Damaged Goods


Okay,  so I’ve long ago accepted the fact that when it comes to my pancreas and general immune system, I’m damaged goods. That’s fine. In fact, I like to think of diabetes as giving me a sort of quirky charm. I’m even relatively okay with the marks diabetes makes on my body — I’ve got a CGM sensor on my thigh right now, for example, that has lint all over its adhesive (which I’ve supplemented with large pieces of IV tape), and I can tell that underneath, it’s starting to develop a bit of a rash. Not so sexy. But that’s okay — at least I can be stylish on the outside.

Except . . . maybe not. I’m about to move cross country, and as part of my preparation, I’m trying to get rid of clothing. I’d donated a bunch of stuff to Goodwill, but I thought that I should try to actually sell some of the skirts, pants and shirts hanging in the nice section of my closet. I knew I wouldn’t get much, but at least I wouldn’t just be tossing say, an Ann Taylor tank top into a green bin in a parking lot.

So this morning, I went to a neighborhood consignment shop, piles of clothing in hand. The woman looked through my items — probably twenty in all — and pulled out one skirt and one pair of shoes. “We’ll take these two,” she said, looking disdainfully at the rest of the pile. “If they don’t sell in eight weeks, you can either take them back or we can donate them.” In other words, it was entirely consignment — she didn’t have to invest any money herself in the clothes.  Could she really not have taken a single item more?

I asked the woman if she’d recommend any other place, and she suggested a shop called Buffalo Exchange. Several things about Buffalo Exchange. First, it is a half hour drive from my house. Second, it is in Berkeley. Do you know what people wear in Berkeley? Ugly clothes. Seriously. Hang out on campus. Go to the Berkeley Bowl. And please, someone, explain to me why the 80s are back.

Feeling mildly insulted, I drove up to Buffalo Exchange anyway and sat in a waiting area as several people in front of me went up to the Sell desk with stacks of clothes. I watched, optimistically, as a man who appeared to be homeless successfully sold them a pair of boots for $11. They didn’t seem to have much discretion, the Sell desk of Buffalo Exchange.

So I was horrified when my turn came and the woman began stacking my clothes into one pile on the counter, small-talking about my impending move. Her attitude seemed way too nonchalant to suggest that the single-pile approach meant she was interested in all of my clothes . . . which left me with the unfortunate, correct assumption that she in fact did not want any of them. Not the designer tank tops, not the pants I had custom tailored in China (which were embroidered and fun, mind you). Not even a black leather belt, barely worn. What was the matter with the belt? Was my fashion sense so horribly off that neither the nice consignment store near my house OR the ratty t-shirt-filled Buffalo Exchange wanted ANY of it?

The sales clerk pushed my pile of clothes back to me with a smile, and suggested that I either try a different consignment shop called CrossRoads, or just leave it there as a donation. I thought for a second — did I really need my closet to be insulted by another buyer of used clothes? — and decided to leave the whole mess there on the table.

Anyway, it’s one thing to feel like there’s something wrong inside your body (and obviously I’d rather have ugly clothes than a broken pancreas). But dude — I thought I was the one rejecting Berkeley, not the other way around.

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13 years ago

I had the very same humiliating experience at BE in Portland.  Made me feel pretty un-hip, I tell you.  Good luck with your move and lightening your load.

Allison Blass
13 years ago

I’ve sold to BE before and they are incredibly picky. They look for things that fits with what is typically being purchased by customers, not just what is “designer” or even what we would think as being really great. If BE in your area is known for being “ratty” then they probably know that designer anything won’t sell, so there’s no point in buying it. They also have to be in need of a particular items, so some items that I know would sell well at BE aren’t purchased if they have too many “like items”. Hence why I usually… Read more »

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