Keeping Up With Mrs. Smith

When a perfectionist moves into a fixer-upper…

Legend of the Blue Hanger

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Did you know that there is such a thing as a Goodwill outlet?  That there is actually a store full of stuff that didn’t sell, not just in any old store, but in a GOODWILL??!!

It sounds legendary, I know, but such a thing does exist…in Austin, Texas.  (“Keep Austin Weird,” as the saying goes, right?)

The Blue Hanger, as it is known around Austin, is not a shopping experience for the meek in spirit nor the faint of heart.  Only cut-throat pirate shoppers gather at The Blue Hanger.

What do I mean by “pirate-shoppers?”  Well, one time, when my friend visited the store, a man was wearing spiky chains wrapped around his hands.  Chains!  With which to fight off other shoppers!

You think I’m joking.

You think I am making this up.

Well, let me tell you how The Blue Hanger works.  For the most part, all items are priced at $1.39 a pound.  There are no racks, no shelves, no men’s or women’s departments.  Everything from clothes to housewares are loaded up into shallow, rolling bins and lined up in rows all throughout the store.

After a bin has been sifted to death, workers emerge from the back storeroom to gather the bins and replace them with new ones.

But here’s the catch: NO ONE IS TO TOUCH THE NEW BINS UNTIL THE WHISTLE BLOWS!!

Actually, there is no whistle, but everyone one must wait until an employee gives the go ahead.  In the meantime, the pirate-shoppers line up along the walls, their eyes fixed upon the fresh bargains awaiting them in the new bins.  They stomp and they snort and they kick until AT LAST they are freed to attack the bins.

If you’ve ever witnessed the Running of the Bulls in Italy, then you’ve witnessed a stampede of Blue Hanger shoppers attacking a new bin.

Here is where spiky hand chains would come in handy.

And security guards.  (Thankfully the store had two on duty.)

The scene is utter madness: Arms flail, clothing flies into the air, shoppers murmur to themselves.

When I entered The Blue Hanger last Sunday, my friend and I made the mistake of approaching a new bin and sifting through it.   It took me a while to realize that the sudden uproar of “HEYs!” and “EH-CH-CHs!” going on behind our backs were aimed at us.  I turned to see a hundred beady eyes glaring at me.

It was like Lord of the Flies.

Once I skittered over to an older bin, however, I began to feel the fever of a good bargain.  At first, I went in thinking I would only get a few small items, but after an hour, I had a cart piled high with stuff.  Stuff like:

*A massive blank paint canvas, a sturdy empty picture frame and a chalkboard…

*A sleek, well-built shelf:

*This gorgeous Van Gogh print:

*This funky wrought iron birdcage:

*This beautiful wooden tray:

*Yards upon yards of this sweet, floral-print fabric:

*And good old-fashioned practical stuff like aluminum cake pans, a duster and a closet shoe hanger:

         

Larger items that are too heavy to price by the pound are priced to sell.  I nabbed this leather ottoman for just $4!!

(It’s missing a leg, but that’s an easy fix.)

I was standing in the middle of an aisle of bins, wondering how I was going to fit all of my booty into my friend’s car when I spotted it: The most amazingly large and plush ottoman to ever grace the floors of a Goodwill outlet!

I checked the price tag.

$49.99

No, wait!

$4.99!

$4.99 for a like-new microfiber ottoman?!!!

I wasn’t sure how it would fit in the car, but I was unable to pass up the deal.  So I lifted the ottoman onto its side and dragged it with one hand while pushing my full shopping cart with the other hand.

All while wearing a pair of wedges.

It was the most victorious shopping moment of my life.

In all, I spent a total of (drum roll) $45 at The Blue Hanger.

Thankfully, everything fit in the car, and I cannot wait to display my steals.

And so I lived happily ever after my trip to The Blue Hanger.

(You may now refer to me as The Dread Pirate Shopper.)

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