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Friday, June 6, 2014

Thrift Store Treasures: Reality Check

The wonderful Hostess of the Humble Bungalow made a visit to my blog (so honored to have her). She left a comment to the effect that I must have the best thrift stores in the whole wide world. Time for a reality check.

Interestingly (and I think related, so bear with my rambling), Hostess was hit with a blog comment of the nasty kind, jeering at the lovely life she chronicles in her blog. According to the anonymous commenter, Hostess had things so easy blahblahblah. Hostess, of course, responded with the truth: that a blog leaves a lot of stuff out. In her case, she chooses to feature the beauty in everyday life. She omits a lot. The blog is not one's WHOLE life.

In a similar vein--though not, thankfully, responding to nasty comments--I have to say that the thrift store treasures I mention now and then are the highlights of many, many hours of mostly fruitless wandering. It is a wandering I find pleasurable, though I would probably go a lot less if I didn't find a lot of things needed by family and friends. Most of what I find is very workaday stuff (potholders for Frugal Son's new abode, for instance).

So here is an incomplete accounting.

I started going to thrift stores around 1980 in Bloomington, first to clothe myself and then to make a bit of money to replace my TA income. I then moved to Houston, where the thrift stores were too far from where I--carless--lived. There were incredible yard sales (I lived in a prosperous area), but Houston is full of very poor people, so the competition was tremendous. I then moved to a small town in Michigan, with a little college in the midst of a town decimated by factory closings. The thrift store was--not surprisingly--incredibly depressing. Then I moved to a small town in Indiana, with a surprisingly good thrift store (though it was the most disgusting thrift store I have ever seen). One summer, I was in a seminar in Evanston, which had probably the best thrift stores I have ever frequented (combo of  extremely affluent college students--transient population--and extremely affluent residents). And now I'm near New Orleans.

Here are the high points of my acquisition, in no particular order:

--the recent cache of Italian stuff (Pucci, Dolce, Leger, Missoni)
--a Chloe dress which amazingly fits my daughter (featured on blog a while back)
--2 vintage Gucci bags (little fabric GG ones, with stripes)
--1 alligator Mark Cross vintage bag (WHERE IS IT???)
--Hermes scarf (Feux de route)
--Hermes cashmere sweater
--Dries van Noten blazer and cashmere sweater
--numerous lesser cashmere sweaters
--a Missoni sweater that my daughter wears (she looks good in orange)
--brown Chanel loafers
--maybe 5 Hermes ties and 5 Ferragamo ties

OK, that's perhaps 40 super-amazing items. In 34 years.  One-point-something PER YEAR.

Hermes Vintage Feux Du Route Silk Scarf In Red


Shelley said...

I rarely just browse in thrift shops unless I am in a new area and just trying to ascertain if it is a good shopping area. I usually go into thrift shops with a specific purchase in mind, ie I need a navy blue cardigan or I'm looking for some purple fabric for my craft project. The same way I shop elsewhere, otherwise who knows what sort of 'stuff' I'd come home with; I already have plenty of 'stuff'! I never go looking for an alligator bag or a Chloe dress, though. Maybe that's why I've never found one! Also, charity is big business here in Britain and I think the shop attendants are well trained to spot such items. I think they are sent to particular shops, probably in London.

dotsybabe said...

The best thrift store I saw was in a college town -- at the end of spring semester. I found an Andre Courreges 1960s skirt suit for very little $$. It fit but was not my color. Nowadays I would have bought it and resold on Ebay or at a vintage store but this was well before Ebay was even a twinkle in someone's eye. My size 0/size 2 sister-in-law has unbelievable luck in the Boston area.