Tuesday, April 29, 2008

thrifter

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?

17 comments:

allysha said...

That is a cute skirt! I have vowed to be more thrifty, but have yet to find the time to do it. or really any shopping, except the occasional trip to the basic everything store- so we just all wear old clothes! :)

SuburbanCorrespondent said...

I hear you on the thrift clothes - I don't want to be screaming at my kids to not get dirty because I'm worried about how much I paid for their clothes...

Sea Star said...

My kids love their hand me downs and such. They almost relish the fact that their cousin or friend once wore that same shirt or shoes or whatever.

I love the outfit you found. Crazy quilt skirt! that is a fun find.

Meredith said...

Julie Q, you're speaking my love language!!!

Multiple Mom T said...

I saw that same obnoxious display and was just as horrified about it!

Yard Sales are great for clothes, too! My windbreaker was $1 and I've had it for going on three years. LOVE IT!

Annette Lyon said...

A person of my own heart! 95% of my clothing was either handed down from a friend or family member or bought at a thrift store. Most of my kids' clothes, too. I feel like I'm getting away with something really sneaky sometimes when people will oooh and aaah over my cute new heels . . . which I got for a whopping four bucks.

tjhirst said...

I was reading your #1 reason and said, Here is a girl with buyer's remorse. Then I read your #2. Oh, I can spot one cause I am one. Horribly sad thing to be. (Notice I did not say to have) Last week I bought pretty silver wrapping paper to wrap a wedding gift. Today when I unrolled it, it was cellophane. My only answer is that I no longer shop.

Pale Bear said...

I don't mind thrift stores at all for me and my kids. But I have to admit that I often have more luck at Wal-Mart for price, size, and variety. The stuff I find at thrift stores (Savers, Kid to Kid, DI) is often cheap only if it's stained. I'd feel bad about advancing the cause of the Big Boxes except what I find in the thrift stores often came from there too.

I love getting stuff from cousins for my kids. They love it too. And Julie, I've got a bunch of stuff from Emily on its way to Nora soon.

Your brother (my very wonderful husband) doesn't seem to have inherited the financial decision gene to the extent that you have. But bring up "the car situation" [for you outside the family, that means who is going to drive what vehicle where to pick up what person and/or things] and he is likely to play ostrich.

My Ice Cream Diary said...

You could have easily been writing this for me. Now, just imagine the thrill I had last week when at a yard sale I was able to buy baby clothes for 10 cents each. I came away with 30 almost new looking onsies, socks, pants, bibs, blankets, etc and only paid 3 bucks. LOVE it!

kyouell said...

One of the things that surprised me when we moved was the plethora of Goodwill stores. I've got a LiveStrong walk coming up and we all need to wear bright yellow shirts. Just yesterday I thought that I should go check out the Goodwill stores for that and here you are encouraging me. Thank you, Universe!

And I was really disappointed the first time I had to buy some baby clothes. For my daughter at 9 months old. She's my second child. I don't think I've bought a stitch of clothing for her brother. Yay, hand-me-downs!

The Lazy Organizer said...

I love the hunt! Too bad gas is so expensive these days because it has really disrupted my garage sale addiction. How great is a good deal when it cost you $30 to drive there to find it?

I just wanted you to know that I respond to the comments you leave on my blog but they all get sent back to me.

Edi said...

Heading out to a thrift store (or garage sale) is for me,like heading out on a treasure hunt or going metal detecting (my dad and uncle used to have one).

You might find something - you might not - but it's the thrill of the hunt as you say.

I LOVE the crazy quilt skirt! and I agree - if you buy something used that is nice - you don't have to get as worked up about it getting grass stains on it or it getting splashed with mud (happened last week - pink capri pants for my dd - new w/tag at the thrift store...dd wears them for less than 12 hrs - goes through a swamp at the park - mud splashes all over!)

mindyluwho said...

I can relate to the sick feeling in the stomach, but my $$$ threshold is just a wee bit higher. I'm a Target shopper. I go to DI now and again, but it's quite a drive from my house. You've inspired me. I'm going to have to look for a closer thrift store.

Karlene said...

I'm with you. Almost all of my clothes are hand-me-downs or thrift store. When I was a teen, my parents gave us $50 for Christmas. It became a contest to see which sibling could get the most and/or best for our money. It was so thrilling that it became a lifestyle for me.

customtrainsusa.com said...

About 8 years ago I used to get great wardrobes at thrift stores and now find them to be sadly picked over. How and where do you manage to make such great finds? I used to get shoes, tropical shirts that seemed to be "ahead of style" that made everybody say, "Where did you get that?" and when I piled it all up, it used to come to something like $13.80. Man that was the day

Jenna Consolo said...

I so agree! Thrift store shopping is a new-found love of mine. I actually just got back 15 minutes ago and scored some great deals. Living in L.A. is a plus too--people spend WAY too much on name-brand clothing and then get rid of it in still good shape to move on to something else, and I get to reap the rewards!

Ann Kroeker said...

Yes, yes, yes. We love thrift stores--specifically Goodwill.

Someone said something about losing gas money on the hunt, and it made me extra-grateful that there is a Goodwill just down the road from my house. I've ridden my bike down there in just a few minutes.

If you live near a thrift store and happen to try that someday, be sure to padlock your bike to a rack or a tree. I saw a shopper in a heated argument with a Goodwill employee who had accidentally sold the shopper's bike, which he had parked casually by the door, while he was in the store shopping!

I think they did rescue it somehow. But it served as a cautionary tale...