I’ve blogged here before about Unique Thrift store. It has been part of my Chicago experience ever since I moved here in 1982. But, like a lot of things as we age, there are hard losses.
Yesterday Unique Thrift closed its doors.
The shop had recently undergone a brain-dead upgrade. I mean the whole reason people shopped there was to save money. Instead the new owners decided to make it into more of a boutique. Less choice and higher prices. Please tell me—is this good sense?
In the thrift store market you need to overwhelm the customer with crap. So much of it that eventually you make money off of it. It used to be you could go into Unique on payday and come out with 3 – 4 grocery sacks of stuff and pay as little as $20. But that was a steady flow of money—until the upgrade. It was sad really, you’d go in and the aisles would be clear, the clothes arranged according to size (WTH!) not just color, and you could actually hear the musak. No more sloppy aisles with clothing getting tangled up in the wheels of your cart—ha, if you could score a cart. No more loud, crying children and mothers screaming SHUT YOUR ASS! No more finding bras mixed in with the cutlery. Books (their biggest mistake) no longer priced at 10 cents to 50 for a hardback, now a dollar or 2. And for absolute dreck. Several times my husband and I would wander in after perhaps an old professor donated his entire library. Titles you seldom see except at higher-end resale shops or used bookstores.
Chalk it all up to the Internet, that fiend replacing all of us. Except who really wants to bother leaving their house when you can push a button and have a drone deliver it. Even CCO the shelter where I volunteer has both a physical store and an on-line presence. On-line sales now accounts for a 1/3 of their business.
Anyway, the news was devastating, but it really hit the young people the hardest. So many friends’ kids grew up with Unique that it is a bit like losing their innocence, like learning the hard lessons of life (and commerce). They are grieving as if they’ve lost a loved one.
Growing up—you had many touchpoints, things you took for granted until one day they were no longer there. Sometimes this is the death of a parent or other close person, sometimes it divorce. As kids we are suddenly struck that behind that golden curtain there might not be a wizard. Things do change. Irrevocably. And, we have no control.
That’s what hurts the most. The fact that some things cannot be fixed.
Right now write—what was that moment when the glasses came off, when you suddenly knew, when you grew up.