Friends and neighbors, please allow me a moment to vent in a linear fashion:
As you might imagine, Good Rubbish requires a steady flow of almost entirely worthless extraneous shit to remain operational. There are few better places to find said shit like than janky thrift stores in bad neighborhoods, and as such it should come as no surprise that I've become well acquainted with every Salvation Army, Goodwill and ARC Thrift Store within a 15 mile radius of my domicile. Unintentionally (really, I don't think there was any way to avoid it), I have been comparing these stores against one another for the past few months. This research has led me to a startling conclusion: ARC Thrift Stores suck a big, fat, hairy ass with regularity, and they like it.
A dreadfully long winded story that almost succeeds at summarizing the problem at hand:
A few weeks ago I found myself in the neighborhood around the ARC on Iliff and Quebec, so I stopped in to see if I could find any good deals. Their fare was pretty pedestrian... lots of oak key hangers from the 70's, really boring glassware, and aisles upon aisles of unwanted promotional t-shirts that they were trying to sell for $4 apiece (that should have been my first clue to get the hell out of there - a more obscene example of price gouging you will rarely find), but I decided to stop by their "electronics" (see: inanimate objects that used to respond to electricity before they were dropped down a concrete staircase by their original owner) department to see if they had any archaic stereo equipment that I could turn into something less useless.
Lo and behold, buried beneath a small fortress of unwanted VCRs and answering machines, I came across 2 of the most unusual speakers I'd ever seen. Standing about 2 feet tall, the speakers' fronts were covered with a positively heinous light green fabric that had the unmistakable grating texture of a rhinoceros' pubic hair, and were partially protected by a steel grate that may or may not have been salvaged from an Abrams Tank. Put simply: These relics of home audio were absolutely hideous. They had to be mine.
Before we continue, I'd like to make it clear that I'll be the first to admit that I've really beaten this whole speaker modification thing into the ground over the past couple of weeks (and it's going to get even worse, I've got 2 more of those projects coming down the pipe), but I enjoy doing those projects, so I'm always on the lookout for new source material. Alright, back to the topic at hand...
I was figuring that the price on these speakers would have to be pretty low, as they appeared to have been made in the 1950's, so even if they were still functional (which was HIGHLY unlikely) the ravages of time and their born-in lack of technology would have rendered their sound so dreadful by modern standards that no one would venture to use them as speakers anymore. Basically, they were selling 2 wooden cubes with carpet on one of their sides. I told myself I wouldn't pay more than $10 for them, which is $5 more than I'd normally pay for a pair of small speakers. "Surely, even a store that tries to sell Mountain Dew shirts from 1997 for $4 wouldn't be able to charge much for these worthless blocks", I thought to myself. I was wrong.
It took me a few minutes to find it (the label had been scraped off one of the speakers), but eventually I located the price tag: $65 for the pair. SIXTY FIVE DOLLARS! I mean, who was pricing these fucking things, Anne Heche?? (I have no idea what that's supposed to mean, I just like how it sounds). What happened to the idea that thrift stores, who get all of their merchandise for FREE I might add, are supposed to be a great place to find bargains? $65 for some unusable speakers is NOT a bargain. $7 for a floppy collared polo shirt with an embroidered logo for some paper company in Mississippi is NOT a bargain. For God's sake, $2.50 for a copy of Batman Forever on VHS is NOT a bargain!! What the hell is wrong with you people?? WHO THE FUCK DO YOU THINK YOU ARE???
Clearly, I was upset. I thought about attempting to haggle with one of their employees, but haggling bouts in which one side starts at $65 and the other starts at $2 rarely end well. I also thought about removing the price tag and pulling the old "I couldn't find the price on this, how much is it?" routine at the register, but there were two problems with this plan: First, noting the precedent this store had set with its other items, a manager probably would have told my cashier "uhh... I don't know our price on those off hand, just charge him $115"; but more importantly, all of the cashiers working that day were overweight black women, and they looked savvy as hell. If I pulled that price tag off, they'd call me on it. No doubt about it.
I was left with no other choice but to leave the store empty handed. A run to my bank 2 weeks later brought me back to the same neighborhood, so I stopped in again to see if they'd moved those egregiously overpriced speakers. Not surprisingly they hadn't, though they had lowered the price. The almost entirely worthless speakers were now available for the mere pittance of $55. What a steal!
I've been to several ARC locations, and while the prices at this particular branch seem to be particularly bad, their prices all over town are by far the worst of any major thrift outlet. I've found Goodwill to be the best, and Salvation Army to run a close second, while ARC is about 85 miles behind both of them. As of now, I'm swearing off ARC from any future crap-shopping runs until they change their horrible pricing policies, and I would encourage you to do the same. Dicks.
Thus ends my incredibly long and tragically un-vent-ish vent session on ARC Thrift Stores. Be sure to tune in next time when I put up a posting that's actually interesting and fun to read. What a concept!
Tuesday, March 25, 2008