Notes From Saturday’s Shopping

Almost every Saturday we go to a number of different shopping venues in one or two trips. Garage and estate sales as well as thrift shops and grocery/produce markets are our favorite vices. When we get more diligent at blogging and taking pictures, there will be better reports on individual visits, but here are just a few memories from our travels on 9/10/11. The Rolling Meadows High School Music Boosters had a Community Garage Sale in the high school parking lot. They have this once a year every September and we usually visit. I assume part or all of the proceeds go to the RMHS music program. There were more tables and merchandise than previous events and generally prices were good with some great bargains to be found. I purchased a few old Transformer toys for my daughter’s husband who collects them and a Marvel Comics graphic novel originally priced at $19.95 for just 50 cents. As I said, the prices were reasonable, however there was one woman who had a two tables of things that were priced out of this world. We first noticed a small aluminum bowl. You see these everywhere. It’s one of the most common items to be found at garage/estate/rummage sales. They usually sell for a buck or less. This one was pretty beat up and it was priced at $9.00. What??? I immediately moved on to the next table down the line, but couldn’t shake off thinking about that woman. I was tempted to go back and politely ask her how she determined her prices. I wasn’t that bold this time and didn’t, but I went back to look at what other things she had to sell later on our way out. Children’s books, well used for $6 to $10 that everyone else was selling for 25 or 50…

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It’s All About That Je Ne Sais Quoi

When I was 13, I became obsessed with everything French, which led me to take 3 1/2 years of high school French instead of the far more practical Spanish. I vowed to visit Paris one day, which I did for the first time in 1979 with my Dutch boyfriend, who became my husband and then ex-husband. I did not snag that suave French lover as I dreamed of, but alas I was sort of fulfilling my dream and much sooner than anticipated. Well, the wind blew out of my sails pretty quickly when Parisians mocked my ridiculous American accent and pretty pathetic command of their language. While I could read and understand French fairly well, in retrospect, the French taught in my high school was totally impractical when confronted with the real thing. While Paris was beautiful and I certainly enjoyed Normandy and the Loire Valley, somehow my French obsession waned with the rudeness encountered in those Parisian cafes and bistros. My Francophile obsession was replaced with a Dutch obsession, and when I learned een beetje Nederlands while living in Rotterdam in the early 1980s, my paltry knowledge of French dissipated. Still, a love of the European remains, and I recently rediscovered that je ne sais quoi and what attracted me to everything French decades ago. I discovered Serge Gainsbourg by chance when I saw his and Jane Birkin’s ultra-talented daughter Charlotte Gainsbourg in 21 Grams, The Science of Sleep, and I’m Not There. Serge was not just a tortured French bad boy, as evidenced in his 1986 alcohol-fueled Gitanes-puffing televised exchange with Whitney Houston, but a brilliant singer/songwriter/stylist with an undeniable je ne sais quoi. And then I became obsessed with Jane Birkin, or should I say the model-gorgeous, youthful Jane Birkin, circa 1960s-1970s.  I devoured everything I could find about this iconic couple and uncovered some gems and a few duds along my path of discovery. I didn’t…

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Geico Commercials

Ugh. While watching a US Open match this week, I was forced to endure one of those lame, stupid, annoying and played-to-death Geico commercials. This one features their dumb “Caveman” trying to hit tennis balls flung at him by a ball machine next to which Billie Jean King sits. At first I thought it was a new one, but Betsy thought it wasn’t. After some quick research I found she was right. It originally came out last year. If you haven’t seen it already, here it is if you dare: I have to say these caveman commercials are the worst, but I detest all of their various ad campaigns. The Gecko, the Question Guy… oh I almost forgot the “money eyes” which were almost as horrid. There are others. Perhaps I’m being unreasonable, but I would not go to Geico for my auto insurance no matter how much money they would save me.

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Ode to Public Tennis Courts

Jeff and I are tennis fanatics and love to play, but we do not have the funds to join a private tennis club, especially now that I am unemployed. So we play on park district tennis courts or sometimes at the nearby high school. The behaviors that we have encountered on these courts could fill a novel, but I will highlight some of the most memorable ones in this blog. The major problem is that the park district tennis courts seem to have been built as afterthoughts – erected after the playgrounds and baseball fields which are in very close proximity. Our favorite court is a single one amid a lovely pastoral field with very beautiful houses on the perimeter. Alas, the brainiacs did not build this lovely tennis court with a fence – it is open and quite close to the playground with a path leading to the court. Just today we had the pleasure of a very odd man riding his bicycle in circles on the concrete abutting the court. Then he suddenly stopped riding and sat on his bike for 15 minutes watching us play. After he rode off to a nearby bench and continued to watch us from afar, a 2-year-old boy toddled over to the court followed by his slightly older brother and dad. He started to scream and the dad decided to play catch with both boys way too close to the court. After a few minutes of this, they went back to the playground, only to return two more times. The last time, Jeff tried to tell him that this was distracting, and he replied, “That’s OK, keep playing, you aren’t bothering us!” This particular distraction happens way too frequently. The parents appear totally oblivious that we are actually trying to play tennis and have let…

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Thrift Stores – Rising Prices

It has become increasingly difficult for me to donate to thrift stores because they have gotten increasingly greedy with highly inflated prices. The purpose of most thrift stores is to benefit a cause and programs for disadvantaged, disabled, or other people in need. Most of these causes are very worthy. However, many of these thrift stores seem to have lost sight of this, as well as the fact that many of their patrons are on limited budgets. Sure, some shoppers are antique pickers like myself, but the vast majority shop thrift because they cannot afford retail. Alas, it is extremely discouraging when one sees that thrift store prices have exceeded retail in many cases, albeit with one important difference. These thrift stores are selling USED items for more than one can buy them NEW retail – what? Case in point, one of my favorite thrift stores – WINGS has a great cause, and I feel for them since their original Palatine location burned to the ground. The mission of WINGS is to provide a continuum of integrated services in an effort to end domestic violence and homelessness one family at a time. They used to have really good prices and on occassion, still have some bargains, but their pricing is random. Jeff and I recently donated a huge array of our prized possessions to WINGS after our garage sale was rained out totally on its second day. Many of these items were antiques and collectibles left over from the days when I had a booth at an antique mall. So not junk, by any means. Much to my consternation, when we were in there on Saturday, I saw that many of my items had been underpriced! Yet right next to some of my antiques were ordinary items that retail new for a small fraction…

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Target Commercial (The Denim Song)

OK, I want to get my opinion out there about awful, horrid commercials. I’m fully aware that I’ll likely never be the first, or even the hundredth to blog about any of them. There are, after all, entire websites devoted to discussions about commercials. But I want to share my take on them nonetheless. After mulling over my choices among commercials currently airing, I decided to talk about a Target commercial which I found called “The Denim Song.” I find it to unbelievably annoying and stupid. My first question is, Who is this targeting? I can’t imagine it would convince students OR their parents to shop there because it’s so lame. Watch the video if you don’t mind nails on a chalkboard: So I did some research. I was somewhat surprised that it seemed to have some fans who claim to love it. However I was floored when I discovered this commercial has IT’S OWN FACEBOOK PAGE! Wait, What??? This is indeed a new age when commercials have a Facebook page. Well I still think the commercial is annoying and stupid. And perhaps that was the intention.

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Tennis Musings

Shortly after finding myself unemployed in mid-June for the first time in 20 years, Jeff and I decided to take our tennis obsession to a new level and attend our first USTA event. We had the nice opportunity on a weekday to see several good matches at the Nielsen USTA Pro Tennis Tournament in lovely Winnetka, Ill. I had nearly forgotten about this beautiful day in late June until three players surfaced front and center at the US Open, which Jeff and I have been watching religiously. Although Nielsen runner-up Bobby Reynolds was  eliminated in the first round of the US Open by David Nalbandian, it was nice to see him honored on Tuesday night as a member of the Washington Kastles, who won the 2011 World Team Tennis Championships. It was very exciting to see veteran journeyman Michael Russell give Andy Roddick a run for his money in round two. He won Set 3 6-4 and inevitably went down in Set 4, 7-5, but what a gutsy  performance. Not bad for a 33-year-old whose greatest claim to fame was getting to the final round of 16 at the 2001 French Open. I think his guns have gotten even more impressive than they were in June – his arms are really enormous. And then of course Chicago boy Donald Young, who showed such promise as a junior champion but has struggled as an adult. Donald displayed bad boy behavior at Nielsen, screaming profanities at the umpire, even losing a point due to his antics. I found it hard to root for him even though he was clearly the better player that day and did win his match after calming down. I missed his spectacular 5-set US Open win over good-natured Stan Wawrinka, but did catch part of the press conference. He needs to learn some humility and grow…

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Thrift Shops: Goodwill

There’s a lot we have to say about thrift and resale shops. A few years ago they used to provide real bargains. Today most of them are run like corporations. We often are bewildered by the high prices that are nearly at retail levels. It seems the people who set prices are either ignorant of an item’s real value or outright greedy. A new Goodwill store recently opened near us and we have donated many bags of stuff as we attempt to divest ourselves of years of accumulated things we don’t need. After we dropped off some stuff yesterday we went in to browse. I could cite example after example of confusing prices (and as a matter of fact will do so in the future). There were two things that stood out at this visit. Betsy found a nice piece of Lusterware priced at $1.99 which she estimated would sell for around $10 at an antique store. At the same time just down the aisle I found a pair of plain wooden chopsticks similar to what you would get at a restaurant for .99 cents. The Lusterware certainly would be a good bargain, but who in their right mind would buy the pair of chopsticks?

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A Blog Begins

After a couple of fitful starts followed by long, procrastinating months of no activity, we have once again attempted to get this blog on its feet. The big difference this time is that we have entered the world of social media – both Facebook and Twitter – and understand how to leverage it to spread the message. As the title implies, the primary purpose of this blog will be to comment on the world of Consumerism. The things we like, dislike and utterly disdain about products, advertising, shopping, dining and our general interactions and observations about the world. That’s not going to limit us to only certain things. We’ll write about what we want when we damn well please…

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