by Larry Bowen
Okay, right off the bat I'll admit it. I'm a serious, hardcore bargain hunter. I was a "picker" when that term referred to someone who played the guitar or banjo, not a popular television concept. I prefer to describe myself as frugal-I'm not a cheapskate. I know the value of a dollar but I'm not chintzy. I'm a pretty generous guy but I don't throw my money around. For me, a big high-roller trip to Vegas would include blowing $100 over four days on the nickle slots and trying to find the increasingly elusive $1.99 all you can eat buffets. But nothing makes me happier than rummaging through a huge pile of stuff and finding a jewel.
It doesn't matter if that jewel is a book for 70 cents that I've been looking for to add to my personal collection or stock for my used bookstore. It could be a Ralph Lauren polo shirt for $3 that would sell for $70 at Macy's or a piece of artwork or an offbeat item for $6 that will add to that extra funky feel a good bookstore should have. I enjoy the thrill of finding that certain item that I would never find anywhere else or that I would never buy if I had to pay full price for it. I'll pay $3 for an Abercrombie and Fitch tee shirt but not $65. I'm not a clothes horse and Walmart shirts are fine but if I've found from experience that name brand clothes are better made and last longer.
That's why I like MERS Goodwill. For me, a day away from the Reader's Corner is usually spent driving to St. Louis and hitting every Goodwill along the way. I stop at the Goodwill in Washington, Mo first and since it's near a Starbucks, I'll spend at least a half hour at Goodwill and then have coffee at Starbucks. Then it's back on the highway to the circuit of eight to ten Goodwills in the St. Louis area that I try to visit before they close in the early evening. It usually takes me all day and it's a lot of work looking for bargains. I never have trouble falling asleep on those nights.
I usually come back with several hundred books and anything else I decide I can't live without. I like to fish too and a day bargain hunting at Goodwill is like a day at the river. When I leave the house in the morning, I don't know if I'll catch a big one or if I'll get skunked. I've gotten skunked fishing many more times than I have visiting Goodwills.
I've attached three videos and a link to the MERS Goodwill web site. I'd encourage you to support this organization whenever you can. In the process of saving yourself money, you'll help them help others. The staff is always friendly and helpful, the selection of merchandise changes every day and it's fun. I warn you though, the first time you see a Jerry Garcia designer 100% silk tie with an original price tag of $60 from Dillard's for $1.00, or for you women, a blouse that you know sells for $85 at Ann Taylor for $3, you might just be hooked. Maybe we can carpool!