I was raised on thrift stores, long before it was ever cool to shop at them. It wasn’t always as fruitful back then as it is today; in fact, I suspect it rarely was. I’d have to ask my parents, as they did most of the thrift shopping, of course. I don’t think there was the selection 40 years ago that there is today. Virtually everything I and my daughter wear today comes from a thrift store, with a few logical exceptions (ahem).
I’m writing this in exercise wear which I did buy retail because in my “plentiful” size, it’s still not so easy to find used. I can only speculate why that is. But that’s a subject for another day.
But my beloved wool sweater, the only thing that keeps me warm these days, is a thrift store blessing. I bought it not to wear, but to give to my sister Carrie for a felted wool quilt she plans to make. And plans. And plans… But once I put it on, that was it; Carrie, find your own wool. This one’s a keeper. I probably paid about $3 for it. Maybe. I’ve looked online, even on eBay, for others similar to it, and I could never bring myself to pay the retail prices. My parents brainwashed – uh, taught me well.
One of my favorite childhood memories is of Christmas shopping at the big downtown Seattle Goodwill. I’m not going to claim that I walked to school uphill both ways in the snow, but I am going to claim that Christmas doesn’t have to be a retail nightmare. Or, rather, a financial nightmare. I loved shopping at Goodwill as a child for Christmas gifts, and I still do.
I began shopping for Olivia’s gifts back in July, and while not all of them were used, many were. And she doesn’t care. The tradition continues! There are some “tween” books that she loves, and at about $14 each new, I’d need an inhaler to revive myself from the sticker shock. But I found them online used (modern-day electronic thrift shopping, you know). With shipping: About $4 each. The American Girl Doll I bought her was new, but the clothes I made for it – well, I made them. And I used fabrics I’d bought at – yes, a thrift store. About 30 cents per outfit.
For Christmas I got my sister and her family an ice cream maker just like mine (which they had been coveting, I know). Retail: about $80-$90. eBay, used one time only (so they say, and it certainly looks like it), with shipping: About $50. Still a chunk of change, but I guess my family’s worth it.
I have this addiction to thrift stores. They call my name. In my line of work, I do a fair amount of traveling, and sometimes I have time to kill before a job. So I have my favorite stores plugged into my GPS, and when I find myself with spare time, I’ll run in, even if it’s only a few minutes that I have free.
Friday I had some time after a job, so I decided to check out a nearby Salvation Army. I came out with, among other things, several circular knitting needles (I’ve been knitting wool gloves to match my beloved sweater) and an HP toner cartridge for my printer.
Now, it’s always a crap shoot when it comes to certain items. I mean, the knitting needles are clearly usable; no need to plug them in or download them or anything. Fortunately, the copy of “Where in the World Is Carmen SanDiego” software that was 50 cents works perfectly, and Olivia and I are happily learning geography as we chase villians around the country.
But the ink cartridge was a gamble. I had no idea if it was used, broken, dried out, whatever. The $9 price tag was a little higher than I usually like to pay for the unknown. But mine had been screaming for weeks at me “TONER LOW, TONER LOW!!!!” Okay, it didn’t scream it – it didn’t even speak it quietly (I don’t know if printer technology has advanced that far or not, quite frankly), but it did calmly display it (once, and without the caps or the exclamation marks), so I took a chance.
I am happy to report that as of this morning, my $9 brand-new, never used original HP cartridge is happily printing beautiful pages for me – via the HP LaserJet 4 printer that I got a few years ago at, yes, a Goodwill – for a whopping $8.
Life is good when you’re cheap and it doesn’t take much to excite you 🙂