It was a sunny summer day as I strolled the aisles of my local thrift store, surveying the landscape for diamonds in the rough. It’s one of my guiltless pleasures, mainly because it costs so little when I finally stumble upon an amazing find, and occasionally a stray lawnmower or two. Actually, I take that back, there is sometimes guilt involved; the kind of guilt that comes from getting such a ridiculous, dollar stretching deal, that a) you feel like you just robbed the store, and b) you know your friends are going to call you a liar for as you tell them about your dollar saving finds.
It so happens that this was just that sort of day. I felt a faint ghost like whisper as I passed the random yard items section of the store. A whisper that got louder as I narrowed in on an orphaned 4hp lawnmower. ‘Why hello there’ I said flirtatiously as I moved in closer to flip the levers, check the oil, and visually appraise my future yard companion.
She had some dust and oil residue from light use but a gentle tug on the pull start reassured me that everything was still in functioning order. The oil was a little black, presumably because the previous owner was a MMD (Machinery Maintenance Denier), but this could be easily remedied. My eyes gazed upon a hastily applied orange sticky tag that read $5. My heart lept and my lungs gasped! ‘Shut the fuuu….ront door’ I exclaimed as I realized this was a no swearing zone and there were several children around me.
I began to hear some gentle theme music slowly build from the out dated electronics section of the store. Eye of the tiger I think it was, serenading me to ‘rise up straight to the top’ or something like that. It was undeniable. I was starting to get pumped up. ‘Let’s do this!’ I yelled clapping my hands together, as I simultaneously, grabbed the push lever of the lawnmower, christened her “Samantha” with I bottle of Champagne that I always carry with me for occasions such as this, and began barreling toward the front of the store past the concerned and confused looks of other patrons.
I pulled a partially torn five dollar bill from my pocket as I greeted the cashier, trying to play it cool and contain my excitement. This was really happening. ‘Would you like a receipt?’ the cashier asked. ‘No thanks’ I said, again trying to down play the fact that I was obviously engaged in the middle of a lawnmower theft for a nonsensical price.
I completed the transaction and then walked slowly, ever so calmly and slowly, toward the door, moving increasingly more briskly as each step passed. It turned to a slight jog as I crossed the threshold of the door, and finally threw all caution to the wind as Samantha and I jumped to curb to catch some air. Later that day, I splurged on a new spark plug and 1/2 a quart of premium lawnmower oil (Only the best for my machines), still cackling a little too loud for polite society as I left AutoZone with my new supplies. That was 3 years ago. Sure we’ve had our ups and downs since then as any relationship does. There have been tall weeds and more than a few rocks to challenge us but we’ve stayed strong together, secure in the joy that only a relationship born of financial responsibility can wield.
As time passed, I bumped into a friend who had just bought a new house and needed a lawn mower. He told me he was thinking of buying one for about $400. ‘Don’t you dare!’ I gasped, recoiling in horror, unable to hide my disapproval, and all but threatening our friendship if he did. ‘I’ll get you one as a house warming gift’ I said. I could see his skepticism as I relayed to him my made up sounding tale of how Samantha and I had met years earlier.
His skepticism grew to accusations of blatant dishonesty and finger pointing as I told him about the price. There was only one way to settle this. I would need to get the same unicorn of a deal a 2nd time, just to prove that it’s real and repeatable; and I would need to do it fast.
I smugly scampered back to the exact same thrift store, pushing children and other shoppers out of our way. ‘Official business’ I barked as I guided my friend to the yard section of the store. I scanned the room briefly, finally focusing in on a shiny red Toro that had been abandoned by its owner. ‘$400 lawnmowers are bullshit’ I yelled dramatically pointing and gesturing with the fire of a man who won’t overpay for things. My friends jaw dropped slightly with the staggering weight of his new found frugal life conversion. The look of a true epiphany shown on his face. We scampered out with his new $10 mower in hand, still shaking his head and wondering what he would do with his newfound savings. A small tear of satisfaction rolled down my cheek, knowing that a new member had just been admitted into the brotherhood of frugality. You could be next? What can you save money on like it’s borderline criminal? Share your story in the comments below so that still more unbelievers can be shown the way of master thrifting.