(content previously published on old Filigreen blog in 2013)
Thriftstores . . . aaahhh, the seductive lure of saving money on necessities, finding abundant fodder for my creative machine, discovering a lost treasure amongst the castoff cake pans and plaster plaques, and vintage clothing to make my inner 80's teen very, very happy. But there is a dark side, too . . . I make myself watch a couple of episodes of "Hoarders" every week so that I remember to keep myself in check. The thriftstore can be a goldmine in savings for people on a budget or for a high school drama department that is rich in talent but poor in money. At a sewing day yesterday for my oldest daughter's upcoming musical, some of the other ladies and I were sharing our attraction to the fabrics, colors, textures, the POSSIBILITIES!! . . . to be found in the clothing racks at the thriftstore. We are opportunists walking a sheer cliff, discovering, snatching up, and showing off our unique and fabulous finds, but we have to use both foresight AND restraint, because you can only fit so much of this stuff into your closet or costume room.
From the time I got my driver's license, I could roam around our four-state corner looking for great thriftstores. I still visit my first and favorite thrift - the Friendship House in Miami, Oklahoma, when I go home for a visit. Great memories of shopping thrifts with sisters and friends - once a friend (Hi to Judy D**a!) and I went to a small town in Kansas in 1982, where an old decrepit department store building was being emptied. We found heels, dresses, sweaters, and jewelry from the 50's, and then we went out to lunch and had Monte Cristo sandwiches (the way they are SUPPOSED to be made, deep-fried and sprinkled with powdered sugar).
When my first daughter was born, I wanted everything new, pristine, and clean. No used clothing for my children, please! It only took a short while to understand that 100% cotton stains, not everything can be bleached, and that $24 onesie looks like a hand-me-down after one wearing and an encounter with baby carrots. As the holidays and seasons went by, the realization sunk in that the $50 holiday dress and faux fur baby coat, worn for one Christmas party in 1998, might not even FIT the next baby at the right season, and thrifting began to look very smart. Over the years, I've bought clothes, boots and shoes, toys, decor, furniture, and costumes at various resale sites - whether consignment, antique malls, garage sales, or straight-forward thrift stores. A favorite photo of my husband and first daughter at age two shows her wearing red baby cowboy boots I bought at a thrift store on my lunch break at work. I loved those boots and so did she; when she outgrew them, I donated them to charity and kissed them good-bye.
One of the great treasures found at thrifts is the handknitted or crocheted afghan. I'm thinking they were handmade as gifts, then people took such good care of them that they were never used, and they have ended up in new condition on a hanger in a thrift store. Naturally, you have to inspect everything carefully and be sure items can somehow be cleaned before using. In the case of afghans, they are almost always made from acrylic yarn and machine-washable. I recently ran across a Hudson's Bay wool blanket for $5, but it had several moth-eaten spots. For someone who was willing to dry clean it, and then cut it up and use the good parts creatively, it would have been a steal, but it wasn't worth it to me that day.
I am fortunate to live in a large metro area where there are several thrift stores - and they all have their version of a sale, whether it's Wacky Wednesday, brown bag day, or buy-it-by-the-pound day. I do try to go on these days, so if I buy something and have second thoughts later, I haven't invested too much money. Lately I am fascinated with ladies' brooches, something our mothers, grand-, and great-grandmothers would have worn. I may not ever wear them, but they don't take up much room in my jewelry box, and I get a lot of pleasure from looking at them. Some day my daughters may raid my costume jewelry looking for just the right accessory and find them there . . . waiting to be treasured again.
I am Kelly - a wife, mother, cook, gardener, sewist, and much more. Creativity is the gift that I have been blessed with, and it has been a river of blessings to me. A creative outlet is good for you, body and soul. This blog is about helping you find ways to fit more creativity into your life, to enrich your own life and that of others.