When I was a little girl, there was an old building on Main Street with a sign that proudly proclaimed: “Rummage Sale Ever Day!” My mother the English teacher was quick to point out the error in the sign’s wording. Even so, I’ve never forgotten it. It still conjures up memories of church bazaars, thrift stores and musty basement sales. Ah, the thrill of the hunt in the wonderful world of thrift!
But my mother, once a poor farm girl who was proud to own new clothes, despaired as my friends and I scoured our fathers’ closets. During some of my high school years, I wore my father’s Army jacket, his workboots, and homemade tie-dyed T-shirts. I couldn’t wait until my little brother got big enough so I could wear his shirts. Unfortunately, I was away at college by the time he got that big.
Sometimes we’d travel to the next town for a chance to find “cool” old clothing. Once we found blue chambray workshirts from a Georgia prison. Again, my mother despaired.
As a perpetually broke college student, I would satisfy my need to shop by waiting for the PTA Thrift Shop bag days. I’d walk two miles each way just to stuff a brown paper grocery bag full of used clothes for 50 cents. That tells you how long it’s been since I was in college. The last bag sale I went to cost me five dollars.
Years after college, but still poor, I was invited to a Pearl Harbor Day/1940’s party. I went to the Catholic thrift shop and found a great dress for two bucks. A couple of years ago, I was invited to a similar era costume party. Alas, I had gotten rid of that two dollar dress, but found another one that was a near look-alike. Unfortunately, prices have gone up. This one cost four bucks, and that was only because it was half-price at the consignment store.
In this economy, in fact in any economy, it literally pays to be thrifty. Your Fontana Regional Library is a great place to start. All of our branches have wonderful resources on thrifty lifestyles. Here are a few examples:
The complete Tightwad gazette: promoting thrift as a viable alternative lifestyle, although I don’t consider being thrify an alternative lifestyle, but a necessary one. And here’s a new book with a thrifty twist: Resew : turn thrift-store finds into fabulous designs. Or if you prefer house decorating over clothing, try this one: The find : the housing works book of decorating with thrift shop treasures, flea market objects, and vintage details.
The book In cheap we trust: the story of a misunderstood American virtue reviews America’s love/hate relationship with money and thrift. With chapter headings such as “What use can a woman have for arithmetic?” and “Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without”, how can you resist?
After nearly half a century of thrift store shopping, I can proudly say that most of my favorite items once belonged to someone else. It’s the ultimate recycling.
But caveat emptor: your mother may not approve!