Monday, October 12, 2015

Qmart versus Yard-Mart

On Friday, in anticipation of a round of applesauce canning, I made a quick bike trip to a store I will just call "Qmart" to pick up two dozen more canning jars.  (Dang, I keep thinking I have enough jars, and then I keep running out!  And Qmart is the only local place I've found where I can buy them).  Then on Saturday, after running up and down hills with my girlfriends, and before actually doing my applesauce canning, I biked around to a bunch of yard sales.

So, Friday was Qmart; Saturday was Yard-mart.  The contrast continues to strike me.  Friday I was looking for a specific thing; Saturday was just taking advantage of random opportunity.   Friday I was surrounded by shoppers who wanted to get more stuff; Saturday I was surrounded by people who wanted to get rid of what they'd already bought.

Melissa summed up the angst well in a comment she made on an earlier post of mine:
I now live outside of the US and on a trip back to the States earlier this year, I made a few strategic stops at thrift stores to search for things I needed. I was stunned at how every single one was stuffed to the gills with...stuff! I wasn't even going to retail establishments and yet every inch of store space at every store was full of the outcasts/excess of American life/consumerism. Made me feel that my gleaning was just as much public service as it was a matter of caring for my own family!
I'm so incredibly susceptible to the excess/gleaning argument.  I think the most depressing thing for me at Qmart was being line with a bunch of other people who looked like they were struggling financially, but were buying all sorts of kitsch that I'd see people selling the next day for cheap.  The guy in the line in front of me bought clothes for his 3-year-old daughter, all tagged and with plastic hangers and such, and he spent $180.  For little girl clothes.  Which are like, everywhere at yard sales, sometimes with the tags still on.  sigh.

But let's look at a few other aspects of retail versus re-use shopping, compared side-by-side:


  • Qmart:  Off a fairly major road, with nasty traffic and an ugly, massive asphalt parking lot. 
  • Yard-Mart:  All the heck over the place, but because of that, on neighborhood roads.   I stopped at four yard sales Saturday.
  • Who wins?   Yard-mart! (local roads vs. major roads)
Travel Distance
  • Qmart:  4.2 miles round trip
  • Yard-Mart:  3.5 miles
  • Who wins?  Yard-mart! (3.5 miles vs. 4.2 miles)
  • Qmart:  Fluorescent lights, manicured shelves, huge lines.
  • Yard-Mart::  Blue skies.  Wind. Fresh air.  I mean, wowwww!  It was a perfect day for being out of doors.
  • Who wins?  Yard-mart! (fresh air vs. fluorescent lights)
  • Qmart:  I heard the couple behind me in the checkout chatting (I got to practice my Spanish eavesdropping skills; yay) and the guy in line ahead of me asked the cashier a bunch of questions about redeeming points from the card he'd brought.  The conversation I overhear is all about what we're bringing home, or what things cost.  No actual conversation myself with others.
  • Yard-Mart:  So much fun!  Stop 1, a group of  friends decluttering.   They're supporting each other in getting rid of clothes they no longer want.  I help by taking a hoodie.   Stop 2, a solo woman clearing house.  People keep asking, "How much are you asking for this?", and she says, "Just take it!"  She's cleaning house for free, and keeps giving her things away for free. We chat for a while about taking insulin and about health in general.   Stop 3, a family at my church is (again) decluttering, and we catch up on family gossip before I take a tank-top and a jar, and then move on.  Hugs all around.  Stop 4, a cute young couple is moving.  They say, "It's hard to think about how much people accumulate if they live in the same place for many decades.  Make an offer!  Take this stuff off our hands!!"  We chat about a sewing machine they're selling, and the conversation veers to their mother (who bought it and used it once), to wishing they could learn to sew but not right now.   
  • Who wins?  Yard-mart! (totally)

What I got
  • Qmart: Two cases of canning jars (a dozen wide-mouth pint jars plus a dozen quart jars)
  • Yard-Mart: Three tank tops, a hoodie, and two or three jars, plus a coffee maker.
  • Who wins? Tie:  If there's something very specific and urgent I need, especially something that doesn't appear in yard sales, then Qmart wins.  But yard sales rule for random non-urgent gleaning. 
What I spent
  • Qmart: $25.42
  • Yard-Mart: $5.75.   One of the jars I picked up, though, was a reusable milk jar from our local dairy; on Tuesday I'll bring that down to Market and get $1.50 back.  Whoo!   So all that for $4.25.  Not bad.
  • Who wins? Yard-mart!  ($4.25 vs. $25.42)


  1. One of my sad things about living in a tiny apartment is that it makes gleaning from yard sales hard -- no where to put stuff one doesn't immediately need, so I only shop when I need something. But we just heard we are moving somewhere bigger at our boarding school (tho it's being built right now, so who knows when). I am looking forward to yardsaling next year! Also, bigger kitchen = room for canning. So you will hear from me then, oh canning guru.

    1. Space really is a luxury, isn't it? I think about that when I help out in homeless shelters --- what the women I work with really want is not more stuff, but more space to put it in. I think about that when I declutter my own (way too large) house, too. Good luck with the eventual move!

    2. Yes, space is really what I hunger for. I'm hoping to declutter a lot before this big move. I can't think of anything more luxurious than having actual empty closets or closets that can be single purpose. For example, having a linen closet with just towels, sheets, and toiletries sounds amazing.

      I know people tend to expand when given a larger space, so I'll have to fight that battle. But it will be better than our current battle of not having anywhere to put things, so many things never get put away. Planning to find a space for every item in our eventual new place!