Rags to Riches

I have a hate-hate relationship with Buffalo Exchange. If you don’t know what Buffalo Exchange is (consider yourself lucky to live in a non-hipster city), it’s a thrift shop where people can buy and also sell their clothes.

Given Los Angeles’ year round almost-always-the-same climate, I find that I tire of my clothes here a lot more quickly than I might otherwise. I refuse to hold onto things I’ve outgrown or throw away anything useable, so I’m Goodwill’s best friend. I’ve gotten into the habit lately of stopping by Buffalo Exchange on the way to Goodwill, just to see if I can make some cash before I donate half of my wardrobe.

Buffalo kind of sucked me in, ol’ bait and switch style. The first time I went, I made $60. The profit outweighed the shame and degradation of having my clothes pulled one by one from overstuffed trash bags ungracefully schlepped down the street (they unmercifully lack a parking lot). I felt pretty good about that transaction, and since then, like a drug addict, I keep going back in hopes of recapturing the initial high.

Each time since that first time has successively been a letdown. Today may have been the last straw though. Today, I made $4.50 on a sweater that I wore last week, and wasn’t even totally sure I was ready to give away. I think it hasn’t even gone on sale yet at the store I bought it from.

And as if the schlepping, clothing examination, rejection, and re-schlepping (with the sad old clothes oozing from the bags they seem to have outgrown in the exam phase) isn’t bad enough, adding insult to injury are the “Buyers.”

Today, my clothing was man and woman-handled by two buyers. The man was dressed like a clown who’d been thrown up on by a dollar store plastic floral tablecloth. He was all about that pattern. He had the shirt, the pants, and the matching backwards baseball hat. Words can’t do it justice, you had to have seen it. While waiting for the woman who was going to be officially examining my clothes, the guy pre-sifted through my bag to help her out, I guess. He made two piles: one with everything I’d brought in, and one with two items – the aforementioned sweater, and a pair of pants.

The woman had me move my bag over to her register when she was ready for me (she’d been standing around doing nothing the whole while, so I’m not sure what marked her readiness exactly), and when I moved over, I popped the two items on top of the bag of everything else. At that point, the guy kind of freaked out about mixing the piles (that he’d slaved for an entire 30 seconds over), and it was then that I knew the odds of a successful sale were stacked against me.

The girl plucked out the two chosen items, looked them over judgementally, nearly rejected the sweater, and then did reject the pants after some deliberation with the guy who claimed “I wasn’t sure about those either.” She didn’t look through the rest of my bag, and I didn’t see any point in asking her to. Clearly, neither she (dressed in acid washed jeans, the day-glo top from a Halloween costume hippie outfit, an oversized floppy hat, and mirrored flower earrings the size of saucers) nor the flower clown and I shared a common taste or fundamental understanding of what constitutes style, so it was a lost cause.

At the end of the selling process, if they’ve bought anything from you, they give you two choices: Do you want store credit or a lower cash amount? I could have had $7.50 if I’d taken the store credit, but I always take the cash. I think I’ll invest in four lottery tickets – see if I can turn Buffalo’s pittance into a fortune.


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