I have always been a nosy/inquisitive/observant/analytical person (some of these are more positive than others in implication--take your pick). So it in my nature to have closely watched the more experienced pickers that came into my purview back in Bloomington, Indiana. Truly, working in a vintage shop (the Eye of Osiris), hanging out at thrift stores--I met many people not in my usual academic sphere.
I so admired all these women who lived by their wits. I was a rather timid studious type. I learned a lot by watching them. Good memories. And I hope some good lessons about taking chances.
There was Gail, who had been in theater school with Kevin Kline. All she wanted to do was be a costume designer, but alas, she had to take low-paying jobs to support her young daughter after her husband took off. She was only an occasional picker, and a truly creative person. She was upcycling clothing before the term existed.
There was Sue, who in the way of the 70s and 80s, spelled her name Sioux. She had a husband and a stepson. She drove all over rural Indiana selling insurance policies. While she was in the tiny towns, she went to thrift stores. She said the little old ladies who ran the shops couldn't believe she wanted all that old stuff.
Then there was Karen. I knew her the least, but she was the most interesting to me--a true live-by-her-wits entrepreneur. Her main business was "feather art." While she created some beautiful, complex pieces, she made most of her money selling simple feather earrings for $7.00.
She drove all around going to craft shows. En route, like Sioux, she stopped at thrift stores and brought back tons of stuff. She had so much that she not only consigned at the Eye of Osiris, but also opened her own shop, The Material Plane, with her soon-to-be-ex-husband.
She also bought up houses, doubles on the cheaper west side of town away from the university. When I knew her, she owned at least two doubles, living in one unit and renting three others. I can't imagine the size of her current real estate empire (?). She was all business.
Noodling around the internet, I discovered that Gail (so sad) died a few years ago at only 67; Sioux--who had a very common last name--may or may not own a real estate business; and Karen--well, she's still at it. She wrote an interesting biographical/historical piece on the site of her business's YELP review. I love her self-identification as "unemployable."