Wednesday, October 22, 2003

Zen and the art of clothes shopping

"Bud" Neusteter died this week. His family owned Neusteter’s clothing store in Denver on the corner of 16th and Stout back when downtown Denver was the place to shop. I remember walking through the big brass revolving door at the entrance with my mother and past the sales clerks (always dressed in black) to the elevators at the back of the stores. While waiting for the elevator to arrive I would examine the murals depicting fashionable women painted on the walls. The place was elegant and every time I went in I knew I was entering a “grownup store.” No messing around, these people where serious about what went on in there. The grownup business of buying and selling quality clothing.

My mother always shopped there, even when we were not doing well money-wise, which was most of the time. My mother was smart and always said that if you buy cheap you pay more in the long run because cheap never lasted long. She would hit all the large department stores, Neusteter’s, May D&F, I Magnin’s, The Denver Dry, on the days they were having sales. She was definitely into the Zen of shopping. She never went with the idea that she had to buy something. She was willing to wait if what she wanted wasn’t at a price she was willing to pay. If the article of clothing wasn’t there the next time she came in, well then, she wasn’t meant to be the one to buy it.

My mother had the knack of finding the greatest things on sale. I don’t care how many women had been through the racks or piles of clothes first; she could walk in, stick her hand somewhere in the pile or rack of clothes and find something that everyone else missed. A designer jacket, originally $200 for $21.95, a hand beaded blouse for $7.50. It was like she was being rewarded for her Zen like philosophy of shopping. People would marvel at the bargains she could find. “Something is not a bargain just because it’s cheap,” she would say, “it is only a bargain if the quality is good.” That is why she could shop at Neusteter’s one day and Goodwill the next. If you are willing to look, you can find quality things at a good price anywhere.

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