Real Simple makes recycling old clothes Real Complicated
As I walked toward the Ann Taylor Loft at International Plaza looking like a bag lady, I promised myself I’d get a wardrobe basic. A cream shirt or black sweater that I could wear with anything. No patterns, Katherine. No patterns. After all I’d just cleaned out two Trader Joe’s bags worth of clothes I hadn’t worn in the past year. Or longer.
The latest Real Simple gave me the impetus in a story on "closet editing." The article said Ann Taylor, Ann Taylor Loft and H&M gives discounts on new clothes to shoppers who bring in any brand of used clothing. It didn’t say how much, but I was determined to trade in all the things I didn’t wear for a deal on at least one (discounted) practical purchase.
I told the sales associate I was donating both bags then asked how much of a discount I’d get.
“Ummmm. We don’t take used clothes here. I think you can go to Salvation Army,” she said.
“Ummmm,” I countered. “It said in Real Simple magazine that you do."
“Ummmm. What’s Real Simple?” she asked.
“Ummmm, it’s a national magazine that tons of people read.”
“Well, they are wrong. We don’t do that.”
“How could they be wrong? They said so in thousands of magazines."
“Ummmm. I could ask a manger.”
“Ummmm. I’d really appreciate that.”
“Ummmm. Christa?” she said into the two-way microphone on a cord around her neck. “Have you ever heard of, ummmm, Real Simple?”
Worried I might reach across the counter laced with impulse-buy earrings and, ummmm, STRANGLE her, I stepped away and started flipping trough a rack of jeans. Seconds later she called out to me.
“Ummmm, Yeah. We don’t do that. My manager said other people had come in here asking too, but we don’t do that. But, like I said, I think you can give them to a charity or something.”
I left the store without looking back. I wasn’t sure if I was more mad at her or Real Simple.
I decided to see if H&M did or didn't accept used clothing before setting fire to all the Real Simples left at checkout lines and book stores.
Turns out H&M really does take used clothes of any brand. The very nice sales associate said each bag with three or more pieces of clothes gets you a 15 percent discount on one item. If you have a big bag of clothes, like mine, she suggested breaking it into several smaller bags and you get a 15-percent off coupon for each different bag,
I've left two messages with Ann Taylor's media relations to get the company's reaction to what seems to be some serious misinformation in a widely read magazine.
No response yet.
In the meantime, I just took my two Trader Joe's bags to Reno Beach Surf Shop at 1031 4th St. In St. Pete for Clothes to Kids. It's a collection site for this great charity that provides clothes in good shape to low income students at two "stores" in Clearwater and St. Petersburg. The students get a true shopping experience for five outfits twice a year.
So, ummmmm, take that Ann Taylor and Real Simple.