Friends, there are two kinds of people: those who prefer to buy new and those who prefer to buy old.
I was in suburban New Jersey this weekend at Michael's parents, and let me tell you -- as if you didn't already know -- the suburbs are full of people who prefer new. New cars, new houses, new appliances, new stores -- new, new, new.
I had the privilege of spending time in both a Bed, Bath & Beyond and a Target -- two stores where worshipers of the new congregate. We were in the former primarily to buy coffee "pods" for Michael's parents' new-fangled Keurig coffee maker -- wait, I'm sorry -- home-brewing system. Every single serving of coffee you make with it comes from its own pre-ground, pre-packaged, branded plastic pod. It's sort of fun until you realize that your coffee now costs roughly ten times more than buying a pound of beans and grinding them yourself (though a bit less than Starbucks).
I won't talk about these stores in detail today because you've probably made up your mind about them already. I'll only say that it saddens me that in areas like much of southern New Jersey, they seem to be the only choice, other than the occasional garage sale. (Of course, there's also Kohl's, DSW, Macy's, Best Buy, Walmart, etc.) I think what bothers me most is that whether you're in suburban New York, Ohio, Texas, or California, this is what you see -- it's all the same stores with (mostly) the same merchandise.
It's also aesthetic: old things are more attractive to me; I generally prefer the design of the past for everything except computers. And not to sound new-agey, but it's also a soul thing. Old things seem alive to me -- they have stories to tell, they've stood the test of time, they've known other people and lived other places. I've bought old things that didn't last, of course, but this happens rarely, and usually has to do with some damage incurred before I owned them.
Finally, I love the experience of shopping for old things. It's not advertising or coupon-driven -- it's serendipitous. I'm not fed piped-in adult contemporary music, or forced to smell Yankee candles (or popcorn and pizza), or traipse up and down endless aisles with gargantuan shopping carts under fluorescent lights. Most of what you find is one-of-a-kind instead of one of a zillion stacked to the ceiling, with a UPC code and a Made in China label. There's a reason why vacation areas are usually full of antique stores as opposed to Targets. Target is what we're trying to take a vacation from.
I get that sometimes you need new towels and the best place to find them is Bed, Bath & Beyond or Target. As a rule, I don't buy used towels, socks, or (usually) sewing notions -- not that you couldn't. And I know that time constraints often mean that you have to choose the fastest, easiest option (which increasingly means buying online and not in a big box store at all).
I guess my point is that it's nice to have both options. A world of nothing but shopping malls selling spanking new merchandise is sterile and boring, but it's nice to know you don't always have to dig among other people's detritus for something as basic as bed sheets.
Anyway, here's what I got for all of $20 (!) at the Chelsea flea market on Saturday morning, which wouldn't have even bought me the Keurig coffee pod Carousel Tower on Amazon.
Beautiful vintage white gloves for Cathy. Pristine!
Sixties-era dangly paillette earrings!
Enameled button earrings by none other than Joan Rivers! (Can we tawk?)
Old rhinestone choker -- tres chic!
Vintage Pendleton wool plaid stadium blanket.
Used copy of Brides in Vogue by Christina Probert from 1984. (Don't get excited, nobody's getting married any time soon.)
In closing, friends, how do you feel about new vs. old? Are there some things you absolutely insist on buying new -- or vice versa? If so, what?
If you are one of those people who gravitate toward the old, what is it that appeals to you about old things? (Price, quality, uniqueness, history, etc.)
Finally, what's with that sickeningly sweet smell at Bed, Bath & Beyond?