Tuesday, August 17, 2010

National Thrift Shop Day

Today I am wearing a lovely green top that I purchased at the Goodwill in Beaverton, OR. I can tell you without deceit that I chose this top this morning purely for its aesthetic value but in a bit of serendipity, today is National Thrift Shop Day! Really, the odds of my choosing to wear a thrift-store find on National Thrift Store day are pretty respectable as over a third of my wardrobe was once at home in such an establishment. Oh, I see, you're a skeptic or too high-brow to pilfer the castoffs of another? Too bad for you because their loss and, my friend, your loss is my gain.
I love shopping in thrift stores. Sure it is a often like hunting for pirate's gold in a junk-yard, sure the staff may not be exactly diligent in reshelving items, and sure you may feel the need to whip out the hand sanitizer/porta-shower when you walk out the door but, with some patience and a positive attitude, you can find your buried treasure. I recommend going in the morning and, if possible, on a weekday to make the experience more palatable. So what if the item has higher mileage and won't last more than 6 months? At a 90% discount you can afford to replace your wardrobe twice a year and, quite honestly, I fail to see the down-side there!
After a while, you can even find the pleasure in the helter-skelter shelving and the jam-packed clothes racks. It's always a  special delight to find a cute little vest wedged between a boxy silk blouse with shoulder-pads and a dingy limp t-shirt from the Woodland Park Zoo and I promise you that a cute pair of BCBG heels are twice as cute when they are $5.99!
Aside from finding the perfect item in a surprising place, the other joy of thrifting is finding the imperfect item with possibilities. Once you get into it, you begin looking at normal objects through the filter of spray paint and reupholstering. what about repurposing that rickety wicker chair as a shelf or a object d'art in your flower bed? Wouldn't that huge shirt be adorable if you took off the buttons and made it into a wrap-dress? In the spirit of disclosure, I dream small in this area. I'm not particularly adept with my hands so many of my "potentials" are often recycled back through the thrift-store system but, again, at 90% off I'm okay with that.
Fair warning, once you start thrift-shopping, you are going to find it difficult to pay full price for anything again! I can't tell you how many times I've picked up an item in Macy's or Pier 1 Imports and thought, to myself, "Man, I could get this for a tenth of the price at Goodwill."
On a more serious note, it is more and more difficult to be environmentally ignorant and not recognize the need to reign in our wasteful habits. It is part of a concept we learned in elementary school: Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle. The exciting thing is that, culturally, we are slowly overcoming our phobia of not keeping up with the Joneses. In fact, the concept of the thrift store represents the redemption of consumerism. We are coming in to a time when more people are recognizing the sickening amount of excess and waste in our culture. The fact that I can buy a castoff bit of clothing that is in perfectly good shape says quite a bit about our skewed standard of living especially when you see pictures of children in third world nations in clothing that is disintigrating around their skinny shoulders.
So there you go, several solid economical and social reasons to thrift if you aren't already. Sadly, in my hometown the pickings are a bit slim, but if you live in or near a more metropolitan area, you have no excuse! Pop in to a Buffalo Exchange or Value Village. One last thing to remember is that most thrift stores are also non-profit and benefit local and national charities. Insanely discounted prices + charitable giving = guilt free shopping!
Visit the Thrift Shopper to find a thrift store in your area and celebrate National Thrift-Shop day!

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