Friday, September 15, 2006

The Curious Incident of the Book at the Thrift Shop

Do you shop for second-hand clothes? I do. I like those huge thrift shops in the States with rows upon rows of blouses, sweaters, and skirts to scan through. It's not like that in Poland. Oh, we have second-hand shops. You could hardly toss a pebble without hitting one, in fact. The average thrift shop is half the size of a single car garage. I've been in one or two that were as large as a double car garage, and they seemed huge. But mostly they are small, small, small.

Considering that they usually have a selection of children's clothes, ladies' blouses or sweaters, ladies' pants, ladies' skirts and dresses, ladies' jackets, men's jackets, men's shirts, and men's pants, as well as linens, lingerie and occasionally purses and belts and scarves...well, let's just say that your selection within any given category is meager at best. There is a solution to that, of course, and that is, to visit a whole bunch of different stores. Which you can do, on foot, and it probably won't take you any longer than working through the huge one-stop-shop in the states.

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Tangent: Since this topic probably won't show up on blogger radar again for a good while, let me add an interesting tidbit about these shops. A few of them price merchandise individually, but most of them sell the clothes by weight. They get new inventory once per week, and on that day, the price per kilo is the highest. As the week dwindles down, and the selection is reduced, the price per kilo drops until it is sometimes as low as $1.25 per kilo (2.2 pounds). This has a curious effect on the price of clothes. Winter clothes are more expensive than summer clothes. Children's clothes don't cost very much, while baby clothes are practically free. A ratty, worn, pilled woolen sweater costs more than a silk blouse. Cotten sweaters, which are very heavy, are relatively expensive, while 100% cashmere sweaters (and I've never even seen a cashmere sweater at a second-hand shop in the US) are dirt cheap. But that's the pricing system, and that's how they do it.

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I've been making the rounds recently, looking for fall and winter things for needy family members, and yesterday I stopped in one of my usual shops. This particular shop gets a lot of their inventory from England, and they devote one corner to books, videos, and music. Most of this stuff is junk, hopelessly outdated, and hardly worth the time it takes to look through it all, but I usually do it anyway. Because you never know what you'll find, do you? (Once I found an English video about otters just when we were reading about otters in William Long's Secrets of the Woods, and it made a nice birthday present for 9yo K.)

So yesterday, I peeked at those shelves again, and immediately spotted the book pictured above: The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time by Mark Haddon. Now, I've read about this book on lit blogs all over the internet. (Forgive me for not linking, but there were multiple blog posts and none of them were very recent.) I had filed the book away in my mind as one I'd like to read if the chance arose, although I had not gone as far as to add the book to my Amazon wish list. But there it was, priced $1.35 in a small Polish thrift shop on Grzegórzecka Street. I was amazed, since most of their books are of the pulp-fiction romance or thriller type, and then a couple of decades old on top of that. This isn't a bookstore.

I snatched it up right away (as if there was likely to be competition!) and I'm still gloating over my find. I bought the book yesterday, and I must confess...I've finished reading it. But I've spent so much time telling about finding it, I don't have time to share my thoughts on the book itself, so I'll save that for another day. I will just say this much--it's an amazing book and made me very sad.

2 Comments:

At 6:50 PM , Blogger Piotr i Jacqueline said...

I am sorry but I did not know how to email you so I am writing this here. We are the ones that are starting the blog about homeschooling. We switched over to blogger.com but when I copy my Word document with the Polish letters into a post, the Polish letter don't carry over. How do I get blogger to take the Polish letters? Thank you.

 
At 4:38 AM , Blogger coffeemamma said...

I've been told I have to read this book (my 11yod has Asperger's). But it's sad? I don't like sad...

 

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