There is an upscale consignment shop in Boca Raton, Florida that has a wide selection of slightly used and new designer items. Chanel and Vitton purses, Armani and Dior dresses, Gucci sunglasses and Versace blouses are neatly arranged in the well light, organized store. I went there with my girlfriend and during a quiet time in the store, I asked the owner how she gets so many high priced items in such great condition.
She told me she has some regular customers who drop off expensive items. Many have never even been worn. The Jimmy Choo and Valentino shoes are still in the boxes, and Chanel purses still have the original sales tags attached.
She told me that when she asks her customers why they don’t just return the items, she gets odd answers. Some say they are “too busy.” Others said they were going to get around to it, but have other things to do.
The consignment shop owner said she spoke to many of her customers about this. Then, she offered another, more feasible answer.
Many of these women are too ashamed to return the items back to the major stores in the upscale Boca Raton Mall. The reason is that they have an informal relationship with the salespeople who sold hem the items. In many cases, they are on a first name basis. If they returned the item they would have to make up an excuse. They would have to say they made a bad choice or it was too expensive. Any excuse, however, would make the salespeople think less of them and they did not want to risk their reputation and perception with the salespeople at the upscale stores.
They did not return the items because they had a self-perception to maintain. Instead, they just took the items to the consignment store where they could get 50% of their money back in a few weeks or months. But preserving their self-esteem was worth more than the money.
We live in the most advanced consumer society in history. Billions are spent annually on ads that tell people they will feel better if they just purchased a certain item or brand. If they don’t own that item, many people feel deficient. Their self-esteem will suffer.
These are the people who left their expensive purses, shoes and dresses in the consignment shop. They did it to maintain their image. The only one who benefitted from this malady is the owner of the upscale consignment shop in Boca Raton.
Do You Feel Pretty?
In the film, “I Feel Pretty,” starring Amy Schumer, an insecure, average-looking woman gets hit in the head and when she regains consciousness, she has developed a new self-image: that of a beautiful woman. Overnight, her life is transformed. But her new self-esteem lasts only as long as her concussion. When she recovers, she is back to who she always was.
We are all like this. People’s self esteem is hidden and it only becomes visible to other when it hits and extreme; too hurt or too elated. Other people have huge defenses around their egos, so people don’t really know who they really are. I met women like this when I was dating, as described in my book, You Don’t Think I’m Beautiful.
This is a clever idea. It focuses attention on how self-esteem is based on how others see us and how we see ourselves, even if the concept is false. The film ends as Schumer tell her executives during an executive presentation that women should be accepted as they are, regardless of their level of beauty.
If more women did this, maybe there would be fewer luxury goods in the Boca Raton consignment shop.