For a few days Paulette had passed the second hand shop with hardly a glance. She was trying to economise and even the second hand shop was more than she could afford before pay-day.
Two days before pay-day Paulette’s resolve broke and on her way home from work she stopped to look in the second-hand shop window to see if there was anything new to take her interest. What she really wanted was a smart dress to wear to the awards party that Jonathon had invited her to. She could wear the black Stella McCartney gown that she had bought for a snip`last year and worn a couple of times to functions, but she really wanted something new and different. Knowing new and different was way out of her price range she would be happy to settle for second-hand and different, and hopefully stylish.
Staring past the items directly in the window Paulette saw that one of the racks had been restocked with a whole range of recently added dresses. As she tried to see what the dresses were like she heard a familiar voice right behind her.
“Come on Pols, lets get inside. Alice told me they would have a whole range of new dresses for us to look through today, and we can always ask her to put by anything we really like until pay-day.”
The voice belonged to Paulette’s fellow second-hand fan, Suzette. They had been friends since their schooldays, when they were in the same art class and teamed up because their names sounded alike, or at least ended in the same letters. They had always thought of themselves as the fabulous ‘ettes’.
The shop they were currently standing outside was one of their favourites and they often got the heads up from Alice, the owner, if any new stock might be attractive to them. It seemed Alice had already told Suzette about the dresses Paulette was trying to get a look at through the shop window. Even from this poor vantage point Paulette could see that the rack held some interesting garments.
“You temptress, Suze,” Paulette said as she was grabbed by the arm and maneuvered towards the shop door. As pay-day was so near Paulette didn’t resist, wanting to get a good look at the new stock before the rest of the town had chance.
“Hello, you two,” Alice the shopkeeper said as the old fashioned bell on the door rang and the two girls entered. “I thought I might see you both today. The new range has some exquisite styles, and I’m sure you’re both going to be asking me to hold onto at least one dress each for you. Come on and take a look. And if there’s anything you want to try on you can pop out the back. Shall I put the kettle on while you two get stuck in?”
“Alice, it’s like you read our minds every time we walk through that door.” Suzette said as the girls headed towards the rack of new stock.
“Well I am a bit psychic you know,” Alice said with a wink as she pushed through the beaded curtain into the store-room to put the kettle on. “Oh and there’s another box of clothes I’ve not been through yet. Same supplier, so it’s bound to be good stuff too. If you’re happy to come get it and hang it out for me I may even be able to negotiate a discount.”
“We’ll come get it in a minute, Alice. You know how we love a bargain, and if you’re going to add a discount then we’re here to help.” Paulette said as she pulled one of the dresses off the rack and held it against herself, before deciding that it wasn’t quite what she was looking for and put it back.
Suzette pulled another of the dresses out and held it up. “Look at this beauty, Pols. This stuff is amazing. It’s all vintage class. Trouble is it’s vintage sizes too. Look at the waist on this one. I’d never get into that, but you might.”
“It’s stunning, Suze, but not quite what I’m after. That shade of green really isn’t flattering on me. Makes me look like some kind of leprechaun.” Paulette replied.
“Hang on a minute,” Suzette said pulling out another dress. “This one is gorgeous, and it might even be my size. I’m going to try this one on.” She disappeared into the back room where Paulette could hear her chattering to Alice as she tried on the dress.
A minute or two later Alice appeared laughing with couple of mugs of tea, one of which she passed to Paulette. “Suzette is huffing and puffing in there to squeeze herself into that red dress.”
“These dresses are fabulous, Alice. They’re obviously vintage, but that means they’re vintage sizes too. Suze thought she ‘d get into that one, though.” Paulette sipped the tea.
“Well if she doesn’t, and I’m doubting it, there are more in the other box. Maybe one of those will suit her better.” Alice returned to her chair behind the counter and till.
Seconds later Suzette appeared back in the shop, slightly red-faced with the dress over one arm and a mug of tea in the other. “Not quite,” she said hanging the dress back on the rack. “Found anything?”
“Nope, let’s get the other box out,” Paulette said putting her mug on one of the display cabinets.
Dragging the box out of the storeroom between them the girls opened it and started to take the clothes out, holding them up as they did so to inspect them, before hanging them on one of the racks.
After a while Paulette found a blue dress she liked, which she thought might fit her so she disappeared out the back to try it on. Moments later she appeared back in the shop wearing the dress she had taken out with her.
“You look a million dollars, hon,” Suzette told her. “It looks great on you. The colour picks out the blue in your eyes.”
“It looks like it as made for you, Paulette,” Alice added.
Paulette admired herself in the mirror, smoothing down the folds of the dress. She loved how it looked and had already decided she would buy it.
“Seventy-five quid,” Alice called across the shop.
“And how much discount for the help we’re giving here?” Paulette asked?
“Let’s call it seventy then.” Alice called back.
“Fifty sounds better,” Paulette was still admiring herself in the mirror.
“Sixty, last offer,” Alice dropped her price a little more.
“Fifty five and you’ve got yourself a deal, as long as I can pay you in a couple of days.”
“You drive a hard bargain, missy, but, yes you can have it for fifty five.” Alice clapped her hands together to signify a deal.
Paulette went back to the storeroom to take the dress off, while Suzette continued to look through the box, and hang the dresses up on the rack as she went through them.
Paulette returned with her dress, a strange and content smile on her face. Suzette, meanwhile had come to the bottom of the box without finding anything suitable. “Nothing for me today then,” she said as she hanged the last dress on the rack. “When you getting some more in, Alice?” she asked.
“Should be early next week. Sorry there’s nothing there for you, love.” Alice said taking Paulette’s dress from her and placing it on a hanger with a plastic cover. “I’ll keep this for you until Saturday lunch,” she told Paulette.
“Great, Thanks. Come on the Suze, let’s get off. Thanks for the tea, Alice,” Paulette said grabbing Suzette’s arm and heading towards the door.
“OK, boy but you’re in a hurry all of a sudden,” Alice said, “Bye girls.”
When they got outside the door Suzette pulled her arm free. “What’s all the rush?” she asked.
“Time for a quick drink?” Paulette suggested, avoiding Suzette’s question.
“Think we need to. I want to find out what’s up with you.” Suzette looked at Paulette, but got no clue as to why she had been in such a hurry to leave the shop, or as to what the mystery was.
“Come on then, a quick one in the feathers, my treat,” Paulette said grabbing Suzette’s arm one more time and urging her down the street towards the pub.
To find out why Paulette was in a hurry and acting mysteriously
come back tomorrow for more of the fabulous “ettes” story.
Part Two can be found here