I recently conducted an end of summer clean out and gathered clothes that no longer fit my youngest daughter, a bicycle she outgrew, and a few of those hideous folding camping chairs that take up too much valuable packing space; especially when it’s better to find a log and settle it next to the campfire. Gone are the days when I had girlfriends to pass on Little Pie’s clothes. There was a set of twins that received volumes of Pie’s clothes until the twins outgrew Little Pie.
Off to the thrift store I go carting my bags of truly gently used clothing. Really nice stuff. I donate because, once again, in the words of my family’s matriarch, “Somone’s gotta do it!” [Psst! Those words really come in handy.] I figure if I take from the system, I should give back to maintain the system’s health.
Confession number one: I do have clothes, nice ones, that I have not worn in at least two years. My latest drop included some of these clothes. Maybe they were gifts. Maybe it’s because I turned 40 over a year ago and wonder if those clothes are still appropriate. Maybe I was a bit too hopeful when I saw it hanging on the rack. Or maybe I was shopping to fill the void that will never be filled. Yes, I’ve been guilty of that but am diligently working on stopping that behavior. Having a $5 Flinch Point really helps.
Confession number two: I do not shop where I drop. I have one store near my home and I drop goods there, but dare not go in.
Last year, my daughter’s school had a massive tag sale fundraiser. I ruthlessly excavated the entire house for items to raise funds for my daughter’s school. I gave up unfinished antique tables in the garage that I probably wouldn’t touch until 2020. Granted, they were gorgeous tables found in the alley but they were tremendous space hogs. I did not attend that fundraiser.
I have a hang up with seeing SOME of my stuff on the racks or shelves; a donation remorse of sorts. The same thing that initially attracted me to it is somehow reawakened. It hypnotizes me and, with swirls in place of pupils, I am tempted to buy it back. “Wow, maybe I do have time to finish that table that I have no room for in my home.” Or, "Hm, maybe I can tailor those pants even though I don't know how to sew." Crazy, no? Fortunately I've never encountered a situation where I see someone wearing one of my donated items. Oh, that would be a disaster. I'd probably tackle the poor woman screaming, "It was a mistake! Those little red Kenneth Cole clogs looked better on me! Give 'em up! Now!" I guess that means if you ever see me stalking you with swirls in my eyes, you better run. The shoes that I write of are pictured at the footer of this blog.
I try to donate seasonally. This works well because sometimes it takes me a season or two to accept that I no longer need a certain thing. This is especially the case with my daughters. I’d love to store everything they’ve ever played with but, I don’t have the space and what would I do with it? Yes, I have some toys set aside in hopes of grandchildren. But these are high quality items and are timeless, not some featured Hollywood toy of the season that would probably terrify future generations without the context that Shrek is a nice ogre. Add to that the rate Hollywood is pumping out children's movies, who can keep up?
So please, if you take from the thrift store system, be certain to donate. I’ve had this specific post in mind for months and was inspired to finally write it after reading a comment from Anna of the Harvey Street blog to the lengthy discussion from the July 31st post, What’s Inside. Anna wrote:
“This discussion reminded me of an important part of the "robust repurposing market" in the headline of this blog -the donating part of the thrift market. I try to make sure what I donate is stuff that is worth someone buying. I totally agree with the discussion about the marketplace being pumped full of junk that no one wants. I'm always disappointed to see cheap, crappy stuff at the thrift store.
So, instead of using up an entire Saturday just to try to make a few bucks off my stuff, I just toted it all to the thrift shop. Sure, I could have made a little pocket money but this discussion made me want to put my stuff directly into the thrift stream. It's not all name brand designer stuff but I hope someone is happy to find the nearly new (and freshly cleaned) Nordstrom's women's suit or the Venetian glass bottle stopper or the 2 table lamps with shades (and bulbs).”
Thank you Anna, for giving me that added nudge. And, thank you for keeping the system healthy.
As thrifters, the vast majority of us are best to follow the unwritten code to give back to the system. I believe this is a basic economic principal that the higher ups in the American economy have abused in efforts to make more money with cheap labor abroad. We bought from them, but they stopped returning the favor by donating jobs to the market. Now look where we stand. Practically penniless on piles of junk.
Someone out there is thinking, “Damn! She’s being hard on the American retail system.” The response? All together now, “Someone’s gotta do it!”
Do you shop where you drop?