The Thrill of Thrifting

With every downtrodden time, there is a better told story.

Yes, the word ‘economy’ has been beaten black and blue.  I believe debt is not as theoretical as it used to be and trust of invisible numbers finally reflects it’s invisible nature.

But I know nothing of serious economics or Fox news, so enough of that.

All I know is that I’ve been thrifty since the day I was born, and suddenly- it’s OK.

My mother can turn anything into something.  In the 10th grade I made an ambitious teapot with a sculpted hand cradling the front part of the vessel, the fingers molding around the curve and accentuating the spout. It was nothing special, and was even less special when it blew apart in the kiln.  I brought it home in defeat. My mother used (and still uses) the mutilated hand and fingers to separate her mail.

She can make home-made playdough and wrap a gift with newspaper so well that you almost forget to be embarrassed. She can make a one dish meal from left over mashed potatoes and tuna, and can find 20 different ways to utilize 50lbs of powdered milk bought out of fear during the hurricane season.

As a young child, I didn’t fully respect the genius in which my mother operated.  I wanted to go to sea camp and space camp like the other kids, get a new dress whenever I saw one and eat out at a restaurant. But, the wanting of material things quickly led me to earning my own money and developing a strong work ethic. I didn’t work because of a noble cause- I worked because I wanted the freedom to OWN things.

TjMaxx was my first true love and where I first exercised that ownership.  I would even gladly bike the 2 miles there (1 mile of which was a steep ‘pedal standing up’ bridge) before I could drive. And when I eventually did turn 16, I dropped my first real job application off at TjMaxx the next day. For those who don’t know, TjMaxx (owned by the TJX corporation which also owns Marshalls, Winners, HomeGoods, TKMaxx, AJWright, and HomeSense) offers name brand goods at a greatly reduced price due to over buying and manufacturing elsewhere.  The amalgamation of goods can make it a difficult place to shop, but completely worth it if you have the patience.  Their clearance section can be a goldmine.

I then took it one step further.  Thrift stores.  There’s a stigma that is doing a round about.  No highschooler 5 years ago who feared social suicide would march proudly into their clique and proclaim, “This dress:  from the thrift store off 54th.”  Now, the elite of Hollywood strut the red carpet claiming, “This dress:  designer vintage from the ‘Sassy’ boutique.” Really, it’s the same venue.

Vintage.  The greatest, current marketing term (with huge profits) if you ask me.  Etsy.com and Ebay, along with numerous other private online vendors and physical small plants are reselling thriftstore goods under ‘vintage’ terms of pricing.  Forget that.  If you know your stuff, have an eye, and are willing to do some dirty work, then there is no need for the middle man.  Google your nearest Goodwill, church thriftstore, or monitor the weekend garage sales and you’ll soon discover the thrill of thrifting.

Church bazaars are the best.  All profits go to a good cause (also like goodwill and salvation army) and you can be a fashion connoisseur and antique dealer in one swoop. I even dare to consider my hunts a recreational past time.  I’m also pretty sure I  caught an advertisement on TV a month ago pursuing the green/environmental call with ‘Buy vintage- it’s 100% green.’

I found a Bergdorf Goodman silk dress from the 60s/70s (polo style;  ideal belted)  for 6$, 2 weeks ago.  A week before that, I found a set of Haviland plates, teacups, etc with gold trim for 1$ a piece.  A week before that, a Dana Buchman silk cardigan for 8$ (pretty pricey for a thrift store actually).  These are only recent finds with average prices.  If you want the long blazer look to rock with a skinny pencil skirt/ tucked in blouse- then go thrifting!  The 60-80s produced a lot of fabulously constructed blazers that can put a great twist on the modern work force attire. Just take out the shoulder pads.  I don’t care that the runway recently reclaimed the infamous shoulder pad- most women CANNOT wear that look.  Don’t fall for it.  Really-would you wear half of what you see on the runway. Notice the lack of a question mark.

The point of all this:  top name brands, the elite of the fashion world, the 1,000$ purse- they all took a hit this past year.  But I swear- TjMaxx’s have never been more crowded. Suddenly, vintage is hip and thrift stores are the venue. After you score your first find, you’ll feel the thrill race through you everytime you see a sign saying ‘garage sale this saturday’ or ‘church bazaar doors open at 9am.’  If you’re there by 8:55am, then you know the thrill of thrifting.

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