I’m not sure when the idea came to me to check out the clothes at thrift shops. I certainly wasn’t raised that way. In fact, discount stores, in general, were not the places we normally shopped. I think I’ve shared before that Dad and I used to go for drives and stop in at K-Mart for popcorn. It’s the only reason we’d step foot inside.
It wasn’t that we were rich (because we weren’t) but I was definitely raised to believe that higher quality meant longer life… and therefore worth the extra dollars. And if you didn’t have the money, you simply didn’t buy it – whatever “it” was.
So, what was it that originally sent me to a thrift store as a young mom? Well, first, we were broke. I mean, I was pregnant on top of pregnant (my first two were 13 months apart) and the third came two years later. Their father? Let’s just say he had some trouble keeping jobs back then. We were young and dumb when we eloped and you get what you pay for. We loved each other, sure! But as the song says, “They say our love won’t pay the rent…”.
It began with Chocolate Soup. All these years later, I remember that store name. Isn’t it great? It was a consignment shop for babies. Not for the babies themselves, of course (bet you knew that!) but for the seats and swings and clothes and stuff they might use. There were some REALLY high qualities items there for a LOW price! You know, because they were used.
When the kids got older and we had more money, we bought their clothes in actual stores. Truth be told, they were usually discount stores like K-Mart. But at least they were new!
And then came the grunge years. Ugh. During this time, my oldest daughter was actually mistaken for a boy. I’d been stopped for my tags on the car, which were late. This was nothing new. Not gonna linger here because we all know my stories of deprivation and shame. The point is, the grunge years were just like they sound. Grungy. So, off we went to a thrift shop to shop for the kids. We’d heard of a really good one in a neighboring city that gave proceeds to a charity called, “The American Way“. (I tried to look it up so I can link it but it seems the name has been co-opted by a political group.)
The American Way store was the most amazing thrift store I’ve ever seen. (And yes, over the years I’ve seen a LOT!) It was the first mega-thrift store in a former grocery store, so it was HUGE. Everything was set up by size first, then color. Easy to navigate, fun to shop.
I got so many wonderful pieces there! And… seriously cheap. Maybe I should say, “inexpensive”.
I got compliments all the time, too. I still remember my fave find… an electric blue silk skirt and red blouse that I wore with black velvet pumps and jacket. What can I say? It was the 90s! I continued shopping there long after my kids moved on to another fad.
The only things I wouldn’t buy thrift were underwear and shoes. Even that changed later, but I’m getting ahead of myself.
And then, I moved to Canada.
A new beginning, right?
Except we had a hard go of it at first. Also, in the middle. The rest you know, as I’ve been writing here for going on five years.
It began with our three-year wait for my work permit – 9/11 issues, most of all since it was 2001! – and we sailed through my savings and retirement on account of, you know, living.
So, it is no surprise that I found Value Village. It’s the Canadian *equivalent to American Way. (*Kinda. While shopping does not support a charity, donating DOES. It’s difficult to explain and not the point here. If you want to know more about it, feel free to click on the link of their name, above.)
I have shopped there for years and years.
The turnaround started after I got a really nice job about five years ago. I’d gotten all my clothes at Value Village, like always. My underthings were from Walmart and never fit that well because – as we know – I’m ample. I thought, what would Candace do? (Candace was my manager and drop-dead gorgeous.) So, I took myself to a boutique store and bought panties. It was a big flippin’ deal… because $8. That’s the price for one pair. Egads!
In my thrift store travels, I’d seen some like-new bras at really good prices. I didn’t like it… but have you seen the price of bras? Like $35 – $50 for ONE.
And shoes. Well, I have a story about that, too.
From about 2005-2015, I wore Nike running shoes given to me by my daughter, after she’d had them for years.
Next, was Saucony. They’re very nice, and have a deeper heel and wider toe, so very comfortable. I got them at Value Village. Yes, I’d broken my cardinal rule about buying shoes (and bras, as shared above). They still looked very good… but the reality was that I was wearing someone else’s sweaty running shoes. For years. Like six of them.
Do you remember my old shoes/ new shoes post? In it, I explained that I got new Sketchers because the Saucony’s had finally worn out. This was several months ago.
What you don’t know is that I got them at a discount store. They weren’t exactly what I wanted and in fact, turned out to be way too bulky for daily walking. I felt half-sick with dizziness from the floating feeling they gave me, too. But they were new and it’s not like I had the money to replace them. Especially since I wasn’t working at the time. Duh!
Now I have a job, and I literally went out and bought a “new” outfit at Value Village to wear for my first day. I got my tights and dresses and fancy-pants ready.
Oh! It’s business casual in the office. I can get comfortable. Okay then!
I wore my Sketchers one day and uh… not too bad… as long as I kept things slow and easy. Yeah, my foot got caught as I tried to get into my car, because of that bulky bottom, but…
Dressing for the job has been a difficult endeavor. I could go into a whole “thing” here but again, not the point.
I got my first paycheck. WOO HOO! First thing I did… well a few things, actually…
- Got new undies
- Got new shoes
- Got new haircut at an actual hairdresser instead of Fantastic Supercuts, or whatever those strip-mall places are called.
The shoes (my featured photo) are Saucony! The undies, on SALE! 40% off! So, $8 panties down to $5! (No photos available. LOL)
And my hair, which I will share at a later time, is gorgeous. I felt like a pampered princess. Tonya – my new stylist – took care, time, and finesse to talk about my thinning hair with curl, the best ways to make it look fuller, shinier, and healthier. I was in her chair for 45 minutes after a luxurious shampoo and conditioning. I smelled as good as I looked. I tipped her generously and we both had a fantabulous day!
I came home and told my husband that I’m done going to thrift shops and discount stores for what is needed. He 100% agreed! He’s always hated that I got all my clothes there.
I’m in my third act of life and I’ll be damned if I’m going to treat myself like a broke hobo for the rest of it. I’m working because our family deserves better – and that begins with ME.
Can I go for fun? Buy used books? Antiques? Furniture pieces like my GORGEOUS desk? Find a cute blouse I like? Of course!
Somewhere along the line, though, I decided I wasn’t worth… it.
“It” being new clothes, shoes or accessories.
If I tossed out everything in my wardrobe that came from a thrift shop, no kidding, I’d have three tops and a raincoat. Even my winter coat was from Value Village. And, I hate it. But hey, I can’t do everything at once. For now, I’m content with new undies, new shoes, and a beautiful new haircut.
Next paycheck? Maybe some pants and tops!