Saturday, 6 June 2015

Re-Using or is it Re-cycling Clothing?


The "recycleterie" in Pessac (department Gironde, France) has reorganized their product sales areas. At one time, clothing was placed in an alcove off the main go-round of the floorspace that included recyclable possibilities from housewares to furniture and a lot of garden and outdoor stuff. Initially I imagine the commune looked at everything people were throwing out and decided that with the help of volunteers, they could make a few dollars. Over the years the "recycleterie" has become more popular and now I imagine it is bringing in a tidy sum. After all, inventory costs them nothing.  

Electronics once attracted those who first walked through the main doors but that is getting to be a tricky business. The reorganization suggests that clothing manifests a good turnover. As soon as you walk in through the main doors you have the opportunity to browse through the men's, women's and children's clothing. Most items are pretty shabby but this is no ordinary "recycleterie" any more. Now there is a rack that indicates "marques" and so you do not have to sift through the nondescript articles to find the treasures. Levis are no longer grouped with all the no-name-of-consequence jeans selling for two Euros a pair; they are now in the designated area of "marques" and being sold for considerably more.

I also noted that there were a number of "supermarket-brand" t-shirts, all brand new with the original markdown prices that obviously even the store could not get. You would think that the "recycleterie" would have priced them at that amount or less, but in fact, they priced them for more than the supermarket's last sale price. I suppose it must be a matter of what the market will bear.

I guess I can't blame them. Re-sellers were coming through, buying for pennies and then selling at the brocantes and "vides greniers" for 300+% markups. That had to be disconcerting for the staff and so I can imagine that they were thinking, "if re-sellers can buy here and make money, we can sell for a higher price and cut out the middle man". The "recycleterie" reminds me a little of the North American reality show, Storage Wars. In fact, Storage Wars is on TV here in France. I propose a reality tv show situated in France featuring re-sellers who scavenge the vides greniers, brocantes and recyclerteries finding treasures that they sell for a profit.

The foreigners who have retired, settled or perhaps just summered here, like anyone else, love a bargain and there will always be the stack of plates for a Euro or two. It is the perfect place to outfit a summer kitchen if not yourself. 
You could buy a set of dishes for what the paper version would cost. I can imagine someone buying at the "recycleterie" and then donating everything back at the end of the summer. Now that is truly a "recycleterie".

NO THANKS: If you do decide to buy clothing at any "recycleterie", keep the following in mind . . .

. . . Check for odd smells and don't buy if there is any "old" or mildewy odor; it will be almost impossible to get out. Actually this is also good advice for any cloth, wooden or rattan items or furniture. There are many suggestions for removing odors from natural fibers but they seldom work well. It becomes a constant and never-ending battle.

. . . Check for stains and marks. Stained clothing is another "no-no"! You have no idea what it could be or how the original wearer may have tried to remove it. It may be embedded and there is nothing that will remove it. Better not to buy if something is stained.

. . . Check for tiny rips or holes and do not buy. 

. . . Check again and walk away. 

NOTE-WORTHY: However consider the buttons on something that you may reject. You never know, the buttons may be unique and salvageable and you may be able to re-use them on something else. A woman told me about her greatest second-hand-treasure, a Chanel jacket that was moth-eaten and beyond repair but the buttons were still beautiful - definitely a recyclable lotto win.

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