Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Getting Good Deals, Part II

My mother and I absolutely love Santa Fe, New Mexico.  It's such a huge change from New York not just in climate and landscape but also in the people and general atmosphere.  Stepping off your plane in the Santa Fe airport, which by the way is so small they don't even have baggage carousels they just put everyone's bags on a counter to claim, it's like you've been transported to the moon.  It even makes that whole the moon-landing-never-happened conspiracy seem all the more plausible; this place is so unlike anything else I've seen and I consider myself fairly well traveled.

Our favorite hotel there also happens to be our favorite hotel anywhere, the Four Seasons Rancho Encantado.  It's twenty minutes north of Santa Fe, surrounded by desert and mountains, and it is absolutely beautiful.  The casitas are enormous and comfortable, the hotel itself has hiking trails that go just far enough that you feel like you're really not anywhere near a resort anymore but not so far that it gets dark before you get back to where you started.  I actually plan on bringing the future architect of my brownstone (I'm ambitious) to the hotel so they can see the bathrooms and dressing area and recreate them exactly.  We've only gone in the late winter months so I can only imagine how beautiful it must be when the pool is open.

Sliding doors onto the patio across from my bed; this place is great for relaxing and meditating

View of the main hotel lobby from our patio.  There's a fabulous restaurant in there and an art gallery in the middle, obscured by a tree.  The bar at the restaurant is really nice and has wonderful servers who chatted with us and gave recommendations.

This bathroom.  Need.  Heated stone floors, extra large soaking tub, shower stall from heaven.  

This cake from room service was so good we got it at least twice.  The first time we went they had a great dessert we also ordered over and over, called Encantado Oreos.  They were homemade Oreo-type sandwich cookies served with vanilla milk and they were fantastic.

I'm not good at taking pictures, we've gone over this I think.

The first time we visited New Mexico coincided with a major life transformation for me (for the better!) so maybe that has something to do with the spiritual sort of connection I feel with the area.

But onto the deals.  While browsing around the square in Santa Fe my mother and I were looking for consignment shops.  We found a few nice ones and I was trying to flesh out my work wardrobe, so I Googled and found one nearby that we walked over to see.  Seeing it was only bags, we decided to just skip it and go on to the next one because that wasn't what I was looking for.  Unfortunately, it was brutally cold and windy that day so we just stepped in to warm up for a second.  This shop was beautifully curated (yeah, I said it) and had so many gorgeous items it was hard to know where to look.  I was shocked at the seemingly massive collection of designer items such a small store had.  The owner was there, Corey, and she was wonderful and patient with us.

I asked to try on a Chanel flap bag, which I had been lusting over for quite some time, but it just didn't seem right on me.  Sometimes I think that because of my height things that look great on more petite girls just look silly on me, and I felt like this was one of them.  While looking in the mirror, my mom had struck up a conversation with Corey who told her how she started her business, Real Deal Collection.  Her knowledge of both bags and brands blew us away, especially when she told us she had originally been involved in computer something (I forget... computer engineering? software engineering? something) before she abandoned that to start this.  She told us she originally fell in love with Balenciaga bags and sold only them but had now branched out to include lots more.

Balenciaga seemed like it wasn't my style.  Weren't those the "it" bags from, like, 2004 when Paris Hilton and Nicole Richie would pair them with denim skirts, layered tank tops and kukui beads?  But then I saw the plain black classic City up close and I fell in love.  It wasn't dated looking like some of the neon colors, it just looked classic with an edge, which is how I like to envision myself.  The motorcycle styling kept an otherwise plain bag from being boring, and the size was perfect on me: big enough to holy the things I needed for a day, small enough that I could wear it out and not be bumping everyone with it.

After trying on about 1,000 different iterations of the bag in various colors and sizes, I bought my first Balenciaga.  And then came my second via my mom and my third via my boyfriend as birthday gifts.  I love them all, from the extra smooshy leather to the tiny details you only notice up close.

I am not easy on my things.  I ruin shoes like no one's business and bags, no matter how hard I try to take care of them, always end up scratched and scuffed.  For this reason, buying a used (pre-loved) Bal bag was not a concern for me - those same scuffs that exist are ones I would have gotten within 20 minutes of owning the bag anyway, so what difference does it make?  I have been taking care of these though, keeping them in their dustbags along with my Louis Vuitton and I even bought leather moisturizer for my City, the oldest of the bunch and the only one that looked like it had ever been used.  I think I moisturize her more than I do my own body.

There is a classic hardware weekender bag on sale and UGH I love it and want it but probably can't justify buying it for myself until after the holidays.  It would be so great for when a Longchamp doesn't hold enough but a duffel bag is overkill.  If my mom or my boyfriend happen to read this, I am not trying to give you a hint so don't take the easy way out here.

Buying consignment is something more people should consider.  Sure, the bag was still incredibly expensive, but it felt like a more responsible decision given my situation with trying to pay off my loans ASAP and whatnot.  I feel like I've worked so hard to be where I am right now, overcoming significant struggles and really coming out of it alive despite what everyone else in my life thought, and so I deserve some nice things that I want.  At the same time, I want to be careful and responsible about it, and I think that consignment and eBay shopping are good ways to do them both.  Would I love if a brand new Celine Luggage Tote was wrapped with a bow, sitting on my car when I left work today?  Sure, but I am not going to empty out my checking account (or ask anyone else to do so) just to make that happen.

I know the Kanye West song "New Slaves" refers specifically to black youth following in their favorite music artist or athlete's footsteps and spending money irresponsibly just to have the newest designer clothes ("Spending everythang on Alexander Wang") but I think that that is something that goes for youth in general.  So what if my City is from 2007?  It's beautiful and no one else can tell.  So what if the Vince sweater I am wearing is from three seasons ago?  Should I throw it out because people won't recognize it as part of the current line?  As much as the recent Barney's racial profiling scandal was disgusting and showed us the way those in higher society continue to view black people with means as criminals or products of affirmative action or whatever else, for me it also highlighted something else, something newer than the deep seated racism that still exists (Aside: is it deep seated or deep seeded?  Will look that up).  It was disheartening that a young boy felt the need to save up to buy himself a $350 Ferragamo belt when it's just a belt and anything would suffice; one doesn't care about tailoring or fit or even ability to carry stuff when it comes to a belt, just that it's the right size and does its job.  It's like our possessions are what define us, and all the Instagrammed pictures of people's BMWs and Rolex watches just reinforce that we need to have these things to be considered successes.  I don't see anyone Instagramming their degrees, or their job offer letters, or awards they've gotten; just new Gucci bags and and a new Mercedes CLA, seemingly designed specifically to cater to our generation of excess and showing off.

Black Friday was just another example of our hedonism; the minimum wage still puts you well below the poverty line but scores of people still lined up to buy all that they could, many probably just adding onto credit card debt they've been paying a minimum on for years.  We aren't informed - when I signed up for my student loans, no one told me what that meant and no one told me that "deferring interest payments" really meant they were calculating my interest the whole time and were just going to add it onto my principle, thus having me pay interest on my interest upon graduation.  But that's not what they said, they just said "while you're in school don't pay any interest!" which is incredibly deceptive.  The same thing goes for credit cards; while people feel like they have much more money than they do because of their access to credit, when they spend more than they have they are paying significantly more in the long run.  I bet if you added up all the interest people paid over time to show them, they would be aghast.

There used to be an ad for a payday loan service, Western Sky, that showed all the time.  It bothered me because I didn't understand why this company was advertising, and it was pretty absurd that they used very stereotypical Native Americans to advertise as though that has anything to do with the business.  The fine print during the commercial said an average APR for a $10,000 loan is 89.68%.  This means that by the end of the loan, if you pay it off using the minimum payment, you'll be paying around $62,000.  Even the lesser loan amounts work similarly with ridiculously high APRs and increasing loan fees that ensure the loaner is always paying back at least three times what they received.  Yet, these loans are marketed to those with the least means, making them much more susceptible to being essentially defrauded by this service because they need the money more desperately and thus don't read the fine print as carefully.  But this is why unregulated capitalism can't work; those with knowledge and power will invariably use it to rip off those without it.  There's no competition when the banks collude to rip us off by jacking up interest rates, or when stores consistently raise their price points as others do, or when oil companies give some stupid reason as to why they have an oil shortage thus artificially inflating prices and, somehow, even though they had to raise the prices just so they could keep operating, manage to beat their own record profits year after year.

Sometimes I finish typing an entry and wonder how I got to where I am.  I had a film class TA once tell me he thought my ideas were great but he wished I would focus on one thing rather than a million things.  I remember my final paper (a discussion of the treatment of masculinity in the Godfather) took me so long to write because I kept having to delete errant paragraphs.  If I did that here, I'd be left with nothing!

Real Deal Collection is located at 223 West San Francisco Street in Santa Fe.  It is just off the square and a very nice experience, especially if Corey is there to chat with you and show you her lovely Birkin.  They also have their inventory online so you can purchase from anywhere or scope out some specific items before you go in to see them.

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