Bettering The Bedding

by Katy on June 9, 2012 · 62 comments

I am in the enviable position of having a $100 J.C. Penny gift card that’s majorly burning a hole in my pocket. Yes, me. The woman who “Buys Nothing New.”

Okay, let me start at the beginning. I shared a link on my personal Facebook page a few weeks back about how the retailer J.C. Penney is currently running a Father’s Day ad that features a real life gay couple and their kids. I had written that “Maybe I should make an exception to my ‘Buy Nothing New’ rule.” And next thing you know, my aunt and uncle in Nebraska had sent me a $100 J.C. Penney gift card. 

Simply for having shared a link on Facebook that they respected.

Gulp, thanks!

So what does the woman who buys nothing new do with a $100 gift card? First of all, I don’t think that I’ve stepped foot into a J.C. Penney since I was a kid, mostly because there isn’t one within the Portland city limits. However, there seems to be one at Clackamas Town Center Mall, which isn’t too far from Portland.

I’ve been keeping an eye out for a new comforter for our bedroom for a looong time. The one we have is a down comforter with duvet cover, and frankly I’m sick and tired of the whole lots of blanket over there, hardly any blanket over here thing. I also want this single unit comforter to have a contemporary design. Of course, my first choice is always to hit the Goodwills, but that just doesn’t seem to be happening. A quick look through the J.C. Penney website shows me that I can easily fulfill this wish. (And most likely have money leftover.) However, bedding and I are on a need to touch basis, so the purchase needs to be made in person.

However, I hate going to the mall with a passion that burns brighter than a room full of Harvard scholarship students. (Get it? Because they’re bright!) So I wanted to bring a friend who I could bounce design ideas off of. Unfortunately, my friends either hate going to mall as much as I do, or are internet friends whose 3000 mile proximity make this endeavor not too workable.

Sasha was sick, Chelsea was on her way to a hot springs weekend retreat, my mother was working on her graduate studies, Lise thought I was joking and my sister selfishly moved to NYC.


Luckily, there is no actual hurry with this errand, so I think I’m going to wait out my friend Sasha’s viral invasion. And don’t worry, I’ll make sure to bring my camera. Because The Non-Consumer Advocate shopping at the mall needs to be documented.

Do you have an aversion to mall shopping, or is it your secret pleasure? Please share your thoughts in the comments action below.

Katy Wolk-Stanley

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without”

Click HERE to follow The Non-Consumer Advocate on Twitter.

Click HERE to join The Non-Consumer Advocate Facebook group.

Click HERE to follow me on Pinterest.

{ 61 comments… read them below or add one }

Not Beehive June 9, 2012 at 9:47 am

Oh, I have a huge aversion to mall shopping and manage to avoid it most of the year. If I were you I’d be tempted to buy something from Penney’s online and avoid the physical structure.

I don’t know anyone other than teenager girls who likes mall shopping.


Katy June 9, 2012 at 9:49 am

I hate to waste the card paying shipping, plus I really do need to see and feel the bedding in person.



Not Beehive June 9, 2012 at 9:51 am

You’re right about that–the last time I bought sheets online they turned out to be scratchy; and shipping charges make me twitch. I guess you’re doomed to visit the mall with human reinforcements.


Linda in Indiana June 9, 2012 at 10:33 am

Katy, if you spend $50 or more, jcp will ship right to your door. That is very handy. I used to be at the mall Lots when the kids were teens. Wish I had been thrift store savvy then. Now I hate it like the plague! Besides, seems most everything is teenager-oriented. I like local shops if I must buy something new. Although is small town USA, they are going the way of the dinosaur in Indiana. So, you spend your money on gas and drive to find whatever you need. Not very ecological at all. I have a jcp in a town 20 miles from us……the closest town with any type of retail outlet and they are good about letting you send it there if it is under $50 and you pay no shipping. And if you are unhappy with it, you take it back there and return with no shipping charges for returns. I respect and appreciate that. That is our place for socks and underwear for sure.


AnnDenee June 9, 2012 at 9:52 am

I’m not pro or con going to the mall. I don’t go to just be “at the mall” the way some (a lot) of people do. And being a non-consumer type of person, the mall doesn’t have much to offer me. So I guess it’s just a zero to me.
Now, the fabric or yarn store, that’s a completely different story!! 😀


Sarah June 9, 2012 at 10:03 am

I hate shopping period. Whenever anyone gives me a gift card I regift it to someone else. Kills two birds: I don’t have to bring home stuff I don’t need AND I save money on buying gifts! Stingy or clever? You decide.


Katy June 9, 2012 at 10:04 am

Really, whenever? What if it were for a movie theater, restaurant or a grocery store?



Sarah June 9, 2012 at 2:05 pm

Sadly, I’ve never received such useful gift cards. They’re usually from department stores.


Laura's Last Ditch--Adventures in Thrift Land June 10, 2012 at 5:30 pm

I have neither use nor desire for new stuff except for the occasional home repair item that we didn’t anticipate and are desperate for. When I’m given a gift card, I save it for the next shower or wedding and regift, or sell at a discount to a friend or family member. I’m not saying no one should ever buy anything new (so I don’t blame you, Katy), but I can’t think of anything I’d want. A gift card’s highest and best use, for me, is as a regift–no doubt about it. I know if ever I were to buy something new, I’d find a better quality one at Goodwill the next day. I did use a gift certificate my parents gave us for the local ethnic grocery store. One like that is as good as money.


Lynn D. June 9, 2012 at 10:03 am

I’ve been meaning to go to Penney’s to support their current enlightened ad campaign too. Here in Salem, the Penney’s is downtown, so I don’t even have to go to the mall, but I still hate to shop. I do know that JCP has a very good underwear selection and I believe that is one of the items that you do buy new!


Katy June 9, 2012 at 10:05 am

Darn tootin’ I do!



Jennifer B. June 9, 2012 at 10:13 am

I used to go to the mall in the wintertime when my son was younger to take advantage of the indoor play area that A) wasn’t affiliated with a fast food establishment, and B) was free ( I brought our own snacks). Other than that, I can’t stand malls.


Barb June 9, 2012 at 10:20 am

I dont love malls. That said, where I live, the department anchor stores all have their own outside entrances. Which means that while I park in the mall parking lot, I can enter jc penny or seas without breathing reall mall air lol.

and where I live, we have outdoor shopping centers with deparment stores interspersed with local stores,


Tricia Lord June 9, 2012 at 10:20 am

I share your dislike with going to the mall. It’s a matter of self control for me and avoiding traffic & large crowds packed in like sardines. If there is a large purchase our family NEEDS then I usually do a little research online before making a painful trip to the mall.


Krystal June 9, 2012 at 10:37 am

From being in retail management to having panic attacks at Southcenter, I’ve done a 180 in the mall department. Few reasons.
1) Since simplifying our lives and our closet, I realize how many things I don’t need. Cha-ching! World Cup vacation fund savings right there!
2) I get a little pissed. Not parking, not for being crowded, but it makes me really pissed that we have gone to such a debt-riddled disposable culture in America, that we consider shopping for things we don’t need, than are generally poorly made and destined for a land-fill, an activity. I say we venture to the mall a couple times a year, half of the time for a movie, or after a frustrating trip to the second-hand stores looking for jeans for my husband (he’s a 30-34, and I’m only slightly jealous). How many people there are buying things they cannot afford? Credit cards? I hope they don’t feel it is their patriotic duty to be shopping.
3) I can think of about 5000 things I’d rather do than go to the mall.

I have a difficult time finding bras, which most ladies envy, but it ain’t fun. I went into Nordstrom for a proper bra fitting a while back, and it has paid off, immensely. Luckily, I was well taken care of last time I was in, and this time, since they offer free shipping, I was able to order the same bra in a different color online and avoid the mall. I generally don’t like to shop too much online because of the shipping and packaging waste, but no Seattle area stores had my size, and it was worth it for me to get the known (cheaper) bra online.

Thrifting the other day, my husband and I commented that malls and department stores do a great job of pumping in fragrance to cancel out the chemical smell of the plastic bags all the clothes just came out of (I used to work in stock management, it’s true). That’s one reason I think a lot of people don’t like thrifting, it smells “different.” I consider it a bit more real.


Katy June 9, 2012 at 10:46 am

I too splurge on a Nordstrom bra fitting. Then I buy a single bra and wear the crap out of it.



Laura's Last Ditch--Adventures in Thrift Land June 10, 2012 at 5:34 pm

Amen to that. Thankfully I can find bras that fit, so I can avoid the mall entirely. BUT–my friend was trying to lose weight and wanted me to go mall walking with her a few times a week, so I bit the bullet and went. Not once did we enter a store (unless you count the post office that’s in the mall). And she lost 75 pounds, so it was a success. Now she has a Y membership, so I no longer go.


Erin June 9, 2012 at 11:24 am

I don’t mind shopping but I hate the mall. Part of it is the sensory overload and part of it is the fact that I’m sure about 75% of the people there cannot really afford the purchases they are making.

I do like a good “outdoor” mall. Then you can pick and choose which stores to frequent and easily avoid the rest. They are the going thing here in the midwest.

I agree about the thrift store smell. The smell is part of what’s “keeping it real.” 🙂


EcoCatLady June 9, 2012 at 12:12 pm

I feel your pain. I HATE shopping… pretty much all shopping. I’m in a similar situation, I’ve got a member dividend from REI – and I really need new bike shorts… and since you don’t generally wear underwear with bike shorts, it’s the kind of thing you really don’t want to buy used. I loathe the idea of having to set foot inside the store, but I also don’t really want to buy that sort of thing sight unseen.

Hmmmm… But REI is located right on the bike path, and they do have great bike parking, so maybe if I made it a bike trip that would make it a tad bit more bearable… we’ll see. I can’t let my dividend go to waste, can I?


Jess June 9, 2012 at 1:18 pm

You know your dividend doesn’t just go to waste, right? If you haven’t used it by July, you can request a check from REI and spend it (or save it) whereever you want. I heart REI, but definitely don’t consider it a mall!


Jennifer G. June 9, 2012 at 12:15 pm

I’m mall-neutral in a philosophical sense, but I try to avoid them.

Being inside a mall is just too much temptation…I don’t want new things until I go to the mall and see the new things!


Madeline June 9, 2012 at 12:18 pm

I had to go to the mall for a special walking shoe due to a recent foot injury. I JUST got done ‘downsizing” my closet,dishes, in fact, my whole life, since we just moved to a smaller house.IN THE MALL temptation lurked in every corner. All those luscious displays of tropical bathing suits, sun dresses, the window display at CHICOS and Fresh Produce.I start daydreaming of vacations and how much FUN I’d be having if I were dressed in THAT OUTFIT.. carrying that oh-so-cooridated tote bag.

ADVERTISING!!!!!!! MAD MEN!!!!!Who want me to part with my hard earned cash. I practically RAN to my car, went home and began working in my craft room,making cards with supplies I already have, with music I already own, in comfy old clothes I can splatter paint on, and had a great afternoon..for FREE.



lisa June 9, 2012 at 12:34 pm

I loathe malls and only go if there is something I know I want and it’s a surgical strike. In and out. You could narrow your options down to a few things you know you want and just bite the bullet.

Does JCPenney carry harmonicas?


Judy June 9, 2012 at 12:40 pm

I don’t like shopping much at all anymore and am in a similar situation as you, Katy. I have a JCP gift card and would like a new
comforter or bedspread for our bed. But I have to really be in the
mood and that hasn’t happened. Good luck with your hunt.


Bauunny June 9, 2012 at 12:52 pm

I’m not a fan of mall shopping either. My advice is bite the bullet and shop on a week day right when they first open and the “get out of Dodge” as soon as you are done. It is so quiet and civilized during that time period. I can say one tho ing good about our indoor mall. They open the doors at 8:00 a.m. somewhat people an walk for exercise in climate controlled conditions. That is great in the winter or when it is raining or hot and humid – we get all of the above in Michigan.


Theresa Maile June 9, 2012 at 1:30 pm

When I shop at large venues I notice that everyone appears to be in a consumer trance, slowly led to spend their hard earned money.


Darci June 9, 2012 at 1:31 pm

Katy, we’re practically neighbors and although I’m not a mall fan, either, I’d happily go to Clackamas Town Center with you to pick out a new bedcover. I’ll even DRIVE. 🙂 Let me know! Shopping with “free money” is fun!


Alyssa June 9, 2012 at 2:11 pm

I only like malls how Kevin Smith portrays them.

I’ve been meaning to go to JC Penney as well to support their campaign. Wish I had a gift card to do so! Your aunt and uncle are awesome 🙂


Thomas June 9, 2012 at 2:21 pm

Only got to the mall for xmas See’s kiosk, which is equally dismal given their selection.


A Frugal Spinster June 9, 2012 at 4:39 pm

I feel as if I am being attacked every time I have to fgo into a mall. the lights, colors, displays, all scream BUY! BUY!Buy! to which i reply Bye-Bye as soomn as I can.


Katy June 9, 2012 at 7:10 pm

Great wording, I love it!



jennifer June 9, 2012 at 4:58 pm

I rarely go to the mall. When I do go, at first I think, “oh, this is going to be fun!”. But within a short time I’m thinking, “oh, get me the hell outta here!!!”


Kristin @ KlingtoCash June 9, 2012 at 5:07 pm

I HATE going to the mall. I try to avoid it at all cost. Luckily, I very rarely have to go into one. We are lucky in CT that we have lots of strip malls with stores I need so I don’t have to go to a traditional mall.


AnnW June 9, 2012 at 5:08 pm

I hate Mall shopping. They are noisy, the lights are funny, they are crowded with people bumping into you. For someone with ADD it is painful, especially the Apple Store. What I really hate is that every store has a different song blasting from it as you walk by. I try to buy most things from local stores on Main Street, including underwear. The rest I buy on line, after I know what my size is from that company. Lands’ End is the best for sheets, but a bedding company owner told me that Costco is just as picky in their specifications to the mills. I am trying to lose weight, so that I can fit into new clothes, then I will only have what I can fit into two suitcases. Ann


Laura June 9, 2012 at 5:53 pm

I also detest mall shopping, although with three teen girls we do make an annual trip for back-to school. But, that is usually it. However, I was just at the Clackamas JCP store last week as we had to find appropriate shorts for our daughter to wear in China this summer – we could find nothing at all our regular non-mall shopping haunts. Anyway, JCP at Clackamas is located at the end and you don’t even need to enter the mall! Amen! We parked near the store, walked in and bought some shorts and walked back out to the car without ever entering the mall itself.


namastemama June 9, 2012 at 7:06 pm

I thought I was the only one! I hate the lighting, the feeling of being lost and having to hunt for my vehicle. I tell people I’m allergic to the mall. Of course, back in the late 80s, early 90s it was the place to see and be seen.


Kim W June 9, 2012 at 7:09 pm

Well as my teenage daughters can attest to I would rather poke myelf in the eye with a hot dagger than go to the mall. A 100.00 gift card for new bedding though may lure me into the pit of hell known as “The mall”.


Katy June 9, 2012 at 7:17 pm

What about a cold dagger? 😉



Kim W June 10, 2012 at 5:24 am

It just seems like a hot dagger would hurt more….


Yvette June 9, 2012 at 8:26 pm

The Spanish word for bad is malo. Is it coincidence this word is almost the same as mall? I think NOT.
The key is a laser like focus (think strike force). Get in, get it, get out, go home, consume chocolate.


Naomi June 9, 2012 at 9:59 pm

I can’t even remember the last time I even went shopping for something that wasn’t food or thrift shop. Voluntarily I mean. I was lucky enough to get a $100 gift card to a homeware shop from my mother in law about 5 years ago. We treated ourselves to new bedding, which I would never have bought without the voucher, and are the nicest quality I have ever had. I’ve actually just sewn new seams on one of the duvet covers which had just started coming apart, now it’s as good as new again, hopefully for another five years!


Anne Weber-Falk June 10, 2012 at 4:46 am

All it too was having worked at a mall to make me never want to return. The holidays are the worst time. Christmas and Mother’s Day. UGH!


Barb @ 1 Sentence Diary June 10, 2012 at 7:21 am

I know my opinion going against the grain for this group, but here goes:

I’m not a fan of the mall, but I have found that I just do not have the patience for thrift store shopping. Looking through mountains of junk to find possibly one item of use — I agree in principle but honestly, can’t make myself spend my limited free time doing that.

For example, my 12-year-old daughter needs a “party dress” to wear to several occasions this summer. The idea of scouring thrift stores in the hope of finding something that fits her and is reasonably modest and that she likes — well, just thinking about all that time spent shopping just about convinces me to go back to bed. I’d rather go the mall, spend one hour trying on dresses, and get back to my real life.

PS: I definitely would have gone to JCPenny if there was one in my area. I’m keeping them in mind for future purposes if I need to purchase something I can mail order. 🙂


TR June 10, 2012 at 12:35 pm

I agree, Barb. Sometimes I don’t have the luxury of time to patiently seek out some necessary item. There is a very small thrift store in my rural town, but the nearest bigger thrifts shops are about 60 miles from me (and those still aren’t very big). I can be smart about a necessary purchase by finding coupon codes for percentages off and/or free shipping, and therefore spend LESS ordering it online than I would on gas money driving 60 miles to try to search out what I need in a thrift store. I usually use, but also other blogs and forums.


Holly June 10, 2012 at 4:38 pm

Wow the thrift stores in your town must be really unorganized. Ours are nice and neat and sorted well, so you aren’t digging through anything. At least not more than I would at the Macy’s discount rack.


Karen June 11, 2012 at 12:35 pm

I’m so with you Barb. I’ve even gotten to the point of buying a bunch of stuff online and then returning what we doesn’t fit my daughter. The mall last resort. Our thrift stores must be highly unorganized too. Too hard.

Oh and Katy, this doesn’t help with the feel factor, but you can almost undoubtedly get free shipping.


Trisha June 10, 2012 at 8:33 am

Malls are depressing, but since this is something that you don’t do every day (or every year… decade… whatevs), wait for your friend and then try to enjoy the experience. The mall can be an adventure. It’s practically a safari. Plus you’ll have a buddy. It always helps to have a buddy.

Looking forward to the pics. I’m going to keep my fingers crossed for you (that you have fun, find just the right thing, and survive).


Sarah June 10, 2012 at 8:52 am


I adore your frugal genius and read your blog often. Although my family lives in a completely different geographic area we share many of the same values and frugal life “hacks”. Your idea of balance (pot roast versus pricey meals out, cultural vacations versus buying a lot of “stuff”) also appeals to our family.

I am commenting on this post to encourage you NOT to bend your compact guidelines to shop at JCP. JCP is not a person and their new “enlightened” campaign is the most crass consumerism dreamed up by a marketing department. Just because they slick up their ads in an attempt to appeal to a younger (yes that is you and I) demographic they shouldn’t be “rewarded” with money.

When JCP pays a living wage or allows workers to work enough hours to survive (wal mart always get bashed for this but other retailers are just as culpable) or purchases items not made by 12 year olds for pennies a day – THEN my family will flock to spend money. When JCP isn’t located as an island in a sea of parking spaces as part of monstrosities known as “malls” – THEN reward them with your money. I am on my soapbox because it is scary to see so many friends and family (not just your blog post) be manipulated by an advertising campaign. All of the sudden JCP is a “fashionable” place to shop – the very essence of consumerism.

I suggest the following as alternate options:
1) Sell the gift card and use the almost $100 to buy some bedding “new to you”. $100 goes a lot farther on pre owned items than packaged new.
2) Barter the gift card with a local seamstress for his/her sewing skills. A few solid colored blankets from the local thrift store in pretty colors and fabric of your choosing combined with a few hours of sewing machine magic will get you custom made blankets. Blankets that are not soaked in flame retardant chemicals, packaged, shipped from across the ocean, etc. You will be able to design your modern pattern and support a local business.

I have a lovely linen chest with several warm and beautiful blankets. All custom sewn for the beds in our tiny home and all made from blankets that were destined for the landfill because they had a stain or a small rip. We simply used sewing creativity to cut and create matching patterns and even had one “blanket” made out of beautiful 100% wool cable knit sweaters (all in shades of light blue) from sweaters collected over a few months from thrifting.

Don’t give in to consumerism just because a company decided to pretend they are enlightened.


Angela June 10, 2012 at 12:12 pm

I LOVE SHOPPING!!! TJ Maxx, Goodwill, Burlington Coat Factory, Kirkland’s, Target and the mall…I love them all. You asked! I love shopping for shoes, bags, clothes, home goods and antiques. The only kind of shopping I detest is groceries.


Angela June 10, 2012 at 12:15 pm

Forgot to add one thing….I am boycotting JCP. Sooo not loving them!


Katy June 11, 2012 at 7:19 am

That’s okay. We’re allowed to disagree on this point.



Valerie Heck Esmont June 10, 2012 at 1:16 pm

I am not a mall shopper at all. On occasion if I have a good friend we might shop together. But by myself is no fun. I tend to save my money for things my husband and I enjoy doing. Rather than spend it all at the mall.


Holly June 10, 2012 at 4:35 pm

I’m not against malls, but I do try to avoid them. I don’t need to avoid them to prevent me from overbuying. Over the years I’ve become capable of going shopping actually FOR things and not just buy a million other things because they were on sale or I liked them. But I just don’t like crowds. So I go during the week if I go at all. The hours when most people are at work and the teens are at school it’s much quieter. I’d also like to support JCP if only to thumb my nose at the people that say boycott them because of their ad campaign. They do have great sheets, and I’m not sure about you, but sheets are on my list of “things to buy new” (along with shoes, underwear, socks, etc.) I just don’t want to think about things people did on them, how un-frequently they washed them, etc. Yuck.


Dusti June 10, 2012 at 5:07 pm

I haven’t read all the comments so stop me if you’ve already heard this one. There is a clothing closet for Portland Public School students in need. They are always taking donations of new and used clothing. They try to give kids new underwear when they can but if they’re not able, they give them clean used underwear. School children. In the U.S. Within a few miles of Nike headquarters. Now, my kids have shared underwear but they know each other…
Anyway, just a thought


Rebecca June 10, 2012 at 7:17 pm

Oh, this is such a great idea! I’ll have to see if there is a similar non-profit in my city.

I, too, try not to buy much and when I do go for thrift shop/fair trade/USA made, etc. However, I will be making a JCP purchase just to “vote with my dollars” and off-set any bigoted boycotters.

I have read other posts raving about their towels (an item I don’t buy used).


Linda from Mass June 11, 2012 at 3:11 am

I HATE shopping at the mall!!! My kids love it! I have one girl who loves consignment and thrift stores and one who hates them. Both of them love the mall. At least my oldest can drive and can bring her younger sister to the mall so I do not have to go that often.

I really think spending time at the malls are a waste of a day!


Beth B June 11, 2012 at 11:08 am

The last time I went to the Clackamas Mall JCP’s, I bought two sweaters on clearance (with a gift card) but the young man that rang me up forgot to take the security tags off and I had to make another trip back there to have them removed. Not easy for someone who has an infant and lives 20 minutes away, but they did give me an additional $20 gift card for my inconvenience!


Karen June 11, 2012 at 12:36 pm

I just remembered that there is an online gift card swap. It’s a whole site, but I don’t remember what it was.


Bonnie June 11, 2012 at 2:41 pm

Hate the mall. Hate it, hate it, hate it. I do go into Penney’s once in a rare while (for underwear, usually!) but since Penney’s is an anchor store, I can go there without entering The Mall proper.

Thanks for calling attention to this ad, though. As I am a major non-consumer of advertising, I doubt I ever would have known, and now I can drop Penney’s a note of appreciation.

I totally get the need to touch. I love my high thread-count cotton sheets from JCP, but I used to swear by natural fibers, but microfiber is making a convert of me.


Lili@creativesavv June 12, 2012 at 6:07 am

I really don’t care for the mall. I always come out with a headache. The lighting is terrible, the noises, being bombarded in the walkway by sales people. It all gives me a headache.
I shop by tiers. The first tier is sites like ebay, craigslist, freecycle, then on to second-hand stores. Next if I haven’t found what I need, I move on to discount retailers like Marshall’s. Not there? Then Target or Kohls. And only if I can not find what I’m looking for in those places will I step into a mall. The mall near us is really lacking in selection. The one store where I actually find most of what I want is Penneys. So now when I go to the mall, I skip Nordies and Macy’s and go right to Penneys.


J. June 18, 2012 at 10:09 am

Have you tried the trick where you sew twill ties onto your duvet and comforter to keep the corners aligned? Martha Stewart has a quickie tutorial:


Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: