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Thrift Shopping

by Vimala Ramu
(Bangalore,India)

One major attraction in visiting a foreign country was certainly the shopping part. Though sightseeing also occupied a major part of our schedule, well maintained tourist spots with their stereotyped gift shops selling mementoes and T shirts would pall after some time; but not shopping.



True, the ardor did somewhat come down during our subsequent visits. But our first visit to US was remarkable in the way we tried to buy up the whole of US, if such a thing were possible.

I know that the foreigners also do display a similar enthusiasm to shop when they visit our country, going ga-ga over our artifacts, silks, wooden elephants etc. But it is nothing compared to what we felt in America. The ready-to-wear stuff attractively stacked in the shops- mostly ‘Made in China’ (we even spotted a few ‘Made in Bangladesh’ ‘Made in Pakistan’ and even ‘Made in India) cast a spell on us. Being on a long 4-month holiday with all the time at our disposal and the rich foreign exchange just begging to be spent, the scenario seemed nothing short of Alibaba’s cave. With our hosts in different parts of US eager to drive us to the malls as often as we wanted, it was a veritable spree.


Strangely enough, in the beginning, we would hesitate a bit to buy certain things, mentally converting the dollars to rupees and wondering at the enormous amount we had to pay for such small stuff. But, this would never happen in the case of garments. We of course kept to what we thought as ‘middle class’ shops such as K mart, Sears, J.C Penney, Costco, Gap etc. The discovery of ‘Ross’ where the rejects, seconds and surplus, outdated stuff from the highly priced brands would be dumped , was almost like finding a gold mine and suited our economy minded Indian mindset very well. Apart from the mandatory gifts to all in the extended family, we would always be trying to buy dresses for our pretty little granddaughters.


Our daughter-in-law Sarah
would never tire of taking us or dropping us at the malls and the leading shops. After we came back from shopping, she would even take pleasure in going through our purchases. Once I saw a half page advertisement in a local newspaper flaunting ridiculously low prices. I chided Sarah (gently of course) for not telling us about such a shop earlier. She seemed quite reluctant to take us there. But, we prevailed on her and she came with us with such an uncustomary dour expression. The shop, more of a warehouse, with no glossy shop front and attractively stacked stuff and tucked in a back lane looked very bleak and strange to me. There were a few trousers of different colours and sizes hanging from a horizontal rod on a stand and a few coats kept singly in a shelf. And as compared to the shops we had been frequenting till then, there were hardly any customers.

Still, attracted by the ridiculously priced items, my husband was about to try on a coat. Sarah, who was standing indifferently till then at a distance (probably not wanting to be seen in such a shop) hurried to him and whispered, “These are all already worn and used stuff”. We were shocked! Surely our famed Indian ‘Poverty’ did not sink so low as to purchase stuff from a second hand shop! I asked her, “Why didn’t you tell us earlier?” She said, “I thought you knew what was meant by a THRIFT SHOP”. Well, in India, when we say ‘Thrift’, we go by the dictionary meaning and certainly not second hand stuff. No wonder Sarah was so reluctant to take us there. Every thing about the shady shop fell into place and we beat a hasty retreat.


If I may jog your memory, after the Tsunami, we were told that even the victims insisted on new clothes and not the handed downs. After all, in our country one of the main rituals of Diwali is wearing ‘new’ clothes.

Huh, THRIFT SHOP indeed!

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Jun 02, 2014
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Thrift shopping in Bangalore n elsewhere
by: Kiran Bindu

Sure we love a good bargain but cloths have to be brand new. A jack n jones jeans for rs 200 or a Levi's for rs 200 I got from Mumbai I teamed it up with a denim shirt I got for rs99 in jaya agar 4th block n spent rs50 to alter it to my favorite being human shirt so total cost of the look was rs350 . I am not sure second hand cloths I would buy. I believe cloths carry luck . Bye

Mar 20, 2011
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no shopping
by: vimala ramu

It was more of No-shopping than Shopping! Thanks for reading,Geeta.

Jan 23, 2011
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ENJOYED READING
by: Geetashree Chatterjee

As usual enjoyed reading this article on shopping spree.

Dec 26, 2010
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Shopping
by: vimala ramu

Thrift shops and garage sales are not very popular with Indian middle class. Thanks for reading the blog,Isabel.

Dec 26, 2010
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shopping galore
by: Anonymous


not ''shooping'' =)

Dec 26, 2010
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shooping galore
by: isabel



...shopping are women's adventure thing, our eyes lit up and adrenalin kicked in right away=]

...it is detrimental to our pocket but on the positive side, it's good to our health, long walking tones our muscles and burns excess calories/ fats.Also good to our psyche, for it relieves stress.

...i go to thrift shop once in a while to hunt for valuable paintings and old records, it's like going to a garage sale too.One time I was looking for vintage buttons for my many project, unexpectedly found a genuine gold cufflinks!

Dec 26, 2010
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Thrift Shopping
by: Sneha

Sure, Vimala. Thank you...

Dec 25, 2010
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apology
by: vimala ramu

My dear Sneha (yes, not Sarah) my comment was no reflection on your intelligence. It was rather a reflection on the American English and the great regard (!) with which I hold it !!!

Dec 25, 2010
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Thrift Shopping
by: Sneha

Of course not... Do you think your friend is as silly to do so? Won't take the USA definition as 'the' definition.
And Vimala, the name is Sneha, not Sarah; as you've written.

Dec 25, 2010
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Thrift
by: vimala ramu

Sarah, USA is not the whole world. Don't go by the American definitions of words. Yes, Sarah is a very pleasant person.

Dec 25, 2010
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Thrift Shopping
by: Sneha

So now I know the meaning of 'thrift' properly. Will save it for my future visits abroad.
Sarah sure seems to be one smart daughter-in-law!

Dec 25, 2010
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apologies
by: vimala ramu

Sorry, my replies to Sonal and Sridhar should have carried my name. Oversight !

Dec 25, 2010
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sale
by: Anonymous

We did not attend any garage sale. But, Sarah herself held one at home and we had fun. I felt like carrying the whole lot to Bangalore. Such pricey items were there.

Dec 25, 2010
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understanding
by: Anonymous

Thank you, Sonal for the complete rapport. Typos didn't bother me.

Dec 24, 2010
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Sorry for the typos
by: Sonal

Typos in the mesaage are to be ignored :)

Dec 24, 2010
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Interesting
by: Sonal

Its true, shopping in a new place, esp. in a foreign land, seems to be an achievement considering two aspects- one, self-satisfaction and two, the expression on the onlooker's face back home upon seeing the stuff ;)
(For instance, 'I got this and this from the USA' would impress the onlooker more in India even though the item may have been Made in India and sold in USA)
Ha,ha. Loved the comparisons. Also, you are right about this psychology of mentally converting the forign currency into our dear rupee while making purchases abroad.
Really sweet of your daughter-in-law, sarah, to have accompanied you everywhere for shopping.
Great read as always.
Merry Christmas to you and your family.

Dec 24, 2010
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How very true V !
by: Sridharan

But my personal experience, though I didnt mind it were carrying back with me clothes, mostly T-shirts belonging to an oversized brother which was ok but the man being a chain smoker left these with a reekinfg smell of smoke which kept me at home after my return home for quite some time. This however was not liked by folks at home but were quite a hit with my golfing buddies who admired the very same T-shirts(hand me downs ?).

I wonder why didnt make it to a garage sale, usually fun, I am sure Sara would have thought better of those too and avoided taking you to a few !

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