Yep, I’m talking about thrift shops. I shopped at thrift, vintage, and secondhand stores all through college. Partly because I was poor and partly because my boyfriend at the time was into thrift shops. He knew all the best ones, so I got spoiled.
After I got settled into a career, I stopped shopping at secondhand stores and had an affair with Nordstrom. That came to a halt after the birth of kid #1 and my layoff. Having a baby actually got me back into thrift store shopping, and not just for reasons of frugality. Babies grow fast, and generally aren’t hard on their clothes as long as you keep stain remover handy in copious amounts. So buying baby clothes secondhand was cheap and fun. Ten bucks could get a huge supply of onesies and other infant ensembles.
Toward the late ’90’s baby and kid resale shops seemed to peter out, and my kids were getting to the age where they were harder to fit and shop for. I got their clothes retail. When we moved to the suburbs in 2001, there were no thrift shops in easy driving distance either.
A couple of years ago, Goodwill opened a used bookstore in my area and I’ve haunted the place ever since. Kudos to whomever came up with that stroke of genius. The place is always packed with customers, mostly for their incredible selection of kid and young adult books. (It’s also where Beanie Babies go to die; there are hundreds of them in a barrel by the picture books.)
Kid #3’s favorite holiday is Halloween and she plans her costume for months. Since she’s on Spring break this week, she’s been plotting. She’s decided to be a character from a favorite video game with whom I’m not even remotely familiar. I think the girl’s name is Naoto. She’s a detective in the Persona 4 game. #3 listed all the items she’ll need to create this costume (pants, apparently plaid; a peacoat or blazer; a dress shirt and tie; a blue wig) and my eyes almost rolled back into my head. Where the hell do you find plaid pants these days?
Ha! A thrift store!
I mapped out four thrift shops relatively close-by and we set out. We spent about three hours shopping and only made it to two of the stores on my list. But we scored! We got three very different blazers (including a beautiful Banana Republic in pristine condition that you better believe I tried to stuff myself into…to no avail) for $5.99 each; a Calvin Klein dress shirt in the precise shade of blue she was looking for ($3); a Talbots cardigan for me ($5); two more nice, if a bit random and unnecessary, shirts ($3 each); and a Calvin Klein tie (99 cents). No luck on the plaid pants, though. And I gave the handbag section a wide berth ‘cuz I don’t need one slip-up to become a purse bender.
I was pleasantly surprised by how well laid out the first thrift store (Deseret Industries) was, but even the Goodwill had some order imposed. And thank heavens I no longer have a minivan; I would’ve brought home some furniture that we really don’t need. But it was cool! And cheap!
I hope to make shopping at thrift stores a more regular feature now that I’ve got my kids onboard. They loved the merchandise, the treasure hunt atmosphere, and were totally blown away by the prices. Of course, we’ve still got to find those blasted plaid pants.
*For those unfamiliar with this reference: Wikipedia If you click the video link, put on headphones! It’s definitely NSFW…or kids.