Sunday, December 21, 2008

A Deseret Industries Story

I submitted for the NieNie book, but didn't get picked, and so, hey, why let anything I've written go to waste? So, here is my DI clothes story.

I love Thrift Stores. I love clothes, lots and lots of clothes that come and go according to my moods and seasons and (personal, made up) styles; therefore I patronize thrift stores and support my wardrobe without breaking my budget.

Several years ago, while visiting my family in Salt Lake City, Utah before my Sophomore year of college, I went in pursuit of yet more of the "cutest clothing in the world" and visited the local DI from my childhood (Deseret Industries, a thrift store). DI not only accepts donations, but sends them all over the world for humanitarian aid. Living close to the central DI, I liked not only shopping there, but also sending all my old, outdated, outseasoned clothes there to help others in other continents. My sister Halley dropped me off, and I spent the next hour in paradise. I found shoes, and shirts, and a beautiful black velvet skirt (among many skirts. I love skirts). I couldn't believe the good fortune I had found at DI that day.

After an hour Halley came back to pick me up. She wanted to look at shoes herself, and so I took the opportunity to try on yet a few more shirts in an attempt to find a match for a prospective floral skirt. I tried on a yellow shirt, but was in doubt of its potential cuteness, since a lot of the skill of thrift store shopping is in seeing the potential of an item when it's just stuck on a rack with a lot of other ugly polyester clothes from the eighties. I love being able to tell that a particular rose cardigan with a knitted cream flour applique is vintage, and not just out-dated, but sometimes my potential cuteness radar needs a second opinion. In this case I couldn't tell if a little pocket on a fitted T-shirt was innovative or dorky. I went to find Halley in the shoe section for a quick consultation, leaving my cart of uber-clothing in my stall to save the stall (waiting for stalls to try on clothes was never my strong suite).

A quick consultation (yes, yellow isn't your color and that pocket is dorky, no, you shouldn't get the shirt) led to looking at the shoes she was considering, then trying on some more shoes for myself (did I mention I also love shoes? I usually hover around 27 pairs, to match anything and everything), then checking out the nearby belts for any finds, and then suddenly being called out of my shopping reverie, "Thora Stoutner, please come to the front of the store." I was shocked! How could anyone know my name?

I hurried to the front where the cashier held up my wallet with my driver's license. She sent me to some back offices behind the store, where two men identified me as well, and gave me the rest of my purse and its contents.

Realizing that my purse had been in my cart (yes, I know that it could have been stolen. Clearly as this story illustrates, I'm not always strong at inductive reasoning), I asked where my cart full of the cutest clothing in the world was. The men gave me a blank look.

"You know, the cart that this purse was in? In a dressing room?"

The men gave me an even more blank look, if that were possible.

I hurried out of the dressing room, wearing DI's skirt and rejected yellow shirt and barefoot, mind you, and began a frantic search for my cutest clothes cart, which also happened to contain my own clothing I actually owned and had worn to DI.

I enlisted Halley and we searched all over 'till at long last we found my cart, which miraculously still had all the cutest shoes in the world I had found, but sadly lacked any article of clothing, including my own shirt and capris. I need mention here that the shirt I had worn was a shade of blue that exactly matched my eyes; every time I wore that shirt people would compliment on my eyes, and I knew that this was due to the shirt alone, since that was also the only time people mentioned my fairly standard blue eyes.

That blue shirt was no where to be found. None of the clothes were. Summing up all my courage, being inflicted with the odd brand of shyness that only hits when I have to talk to people I don't know, I finally asked a sales associate. She stared at me blankly, but this was mainly because she didn't speak much English. Together we communicated my sad tale of woe and lost cart of cutest clothes, and she disappeared in the back warehouse where all the items are organized to look for the clothes. After ten very tense minutes, she brought a manager out. Sans cart, sans clothing.

He sighed, and began, "Since this is the central DI, we don't rehang any clothes people leave in stalls. We go through [some obscenely high number] of clothes an hour between donations and sending clothes all over the world, and so when people leave clothes on the floor, or in their carts we don't hang them back up, but rather take them to the back where we load them on pallets and ship them all over the world. Normally the clothes from your cart would be back on one of the pallets, but it just so happened that a shipment just barely left, with the pallet your clothes were on."

My heart sunk to the bottom of my skirt that I was only trying on, which matched the shirt I hadn't planned to buy. "My clothes were in that cart! (at least my shoes had been recovered)."

My cutest clothes in the world, plus my favorite shirt that matched my eyes were off! Off to Africa or South America, where no one would even have blue eyes to exactly match my shirt and hence receive lots of compliments on, off and gone forever.

Awkwardly, he told me, "Anything you buy here today you can have ten percent off on. And," while eying my skirt and shirt, "You can have the outfit you're wearing for free."

In a desultory manner I combed through the clothing racks again, but I had already picked out the cutest clothing ever, and it was hopelessly gone. I bought a fair amount of clothing anyway, just to use that ten percent off and to feel like I hadn't completely ruined my best clothing trip ever.

I still love DI. I still shop even at that very one when I visit my family. However, I've never left my clothes unattended, again, even if I'm unsure about a clothing's cuteness potential and want a second opinion. Although I love helping people all over the world, and donating to those in need, I prefer not donating the exact clothes off my back.


  1. Umm, I hate thrift stores. This goes back to the days of my early childhood when my mother would get that funny glint in her eyes and say "Just five minutes, okay." I have since learned that this is not peculiar of my own matriarchal figure, but is in fact something installed in all women at the time of conception. I am sure Eve looked at Adam as she was wandering towards the tree and said "Just five minutes, okay." Naturally the end result is, and has always been, a space of five minutes that is so long that even God (who thinks several thousand years to be small space of time) begins looking at His watch, a lot of backbreaking lugging of old items for the lady, and several hours of listening to said lady delineate exactly how much she had just saved by getting more stuff.

    And now they take the clothes off your back? How terrifying. I think that is bounds for never stepping foot in a thrift store again, don't you?

  2. I LOVE this story! I recently told this story to someone. I also love the DI. Up here we have Goodwill. They are okay. They are not nearly good at orginizing clothes. I just recently baught a pair of pants and I found them in the small section (I most definitly do not wear small!) I love you so much Bork. I hope that you are able to find some good thrift stores around you. Someday we maybe able to go together some time.

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  4. Hee hee! I'm sorry for you! I know how much effort it take to find the perfect clothes and how disproportionately happy and giddy it makes you when you DO find them. I also know what it is to have the blue shirt that makes people comment on your eyes, which all too often just look gray or greenish blah.

    So I'm VERY sorry!

  5. Those were the days, my friend.

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  7. Awww, they should have picked your story, Thora. By the way this is Ane, just found your blog. I am now following you! Your daughters are sooo cute!! Keep in touch!!