothes can breathe again.
As I tried on every single piece of clothing, my daughter rehung, or folded the clothes and separated them into bins for donation or consignment. I’m ashamed to admit several tops had tags still adorning their sleeves. Loading three laundry baskets and lugging them to the van, I envisioned making a few bucks off many of those tops and bottoms, so off I went.
The first consignment store’s young clerks took my baskets with what looked like genuine grins, suggesting I might look around the store while waiting for their decision. Perusing the store, I noticed several items showing obvious wear and a most unattractive green leatherette vest that was cracked around all the seams. I might leave with enough money for a nice family dinner out. Oh yeah. My stuff is much better than this, I thought.
Receiving a text from the girl across the room announcing, “Inspection complete,” I went to the desk expecting to retrieve my mostly empty laundry baskets and a “nice little piece of money”, as my mother would say.
Instead, I heard, “Thanks so much for coming in. Unfortunately, we have plenty of these types of clothes, but please continue shopping and come back again. You might also try the consignment place across the parking lot.”
After closing my mouth, and stumbling out the door hauling the rejected wardrobe to my car, I drove across the parking lot to consignment store number two. I’ll admit my clothes are not expensive name brands and are often great deals purchased impulsively from Kohl’s at thirty percent off of thirty percent off. But I’m slightly offended that the teenaged clerks deemed my perfectly fine clothes not consignment-worthy. Even those items with store tags still hanging on their sleeves.
Leaving my loot in the car, I went into the other place. The nice gentleman there said, “We only look at clothes less than two years old, on hangers, and they cannot be from Gap, Old Navy, Kohl’s, or Banana Republic.”
I thanked him and headed for my van. Choosing to ignore the hanger rule, I retrieved a couple of neatly folded Talbot’s, and J Jill tops and took them back into the store to see if they were acceptable.
“The Talbot’s lettering must be black, not red or white and everything must be on hangers. But it looks like a couple of your things might do,” the nice man said.
I thanked him again, strolled back to my hot car, and drove my three full baskets home. He didn’t need my “couple of things”. Consignment rules galore meant my impulsive shopping choices from over two years ago were pretty much worthless.
It was back to donating for me. After researching many options, I chose a fairly new charity, Zab’s place, in downtown Matthews, NC. A well-organized thrift store, Zab’s hires young adults with special needs, and provides them with vocational rehab and job coaching. After donating my clothes, I enjoyed shopping there and checking out with a smiling young man who was learning to wrap and bag.
Satisfied for Zab’s Place to sell my clothing, I noticed that among their variety of goods was a greeting cards section. I remembered a stash of cards tucked behind empty technology boxes cluttering my office cabinets. Too hot to work in the closet trying on more things I forgot I owned, I decided to tackle those cabinets. Those empty laundry baskets sure came in handy.