Friday, March 27, 2009

Consignment Couture

Have you ever done something without rhyme or reason, and then it came surprisingly together? And you end up a little stunned, wondering how it all worked out?

I guess, as a Christian, I shouldn’t be surprised, as God is always working behind the scenes in my life. But recently, I was pleasantly surprised when something worked out.

I mean, the way things have been going for the Scrappy Soderstroms, something working out is rather good news, I’d say.

I’ve always been a clotheshorse. I come by it honestly, as my mother suffers from the same affliction.

During college, the 5% of my life when I was at a normal weight, I managed to amass a large collection of conservative, career clothes. Since I spent three years in college interning at the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce, the clothes were extremely necessary.

When I entered the workforce, I continued to add to my career clothes collection. As my size tended Heavenward, I was forced to put my smaller clothes aside.

I loved my clothes! I had spent time and put hard-earned money towards collecting a classic, professional collection I had hoped would stand me in good stead over the years.

For some reason, I just couldn’t part with them! I had no aspirations to ever attaining my college waistline again, so I wasn’t holding on to old hopes. I just felt strongly, for some reason, I shouldn’t drop the whole lot off at the Salvation Army.

At the same time, I began to collect wire hangers. I have absolutely no idea why. People would give them to me; I’d pick some up at the dry cleaners; they’d be in a stash in someone’s basement, etc. By 2009, I’d managed to fill an entire laundry room closet rack with wire hangers.

Every so often, I’d peer in the closet and think, “Man, I need to get rid of those things!” But I never did.

In 2008, I got a sudden burst of energy. I ransacked my over-stuffed closet and weeded out all my smaller-sized clothes. I neatly sorted and stacked them into four Rubbermaid containers by size, color, and season. Everything stood ready to be packed and hauled off to Goodwill.

And yet, once again, I couldn’t do it.

Not understanding my desire to keep these clothes (I am a clutter-eliminator!), I once again stacked the containers in my closet, sighed, and shut the doors.

A couple of months ago, Mom told me about a consignment shop where she and my Lovable Aunt Louise (LAL) were taking some of their gently-used clothes.

“They price the clothes for you, and if the clothes sell, you get 40%! It sure beats sitting out in a hot, dusty garage all day.”

Mom and LAL are absolute garage sale nuts, so if they say something is better than a garage sale, they know what they’re talking about.

At about the same time Mom was saying, “Maybe you should see if they’d take some of your old clothes,” I was saying, “Gosh, I wonder if they’d take some of my old clothes!”

Great minds, friends. Great minds and good genes = psychic connection

Mom told me how the folks at the consignment shop go over every inch of the proffered clothes. There can be no stains - no matter how minute - no yellowing on white, and everything must be ironed.

“There’s something else. Everything has to be on a hanger. Do you have any extra hangers? Maybe some of the old wire ones?”

Oh my, Mom probably didn’t understand why I broke out into near hysterical laughter. I thought of my massive collection of wire hangers and just couldn’t stop the giggles.

“Oh Lord,” I breathed out, smiling. “You were preparing me, and I had no idea.” I laughed again as I told Mom how God was, once again, present in the smallest details of my life.

So, this weekend, I pulled out the old, faithful blue Rubbermaid containers and began the process of re-sorting my clothes collection. I had no idea how many clothes I had saved!

After I had put the last shirt on a wire hanger, I went back to my laundry room closet. There was exactly one wire hanger left.

It took Brett several trips to get everything to the car. Once we were at Mom’s, it took all four of us numerous trips to and from the car to get everything into Mom’s spare bedroom.

Mom served us a delicious dinner. We sent Gary to watch TV, and Brett to surf the internet. Then, the two of us attacked the mound of clothes piled on the bed in Mom’s spare room.

We separated the clothes by season, by need-to-wash, need-to-iron, and need-to-mend.

A couple of times, Mom would wrinkle her nose at an item and hand it back to me, “You can give this to Salvation Army.”

“You don’t like my red pantsuit? I think it’s cute,” I’d say defensively.

“Maybe in the 90’s,” my fashionable mother would acquiesce, sweetly.

Apparently, I am not the style maven I thought I was. I’m just descended from one.

Most of my clothes were in the fall/winter collection. It seemed to me, at the time, I didn’t have very many spring/summer clothes. (Imagine my surprise later; when Mom told me I had 62 spring/summer items!)

The consignment shop will only take one season at a time, so the fall/winter clothes went into the closet in Mom’s study.

In an outpouring of unbelievable generosity, Mom offered to wash all the need-to-wash and iron all the need-to-iron. Gary even got in the spirit, assailing every stain with his arsenal of Amway stain removers. My lovable Aunt Louise stepped up and took all the need-to-mend to her house for a session with her sewing machine.

The offer to iron was especially appreciated, since Mom knows how I HATE to iron. I mean, I would rather BE ironed myself, than iron.

Back in 2002, right before Mom and Gary got married, I threw Mom a bridal shower. Aunt Louise showed up early, stripped down to her slip, and asked me if she could use my iron for her dress.

I almost gave her a heart attack when I had to go rooting through our wedding presents to find an iron and pulled it, brand new, out of the box.

“Oh, Ann-Marie,” she shook her head and sighed, as I peeled off the already-expired manufacture’s warranty sticker.

My aversion to ironing is well known in my family. I am not apologetic. Why would anyone create a garment that needs extra work just to be worn! It’s ludicrous and a ridiculous waste of time.

No. Thank. You.

So, I embraced Mom’s offer with utmost gratefulness and gave thanks my family loves and accepts me, faults and all.

Yesterday, Mom and Aunt Louise went to the consignment shop. I called Mom to see how it went. I didn’t want to get my hopes up, so I was hoping the shop would accept maybe 10 or 15 of my items.

Holy smokes! I was bowled over when Mom reported the shop had accepted 53 of my 62 items. WOW! All those torturous years of wishy-washy waiting had finally paid off. Whatever the shops sells, I’ll get 40% percent to put towards either our apartment or second car fund!

I offered Mom and Aunt Louise a cut, since they did so much work, but they refused. They want the money to go towards helping us save. Isn’t that the sweetest thing?

Although, Mom did say they wouldn’t object if I took them out to lunch sometime.

“I mean, I WAS up until 11 p.m ironing,” were her exact words.

What is totally mindboggling to me is the fact that the spring/summer collection didn’t even make up 50% of my collection. I mean, just wait until we can take in the fall/winter collection!

After I got off the phone with Mom last night, I offered up a prayer of thankfulness to God.

He who made sure I saved those clothes until the timing was perfect.

He who made sure the wire hanger collection was fruitful and multiplied.

He who led the consignment shop people to take the majority of my clothes.

He who is evident, even the smallest part of my life, down to the wire (hanger).

If only I could take God out to lunch, too.


Alice said...

That's awesome! And yes, Mom and Aunt Louise definitely need lunch. I HATE ironing!!!

October said...

You can add me to the hate ironing list although I'd iron before being ironed = )
Wonderful news about your clothes collection.

Karyn said...

so cool to hear of His continued provision for you and of your gracious family!

Robin Hayes said...

Ann-Marie - that's so funny! I hate ironing too. I go for MONTHS without ironing, and then do a marathon session, and voila - my husband doubles his wardrobe. I'm so happy for you. That is really cool, and I can't wait for the seasons to change just so you can take in more of your stash.

Jennittia said...

What a fabulous story! God is good-- all the time!

Juliet said...

Happy to do it for you! And just think, the clothes I took home, they will take back after I do some reparing.

Only one correction concerning the evening...Gary was in the kitchen doing ALL those dishes. He is so awsome.

And since you can't take God out to lunch, you can take two of His children....LAL and ME!

Sun-Kissed Savages said...

Fantastic!! I love the way God really does care about the "little things," even hangers! Oh, sometimes it's just amazing and ...well, really even confounding how much He loves us and works things for our good.

The ironing thing totally cracked me up!! I even relayed your story to my sisters last night during Game Night. And then referred them to your blog. You remind me so much of my sister Amy!

Heidi said...

I so agree. Ironing is a total waste of time. My clothes probably look it too.
It is once in a blue moon that I iron, okay, not even that often.
I put more wrinkles in the clothes when I iron than were there in the first place.
Consignment shops are great. I have a favorite shop that I take my kid clothes to on Charles st. They have pretty good prices on clothes.
Great story. God is good ALL the time.