On this Saturday afternoon it was still business as usual at Clothes Contact.
The eclectic thrift shop on Valencia Street was full of trendy teens, Burning Man fans and wandering tourists, all combing for hidden treasure buried within the racks of tie-dyed shirts, tweed suits, sequined prom dresses and vintage letterman jackets.
It’s a dying breed of thrift stores that sells used clothing by weight—the goods here go for $10 a pound. And in five months, Clothes Contact will close its doors for good.
“That looks like what my old schoolteacher Ms. Ratnick used to wear. She had a dress like this,” one woman exclaimed as she held up a buttercup yellow dress, knitted with flowers and small circle discs. “But she was mean,” she added, tossing the dress back on the hanger.
At the dressing rooms, another girl tried on floor-length floral dresses from the 1970s, examining possible outfits for an Edwardian-themed party.
“Yeah, you could. You could totally pull it off,” her male friend chimed in.
“Well, I did get my fluffy petticoat at Goodwill for $5,” she said aloud. “Let’s go.”
“Well, you gave it a shot,” he said as they left empty-handed.
Nearby, a woman struggled to put on sparkly pink heels that were one size too small.
“You got to just find the one that’s the winner, I guess,” she said as she moved on to the next pair of high heels.
But the colorful mood belied the somber expressions over at the checkout counter. Yusra, an employee, woefully made a sign:
“Dear Customer, thank you for ur moral support. Clothes Contact will stay open at least until the end of the year.”
The store has been doling out bulk fanny packs, Hawaiian shirts and tuxedo jackets for 28 years.
“All of our customers have been calling to support us,” said Yusra, who started working at the thrift store last month.
As she propped up the poster by the doorway, the wistful lyrics of Brazilian bossa nova played in the background—longing and lyrical.
“Meu violão e uma cruel desilusão foi tudo o que ficou, ficou pra machucar meu coração.”
My guitar and a cruel disappointment was all there was, there was to break my heart.