PICKER: An earlybird who hunt swap meets, estate sales, thrift stores, etc and scoops up the good deals - often for resale in antique shops or on ebay. (Urban Dictionary)
Recently, a commenter on my blog asked if I noticed pickers in my area thrift stores. The answer is YES. In fact, I have seen pickers in every thrift store I have ever been lucky enough to enter. And, as a further in fact, I myself was a picker (and may still be one, though I try to resist.) Based on my expert observations, I would say that at least 75% of the people you see at thrifts and the like are pickers. No kidding.
Perhaps this will be the start of a series of posts. I find the phenomenon interesting, because you see people who live--sometimes very well--by their wits. I find that admirable, even though they often get stuff I covet.
Let me start with a trip to my impoverished grad school past. Because of funding issues, my program cut the years one could have a TA (a form of indentured servitude imo). Opportunities for employment in college towns are extremely limited.
One day, my French friend Michelle had a yard sale on my well-situated porch. She was preparing to move to the former Yugoslavia with her fiance Mauricio (sadly the marriage failed). She sold Mauricio's Tito-era wool overcoat for a dollar to a nice young woman.
A few days later, I was lamenting my incipient unemployment to a woman I knew. She said, "Since you go to thrift stores anyway, why don't you buy things to consign at the Eye of Osiris." So the next week I bought a vintage jacket for a quarter at the giant yard sale held in graduate student housing. That was my first investment.
I took it to the Eye of Osiris. There was the woman who bought the coat! She remembered me. I asked her if she had sold the coat and she said yes. It had sold for $25.00! Then I showed her my jacket. She liked and said she would buy it on the spot. She gave me $12.00.
So I went back to the thrift store and discovered that I was good at finding things, which has been both a blessing and a curse. I ended up working one day a week at the Eye of Osiris and made many dear friends and enjoyed working with the eccentric customers who frequented the place. It was probably too much fun because I became a terrible procrastinator on my dissertation. The original owner Pat sold the store to Nora, who turned it from a vintage store to a head shop. But by then, I was pretty much done.
I got a teaching job.