Do you like to shop?
I do. Despite my fantasy of living as a minimalist, I am also an American. And Americans love their stuff. I try to fight it. I try to cut back at Christmas time and last year I bought Giovanna only one birthday present (she got many many more at her princess party). I try to create new outfits with old clothes and clean out my closet as regularly as possible. I always know when I’ve bought something I don’t need because I leave the store feeling guilt rather than levity, heavy rather than triumphant.
Rarely do I feel guilt after a successful trip to the thrift shop. Perhaps it’s because the stuff is used, I don’t feel (so much) as if I’m participating in the endless cycle of consumerism. I’m giving discarded goods a home.
I started thrifting before it was cool, because I didn’t have a choice. As a small girl my frugal mother bought most (all?) of our clothing at thrift shops. Of course, I didn’t know the difference between used and new stuff. I was simply happy to get new clothes and dolls and books. The thrift shop represented a treasure hunt, the outcome never predictable.
Eventually, I became weary of the stench, the melange of a thousand different homes, bodies and spirits. As a teenager, I refused to wear thrifted clothes. I was officially over it. I favored department stores and Abercrombie & Fitch and Claire’s accessories. I earned my own money by babysitting and lifeguarding, and I spent it at the mall with the help of my best friend, my partner in crime.
In my early twenties I slowly returned to thrifting. Picky but not so patient, I left the store without buying a thing more often than not. By my mid-twenties I discovered the warehouse-sized Goodwill on Seattle’s Dearborn Street, something of a free for all, and then the Value Village on Capitol Hill where all of the toys with small parts are taped and bagged and organized. Now, in my late twenties, the thrift store has regained its power and my thrifting skills seem to be improving. Or maybe it’s all luck.
Thrifting is about the hunt as much as the stuff. Sometimes it’s easy, sometimes it’s hard, sometimes it’s not going to happen. I still leave with empty hands. And I never regret having fastidious standards.
Here are some recent finds from an impromptu trip to the Goodwill. These clothes found me as much as I found them.
Sweater — Forever 21 $12.97 // T-shirt — Pins and Needles $14.97
Sweater — American Eagle $12.97
Toddler witch dress — Rubie’s Costumes $5.99
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