In my quest to gather baby items for a friend of mine that was expecting, I asked a mother I know if she had anything she wanted to get rid of. “I have a Petunia Pickle Bottom Bag,” she announced in a way that should have given me a hint as to its importance. “What’s a…pickle bag?” I asked, showing my ignorance when it comes to name brands. In an attempt to keep up with the cool kids in grade five, I remember asking my mother for a pair of Nikes, only to be teased relentlessly when I went to school in what, come to find out, were imitations. That, and the homemade brown corduroy suit my mum had me wear the same day, probably fried my “name brand neural pathways.” To this day, I have name brand dementia and I hate brown.
I do have some awareness of name brands, because I’ve made my share of expensive, impulse purchases only to find out I had bought something super trendy. One such item was a beautiful suede pink bag, the last of its kind in Holt Renfrew, Canada’s version of Nordstrom or Neiman Marcus. When I revealed it to my friend she gasped and said, “You bought a Coach Bag? These are expensive!” As we were standing in front of my husband, I quickly professed that it was on sale, “50% off actually,” further entrenching myself in my lie with a really good detail. She looked at me knowingly and said, “Coach Bags never go on sale at Holt Renfrew.” Name brands were kind of her thing. Standing behind my husband I waved my arms around, trying desperately to get her to go along with my story. In my mind, paying $400 for a bag was justified by there being 365 days in a year and my thought that I could easily shave one dollar off each day by cutting down on a vanilla latte here or there. That, and it was the last one in Canada and I conveniently lost the receipt, so prove it was $400 anyway! And did I mention it was the most amazing color of pink?
Another brand name moment that stands out is a trip to Holt Renfrew with my niece, who was maybe eight at the time, and the purchase of an exorbitantly expensive velvet hat covered with little colored bows that looked too adorable on her to leave behind. Stopping by a boutique on the way home to pick up a Blumarine dress I had sent from Italy, my niece, who was enjoying lugging home the fruits of our shopping expedition, insisted I let the salesperson provide me a decadent garment bag to transport it in. The moment kind of pushed me into shopping mania. With so many bags and hat boxes, and not a taxi in sight, we ended up walking by a hotel and going home in the luxury of a limo. Slightly over the top, I admit, but it sure was a memory!
An important lesson I’ve learned from my shopping history is that it’s best if I take a companion; a guidance counselor of sorts. And it must be someone who is much more conservative than me, because I can be swept away, fall madly in love with an item, in an instant. I need someone to talk me down off the ledge, not help me find a way over! I remember a coat I purchased, a faux something or other that took my breath away, to the point that I put a deposit on it, to think about it for a day and get an outside opinion. Well, I couldn’t reach anybody so after an hour I ran back to get that coat. Admittedly, it was a bit small, but it was stunning. Somehow I convinced myself that one day it would fit perfectly though, short of a “shoulder reduction” I’m not sure how. But, did this coat have a life of its own! People would stop me on the street and in my office building elevator just to comment reverently, “That’s a gorgeous coat.” On a trip to Toronto, I finally found out why. My friend and I were in the downtown Holt Renfrew and saw the “real” version of the coat, for a whopping price of $25,000. Made me think I had done well spending ‘only’ $500. And so my ‘Inner Bargain Hunter’ was born!
On a trip to Scottsdale, years ago, I had my first introduction to the magical world of “Neiman Marcus – Last Call.” Of course I didn’t recognize all the different brands, but I did come across a pair of Prada boots, $795, marked down, marked down, marked down, to the incredible bare bones price of $39. Feeling like Cinderella’s step-sister, I tried valiantly to squeeze my size 9 foot into the size 8 boot. After ten minutes, I ended up buying them anyway for a friend of mine in Manitoba. If I couldn’t have these boots, someone had to! My cousin bought a pair as well, wore them quite a few times, and ended up selling them on EBay for over $300.
The re-sale concept really took a hold of me after seeing my cousin sell her used Prada boots. But try as I might, EBay, Craigslist and I just don’t agree. At the first sign of confrontation, usually something along the lines of, “How did you come to that price?” I fold and remove the posting. I have a friend who calls me often to report on her many Craigslist bargains and sales. She truly has a gift! I wish I could master it because there are a number of things I should really be getting rid of. An unfortunate side effect of getting in touch with my ‘Inner Bargain Hunter’ is that I’m teetering on the edge of being a prime candidate for the show Hoarders! But, even with all I’ve accumulated and can’t get rid of, I didn’t have a diaper bag for my friend.
Which brings me back to my acquisition of the pickle bag. I was never a diaper bag person. My only criteria was it had to be black, so I wouldn’t feel guilty asking my husband to carry it most of the time. I think I purchased mine at Target, for all of $19.99. I mean, it’s just a diaper bag, right? That’s what I thought until I saw this perfectly succulent pickle bag enter my house. I’m not sure if the light was hitting it just right to accentuate the detailed stitching and sheen of the fabric or if it actually glowed from within, but this item transformed my entry way. I hung it over the back of the chair and found myself staring at it, mesmerized. Having this bag might have changed my early motherhood experience. It was stunning. If my friend hadn’t been waiting for it so anxiously, I might have decided to keep it.
I still think of that bag and ask my friend about it when I talk to her. She shares stories of people stopping her on the street and at the playground to comment on her glorious bag. Everyone can tell it’s a Petunia Pickle Bottom. Even I can’t seem to forget the name now. I’ve been thinking lately that, in honor of my ‘name-brand neural pathways’ potentially re-connecting, I should treat myself to my own Petunia Pickle Bottom Bag. Of course I would wait for a bargain. My husband might not be convinced I got it on sale now that I’ve confessed to the full-price Coach Bag purchase but, luckily, my ‘Inner Bargain Hunter’ never loses receipts. Because there’s nothing like a great shopping story…with proof!
Ready for some of your designer children’s items to become someone else’s treasure? No time for Craigslist? Check out Discovery Village’s Consignment Corner, launching this Saturday, May 19th. To learn more, click here.