I absolutely love shopping thrift stores. There. It’s out. My confession is one hundred percent complete. When I go into a thrift store, I am lost in adventure, wonder and history. Seriously, they are probably the most fascinating, common, everyday places in the entire world.
I spent most of my teen-life shopping thrift shops due to being the oldest of six siblings, living on a single income. My mother taught me the value of recycling fashion and how to wear it, out of necessity. What she didn’t know is that in doing so, she was teaching me how to source for a future life, business and hobby.
A few years ago, my passion of shopping thrift stores led me to create an online business. Within a few months, it grew from a hobby to a full-time “job”, funding vacations, education, mission trips, groceries and more.
When I first began my little shop, it was all about the money. I won’t lie. I was seriously motivated by how much I could make. I would buy a handbag for three dollars and resell it for thirty. In some cases, I would pick up a dress for a dollar and resale it for two hundred dollars! The money made off of someone’s cast aways would make my head swim and it was so fun. How excited that I could do what I love – Shop! – and make money.
With the growth of my business, I began to get more involved with social media. I learned how to hashtag and create interest to keep others coming to my shop. This created more income and excitement. But it also began to slowly change the reason why I ran my little boutique. I began to glean followers who were recyclers and keen on ethical fashion. They shopped reclaimed fashion because of a conscience, not because of the price or label. It made me stop and think about why I do what I do. And deep inside I, too, had a reason.
My personality is strange to some in that I am extroverted, but at the same time, a loner. And for a moment of transparent vulnerability, many times it is because I fear rejection. I fear abandonment. The very thought of being nice to someone and having them snub me makes my stomach turn to knots. So, to counteract this, I remain aloof and private. You may see me acting like the life of the event, all fun and crazy, but at the end of the day or by mid-party, I am done and ready to get away and hide.
Going back even further in my life, one would see my father disappeared when I was eight and then by nineteen, we were burying him. Thus the fear of rejection and abandonment. This is a real issue in so many lives and it is still evident in mine, even after all these years. The thing that helps me is that I recognize and deal with it face-to-face. Every single day.
You are probably wondering “what in the world does this have to do with thrifting?” Well, I’m glad you asked. Thrift stores are giant warehouses for cast aways. People, especially American’s – sorry to say, and yet calling it as it really is – are fickle. We see something on TV or something our neighbor/friend has and we covet it and eventually purchase it. Once it is purchased or obtained, it is no longer an object of desire and within a certain time-frame, it is no longer wanted. It is discarded and cast aside, making its way to the Goodwill or charity shop.
We often treat people with this same mentality. We look at a relationship or person and long to “be their friend” or spouse, forsaking all else. But as soon as the relationship goes just a wee bit south, the object of our desire is tossed aside. Rejected. Abandoned. Maybe there is a small place where the friendship unraveled, the way the yarn on a sweater pulls to create a hole. Or perhaps a moment of intimacy is lost the way a button fell off a shirt and disappeared. Maybe an unkind word was spoken and we no longer feel the liaison between the two of us are in fashion or on trend. So, instead of mending the hole, seeking the lost button or recreating a new trend, we toss everything aside. Then, go on a search for its replacement. Only to have the cycle continue, the same way we consume and discard the things we simply do not care to invest in anymore.
Going to the thrift shop began to change as I thought about these things. In the housewares department, I see a crockpot without a lid or a coffee cup that has a faded picture. Over in decor, a couch has lost a leg and a wall picture has a cracked glass panel. The Michael Kors top color is no longer trending and those pants… well, the wide-leg is no longer acceptable in any kind of posh fashion society. They must be tossed. We obtain. We cast aside. We obtain. We cast away. Possessions. Food. Relationships. And so the cycle continues.
They say that “one man’s trash is another’s treasure”. And that is basically what I do with my little business. I go out and find things that others have cast aside and bring new life to it. And something amazing happens! I get emails from buyers thanking me for the item I sold them. I can’t count the messages I have received where someone had been looking for a particular item for years! When the garment had first been made available, it was sold out or it was unaffordable. The buyer had been searching for it and found it in my shop. Or, a few times I sold a children’s book that an adult had when they were a child and it was lost in a fire or maybe tossed in the trash.
Now when I go into a thrift shop, not only do I see days gone by, the history of a newlywed couple who outgrew the four place setting that was gifted them, or the bed set of a child who loved Barney and Sesame Street. I see shirts without buttons and dresses with a few stitches of the hem unraveled. And I see someone searching for these things. Looking high and low for that which was cast aside, longing to give it a home and ratification.
So, the next time you are going through your friendship closet or just your clothing closet, think about how you can repurpose or “save” an item you have cast aside. Maybe it’s worth saving. Maybe it’s ready for a new life. Just stop and think about it before you toss it. (Note: this blog is not to serve as a pardon in becoming a hoarder of relationships OR stuff.)
p.s. all photos shown above are my thrift store finds – except the humans.