Friday, December 24, 2010

Recycle shops

I have always liked recycle shops, both in Japan and America. Things are cheaper, sometimes you can find a treasure in the racks, no clerk hovers by making suggestions so you don't feel duty bound to buy.

Japan's recycle shop history is still pretty short. 10~15 years ago I don't think there WERE any recycle or thrift shops. I know my Japanese friends would be surprised when I'd come back from the States with something and I'd say that I bought it at the recycle shop. But nowadays there are quite a few just in the next city over the most popular chain being called "Hard Off" and "Book Off".

The difference between "Hard Off" (which sells appliances, dishes, bedding, furniture and clothing) is that everything is in excellent shape as compared to some of the thrift shops in the States that seem like a glorified junk yard. Bedding and towels etc. are only sold in their original boxes which means someone received the box of towels as a gift and didn't want it so they sold it to "Hard Off".

Yes, sold. In the States, my sister-in-law drops off stuff she doesn't need at the local Goodwill. I suppose they go through it and decide what can still be used and what can be tossed. In Japan, the recycle shops looks over what you bring in, offers you a price and asks you to take home anything that they don't think they can sell. Well... maybe that's sensible but on the other hand that means LOTS of stuff ends up in the garbage when someone might want an out of fashion shirt or something to cut up for patchwork etc. (I cannot buy Bonnie Hunter's Scraps and Shirtails book. No recylable shirts to buy for pennies in Japan!)

When I go the Japanese recycle shop I have to set my mind to "this is a discount shop, not a recycle shop." For example. Yesterday Tetsu took me to the department store so he could buy me a handbag for Christmas (that I don't really need, but he needs to buy me something, right?). Sorry! Looking at the prices, there were no bags less than $150! Oh come on, this is not I Magnim. (Maybe it is.) Japanese department stores are WAAAAYYYYYY too expensive for me to buy ANYTHING! So we went to a recycle shop. A nice "Hard Off" shop.

Yes, there were some nice handbags. But please! This is a recycle shop and you are trying to sell me a nice bag for $120!? I suppose, if I really wanted a bag that cost $180 in the department store, then $120 in the recycle shop is cheap but have you ever heard of such a thing at Goodwill or the Salvation Army's thrift shop?! We left without buying a handbag... Did find a heater for $30! And it works!

Basically I like visiting Japan's recycle shops.


Yes, we are all smiling in this picture. It was the year 2003 and the reason we were smiling is because for this picture not only Shoko was anti-camera, all three cats were too! They kept jumping out of laps and arms and hiding under the sofa and it got to be a fun fiasco! Do you notice that Shoko is wearing diapers? She lived on our sofa and "leaked" so in her old age we kept her in diapers rather than send her out into the yard to live... The things we do for our animals!

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