Sunday, March 8, 2009

Fond Memories of Thrift

Earlier this week, I received the following comment from the January 17th post, “Children want spending power too!”

"Twenty years ago, when I was seven, my parents started thrift store shopping. They were looking for the obscure. My two younger siblings and I were each given a quarter every Saturday to spend. We ran to the outdoor area known as the As Is Yard. It was a horrific mess! We loved it! I could pile my arms high with pieces of Barbie's Dream House and castaway dolls. The man at the front would write a ticket for the price for all the items we collected. Eventually, he caught on that we had a quarter each to spend. Funny how our tickets always added up to just that amount.

As with age, my allowance grew and I learned to save for the wonderful pre-priced paper back books found inside the store. Over three quarters of my toys were handmade or came from the As-Is Yard at Goodwill."

~ Kat Shumar of Indianapolis, IN

I realize that some adults do not have fond memories of thrifting as children. But I also know there are many who do.

For those of you who were teased about having to thrift, I am sorry. I ask you to understand it was not the thrift store that was the problem, it was the spoiled children. These spoiled children were ruthless. I was cruelly teased because I wore Keds sneakers. These kids called them Roach Killers. So, after my mother left for work I would take her Adidias sneakers and stuff the tips with socks so I could fit into them. I may have been wearing shoes two sizes too big and looked ridiculous in clown feet but the teasing stopped. It really did.

Many Americans might find it appalling that I take my children thrifting. But, like Kat, they love it. Besides I think most Americans are completely unaware of how wasteful they’ve become. I’m ready to catch that new Sundance sweater, new handmade mukluks, new Anthropologie sweater, new Banana Republic jacket, new purse, and new shoes you so casually toss over your shoulders and I’ll pay less than 5% of the price you paid. Poe, my 12-year-old daughter, has more cashmere in her closet than the average American. Little Pie Goligthly grew her own pair of Snake Eyes and now can spot cashmere off a 10 ft packed rack of sweaters. Most seven-year-old’s don’t even know what cashmere is.

The other day, Little Pie Golightly found a brand new wallet that the thrift store without a price tag. Little Pie took it to the cashier and asked for the price. The cashier smiled, “You really like that wallet?” Pie nodded. “Hmm. How about 50 cents?” Little Pie reached into her pocket, paid for her wallet and walked out of the store with new treasure.

Thank you Kat Shumar for sharing your story.


Songbirdtiff said...

Thank you for writing this. I think the idea here is that some of us don't thrift because we're poor (not that it should be something to be embarrassed about if we are!) but we do it to be good stewards of what we have. Yes, I could go out and buy a $75 pair of shoes, or I can buy them slightly used for $3 and invest the rest. We need to move from the poor mentality to the frugal mentality. Oops, I didn't realize I was getting on my soapbox. :)

Janene said...

What a wonderful post!
I just came back from Goodwill, with my two youngest daughters in tow.
My older daughters would not step foot into a Goodwill...probably because I never went when they were younger!
So, start them young, and show them the cast off treasures there are to find!
When they are older they will hopefully continue the weekly...or in my case daily ...trip to the treasure palace!

Jen - Balancing beauty and bedlam said...

I was interviewed on the news earlier this year about my Goodwill shopping. She caught me off guard with one question - "do you need to shop here?" I could honestly answer that at times in our early marriage - yes, but now...when I can completely afford to purchase anywhere else, I can't even think of shopping retail. I believe I actually said it makes me hyperventilate to see the retail prices. :)O Yea - real proud of that quote. My kids LOVE it! And just think week - BRAND NEW with the $300 tag still on it. Anne Klein woman's suit for $7 at GW. I'll take that any day.

Frugal Babe said...

When I was in 8th grade, we moved to a town where there was a second hand store called "the shed". The shed was a little trailer filled to the brim with all sorts of odds and ends. There was no organization at all, it was just a higgldy piggldy mess. My siblings and I adored it. We would go treasure hunting there every week, and could usually find some good stuff for a quarter or so.
It wasn't until I was in college that I started to be proud of my thrifting ways. I introduced some of my friends to it, and although none of them converted completely, they're all up for a trip to the thrift store with me every now and then.
We took our son to the thrift store last week and let him play with a toy firetruck. He was having a blast until he pushed on the top and it started to whirr and wiggle, with flashing lights and wailing sirens. He was inconsolable for about three minutes! We'll have to go back soon - don't want him to be afraid of thrift stores :)

Cricket said...

My dad always used to drag us to Goodwill. Unfortunately, at the time neither me nor my three sisters loved it. But now, three out of four of us love to thrift. So those seeds were planted!

Tikimama said...

This is so funny - I *just* came back from stopping by two Goodwills in my town, purposely going before I picked up my daughters! Don't get me wrong - they love to go to "the shops" as we call them. I've just decided that whenever I've got the chance, I've gotta do my hunting sans kids, because they ALWAYS find at least a few things each that they can't live without. They are 5 and 2, and wouldn't know snobbery if it walked up and smacked them in the face, so they are easy to please! I just hope they continue to enjoy the thrill of a special find at a great price as they get older!

misty said...

We are headed to Savannah, Georgia tomorrow for a family getaway and the first thing I googled was where the Goodwill stores are! That's my new favorite thing to do on trips is visit the local thrift stores. I'll find things there that I won't find at my own stores. I can't wait to thrift Savannah style!

I've converted two of my three kiddos. My teenage daughter is not a clothes snob for the most part, but she didn't really care for the selection at the Goodwill when we went. I'm sure the day she stumbles on some namebrand dream piece at a rock bottom price she'll be in love too. My two boys love it though and regularly pick up complete sets of football cards for less than $10. They have quite a collection now.

ThriftKitty said...

"We" have all become obsessive consumers. New new new. More more more.

Thank you for this amazing post.

Can we extend the petition to Canada? -- we're in the exact same position!


Nikki said...

I grew up shopping at thrift stores because we had a big family and a small income. I remember being embarrassed about it. Then in high school shopping at second hand stores became all the rage. Everybody sported old cardigan sweaters and funky shirts they'd found at Goodwill for only 50 cents! I remember LOVING that phase but also being irritated at the fickleness of the fashion industry. Today I make no apologies for the amazing clothes my daughter and I wear even though 3/4 of them come pre-worn. I love knowing I'm getting a great deal and still wearing well-made, great-looking clothes.

Imee said...

Great article on being thrifty. To me there's nothing to be embarrassed about if you save a little here and there. Food stamps, coupons for clothes, freebies, it's not so bad! I use coupons in food stores and discount cards in makeup stores myself, even wayyy before the recession, and I'm totally fine with that! ;)

Finally Frugal said...

This is going to sound crazy (and maybe a little gross) but when I was a kid my dad would take my brother an me along on trips to the dump. While he was unloading whatever it was he wanted to get rid of, we would go through the things at the end of the pile, finding 'treasures' that we could take home with us.

I found almost-new dolls, books of blank accounting forms that I could use for playing 'bank' with my little friends, and books galore (we were all voracious readers).

I'm not sure I would recommend this now, but it does show how attitudes have changed since then (things that are 'used' seem to have such a stigma attached to them), and how much valuable 'stuff' is thrown away without a thought as to continuing utility.

I'm following The Compact this year, and am becoming reacquainted with the challenges and joys of finding wonderful items at 10% of their original cost. So far not purchasing 'new' has been easier than I anticipated, and I've already saved hundreds of dollars!

The Q said...

Thrift Store shopping is something I am behind 110%. As a child, my family was poverty-stricken. I mean, it's hard to convey how little we had. I spent my entire life shopping in thrift stores. As an adult, I now shop almost exclusively for myself there even though I have been blessed with prosperity. I almost wear my second hand clothing as a badge of honor--and I make it a point of telling people that my clothing is second-hand. (I like to see the reactions.)

When I go into a Goodwill and see a sea of perfectly good clothing with brand name labels being sold at less than 80% of the retail value, it only confirms what I already believe: Our system of capitalism and marketing-driven "style" is a bunch of horseshit. America has turned into a machine of consumption and the waste sickens me. I wear second-hand clothing not only because it's affordable; not just because I am used to shopping in these stores because of my upbringing; but as a form of activism.

Shopping Golightly said...

Hey The Q! I'm digging your attitude! You keep on keepin' on. We'll go far.

The Country Experience said...

I can remember as a kid being embarrassed in the early 80s to mid-80s to be seen shopping at KMart. Of course, that was before the WalMart explosion where I lived.

Thankfully I grew up and gained my own opinion.

Crafty Mommy Madness said...

Kuddos on this one too. We are what we teach our little ones. Please come by and visit my blog if you can. I've got all kinds of great steals and deals for all you mommies out there.

Anonymous said...

I know this is an older post, but I just had to comment that I also have fond memories of shopping at the "as-is yard" at Goodwill.

My dad was a thrift store connoisseur and would take us kids to stores all around our metropolitan area.

Nowadays, I can afford to shop at luxury stores (and sometimes do-- I have nothing against pretty new things.) But I try to be very selective about what I buy new. For impulse shopping, nothing beats the thrift shops.