Provincetown's Ruthies Boutique
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AIDS Support Group of CC

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Ruthies Benifit at Karoo Kafe
Provincetown Thrift Shop Scores
- Provincetown Banner
by Pru Sowers
Published October 1, 2010

Ruthie's Boutique, the non-profit thrift store on Bradford Street, held its annual award dinner at Karoo Kafe this week to thank volunteers and distribute proceeds from the thrift store profits to local charities.

Recipients this year were the AIDS Support Group of Cape Cod, with a check accepted by executive director Laura Thornton (middle left) and Helping Our Women, represented by HOW board member Betty Villari (far right), which both received $3,636, and the Provincetown Theater Company, which was awarded $1,818, accepted by PTC board member Brian O'Malley (middle right).

Ruthie's owner Colin Brown (far left) said the thrift store had distributed more than $25,000 to area organizations over the last five years.

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GenX Files: Six degrees of recycling
By Steve Desroches
Published February 8, 2008 in The Cape Codder and reprinted by permission.

Orleans -

I was at a fancy-schmancy cocktail party last summer and I was trying my best to mingle. "How long have you summered on the Cape?" asked a man who seemed to be intentionally speaking through his teeth in the tradition of Thurston Howell III on "Gilligan's Island."

I couldn't help but snort out a laugh. Ever since I "summered" on Martha's Vineyard about a decade ago I've had an immediate disdain for anyone who uses the word summer as a verb. I explained that I actually "wintered, springed and falled" in Provincetown, in addition to summering. An awkward silence followed, and I think it was more uncomfortable for him than for me because he spoke next.
"Did you get that shirt at Daniel Cleary's?" he asked, with a new interest.

The shirt, which probably cost almost $200, did indeed come from the Provincetown designer's boutique. However, I bought it at Ruthie's thrift shop on Bradford Street for about $4. And I told him so. Suddenly, the man walked away to get some more Brie as if his life depended on it. This party was lame. It's nice to have rich friends who invite you to parties, but the down side is having to hang out with their rich friends. Just then I saw a group of friends with incomes similar to mine. Translation: they were also broke. I scurried my way through the crowd of folks, mostly talking about real estate, and saw one of my friends wearing a vintage green and yellow striped shirt.

"Darling," I said through clenched teeth. "Did you get that shirt at Ruthie's?"
"Yes, it's part of their spring collection," he said, getting the joke right away.
"I know, it used to be mine," I said, quite seriously.

The recycling of goods on the Outer Cape makes this somewhat of a socialist paradise among the young and working class. One never needs to buy something new, as everything from clothes to furniture, household goods to cars gets passed on from hand to hand in not only an effort to live more "green" but also more economical.

The good laugh we all got at the party that day continued. A week later I learned that my new favorite pair of shorts used to belong to my friend's old roommate, a girl who was a size 10. (Yes, I was wearing a pair of women's shorts, and still do). Soon we all became obsessed with the "six degrees of recycling" game that apparently was being played out all over town. I noticed an old sweater of mine that shrunk in the dryer on a barista at the coffee shop down the street. A house guest recognized the couch in my apartment as previously belonging to his neighbor (we found it on the street corner nearby). And my roommate took his car to have its oil changed and the mechanic asked if it didn't once belong to a guy named Ron. It did, several owners ago, each of whom got it for free and then passed on the good car karma by handing it over to a friend in need.

Perhaps the biggest benefit to those in the "scavenger community" is to live in an area where so many wealthy people spend time, as it seems they get bored with their possessions and wardrobes. It has become quite fashionable to brag about scoring a designer piece of clothing for mere dollars, or even better, for free. The culture of recycling on the Outer Cape taps into both the environmental mindedness of the region as well as the long-standing tradition of Yankee frugality. But it's also become an important element of the local economy, particularly for those who struggle to make a living on Cape Cod. It's a way of helping your friends and neighbors out, albeit most of the time anonymously.

I recently moved to a new cottage and in the process parted with a lot of my possessions I no longer had space for or no longer used. Tucked deep in my closet was a vintage tan corduroy suit I bought years ago at a thrift shop in New York. I never once wore it. I tossed it into a bag and brought it to Ruthie's. Later that day one of my former roommates swung by my new place to meet me for lunch. On the way over to Far Land Provisions for a sandwich, he pointed to his back seat and said, "Look at this great suit I found! Can you believe someone would get rid of that?"
"I know," I said laughing. "What were they thinking?"

Steve Desroches is a reporter for The Cape Codder.
Gen-X Files looks at life on Cape Cod through the eyes of two journalists in their 30s, the Cape's fastest- shrinking demographic group.

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The New York Times - Metropolitan Diary
by Ron Alexander
October, 25 1989

It was the last weekend on Cape Cod for Carol Weston of Manhattan, who was helping her mother close their summer house for the winter. The two of them brought a good number of items – clothing, books, paintings and tools – to Ruthie's Boutique, ... . As the two women carried in their bursting boxes, Ruthie beamed. 'Excuse me,' she said to a few browsers. 'My fall line is coming in.' ...

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