"Do people mind that you give used gifts?"
That's a frequent question. As I have written many times, it's hard to discern the origins of my gifts (unless it's clearly vintage) because I free new products from their horrid packaging. Look, this packaging is not designed to delight the recipient, the intention is to slide that product over home plate (the register scanner) to be added on to a score board (a well stacked credit card statement). [Sigh.]
Besides, my friends and family know that I give thrift. But, whenever I surprise someone they look at me with mouth agape. "Where!" they demand. Upon learning they usually follow up with, "I'm going there tomorrow!"
If you are new to thrift, please scroll down and on the left there is a series of posts on How to Thrift. Since thrift has recently been in the news, many reporters, with no thrift experience, have taken weak stabs at "How to thrift." I find 99% of these articles quite lacking. The thrift couture is an entirely separate game from conventional retail. With the exception of paying the cashier, the rules are completely different. Trying to mix them would be like serving goulash and sushi for dinner. Blech! Wonderful separately. But a disaster when mixed.
Mr. Golightly heard this intriguing piece, Second Hand Christmas in France, from Public Radio International's The World. I recommend you listen and be a little more enlightened about other cultures. So, not only do the French eat lovely buttery, creamy treats with fine wine while still managing a lovely figure; but their haute sense of style is due in part to second hand items. However, I learned from a spot on CBS Sunday Morning that the recent rise in the French obesity rate might just be linked, in part, to the rise in sales of Big Mac's in France. [Double sigh.] American influence is not always a plus, well maybe in dress size.
Unfortunately our country, probably by geological design, has a tendency for monoculture. Consumerism has done an amazing job of furthering and filtering a craving for excessive homogeny through nearly every aspect of American culture from chain restaurants to clothing to furniture to home designs. I believe this merely happened because it's cheaper to produce 20,000,000 pairs of the same blue jean design than it is to produce 20,000,000 originals. Let me be plain, I think that kind of sucks and wonder if most Americans really understand what it means to be an original or how we desperately need originals. The idea of being an "original" has even been mass marketed! Come again?
Esteemed author Michael Pollan points out the perils of farming monoculture species in his best seller, The Botany of Desire. This amazing book was made into a PBS documentary. I recommend the both it and the documentary. The documentary is easily viewed online.
I believe Pollan's argument in favor of promoting plant diversity holds true to human culture. Much that plays out in nature plays out in human culture. The parallels are astounding. We need pioneers. We need diversity. We need originals. Else-wise our culture will weaken and problems will be widely homogeneous, like mass obesity, children with brittle bones, mass home foreclosures, mass credit card debt, mass unemployment, dot com bubbles, real estate bubbles, and overdependent reliance on one particular source of energy...I truly believe a healthy culture has diversity on many levels.
If you're a parent, don't follow trends. My best advice to do is to yank the cable TV and dare your child to develop their personal inner interests. Our children really are truly individuals until commercials take hold of them. Let them decide what they enjoy and they will grow up to be originals, pioneers.
If you are a new visitor to this blog, be certain to scroll back up and pull up the Thrift Catalog slide show featuring over 240 items. This could give you an idea of what could be waiting for you. Also check to the Table of Blog Contents to read on how to incorporate thrift into your life in Thrift Store Conventions.