June Food Stamp Project: Will Work For Food

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This morning I ate a quick breakfast of cottage cheese, toast and coffee before running off to work at Marz, my favorite consignment store. I’ve been a customer of the store since 1995. It’s where I buy 95% of my wardrobe.

In 2003, I needed some extra holiday money, and asked Mari, the owner, if she had ever considered hiring extra help during the holidays. “I just put an ad on Craigslist five minutes ago!” She practically yelled. Then she hired me on the spot. I’ve worked here and there for her ever since, even managing the store for a couple months a few years back, while Mari was recovering from being hit by a car.

This weekend Mari is having her yearly 40% sale. It’s a huge event for a little store, because in addition to marking everything down on the floor, Mari pulls all sorts of crazy inventory, that she’s been hoarding for the sale, out of storage, and marks it down to $20 and under. Seriously, it’s better than the Fred Segal sale.

When I arrived at the store I immediately pulled a chartreuse green cashmere cardigan, that I’d been stalking for months, off the sale rack. It had originally been marked at $40, (a nice price for barely worn cashmere), but it was now marked down to $15. Score. The Yves Saint Laurent ruched tuxedo skirt I’ve been pining for was still on the racks. Mari had priced this skirt at $310, but at 40% off it was still a pricey $186. Since I had a little store credit already, I got the cashmere sweater in trade, but had to put the skirt on layaway. (Yes, one of the brilliant old-fashioned perks of shopping at a local store, layaway). At any rate, I briefly considered working for clothes instead of cash this weekend, but common sense won out. I’ll do what I always do at this store and just use store credit from selling my old clothes to buy new ones. The money I earn will go into the koizebo fund, and I will be incentivized to sell as many of my items on the sales floor as possible to build up my store credit so I can get the YSL skirt out of hock as soon as possible.

Since Mari had hired two other girls from the local art college to help out this weekend, set up went incredibly fast. The doors opened and a bunch of resellers, who had been waiting like vultures, ran into the store and started a feeding frenzy at the $20 and under racks which actually contained a number of nearly new Armani suits, vintage leather jackets, and a hideous Carmela Soprano-style Dolce and Gabbana bustier and hoochie pant set.

At lunchtime, I got two nice surprises. The first was that Mari’s husband came by and bought everyone brie and basil panini from the local sandwich shop for lunch. Yay! Free lunch! The second was that Mari let me go home early. Although the additional $40 I could have earned this afternoon would have been nice, Mr. Foxypants actually has the day off, so I was happy that I could have the time to hang out with him.

On the way home, I stopped at Whole Paycheck and bought ridiculously overpriced Paul Newman Pretzel Rods for dessert tomorrow night. We’re having fellow beekeeping friends over for dinner and are going to do a honey tasting instead of dessert. The rods are for dipping into the small necked honey jars. I paid a galling $8.97 for three small bags.

My next stop was Honeybaked Ham. Our beekeeping friends are going to bring over some random ingredients of their choosing and we’re going to combine the forces of our two sets of leftovers and condiments to create delicious sandwiches on our panini press. The ham is for the sandwiches tomorrow night, and for pasta e fagioli soup later this week. Although EBT in California is pretty great, there are still plenty of shortcomings to the food assistance program. One shortcoming is the fact that often time cheap, good food cannot be bought with food stamps. Case in point: Honeybaked Ham.

My friend Crickett had turned me on to the unadvertised “buy one ham bone, get the second ham bone free” sale that Honeybaked Ham has been running for, oh, the last decade at least. The ham bones come from the hams the in-store deli counter uses for sandwiches. The bones are frozen in plastic wrap and sold to customers-in-the-know for soup. What’s genius about these ham bones though is that they come with about five sandwiches worth of meat still on them. For $6.90 I got four pounds of high quality ham for sandwiches + two bones for soup.

When I got home I discovered that my boyfriend was leaving for work. He’d just picked up a DJ gig at a friend’s restaurant on Friday and Saturday nights for the near future. In addition to the $50 an hour paycheck, he can eat as much as he wants while working. Which is dangerous. Because this restaurant serves things like salted caramel icecream with homemade chocolate sauce.

Mr. Foxypants ate a ham sandwich and two apples before he left for his restaurant gig. I ate all five remaining apricots in the refrigerator that were on the verge of going bad, and a green salad for dinner. Dessert was hot tea with milk and honey.


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