Monday, January 15, 2007

Ode to Thrift Shopping

I was introduced to the joys of thrift shopping in college. A very good friend of mine boasted that a good chunk of his wardrobe was from the local Goodwill. The variety of pastel shirts that he'd collected suited him, but they certainly weren't going to find their way to my closet. However, one can't judge thrift shopping on one person's choices alone. That was his style (he's since moved on...sort of), but perhaps there'd be something more suitable for me.

One needs to understand this about thrift stores...you have to spend time with what's there to find something good. Sure, there are a lot of plaid 70s pants and weird sequined sweaters and 80s prom dresses...but there are some diamonds in the rough in these places. Maybe you're one of those who likes to wear the garage work shirts...you know, the ones with someone else's name stitched into them. Or maybe you like novelty t-shirts that are really novelties and not mass-produced by The Gap. Or maybe you like pants with a little wear on the fringes but have gotten that way from people actually wearing them beforehand. Thrift stores have all that and more: quality dress clothes barely worn in some cases, warm winter coats, vintage apparel you'll actually be proud to wear in public and not just for Halloween, all at a fraction of their original prices. You just have to be willing to look.

My greatest find from a thrift store is a leather dress jacket circa 1970s that I wear in cool weather. I once had an Insyderz t-shirt made up to look like a union shirt. I was with a big group in Philadelphia that discovered a whole pile of old Phillies security shirts. I'm telling you, thrift shopping produces the best treasures.

Since moving back to Ohio, I'd passed by a thrift store for two years before finally stopping in. This store is connected with a local ministry, so one has to put up with southern gospel quartet music while one peruses the racks. It's a small price to pay, I've found. Anyway, I figured that this trip would focus on their books. Maybe a church-related thrift store would have some good discount theology books that I could use (read: pad my shelves with). I was quite surprised at how right I was: Yoder, Hauerwas, and Wesley (detecting a pattern...), all on my first visit. There was also an incredible amount of A.W. Pink, John Rice, and other more evangelical/fundamentalist flavored titles, but I expected that. But seriously...Yoder. Sweet.

You never know what you'll find. Give it a chance, if you never have. I think you'll be pleasantly surprised.

6 comments:

Jeff Greathouse said...

One of my "gems" that I found in a thrift store was an old bible - 1800's and the information in there - is unbelievable - it was $ 5

Too_Lively said...

I love shopping at thrift stores. I like the odd things I find like unique scarves, hats, broaches.

Our thrift shop is also connected with a church group, which causes me surprise over the eclectic mix of books I have found there. Not as much theology as I would have expected, but a great deal of classic lit and philosophy.

Erin said...

Pretty much all of Matt's wardrobe came from a thrift store before we got married. And it was all at least 2 sizes too big.

Yeah. I don't let him go shopping alone anymore.

;)

MaryAnn M said...

when we were first married with small toddlers and no money while hubby was in Master's Degree program i had the luck of it all...there was apparently a woman with IMPECCABLE Style and Taste in my town in MY size and colors!!
I would get perfect condition clothes that were her "cast offs"...some with the original price tags still on. then we moved again...rats.

Katherine said...

Northeast Ohio has the best thrift stores- I grew up shopping at Village Thrift and Gabriel Brothers.

I have yet to find good theology in a thrift store; out here it's all Danielle Steele novels and autobiographies of famous people from the 70s.

David Bruce Murray said...

Southern Gospel is the best! :o)