Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Recycling or why I love thrift stores

I have had a long and loyal relationship with thrift stores over the past, say, 44 years.

One of my early memories is being with my mom while she shopped at the "Nearly New" shop in Tacoma, WA. I had to be 4 or 5. I remember they had a box full of toys to keep the kids busy while mom did some shopping. This was way before consignment shops were hip. This was the late 60's and I still remember an absolutely smashing pink Easter dress she got me there one time. I can still see it in my mind with it's go-go style and curiously crazy cuffs.

In high school, about 1980, I decided that I liked that "vintage" look. Which meant anything older than 1960 and worn with black levis. And, of course, I had several different pairs of Converse high tops that I would color coordinate with all my vintage finds. Yep, all thrift store shopping. And, even before "Vintage Thrift Store" became the groovy scene.

There I was again riding the wave just a little before the rest of the pack.

Now? Thrift shops? All the time. For pretty much everything except bras, panties and socks. And, now it's not only economical but it's recycling. When else can you make a political statement while shopping?

Again, we are mighty lucky here on Vashon to have Granny's Attic, a long standing thrift store and the social heart of the island. It is a non-profit who donates all funds to the local health clinic to the impressive tune of over $300,000 per year. Mainly run by granny volunteers and grampa fix it guys, they also offer steady employment to a dozen or more people. Only open 3 days a week; Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday, you will eventually see just about everybody there.

I would have to imagine that every household has a "Granny's pile" of things grown out of, unused and/or unneeded. Each of us simply need to bring the bag to Granny's where it will be politely processed and priced and put out for sale. Usually when I drop off a bag, I leave with another bag of treasures too good to pass up.

Everyone in my family gets outfitted handsomely from Granny's. And, if the kids ruin a shirt in a paint class or totally destroy a pair of pants while playing, I don't feel like I need to holler when they only cost a couple of bucks. The same goes for kids furniture and toys. We try not to sweat the small stuff and Granny's helps. Just have to keep the "stuff" rotating through. One person's Granny pile is another person's Granny's treasure. A symbiotic balance.

My husband has been known, at times, to have amazing Granny's karma. What the heck? Well, sort of goose bump provoking stuff like the time we needed vacuum cleaner bags and he went up to Granny's and found a whole bag of the exact kind we needed for $1. Just freaky. He is always coming up with something.

I have spent most of my adult life living pretty frugally because I just never made lots of money. Frankly, after all this time, it is just second nature. I would expect as the the economic downturn continues it will open up this avenue for many, many others. And, with Freecycles popping up all over the world many others jump on the thrifty bandwagon.

So, whether you are an old hand like me or new to this particular treasure hunt: Welcome aboard, thifty thrifters! It's not just second hand anymore, it's recycling!

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