|Hard at work in the official Shop Girl Uniforms|
As Shop Girls, we work for our money. Did you think the dress fairies and shoe elves sweep in at night to clean out the dressing rooms and fold all the sweaters for us? Oh no. It is us, sweeping, swiffering and swapping sizes all day long to bring you the magical shopping experience you expect when you walk through our doors. And we love every minute of it.
But like most 20 somethings in America's economy slump, we don't always have much left over after we pay the rent, get the lights turned back on, stock up on cat food and squeeze as much as we can out of a 20 dollar bill at Grocery Outlet. Luckily, this has made us masters of cheap entertainment. You don't need a trust fund to paint the town red and look great while doing it. Here's where we give up our secrets and show you how how to live it up while you're living off your change jar.
Rich Girl Hair on a Shop Girl Salary
I have learned many tricks to keep my mane lush through recessions, lean times and sporadic bouts of unemployment. I have never really been the salon type and usually had my roommates cut my hair after I dyed it at home. But there's always risk involved in at-home hair maintenance and if your future is riding on not ruining your hair you've got a couple options.
The students at the Fosbre Academy of Hair Design will beautify you for a really good price (You can get an eyebrow wax there for FIVE DOLLARS). I haven't actually been there to get did yet but it's definitely in my future. The school is right downtown (easy to get to when this month's gas money becomes hair money) and is much nicer inside than the average beauty college.
Why am I shouting out a beauty college that I have never been to? Funny story: Once, just a sliver of weeks after I turned 21, I went out on the town with some of my old coworkers. Something about karaoke night makes me extra nervous and thirsty, so I was in a pretty bad state when I attempted to walk home and ended up doing something not so ladylike on the side of 4th Ave. From behind me I heard "Oh my God, honey, are you okay?" and this nice dude with a group of friends cracked open a fresh bottle of water, hydrated me and walked me halfway home. It wasn't until a month or two ago that I found out the kind stranger was Noah Fosbre, who owns the beauty school. In a town where the standard is to simply ignore anyone you have not yet met five times, that was a grand humanitarian act. That is the kind of person I want to give my money to and someday I will.
If the idea of gambling your precious locks on an amateur barber is too much for you, I suggest Jamie Lee and Company. They have a fantastic, funky salon where you can get your hair did, your back rubbed and have your future investigated via Tarot all while snuggling with a kitty or two- the culmination of all of my hair salon dreams. Their stylists really know what's up too. My friend referred me there in high school and I just went in and said "I want you to make my hair the lightest blonde you think I can pull off". The results were amazing.
Dressing Like You Can Afford to Pay Your Water Bill
|Looks like a millon bucks to us|
First in our hearts will always be Psychic Sister for the amazing selection of hip vintage clothing and the welcoming atmosphere. You can find just about anything for your new spirit week outfit collection, whether you wanna be a metal babe or a striking 1940s film noir siren. They also have a rotating cast of astrologers, tarot readers and all sorts of intuitives that can tell you the places your new look will take you. And they do alterations!
If you're going for a grungier vibe, Dumpster Values, a true Olympia institution, is just a hop down 4th. An afternoon spent rummaging through their dollar bin is never wasted and you can pick up tunes from the record store within the shop and even a bike (if you have the cash!).
Roll up the hill to the westside or brave the 62A out to Lacey and you'll find the chain discount stores like Value Village and Goodwill (go early on a weekday morning to get first pick of the good records without having to fight a crowd). Or make a day of it and hit the Goodwill Bins up in Tacoma, where they sell clothing by the POUND.
Too fancy for ya? A recent USA Today study has found that Olympia has more free boxes per capita than any other city in America. In fact we have more free boxes than elderly people. (Another recent study has shown that Shop Girls have a 97% likelihood to reference false studies and invent statistics when trying to prove a point). For a free fashion adventure grab a friend and pick your favorite neighborhood to take a little stroll in. The free boxes are especially plump around the last two weeks of the month, when people are cleaning out their rental houses and getting ready to move out. But don't bother with this venture if it's rained recently or all you'll find are soggy strategy guides from 90s video games.
If digging through your neighbor's trash isn't really your thing the west side Olympia Food Co-Op has a FREE STORE out front. You might have to battle a throng of tan shirtless hippie men to get in but you can leave with a treasure (and a little bit titillated!).
"But Shop Girls!" you may say "I don't wanna wear something that someone else has once sweated in!" to which I say "Pipe down, Princess. Target and Forever 21 are within walking distance to each other and there's a Ross across the road from that".
Or, even better- support local businesses! Yolli Shoes has one hell of a bargain cave and Hot Toddy always has a deal hiding in the back hallway. We love both these stores so much that we work for them! Come say hi and we'll help you find something great.
Dating on a Dime
All gussied up with nowhere to go? Did you really think we'd do that to you? Call up your lover or throw a wink at the cute neighbor because it's time to hit the town. There's plenty of fun to be had without breaking the bank. In fact, you can be entertained for next to nothing nearly every night of the week (though most of this list involves drinking. Sorry kids).
My dad once described The Brotherhood as "the only place in town you could see a dwarf fight someone with a pool cue" but that was back in the 90s and the joint's really classed up since then. Go for the fantastic happy hour (2 dollar wells from 4 to 7 EVERY SINGLE DAY), stay for the cute and friendly bartenders. Sunday is a great day to hit them up-they show a free movie in the evening and afterward Olympia's best funk/soul DJ plays all kinds of great jams late into the night.
Got the Monday blues and a pang in your gut? Ben Moore's does FREE DINNER on Monday nights in the bar. Buy a drink, they hand you a plate and you can nosh on Swedish meatballs and as you gaze longingly at each other in a bar that makes your life feel like a Tom Waits song.
Feeling more like dancing? Hit Jake's on Fourth on Two Dollar Tuesday. It's happy hour all night and you can disco til dawn with the In Crowd. Plus you can take the money you saved a slide it into their photobooth (a secret Shop Girl weakness...) and have a memento to keep of your magical evening.
Wednesday is dollar skate night at Skateland, a relic of a roller rink that hasn't changed a bit since 1989. One buck gets you in the door and another dollar or two rents you a pair of skates. Do laps to the absolute worst Top 40 and share an Icee and a pretzel. But beware! Dollar Night is crawling with middle schoolers who still need to brush up their roller skills and hazards abound. On the bright side, trying to avoid tripping over a kamikaze twelve year old is a good excuse to hold hands...
In the good old days Thursday was Ladies Night at McCoy's and you could get drinks for a dollar if you resembled a girl. Then the dang liquor law changed and everyone got all into equality again and now it's everybody gets drinks for 2 dollars now. Still, cheaper than usual though. And McCoy's has a piano.
What if it's a special occasion but you're still broke? I like The Mark for such times. The Shop Girls generally can't afford the fancy food but we love sitting under the Christmas lights in the back patio and politely sipping the 2.75 gin and tonics like we're some of the Beautiful People. Surrounded by all kinds of potted plants and fenced in, you'll never look out of place sitting at the long picnic tables in a pretty dress. It's like hiding in plain sight right in the middle of Scuzz Town. Plan accordingly though-they're only open Thursday through Sunday.
And if none of these sound appealing? Well there's still about a bazillion house shows on any given evening, swing dancing at the eagle's hall, pinball machines lining 4th Ave or even just sipping coffee at a sidewalk table and watching the world go by.
Well Olympians, what did we leave out? What are your favorite low income life hacks? Let us know through comments, emails or twitter at us @ScuzzTown.