Saturday, September 18, 2010

This is What Happens When You Need a Bag

One day, while walking from the parking garage to work, the strap on my handbag broke. At that time, in early 2007, I was carrying around various medical supplies along with my usual belongings and could not be without something for very long. Mind you, the stuff wasn't heavy, it was bulky.

Instead of pressing on to my store, I detoured to the Crabtree and Evelyn in our shopping plaza to see if there was a Vera Bradley bag that I liked that would not break the bank. It was a rare departure for me, as I usually gravitated towards simple, solid color bags. Stranger still, when we lived in Maryland, most of my neighbors carried them and I thought they looked like someone took Grandma's quilts and turned them into purses and wallets.

Well, on this particular day, my visit resulted in me finding a pattern I liked, in a color I liked and at a price I deemed acceptable for a handbag. I went home with a Betsy bag in Bermuda Blue.
From top to bottom: Betsy, Hipster and Coin Wallet in Bermuda Blue

I loved that the bag had a zipper top and many pockets inside for me to organize iPod, cell phone, medications, pens and assorted other items I tend to carry. The idea that if the bag got dirty, I could throw it in the wash also was a big selling point. For $40 bucks, I got something I felt was worth the price. The only down side was that the pattern I started with was recently discontinued, so I'd have to seek out things in other patterns.

Soon, I wanted more. As I'd been friendly with the C&A ladies for a while, I'd go in and look at the other styles and we'd chat about them. When I expressed the opinion that this bag wasn't the best for when I took the kids to amusement parks, the manager suggested a smaller bag. (A not pictured Amy bag that is currently hiding from me). It had a thin shoulder strap and I could still wear it while riding a coaster. Of the patterns that weren't pink, the Java Blue grabbed me. So, a month later, I got the Amy to carry the bare essentials when I could downsize.

Along the way, I found that the way to get retired patterns was through eBay. That's how I ended up with a Hipster in the Bermuda Blue and a Coin purse. The total for these was about 1/3 of the original prices for items that were new in the store. Now, you can see the love of using them a lot once I got them in the picture above.

The veteran Vera Bradley shopper will tell you that twice a year, new signature patterns come out and at the same time, a few are retired. Usually, it's four new and a few retired, but it varies. Soon after I got the first three bags, a new pattern came out that I really liked, Daisy Daisy.
Daisy Daisy Top Zip Tote and Zip ID case

I think Ed was surprised that while I really liked the pattern, I held off on buying anything more than the zip ID case. I soon got another one of those in the Java Blue, but my mindset was that I didn't need multiple bags of the same pattern. I'd rather find different bags that served similar functions. Somewhere in there, I picked up a Wristlet in the Java Blue to carry my cell phone, ID case and iPod for work.

Then, when I started back at school, the bookstore carried Vera Bradley items. It's become a tradition to treat myself to a new item with the start of each semester. I got the Villager bag in Java last fall. Soon after, I grabbed another coin wallet in the Hope Gardens pattern to hold Ed's mom's credit card and items for her in a way that kept her things separate and easy to find when we went shopping or I stopped to pick up medications or groceries for her.

By this time, I was on the mailing list and got the catalogs from Vera. A new pattern came out this past winter, Blue Rhapsody and while it was nice, it didn't appeal. Then Ed took me to the bookstore to get the spring textbooks and I realized that the bag has a purple hue that doesn't photograph as well as it looked in person. I only got a small tech case that day, but went onto eBay a month later and found a Vera bag in the pattern for a great price.

I bid and won and while looking, a friend mentioned the discussion boards for Vera Bradley on Facebook were a great place to find items. I posted that I was ISO (in search of) items in Daisy Daisy or Bermuda Blue. Within an hour, I had an email, asking if I wanted the Tall Zip tote that's pictured above for 20 bucks. Heck yeah, and that bag showed up in pristine condition.

This summer, one of the things I knew I needed to get was a rolling backback of some sort. The wonderful bag I was using for school, while extremely practical and versatile, was doing a number on my neck and shoulders. Ed even commented that I should look for a Vera bag that would meet my needs. Unfortunately, their rolling bag cannot be washed-one of the features I find important about these bags.

Then an email showed up for a laptop backpack. It looked great, but I held firm and resisted it. The tall zip I had could hold the new Mac nicely, and I'd be okay. A week later, another email from Vera and I was in trouble.

The Metropolitan bag.

It had a compartment for a laptop and a heavy duty strap. It wasn't quite as big as my backpack, but it was what I wanted. The search was on to find it in the Blue Rhapsody or Java Blue (Maybe even in a new pattern, Slate Blooms). Heck, Ed took the boys to all the Vera shops he knew of on my birthday to find it for me, but they found patterns he knew I wouldn't like. (That night, we ended up looking on the Vera site for him to get a feel of my likes and dislikes.)

We went to NY and I still hadn't found the bag. One of the days we were there, we visited the mall and even stopped in at two stores there that carry Vera, one had it in Slate Blooms and Java Blue. Neither was quite right, so I knew I'd be looking for Blue Rhapsody.

Back in Lakeland, a previously unvisited authorized VB location did have it and a bunch of the Vera home items that I'd never seen. I got my bag a few days before the semester started.
Blue Rhapsody Tech Case, Vera and Metropolitan Bags

In all of the collecting, there have only been a couple of instances of duplication. The ID cases and wallets. My reason is that they're small, and I have one that holds all my USF info and receipts from the bookstore, another that holds my insurance, credit cards and typical stuff, one for coins and receipts and the last coin one still has Ed's mom's stuff as a memento.
ID cases in Java Blue and Daisy Daisy, Coin Wallets in Bermuda Blue and Hope Garden


When I look at my collection, I have to laugh. To some, it looks like I've gone overboard, but to other friends who have Vera, I'm very restrained in my purchases! Meanwhile, I know that Meghan jumped in last week and four years from now, she'll be like me and have various bags in different patterns that meet different needs!

In helping Meghan to find different things, we both looked at eBay last week. I found a pattern I'd never seen before and the seller was asking ten bucks for a Villager bag that was in very good condition. I won it, and will now have a duplicate in a bigger bag. Oh, well.

Meanwhile, there are bags I'm still coveting in the Vera collection. Mostly the larger bags for travel. I'll get them eventually, when the need arises. In the meantime, I know a person who probably won't mind scoping out the Vera at the stores with me!

Ten minutes after I posted this, I found this had arrived:

I got a serious bargain on this one. It's not a Villager, but is about 3/4 the size of one with a velcro pocket on the front. If you're in the market for the Vera brand, but don't have the funds for new, check out eBay. There are definitely other bargains to be had.

1 People talked back:

songbird's crazy world said...

I've got a Vera tech case -- bought it at Barnes and Noble. Thinking of buying one of the bags but I'm not sure what I want.