Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Please Come Out of the Closet. Now!

It happened again. Only this time, I felt a bit testy about it.

About once every two weeks, someone will unexpectedly break my personal space to whisper in my ear, “I’m a closet thrifter.” Then they do something weird like wink at or nudge me, like we’re now blood kin in some secret society or coven. I’m polite. I nod and smile back. However, I really want to make a scene and yell, “Excuse me! But will you please scream that to the world? Let everyone know! Be damn proud of what you are!”

Okay closet thrifters, I know you’re sitting by the light of your monitor reading this while everyone else is asleep. It’s time to acquire a good load of Thrift Pride.

Let’s make this very plain. Ain’t no room for shame in the thrift store. Got it? Thrifting is a sign of wits and a broader sense of local and global understanding. The thrift store is a place of product and personal redemption. There are good, sweet vibes in those stores along with an eagerness of what awaits and a gratitude for what is found. And – get this – people are genuinely nice in thrift stores. They don’t look at you and chase you down for a commissioned sale.

Being a closet thrifter is like being the intellectually gifted child who dumbs down because being smart isn’t cool. Well, smart is cool, least it is in my worldview.

I had planned to post my holiday shopping statistics after the season. But for you closet thrifter, I offer a preview. Before Thanksgiving, I mailed out thirty holiday gifts to friends and family. I mailed early to send ground rate and book rate with on time delivery. ALL gifts were thrift and the average cost per gift was $4.50. Many were books, recent best sellers and beautiful vintage editions. I cannot reveal specifics because that will overtake surprise. But, one gift in particular is bound to bring a tear to a special person’s eye because it will reunite a book with an 84-year-old’s childhood. How many new retailers offer that kind of giving for under $3? These gifts were well thought out because I did my shopping through out the year. Retailers failed to corner me and make me feel desperate during the last month of the year.

Some people wrinkle their noses at the idea of used items. Isn’t everything is a bit used? I don’t see dressing room attendants spraying disinfectant on the tight fitting $375 dress a stranger tries on no matter how posh the dressing room. Come on ladies. We’ve all seen deodorant stains on dark shirts and dresses on the rack. We’re really chumped when the only one left in our size has another woman’s mark on it. Chances are we suck it up and buy the shirt full price. So why wince at items from a thrift store? We’re not talking about the threadbare clothes of the Dickens street urchins.

Friends, if you know a closet thrifter, help them. Coax them and guide them to Thrift Pride. Since when is out spending personal income, out of control credit card debt, and bankruptcy cool? What about buying items with enormous carbon footprints that get used once? Is that cool too?

I’d say, let’s print up a million t-shirts announcing Thrift Pride but that is counter to the point. So, instead of a t-shirt, verbalize your pride everyday.

Thrift Pride to the masses!


The Queen of Fifty Cents said...

Everyone who knows me probably wishes I were more of a closet thrifter, since I can't help bragging out the great stuff I find!

The Queen of Fifty Cents said...

Oops, that was supposed to be bragging about, not out!

Shopping Golightly said...

No. I'd say they're jealous of the bargains you find. It's always a real bummer to learn somebody paid $4.99 for a sweater you LOVE more than yours that cost $75. AND, that's there's no way for you to go out and get another sweater just like it. People who have thrifty friends generally become thrifty.

RP said...

Thrift Pride to the masses!!! some people say "oh gosh hoe could you wear something that belonged to another?" and I allways say that! millions of people have tried the clothes you also trie on in the stores! I thrifting is being green and also finding one of a king items! I love being a thrifter and showt it to the world!
oh I'll mention this in my blog because I think is such a good post! x

Shopping Golightly said...

Thank you for posting "Please Come Out of the Closet. Now!" to your blog. I am honored. You got girl - THRIFT PRIDE TO THE MASSES!

Frugal Babe said...

I so hear you. Everyone who knows me knows that I'm a thrifter, and I've converted a few people along the way, who just cannot believe the stuff I find. One friend commented on how awesome my Marmot vest is, and when I told her where I got it, she said "I didn't know they had stuff like that at thrift stores" She was picturing a dusty rummage sale I imagine (although I've had good luck at those over the years too...)
I was a closet thrifter as a child and a teenager. But by the time I got to college, I was proud of my shopping habits - especially when friends dragged me to the mall with them and I saw how much other people were paying for their clothes. Yikes!

Anonymous said...

I love visiting thrift stores and flea markets. I have found some wonderful items and paid so little. I can hardly bring myself to shop at department stores anymore or pay full price. I know I can find something even more wonderful at the thrift stores!

Anonymous said...

I am, and probably always will be, a closet thrifter.

Let me tell you a story about a thoughtless comment that formed my tendency to hide my thrifting habit:

My young adult cousin and a friend stopped over to visit my mother (who was not a thrifter, but was a sale addict). At the end of the visit, my mother offered the young ladies some craft supplies. The friend was reluctant to take them. "Oh, go ahead," said my cousin. "She gets them so cheap you aren't costing her anything."

WELL! If that's the run-of-the-mill attitude (and I think it is), I certainly don't want my thrifted treasures belittled because they're inexpensive. Especially if I give them to someone as a gift.

So, I'm a closet thrifter.

p.s. I do, on a selective basis, tell a few people about a few thrifted items. I'm working to educate them. However, some people will always consider thrifted purchases as inferior purchases.

Shopping Golightly said...

Thrift inferior? That's the American's silly and spoiled notion that "if it's not new, it's EWWW!" I cannot count how many times I've written that. That is a selfish, wasteful attitude. You know who taught us that? Retailers! The pursuit for new items was created by people who want to make money, no people who wish to forward common sense. Thrift is common sense.

Kim said...

I have a question! What if something you buy as a gift has a "it's mine" mark on it. I bought a cute baby red cardigan with hearts on it for a friend that is about to give birth. I thought it would be cute for Valentine's Day. It's a nice piece from Children's Place. However, it has someone's initials written in sharpie on the size tag. Should I cut it out, ignore it completely, or say something when I give the gift? Please help!

Anonymous said...

You're definitely right, Shopping Golightly. Profits have been the reason for brainwashing the public.

However, that 'if it's not new ...' attitude does exist -- and strongly.

I've tried fighting it in small ways:

Took 3 Girl Scouts to a thrift store to fulfill a 'use resources wisely' badge requirement. They went once, but they were underwhelmed.

I tried telling a good friend about a thrift success or two. However, she had a rather neglected childhood; and, as part of the struggle, most of her clothes came 2ndhand. Sadly, she was teased by other kids; and she learned to sew her own clothes. So, for her, 2ndhand comes with unpleasant connotations.


Anonymous said...

This find might force me out of the closet:

I'm plus-size. That sometimes makes it difficult to find great clothes. (2ndhand or retail).

I live in a very small town.

Thrifting, I found a PURPLE wool coat that fits like a dream. It's perfect for dressy occasions, even though it's PURPLE.

The next scenario is ALL IN MY IMAGINATION. But I wonder ...

I can just picture showing up at a local business wine and cheese tasting wearing that coat -- and having someone comment that she donated it.

All I can think of as a possible response is, (if it was a polite comment), "Yes, we both have good taste, don't we?"

If impolite, I could snap out, "I paid $5 for this coat; you paid $200. What does that say about YOUR intelligence level!?!"

OR, "I paid less for this coat than you paid for TAX on this coat! Who's the smart one here!"

I don't know that I'd be gutsy enough for either one.

But what would you say if confronted by the previous owner of a thrifted find? Especially if the comment is snarky?


Emma said...

I totally agree. My friends look down at thrift stores but they have accepted that I am a thrift junkie. I told my friend today that I was planning on finding some Christmas presents for friends at thrift stores and she said that's fine as long as you don't tell them! If they were excited about a gift before I told them would it be so much of a downer if I told them that it had been purchased at a thrift shop for under $5? It's things like that that bother me.