I spent the afternoon with A, who we'll call Jem from now on. (Using just her first initial risks getting confusing, and it doesn't do justice to her personality. Since her name partially resembles a natural material, her nickname is a single syllable, she's a child of the 80s, she knows how to rock, and she rocks, I think this will do.) One of my closest friends growing up, Jem moved back to San Diego a few years ago and we've been rediscovering parts of the city together.
We headed to good old 5th Ave., where good old things abound. By old I mean, of course, created before 1980 or so. By good, I mean: miles of used books, second hand clothes, dive bars and vintage records. I was looking for nothing in particular. Jem was on the hunt for some career separates.
At Buffalo Exchange, nada. In high school I had loved this store (pictured above); then I realized I could find the same dusty shirts and dated skirts at Amvets for $2 instead of $12, and simultaneously (but coincidentally) stopped caring where my friends shopped. Next, Jem showed me two newer places in the neighborhood, Flashback and Rags. Both were brimming with edgy, entrancing and/or ridiculous vintage pieces. Costumes, practically. A shantug silk shirt suit in cobalt, size zero. If only. Long prairie dresses and flowered caftans so grotesque they bordered on beautiful. Acres of chiffon.
And an interesting silk scarf. $12. I checked my wallet and saw I had $10 and some change, so I set the scarf on the counter, which was just across from the scarf stand.
"Can I ring you up?" asked the salesman.
"Before you do, I was curious: If I pay cash, could I get this for $10?"
"No," he replied.
I could have put it on a card, but it wasn't worth more than $10 to me. "I can put it back," I said, moving to hang it on the rack.
"No. I will." And he pulled it away. Alrighty.
I must say, I'm curious what leads some merchants to give discounts, and others not. One one hand I read that prices are falling, we're heading for deflation, sales sales everywhere; on the other, merchants are struggling and I imagine they want every penny. So, is it that only the boss cuts deals? Or either very large or very small places do? Any perspectives, out there?