A tip of my hat to Amy Dacyczyn of The Tightwad Gazette for the term "squeam factor." Squeam as in squeamish. As I recall, Amy recounted a conversation with a neighbor. Spying the neighbor tossing out an apple with a single bite, Amy intervened with a rescue recipe: a single baked apple! The neighbor recoiled with an "Ewwww. I couldn't keep that germy apple!"
I thought of this scenario when I was procrastinating by reading frugality blogs. There was a list of "What not to buy at Thrift Stores." This included various things that I have bought--and will continue to buy--at thrift stores.
One was bedding. If you have a taste for 200 thread count combed cotton sheets as I do, you pretty much have to go the thrift store route. The high thread count mania has led to the availability of (to me) slimy sheets made of inferior cotton. See Cheryl Mendelson's great book Home Comforts if you don't believe me. In fact, thrifting also enables me to buy bedding I would never buy owing to the expense: like an Yves Delorme sheet of exquisite quality cotton. I might even buy a replacement for $140.00 when this one wears out; it's that good. I get lots of great sheets and pillow cases for very little . . . because of the squeam factor.
Another was underwear. Oh Frugal Son, I hope this doesn't embarrass you. When Frugal Son was in 4th grade he declared that he wanted boxer shorts like the other boys were wearing. I rolled my eyes, but I always try to accommodate desires when possible so as not to raise twisted materialistic children. I first discovered that kids' boxer shorts were expensive! Then I discovered that boxers from the Gap and Old Navy went for all of $0.25 at thrifts. There was a huge selection because kids outgrow things quickly and . . . because of the squeam factor.
Some things that everyone wants are ridiculously expensive at thrift stores: corning ware, tupperware, pots and pans, all these have prices matching or even even exceeding the new cost. At least where I live. But items with a squeam factor attached are plentiful and ridiculously cheap. Honestly, all it takes is a trip though the washer and dryer to remove the squeam.
Even I sometimes succumb to the squeam factor. Just the other day, I ran into a thrift acquaintance. Nancy was ecstatically rummaging through a drawer that I had never noticed: bras $1.00. She had a huge load of bras with price tags still attached. She confided, "I get all my bras here because no one ever looks into this drawer." You go, girl! Good job.
So Readers: would you, could you, do you buy squeam items? What, for you, is acceptable? What is "beyond the pale?"