Here’s something you may or may not know about me. I buy about 90% of my clothes and my kids’ clothes at thrift stores. There are many reasons why my thrift-love is a deep deep part of my personality, here are just a few.
1. I’m cheap. And by that I mean I have a very difficult time spending large amounts of money. I get nervous, panicky and literally sick to my stomach when I feel like I’m spending too much. I was raised in a very frugal household and some of my siblings have told me they get similar anxiety attacks when faced with large financial decisions. And by large, I mean anything more than $15.
2. I suffer regularly from buyer’s remorse. Oh the stories my husband could tell you…. (Here's one about a quilt I bought, unbought then bought again, and here's one about the million-dollar chair that still haunts me). I rarely feel buyer’s remorse coming home from the thrift store. It’s hard to feel bad when you just bought several new outfits without crossing the dreaded $15 threshold.
3. To tell the truth, I get a serious, primal thrill out of the hunt. I love finding great buys and doing little self-congratulatory dances in the aisles when I snag cute, high quality clothes for a fraction of what I’d spend if I went to the mall. Here’s what I bought today.
Let me just clarify up front that never in a million years would I waltz into Baby Gap and buy a crazy-quilt skirt with a tag on it that says Dry Clean Only for my almost-2-year-old daughter (for heaven’s sake!). Nor would I bounce into Gymbouree to buy an embroidered WHITE blouse that may or may not see two full wearings before meeting its sticky grapey juicy end. But hey, if I can find both of them for $4 total, I’m a happy woman. I only feel bad that they didn’t have the skirt in my size because it’s that darling.
3. If you have rowdy boys and/or a husband who likes to go camping and/or a mother-in-law who feeds your babies black licorice without first tying around their necks one of those lead vests they use at the dentist’s office, you need to be able to look at your kids’ torn, hopelessly dirty or stained clothes and say “Oh well. Easy come easy go.”
4. My environmental conscience has been overactive lately (and his name is Ethan). I feel guilty about driving my car, about printing my syllabi on virgin paper, about remembering about my recycled grocery bags only when I’m already in the checkout line and I feel really, really guilty about the woolly mammoth parade of carbon footprints left on the earth by my family of six. But I feel okay about giving a second life to a perfectly good pair of jeans that someone else felt okay about giving away. I embrace the slogan they use at the Saver’s thrift store: “Once is not enough.” It reminds me of that obnoxious handbag display I encountered at Nordstrom’s recently—“What if one was not enough?” —except that the first slogan is about conservation and the other is all about corporate greed and the American lust to acquire more and more in an attempt to amass happiness through material things, so pretty much they have nothing in common except the word enough. And doesn’t a lot hinge on exactly how we define that word?