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Shopping at Thrift Stores Helps the Economy
Overcome the Stigma of Shopping at Thrift Stores
You don’t have to be an archeologist to unearth some amazing finds at the thrift stores and garage sales. Furniture, clothes, appliances, wall hangings, books and toys; the thrift stores have it all. So why don’t we shop there more often? Some people think being caught at a thrift store or garage sale means you are too poor to shop at the mall. Since I have done both, I think that is a fallacy. Some people think that only old and dirty things are found at thrift stores. Of course, that is so wrong. Sure there are some things that are stained and unusable in my home but those finds aren’t as often as you would think. As a matter of fact, most often I can find some real treasures at a thrift store.
50s and 60s
I was raised in the 50’s and 60’s. I was one of 4 children my Mom had to shop for and we shopped in Thrift Stores. Back then the idea of hand-me-downs and second-hand clothes meant you were poor. People usually didn’t say it to your face but they thought it. My Mom didn’t mind. She was thrifty to a fault. She sewed our clothes or bought second-hand or accepted free hand-me-downs from friends and family. I have to say I absolutely loved the handmade, one-of-a-kind dresses, shirts and skirts my Mom sewed for me but hated the hand-me-downs. The reason back then was because I had so-called friends, who would announce I was wearing something her big sisters cast off. That’s just rude. Why point it out unless you have no manners and want to hurt feelings?
Unfortunately for my kids, I learned to shop frugally and did the same things to my children. I sewed for them and occasionally shopped at the thrift stores. I got some of the same complaints from my daughters that I lodged with my mom. They didn’t even like the homemade clothes because it WASN’T like their friend’s clothes. They wanted to be clones... hmmm. Fortunately I was able to find some brand name things at the thrift stores that appeased my daughtersmore than sewing originals for them did.
The thrift stores often have new name brand clothes with the tags still on them for a fraction of the prices in the swankier stores. At times like these when people are having to tighten their purse strings more than ever, thrift stores just make sense.
Do you feel self-conscious in a thrift store?
Thrift Store Cost
Full length Spandex skirt Black $15.98
Full lenght Spandex skirt with tag $2.00
Short Sleeve T-shirt Women's $14.95
Short Sleeve T-shirt women's $1.50
Black Blazer with gold trim $36.98
Black Blazer with gold trim $5.00
Points to Consider
- You are recycling by buying at thrift stores and secondhand stores. Things that would have gone into a landfill are being reused and given new life by your purchasing them.
- You are usually helping a charity by buying from thrift stores. Most are run by recognized charities that help people and provide jobs. I like to shop at the local Rescue Mission Thrift store, which helps the homeless and people who have lost their way due to drugs and alcohol abuse. Find the local charity that means something to you and support them by shopping there.
- When complemented on your clothes, you don’t have to tell people where you found it unless you want to. Just say that it was a great find and leave it at that. The treasure trove can be your secret.
- Don’t limit yourself to clothes only. There are often appliances, books, craft projects, yarn, knitting, sewing patterns, jewelry, toys, etc.
As an artist, I can often find great frames with matte and glass for just a few dollars. If you have even had to matte and frame original work, you know it can cost hundreds of dollars new. Thrift stores are the artist’s life saves.
Here are a few things to be careful of:
- don’t buy used underwear.
- clean the clothes if they are washable. Put them in a plastic bag and place in the freezer for a few days if you are concerned about lice. Typically, thrift stores don’t allow anything unclean on the shelves but some people are a little phobic.
- Some great costumes can be found at the thrift stores. Create your own Halloween costumes by mixing and matching pieces. A little creativity and imagination can go a long way at the thrift store.
Thrift Stores are great places to find pieces of mismatched fabric. If you have any sewing skills and a machine of your own, this is the place to find cheap fabric for small projects or quilting purposes. Just be sure to wash the fabric before using it.
Refurbish an old piece into something new and original. If you are at all comfortable with a sewing machine, you can create some nice clothes using older pieces and just hem or cut and sew new elements onto them. I started with an awful looking dress made of some nice fabric. I cut off the sleeves and create a door draft stopper from them. The rest I cut down to make a full length skirt. I’m very happy with it and it cost me only a dollar, plus a little time and imagination.
Thrift Store Haul
You can often find wedding dresses or prom dresses at the thrift store. They have usually only been worn once and are made of the nicest fabric. Usually a tweak or hem will change them into just the perfect new dress for a costume or a new prom dress. It is worth the look considering the cost of satin and other high-end fabrics today.
If you are aware of some expensive name brands, you can buy pieces of china sets and even utensils from a thrift store and sell them for a profit on eBay or Amazon. Also many used books can sell for good prices on Amazon giving you a profit from the thrift store prices. For this you have to keep your eyes open and know which brands and books sell and which will not.