One of my most enjoyable activities in the world is to shop at thrift stores. I realize that after that last sentence, some of you will not be able to continue reading, as your sensibilities have been offended beyond recognition. I’m not sorry and the rest of this blog is for the sensible, strong and curious. Not unlike my love affair with Brooklyn (last week’s blog), this one with thrift shopping began many years ago while in college.
My parents separated while we were very young and as a single parent, my mom did not always have much disposable income to share with my brother and me after the bills were paid. I do remember the Chinese food take-out meals which were a welcome treat every payday weekend. Outside of that, going clothes shopping was not a monthly event, but precisely on an as needed basis. Note:There is absolutely no latent resentment towards my mother as a result of that experience.
I learned some valuable lessons about earning your keep and finding ways to keep up.
From the age of 13 years old, I have worked a summer job, every summer. During my senior year in high school, I discovered the additional earning power of working while attending school. It was a balancing act at times between helping out at home and making a little spending money on the side. As far as feeling the pressure to “dress to impress,” that was lost on me as I was and still am to some degree, “a repressed hippie” (that’s what my twenty year old, repressed hipster son calls me anyways.) However, I did want to be able to purchase those one off unique pieces of clothing and accessories which completed my own personal look. Making my own money allowed me to be able to do that, but unique pieces can cost a lot of regular, run-of-the-mill money.
Shopping at second hand stores became my salvation (pardon the pun but I had to do it.) It was empowering to be able to walk into a store and know that if you found something you liked, there was a great possibility you could afford to buy it. Unlike a regular department store which has racks of clean inventory, organized by size, a thrift store usually does not. Shopping at a goodwill requires very little pride, lots of focus, creativity and flexibility. Armed with those qualities and a sense of humor, you might actually enjoy the experience in your local thrift store.
Twenty-five years later, I have been able to pass down to my children a tradition which definitely supports the global mission to save our earth by recycling, Personally, I feel that shopping at thrift stores is a way to beat the system of manipulation, commercialism and of course, capitalism.Whenever we travel anywhere, looking through the inventory at a local thrift store has become one of the highlights of our trip. Everyone enjoys the experience immensely, and when one of us has discovered hidden treasure, there is a great celebration.