Sunday, January 3, 2010

Thrift Store Resolution Revolution II

My grandfather asked me if I had a New Year’s resolution.

I always find it odd to plan resolutions in the dead of winter, when most life is asleep or temporarily closed for business.

It seems more symbolic to make resolutions in the spring when the wilderness is awakening, babies of the wild are being born, some seeing the outside world for the first time. It only makes sense to ride this great wave of awakening and catch the energy to activate healthy resolutions as your biological clock awakens too. To be honest, it’s hard to make a resolution to exercise when the days are short, cold and there’s snow and ice on the park paths. I think we’d all prefer to settle down for a long winter’s nap instead. But spring? Who doesn’t want to be outside then?

However, if you desire to retool your spending habits so that your holiday financial hangover doesn’t interfere with paying heating bill for the first quarter of the new year, now is time be resolute to take up thrift shopping.

Charitable thrift stores can move inventory with hurricane force winds and inventory for 2009 tax write offs is flying through stores as I write. And then there are the procrastinators, those who will take the 2010 write off after the New Year because they didn’t quite make the deadline. Best to thrift when the inventory is high and the price is low! Us Golightlys? We take items to the thrift store on an as-needed basis, usually with seasonal changes.

Among the current items thrift store shoppers will find are items given as gifts but not wanted, which may be for the simple case they already have that item. Me? I’m hoping for a Kitchen Aid Mixer - red. If I've bought Tiffany's, Hermes, Limoges, Wedgwood, appearal from Barneys and Nordstrom (sometimes new), I think I have a shot at Kitchen Aide. My little mixer works okay, but there are times when it chugs through cookie dough and I swear it’s screaming, “Not sure I can! Not sure I can!” I’m usually screaming back, “Someone’s gotta! Someone’s gotta you damn little mixer that better!” So I talk to my kitchen appliances. Big deal. Who doesn’t?

I hear the term re-gifting bandied about less and less these days. I always hated the notion. Why would someone buy a present that would be so blah, or otherwise completely in the opposite taste of the recipient that it would be laughable or -even worse- painful? Why would the news world consistently run stories about the possibilities of re-gifting? Why not run a story on how not to buy a bogus gift - and not be the butt of jokes for years to come? I wrote a post nearly a year ago, “Wow! This is so… You! What’s happened to the art of giving?” It’s a rollicking read and hit home with many readers.

Notice that the news now focuses less about re-gifting and more about hoarders. Are those unwanted new gifts shoved somewhere under piles of stuff in the homes of hoarders? Probably. And this is weird. January is typically the month for storage item sales. Are hoarders hoarding storage items that are supposed to make them more organized? Probably. We'll have to wait come February to see what's making the rounds in thrift stores.

Thrift opens new shopping venues, saves you money, supports charity and helps you be a bit kinder by lowering your carbon footprint when shopping. Here’s a brief how-to:
  1. Plan ahead. Shop for gifts year round. We all know that we’ll buy holiday gifts. Is there a law that says we must buy them between Black Friday and Christmas Eve? When you plan ahead you have a greater chance that: a.) you might buy the person something they actually need or like because you are not in a time crunch and have the flexibility to think more about them; b.) you will save money, lots of it.

  2. If you’re new to thrift, read the section on How to thrift, in the left column. Conventional retail and thrift are in different ballparks. Learn how to develop a thrift mindset and detailed tips on how to find items you need while in the store in this section. This just might help you earn yourself a pair of Snake Eyes.

  3. If you don’t have any big storage bins, pick some up (perhaps at the thrift store) to hold items in the gift queue. Don’t just toss them about the house thinking you’ll remember where you put them. You won't remember and -warning- this is how hoarders typically start. I have bins for: a.) children's birthday gifts, b.) grown-up birthday gifts (if I write “adult” that sounds like something I picked up at some dirty NC-17 store off I-70 in the Midwest - along with cheap fireworks); c.) holiday gifts; and d.) small gifts for the hostess or thank-yous. When you find one of these gifts at the thrift store, put it in the appropriate bin for safekeeping.

  4. When I’m in good form, I have a small inventory of boxes or decorative tea tins to put these gifts in so that when this gift’s time for giving is on hand, all I need to do is put a ribbon in it (usually bought from thrift) and a personal note. This takes a lot of stress out of giving and actually makes it fun. My basement is a small store of lovely goods where I know I can find something worthy of giving. I’m freed from long register lines and a commissioned sales staff.

  5. Keep an open mind while in the store, and you just might find things you need, and make up for all those years of receiving gifts that made you sigh as you tossed them over your shoulder. You might just find yourself clutching a new Anthropologie dress for $7.99 while joyfully declaring, “Thank you thrift store! It’s so me! It’s exactly what I wanted but never knew!”
For example I bought this lovely Innova enameled cast iron heart casserole today at Goodwill for $7. It retails $60 (shipping not included). I assure you this casserole has never seen the inside of an oven, it is just missing it's original box. Think that box is worth the $53 difference? Do you know how wonderful a dutch oven is? You can toss just about anything in it meat or vegetable or combination of both and the results are magnificent. The covered casserole lets little vapor escape so the contents bake in their natural juices.

Today, I also bought a new or ever so gently used Coach handbag No G06S-10284 for $11. I found a lovely Sleeping on Snow sweater, sold at Anthropologie. The sweater cost $5 and appears to be new. Who knows what price Anthropologie had on it. All this along with a lovely collection of children's books for my library. I think the favorite is The Low-Down Laundry Line Blues by C.M. Millen followed by Why Kings and Queens Don't Where Crowns by Princess Martha Louise. This includes a CD read by Princess Martha Louise of Norway. The items I just listed, including the casserole, set me back $25. They probably retailed well over $275. But for me, the value is the happiness they bring or the need they fill and not the price. Well, there's no way I would have paid for those items full price, I'd rather pay my heating bill, but it's wonderful to have quality gifts to give to people I love.

Well, I'm probably preaching to the choir. So, if you know someone who needs to retool their shopping behavior and is currently in the doldrums of post holiday debt, send this along to them and call it a gift or consider it a consumer's intervention. Since the retail I write of is not illegal, health issues are not in play and the FDA has no jurisdiction over a chocolate fountain (only the chocolate) you have the charge with helping your friends who have a "retail problem." Retail Mania, it's one of the problems we don't speak of, the type of ailment so horrific the aunts from Neil Simon's Brighton Beach Memoirs can only whisper them.

If you are a new visitor to The Thrifty Chicks, be certain to scroll back up and open the Thrift Catalog slide show, featuring over 250 photographs of thrifted items. This gives you an inkling of what could be waiting for you. Also, check The Thrifty Chicks’ Table of Contents (prior posts) and read about other Thrift Store Conventions. We’ll get back to posting more on this. We just took a break from photos during the holidays.


Daniela said...

I found your blog this morning and have done nothing but read it all day long. You have inspired me like you wouldn't believe. I hope you don't mind, but I linked you in todays blog post. I have posted a challenge to myself and everyone I know to buy only thrift for the next 12 months...thank you thank you thank you..and Happy New Year!

Shopping Golightly said...


Thank you for your kind words. Of course I don't mind you linking to me! We must go forth and spread the good word of thrift - we'll all be better for it!

Laurie said...

Good post, as well as the linked one. And I LOVE the casserole. Good job!

Sewfast said...

I love your blog...I have been a thrifty chick for over 40 years thanks to my Mother's frugal ways. She taught me that thrifting is good (I had no idea we didn't have alot of money) and when I became an adult it was almost a competition with us. Her favorite line was "Got it for a buck!" Thanks for a great informative blog...Happy 2010

Anonymous said...

Once upon a time, I DID find an old Kitchen Aid mixer at a thrift store. It had only one beater; and it had a glass bowl. $10 at the Salvation Army in South Bend, IN.

I used it for several years, then one day, DH broke the bowl. We priced new bowls, ($50 + shipping) but we decided to get a whole new mixer instead.

I donated the old stand to the thrift store, and one of the volunteers snapped it up. I think she was planning it as a decorator item, not a functional one.

But that old Kitchen Aid had a long life -- the original owner; me; and then the thrift volunteer.

But, you wouldn't have wanted it -- it wasn't red.


jt said...

I love reading your blog. I am a long-time dedicated thrifter. I had to smile when I read that you found a Coach bag this week....I found one too, like new, $3. Yes, it is real. :)

Jen@balancing beauty and bedlam said...

Here's to another amazing thrifting year. I'm working on cleaning out before I can find any more treasures. :)
But alas, I have gone yard sale-ing and/or thrifting nearly every week for a decade and have never seen a Kitchen Aid...maybe's the fun of the hunt. :)

Vegan Good Life said...

The only regifting I approve of is the type my co-worker does: her family, instead of buying new gifts, re-gifts something they already own but no longer want (i.e., cookbooks, tea sets, etc.), and they can take it away from one another. She said it's great fun.

I generally don't do Christmas gifts with anyone (exception: gifts for children and charitable ones), and instead go out for a meal or to see a film. I feel like even if I gift a thrifted gift, chances are, I won't receive a thrifted one in return (I would get something bought at traditional retail), and I don't want to contribute to all the consumerism. Something I love and buy for someone at a thrift shop might not really be someone else's taste at all (hence, all the donated gifts at thrift shops).

Shopping Golightly said...

Vegan Good Life,

What your family is doing is not re-gifting, it's reuse. You're family is not taking crap and passing it off as a gift. They are taking items that have served them well and passing them on with the same hope. I think that's touching.

Theresa said...

I'm telling you I have NEVER find stuff like you find in any thrift store, anywhere near me, EVER!!! You obviously live in the right part of the world. That dutch oven is amazing. $ wow.
Do people who know you know that you shop thrift and have a blog devoted to thrift? Or do you keep it to yourself and keep others guessing as to where you get all your money? You are really good at finding fantastic items. I will have to live vicariously through you, and dream of $7 dutch ovens instead of the stained 1970's brown and avacado tupperware bowls(sans lids) that reside in the thrift stores near me.

Shopping Golightly said...


I am very lucky to live in a city with a healthy reuse market. I see friends at the thrift store like I see them at the coffee shop. Most of us buy most of our goods thrift and most of us have forgone cable TV. I tell everyone I can - without being rude - about my blog. Always looking for new readers.

I've heard frustration like yours many times. I wish I had a magic formula to promote reuse in these shallow markets. They key is getting people to let go of the things they don't need, don't use, or no longer fit them and donate that. There is still a mentality that thrift stores *want* crap and to save the other stuff for garage sales.

Healthy thrift is give and take. For example, when I find my Kitchen Aide (it might take years but I will) I will donate my hand mixer. It's in fine shape and worked fine for me when I was single and didn't need to make cookies for a battalion of growing children. When I replaced my sofa for the thrifted Pottery Barn sofa sleeper, my green sofa (still stylish and nice, just not a sofa sleeper like we needed) went to the store and was sold that day.

I noticed on your Blogger profile that you follow a few blogs on sewing. Take those old, moth-eaten wool sweaters and wash them in hot water to make cozy mittens. You may not be able to reuse that lidless Tupperware but you can repurpose fabric like mad! There is a growing market in this in repurposed fashion.

Vegan Good Life said...

Actually my co-worker's family does the 're-gift' swap, and it sounds absolutely fun and frugal! My family and I skip gifts and instead patronize a local restaurant (we figure we are supporting the economy and not contributing to clutter).

One thing I am personally doing is hosting a "gift swap" with two co-workers. We do seasonal clothing swaps, and in a few weeks, our friends and colleagues will be trading winter clothes in addition to unwanted holiday gifts. We have no rules, it's give and take what you like, and put out in the universe what you no longer want. The leftovers will go to the Salvation Army and a resale shop benefitting homeless pets.

Happy New Year!

Sewing-Chick said...

Hey, how did you know that I live right off of I-70 in Columbus, Ohio with an "Adult" store two exits to the west and a fireworks store several exits to the east?! :)

Shopping Golightly said...

OMG! Sewing Chick!

I used to travel I-70 from college to a camp I worked summers in waaaaay upstate NY. My friends and I would always snicker at adult book stores and firework signs. We'd always make guesses at how many miles you could read them from. It was ridiculous. Those signs are HUGE! Maybe they should have a Doctor's Vision Works in tandem with those stores so the signs don't need to be so big. That was 20 years ago. They're still in business? Wonder if they feel any pain from the recession.

However, we did enjoy jumping off the highway to pick up pastries from the bakeries in Germantown (not certain what the locals call it) in Columbus. Very cute part of town.

(I think that's the first time I ever typed OMG, but it was truly my reaction as I chuckled to myself.)

Daisy said...

I'm keeping my eyes wide open searching for a mmid-sized crockpot. I found a like-new steamer last year at Savers for $4.99 on a 50% sale -- I felt so lucky! Somewhere, there's a crockpot waiting for me on a thrift shelf.

Or not. But I'll have a great time looking!

Kelly said...

I hope you find your mixer , and you might try looking at estate sales . My sister inherited hers when her husbands grandmother died . She had the motor rebuilt for less than the cost of a new one . That was sixteen years ago . The mixer is still running well.
But , just remember what we want doesn't always live up to the fantasy !!!
I do own a " white" Kitchen Aide mixer that I purchased new with dept. store discounts and coupons about ten years ago .
However , I have a small kitchen and it is a very heavy mixer to use , so I find myself using my immersion blender and my manual masher more than the kitchen aide .

Shopping Golightly said...

See! Isn't this cool! We're actually thinking about things we really want because in some small way they will help little pieces of our lives in meaningful ways. I won't have to scream at my poor little mixer (that really doesn't deserve it), Daisy will make sweet-smelling stews...

And, we're not willing to go to debtor's prison for it. So, we will appreciate it and use it when we find it.

Now THAT is how retail therapy should work, not some mindless credit card binge in a mall buying stuff we'll never really wear/use and come home still be feeling empty.

Everyone! Declare your thrift wish!

Anonymous said...

My thrift wish is a yarn swift.


Summer said...

The quality of thrift store goods totally depends on the quality of retail goods locally, and the income of the locals. In the little town where I grew up, the pulgas were just filled with junk. Garbage in, garbage out. Besides, people who don't have a lot of money to begin with are not going to give up their mixers - especially if they are fortunate enough to have a kitchenaid!

(But hey, I grew up with those avocado casseroles, and though my Mom hates them, they've always been good vibes to me!)

Where I am now, I don't generally find big-name items like Anthropologie, but I do find quality goodies with a little digging, so that's good enough.

As far as gifting, though, I'm a fan of giving fewer gifts entirely. It seems like there are just all of these presents we are 'obligated' to give, and that, I think, more than lack of thought, is what proliferates tacky presents. I've decided to only exchange with people I know well enough to buy gifts for. I refused to do Secret Santa at the office this year... a friend of mine participated and got a new cheap gizmo every day for two weeks... she was so excited... I was like, wow, so this is how landfills get started.

The tricky part is the people who give me gifts anyway. At the risk of being antisocial, I just hope that after I don't return a few times, they'll get the hint that I really do mean it.

Summer said...

Oh, thrifting wish! I would like a really really really big ball of bedspread-weight cotton in ecru and crochet hooks in sizes E and H.

woolywoman said...

On the one hand, I am glad that the rest of the world has started to notice that not everything has to be new. On the other hand, I want them to stop arriving at the thrift store just ahead of me and buying all the good stuff!

In our family, we only give holiday gifts to children. Grown ups get their gifts near their birthdays, or because the giver just found something wonderful and can't wait to give it!

Cedar said...

What a great post. Very informative!

That heart casserole dish is to die for!

Thanks for stopping by my blog!

Rachel said...

Love the blog! I just found you several days ago.

I've been thrifting since high school. It is such a great way to be unique and save gobs of money!

After reading your articles I decided to check out my nearest Goodwill. Wouldn't you know it? They were having 50% off everything and I found my daughter a bike for her birthday for $10!!! I was not having any luck finding one on craigslist.

Thank you for challenging us all to be more creative than we have been in the past.

thatgirl1125 said...

This blog is awesome!! I am a relatively new thrifter, only since about September. However, one of my best finds to date is, yes, a relatively new KitchenAid mixer, white, all parts included, for $35 one of my local Goodwills. This was found in the high-end area of my city, and I figure that someone was just upgrading. Whatever the case, baking for me this holiday season was sooo much fun!

My second best find was a $6.56 boys North Face jacket for one of my sons. I had never heard of them, but I saw them in a magazine, looked them up online, and found out these jackets are pretty expensive. Who knew?

Anyway, keep up the great work. I am very inspired by your wonderful posts.

Shopping Golightly said...


Thank you for your story of the Kitchen Aide mixer found at thrift. I'm certain many readers thought a find like that impossible. I love it when a reader comments with a testimonial that backs my conviction or validates my rantings on exactly how wasteful, even in a deep recession, American consumers are. Bet your mixer whips out cookie dough like Julia Child could whip up a beautiful meringue in her copper bowls. I have plenty of copper bowls a la thrift, but I don't have Julia Child's talent.

Nishant said...

Good post, as well as the linked one. And I LOVE the casserole. Good job!

Work from home India

Michelle said...

I have to share my thrifting story with you! I have been studying your blog, taking mental notes and visiting thrift shops almost daily for the past two months. I've gathered lovely glassware, plated silver, small brand named kitchenwares, etc. But today. Today was the day I found thrift store Nirvana! Scored FIVE men's brand new merino wool and silk/cashmere sweaters including labels from Gap, Banana Republic, Brooks Brothers and Calvin Klein. But my best find was a pair of new or like new Hugo Boss men's wool pleated trousers in hubby's size that I priced on line for $175! Add a domed cake server and a 14" silver plated tray, and my entire purchase rang up at $37! Less than the price of ONE sweater at retail. Simply unreal..This store has never had merchandise like they had today. Thanks for the guidance! I'm having a blast!

Shopping Golightly said...


Congratulations! You have officially developed Snake Eyes! No where but up from here!


Jennie said...

I have to say that I LOVE your blogs. Thrifty Chicks is my favorite read lately. I have been an avid vintage junkie since I was young (thanks mom and dad) and have started instilling the same values in my 3 year old daughter. Thanks for writing what I've been thinking for many years!

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Maroussia said...

It will be great to watch Spring Awakening,i have bought tickets from looking forward to it.

Nichole said...

I started reading your blog a few days ago, and this was one of the first posts I read. When you mentioned that you wanted a kitchenaid mixer, I thought, "No one would ever find those in a thrift store!"

That same day I went to my fav thrift store and there was one on the shelf! Never say never! :)

Anne said...

I've been reading your blog for a little over a year and love it. I remember reading this post and thinking, "Good luck with the KitchenAid, I've never seen such things at my good will!" Sure enough I found one on Friday and was beyond excited. Thanks for writing such a wonderful blog!

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