What’s Okay To Buy Off The Street?

Probably not furniture.

Image: elooody

When the weather is nice and it’s not snowing or raining, there’s a guy on the corner by my subway stop that unfolds a card table and sells brand-name makeup, still in the box, for a very good price. Last I checked, he had three iterations of the Urban Decay Naked palettes, a bunch of eyebrow pencils and at least 5 shades of Kylie Jenner’s lip kit, all for well under what I’d buy online. My desire for the Kylie lip kit is like my desire for everything else that’s frivolous in my life — not worthy of explanation but valid just the same. I can’t explain why I want the dumb things that I want, but I knowt hat I want them. I’m not going to spend the $28 on the Kylie lip kit online, but if a man presses one into my hand and tells me it costs $10, I’m very, very tempted.

“Your lips will fall off,” one of my sisters said. “Don’t buy makeup off the street.”

The fact that I wasn’t deterred by the fact that this makeup didn’t come from a store is worrisome, but really — where’s the line?

Walking the two blocks to my subway stop affords me with the opportunity to buy pretty much anything I want off the street. I could get a sequined dinner jacket or some overpriced costume jewelry from the guys by the Dunkin’ Donuts on the far corner or sunglasses from Esther, the 84-year old woman who sits on the corner closest to my house and sells them for $5 a pair. Occasionally there is a book guy or three in this two block radius as well. My favorite table sells the kind of books I really want to read but don’t want to buy for two for $5. Sometimes, someone is selling a vintage footstool or something or other — a card table, a side table, something nice and light enough to carry home — and I am often intrigued.

The fear of bedbugs is not ingrained as deeply as it should be; I visit the bedbug dresser once a week and am pleased to see that against all odds, it’s still at the store. When most people operate in this world with an appropriate amount of caution — not touching the subway poles and looking both ways when they cross the street and such — I prefer to blithely assume that the worst will not happen.

If I buy the lip kit from the dude on the street, the worst that’ll happen is that it will look bad. My lips will remain solidly on my face and I will have scammed Kylie Jenner by purchasing her product for way less than she sells it for. The books that the book guys sell are not wrapped in plastic, but that’s fine too. If I buy a hot dog from a person pushing a hot dog cart like I did outside the Metropolitan Museum of Art one day because I was extremely hungry, I will not worry myself with the particulars of the water said hot dog was floating in. I will eat the hot dog and drink the water and get on the train, unbothered.

Street food has its own risks, but what about street stuff? What’s okay to buy from someone selling it on the street? Should I go back and buy the makeup? Should I stop buying things in general and work through what I have first? Don’t answer the last question, I know the answer to that. Where do you stand with street purchases?

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