My family has always been the fan of the thrift store. My brother and his wife buy most of their clothing that way, and my niece--wow, this girl has the best luck of anyone I know. She has always had an eye for stuff and all through college dressed fantastic thanks to that. She has worked for some very high end clothing stores over the years, but still prefers to check out thrift stores for the best deals. She even found a Matisse limited edition print at a Salvation Army. Even as a kid she was good at it, I remember one time commenting on a cute sweater she had and she admitted that she found it rooting around at the dump! When she recently found herself unemployed, she made money by flipping items found at various places.
My mom wasn't big on buying clothing for herself or even for us as kids from thrift stores, but instead buying high end items to cut up to sew--buying an evening gown for $3 to cut up to make Barbie dresses makes a whole lot more sense than paying $25 a yard for the same material. She and my grandmother also loved glassware and were frequently finding valuable items. This apple didn't fall far from that tree ;)
My experience hadn't been all that good in the past. I found something here and there, most of my finds were household items. Lately though I have been very lucky and now have the most colorful wardrobe I've had in ages. Knowing that I was going to be leaving my job I hated the idea of spending a lot of money on clothing that might never get worn again, but really wanted some new stuff. It is now to the point that I really need to clean out my closet because I am rapidly running out of space. Luckily I have a good relationship with a consignment store near home, and since I am really picky about what I buy to begin with, don't think I will have any trouble flipping some of the items that I've bought that maybe didn't work out as well as I thought they would. And knowing that I didn't spend a lot of money to begin with makes it even better.
What amazes me is how much brand new or nearly new stuff that is available. I don't remember that always being the case either. I always wonder why--did someone die? More money than brains? Or is this a product of the over-consumption mind-set of the 90's/early 2000's? Just today I bought a shirt with tags still on it--and this happens more often than even I thought it would.
This week I took a trip to one of my favorite thrift stores--Red, White and Blue--in the Pittsburgh area. I found a nice set of 3 drinking glasses--I always laugh when I come across a set of three, it is obvious that someone must have broke one and heaven forbid they have a set that is missing one!!!!!! $1.95 later and I am the proud owner of three blueish green stemless wine glasses. I also bought a very pretty polo shirt which I gave to a friend, a nice red sweater and this:
I am a sucker for anything argyle so it naturally drew me in. As I looked at it closer I realized it still had a price tag on it--135 British Pounds (approx $200)--whoa!!!! Turns out this sweater was purchased at the 2010 British Open at St. Andrews golf course in Scotland! And it became mine, all mine for a whopping $9.95. Another one of those situations where I wonder why in the world someone would spend that much on a sweater, bring it all the way home from Scotland and then toss it in a donation bin??? Obviously someone with more money than me--but then again if they can afford to go to the British Open, I guess $200 is a drop in the bucket for them. SCORE!
Apparently there are still a lot of people who are squeamish about thrift store shopping--and that really is a shame. A couple of weeks ago there was an article on Yahoo about things to buy used, and while some of the article was kind of stupid, the comments section was even more ridiculous. One of the subjects in the article was blue jeans--"you could get a $200 pair of designer jeans for $50 if you bought used". First off, who in their right mind would even spend $50 on a pair of blue jeans--they are friggin' blue jeans for heavens sake! But the comments reflected what a germaphobic, "new" obsessed mindset so many people are in. For heavens sake, don't we all have access to a washing machine? The comments were of the "ewww, I might get cooties" viewpoint. Good grief Charlie Brown--or maybe I should say Lucy!
There are things I wouldn't buy this way--underwear is a good example. But for the most part, the majority of the things you find at a thrift store can be washed in some manner, or perhaps given a good coat of paint made to look like new. Having the ability to look beyond the box comes in handy for sure.
Now for my rant part of this post--why do people feel the need to leave garbage at thrift stores??? This drives me up the wall as I am sure it does the people who have to sort through all this stuff. I'd be curious to know on average how much in donations goes to the landfill in a week because while there are people who have no problem giving away perfectly good stuff, there are also a number who think of Goodwill, Salvation Army and other such places as the local dump. The picture that follows is a perfect example, I was absolutely disgusted when I saw this and I hope that the video cameras caught whoever left this crap behind. REALLY?!?!?! This is not a case of "one man's trash is another man's treasure"!