My mom would tell you of the days when I would literally hide in the car, crouched down in the back seat so nobody would see me when she would stop at the K-Mart store in Salem, Oregon.
Right next door was a thrift shop that was even more humiliating to me to go to… I was 12…16…17… and was absolutely humiliated about the concept of ANYONE ever seeing me shopping at a discount. You see, I was raised with simple tastes, but at school… it was ALL about brand names. I already had a tough time fitting in, and…. well my Aspie brain saw things in black and white. The “cool” kids wore Esprit, Guess, Generra… and talked about shopping at “Nordies”… so my pre-teen and teen aged Aspie mind told me that if I wanted to be like those kids I admired so much… I needed to shop where they shopped.
Because I was a child of divorce, there was child support. My mother gave me the entire amount each month to pay for things like clothes, activities, special school supplies (things that I wanted – like the purple ruled notebook paper), and for my “allowance”. I got $100 a month, (starting I think around my early teens) and little did I know that my mom was teaching me something. Once I had my own money to spend… I would learn the HARD way that a $85 pair of Guess Jeans might not be worth it.
I would like to say that I learned quickly, but… alas no. I learned the hard way. It wasn’t until I was an adult (age 17 when I finished high school) and was responsible for taking care of myself that I truly learned… and I learned the hard way. It’s pretty amazing how when you have to pay for your OWN stuff, everything… and you have to EARN the money for those things that you change your tune a bit about HOW you spend that hard earned cash.
Sure… I started out my adult life trying to keep up with “The Joneses” (Great flick by the way… I sincerely suggest you watch it!)
(If they had this movie when I was a teen… I totally would have gotten the hint a lot earlier!…. just sayin’)
…BUT I soon discovered that a paycheck doesn’t go very far. There were lots of tough times. I even sold my plasma for food for a good amount of time. I lived on “commods” (Indian Food Stamps – Government Cheese…literally) for a good 2 years. I worked 2-3 jobs just to pay my bills and pay my college tuition at Chemeketa Community College…. and even though I absolutely HAD to shop thrift stores, I hated every minute.
But… after a while I learned a few things. I learned that there were amazing things that could be found in consignment shops and thrift stores, including those brands I so desperately thought I had to have. I learned to shop hard…hitting several thrift shops a day to try and find a pair of those coveted Guess Jeans or an Esprit sweatshirt… because I discovered people didn’t have to KNOW that you bought them at the thrift store… And.. a lesson my mom desperately DESPERATELY tried to teach me actually sunk in.
IF THEY SEE ME AT THE KMART OR THE THRIFT STORE…. THEY ARE AT THE KMART OR THE THRIFT STORE TOO! (holy smokes… palm-face) Yep. I was a bright kid wasn’t I?
(Thanks mom!- she is WAY awesome I must say)
Sooner or later I started to notice that there were other things that I could get second hand. I started to choose to garage sale, to hit the thrift shops, to frequent the consignment shops… and not just to look for those crazy labels. I also learned that a label isn’t just a label… Just because something has a brand name tattooed on the front of it, doesn’t mean it’s a good quality item. I started to learn that some labels are popular because they make VERY good quality products that last for a lifetime… and that if you pay attention, and choose the items that are designed with that in mind (instead of with the brand name tattooed all over the fabric, or the front of the Tshirt)… that is when you REALLY score.
In time I developed a pattern. Here is how I shop… and feel free to copy me, because you know that all the “cool” geeks are doing it! (just kidding) – I do this when I am just browsing for random things, even when I am looking for something specific – that I know can be found second hand.
- Check out what’s available at the local THRIFT stores… hit a few that you like. I try to stay with shops that benefit a social cause, like the Salvation Army (I always think of my childhood friend Ray..)
- Look in your local consignment shop, and… start with where you consign YOUR stuff. (Yes, I do consign my old clothes…just put in an entire wardrobe of plus sizes because I lost 100 lbs!)
- Check out EBay – or other online trading options – In my community we created several “groups” on Facebook where we trade stuff with each other. It’s a great resource!!
- Try Tuesday Morning, Marshalls, Ross, Home Goods, etc… – the discount stores where the “last season” items go to die before being donated to the thrift shop.
- Try the big-box stores- Target is my favorite… (I still cringe at K-Mart, but now it’s just because they don’t take care of the store… I don’t get how they stay in business personally)
- Hit the Mall – Sometimes I’ll start here… but usually for stuff I just know I can’t get elsewhere. Truth be told… I was a big time “Mall Rat” when I was a kid, and as a teen because I lived just a block away from the Lancaster Mall…. but as an adult, I rarely RARELY enter one, unless I need to for a specific purpose.
You see… I became thrifty… even now that I don’t HAVE to be thrifty…. I am. If you pay attention, you will notice that people who have some extra “cha ching” in the bank…. they shop thrift stores too. Why? BECAUSE IT SAVES YOU MONEY! - You don’t get to KEEP the money in the bank if you spend all of the money!
So… that’s my thought for thursday, and I want to thank my friend at “Thrift Diving” for sharing a great video on Facebook which inspired this post! Check her out… become her fan, because she puts some awesome stuff up on her blog!!!
Wanna know how to master the thrift market? THRIFT DIVING has the playbook right there, free…on their blog!
Check out her awesome post on dresses she got at Thrift Stores!
So… before we part, I want you to laugh with us… (parental warning – curse words in this video)