In search of the perfect backpack to schlep a week's worth of necessities to New York City on a plane, I began my hunt at the Goodwill Store in my hometown, Fort Collins, Colorado. The store had recently moved from mid-town, close to the low income district, south to an affluent area. The new store was bigger, brighter, cleaner, with wider aisles, a better selection of items, and much less convenient for the most likely customers.
Nevertheless, I went, with minimal expectations of finding the backpack I needed. Imagine my surprise when, up from the heap of duffels, soft-sided luggage and assorted carrying bags there emerged a good-as-new Eddie Bauer backpack that had it all. Navy, with a few touches of a lighter blue, just the color combo I would have chosen, this pack had a roomy main compartment with little pockets for a pen, credit cards, a comb, glasses and keys, a little see-through net pocket, another with a flap, a spacious outside zippered pocket and another with a velcro closing, two elasticized water bottle holders, and a convenient carrying handle. The price tag said: $2.99.
Hardly able to believe my good fortune, I figured I could treat myself to a quick look at a very long row of women's pants, containing everything from shorts to jeans and all lengths in-between. There I discovered a pair of beige capris that were surely made for me. A perfect fit, they sported four roomy pockets and little elastic tighteners on the legs which added a fashion touch and the ability to loosen or tighten the pants at the calf. These were marked $4.99. Given that it was Monday, a 15 percent off day for seniors, my total for the backpack and pants, with tax, came to $7.15.
Before I began to experiment with how much I could cram into my new backpack, I checked the pockets of my new pants, one at a time, prior to throwing them into the wash. One, two, three pockets. No errant tissues or gum wrappers, but delving into pocket number four, I came up with a dollar bill tightly wadded around what turned out to be a ten dollar bill.
Besides my new backpack and the new pants, which ended up making the trip to New York with me as well, I had an extra $3.85 to show for my shopping excursion.
The New York City trip was a thrill--but not cheap. My shopping trip was cheap, and at the same time, a thrill for the recycling, reusing, frugal part of me.