I’ve been having this idea bounce around in my head. Do you ever get GREAT ideas? I get them every once in a while. Usually they’re incredibly stupid, but that doesn’t stop me from going manic on them for a couple days, or weeks. Once it was an idea my mom called Lost and Found Turn-Around. Somehow I got her looped into it, convinced her to be my parnter in this venture.
Lost and Found Turn-Around was born from the hours I spent at various different elementary and high schools, washing, sorting, organizing and trying to return orphaned mittens, socks, shoes, boots, sweaters, snow-pants, lunch-boxes and thermoses to their rightful owners. We’re talking hundreds of items. Jackets, jeans, even a pair of underwear. Lots of it was really nice stuff,after a turn through the laundry it could be put to use. I would bring home two, three or even 5 big trash bags full of stuff, and I’d wash it and sort it. If it had a number or name written on it, I’d call the family and they’d come and pick it up. Or not, at which point I would bring it to the Good Will (after grabbing a pair of mittens here and there for myself and my family).
At first I had the idea that I could arrange an exchange between schools. Nurse’s offices always need mittens, socks jackets, pants and things for giving t0 kids who either don’t have them, or had an accident at school that made their own stuff unwearable. They don’t like to raid the lost and found at their school because, first, the stuff is filthy, and second, if the unfortunate kid shows up on the playground wearing a classmate’s stuff, it tends to cause troubles. If I could wash the stuff and just rotate it to different schools… Then what? My end goal was to match good stuff with people who could use it. Altruistic busywork. This is an idea which was so pointless that I can’t bring myself to re-read this paragraph. If you’ve skpped over it, that’s fine.
But then I got this idea (after calling around to schools and not getting much of response) that I could start a little thrift store, where if you came in and bought something (cheap), we’d tag it for you and you could come and retrieve it for free if it ended up back in the store (which it would because we’d have an agreement with the schools where we picke dup the Lost and Found every month or so. Mittens could be matched up by some complicated process. We’d go pick up lost and found mountains at schools and gyms all over the cities and then wash it and sell it. At the time it made so much sense. I imagine this is a little bit of what real mania feels like. It was so crystal clear, almost no one but me could understand what a good idea it was.
I still love the idea, but my husband was able to to show me through the magic of mathematics that I’d have to sell some ungodly amount of used clothes and lunch-boxes every day just to pay the rent on my cute little store. Then I’d have to pay employees and gasoline…. I can see how it would seem irretrievably stupid. The smell of a pile of lost and found stuff alone is enough to make people avoid the store. It was not a winning idea. I’m still kind of attached to the idea of my little store with fluffy clean mittens and scarves hanging out of whiskey barrels… But no.