Saturday, January 31, 2009

Coming out of the Thrifting Closet

Well folks, it's the last day of January '09. I can't believe the year is 1/12 over already! I'm still not even used to writing "2009" yet! In one more day, we will most likely be in the month when my darling little boy will be born!!

I was perusing the web this morning, reading blogs and trying to keep myself occupied in a silent manner while hubby sleeps like all the other normal people out there, when I ran across this article in "The Other Paper," Columbus's underground newssource. It's an article on thrifting in Columbus, so of course I had to read it. It got me thinking though about coming to terms with thrifting in my own life. Let me explain.

When I was was growing up, I was lead to believe that thrift store shopping was the devil. Yes, that's right, D. E. V. I. L. I remember my mom saying over and over again how one of the great-grandmas (or maybe it was my mom's mom... I forget who it was now) got us this toy that was filthy and from a thrift store, so she threw it out. Until then, I had never even heard of a thrift store. So growing up, I heard that story umpteen times, and my way of thinking had been set; thrift stores= bad, gross, unclean, and evil. Oddly enough, I was allowed to walk around and buy some things when the neighborhood was holding its biannual garage sale, but that's another issue altogether. Apparently, garage saling does not equal thrifting.

Anyway, fast forward to college. A high school friend of mine came down to visit, and she wanted to hit the local thrift store scene. This was all new to me. She and I had never gone thrifting back home. But alas we went, and I remember that I came home with an animal print skirt that I was going to cut up to make a pillow cushion. I was upcycling before I even knew what that was! Around that same time, I began dating this guy whose mom had a huge impact on me. Nevermind that she hated me with a passion. Regardless, I learned immensely from her. My eyes were opened to the world of decorating. Of course, my own mom had things hanging on the walls and such, but she was never really into decorating per se. My ex's mother had such neat things like a huge framed map of France hanging in the kitchen (She was born and raised in France and only moved to the US after getting married), African dolls hanging in the hallway collected during their years living in Africa... anyway, you get the point. Plus, she was all about thrifting. Now mind you, they lived in Hudson. Hudson is a very ritzy area of NE Ohio. I struggled with this concept for quite awhile. How could a self-respecting Hudson resident shop at thrift stores?! This did not make sense. Her house was clean and decorated to the nines, yet stocked with second hand finds. Something did not compute.

Her son (my ex) and I went on to date for over three years. He was obviously raised that thrifting was completely normal, and so he and I went sometimes. This was the true beginnings for me. I remember our freshman year of college going thrifting to find 70s outfits for a 70s themed dance our dorms were having. Good times! As I became more aware of decorating as a hobby and not as something you do once and then it's set in stone, I took advantage of cheap thrift store prices more and more. I was in college after all. All the furniture for our various apartments was second hand, some bought from friends who were graduating and moving on to real furniture, some found curbside (when students move and set their stuff out by the dumpsters near campus, there are some good scores to be had!), some handed down by parents and relatives, and some bought at garage sales and thrift stores. And don't forget about lamps, artwork, dishes, etc!

Now fast forward to post-break-up with that guy, and I eventually began dating another guy. (okay, so there really was this guy in between, but we were only together for six months, and he was a cheating bastard who broke my heart so we'll skip him. Plus, he doesn't really have anything to do with my thrifting past). This new guy and I dated for four years, but he wasn't a thrifter. The only time he and I ever set foot at a thrift store was when we were donating stuff. I still went thrifting from time to time, however I kept it to myself. I was ashamed to admit it. Hey, old habits die hard, and remember how I was raised. Thrifting= the devil. So for four long years, I kept my trips to the thrift store a secret. I really didn't go that much anyway because of the ashamed feeling I got whenever I would go. Somehow, thrifting with buddies made it okay, however when I went by myself, I felt dirty. During this time, though, I did have a coworker who was all about thrifting. She would show me her finds, and I would feel very envious! She even found a purse for a few bucks, turned around and sold it on ebay for several hundred dollars. Thus began her love affair with ebaying her thrifty finds for extra cash. She is what probably kept me going.

Sometime during this period, I also was paid a visit from my brother. He came down and wanted to go thrifting. What?! "You were raised in the same house as me! Didn't you learn that thrifting is for poor people?! You want to go thrifting?!" I couldn't believe it. My brother goes to thrift stores. He has a special place in his heart for strange t-shirts. That day I remember we scored some good ones for 99 cents apiece. That really stuck with me. I began to see that just because my mom doesn't like thrift stores, it was okay for her offspring to enjoy the hunt. As long as she didn't find out about it.

Fast forward some more. I am now married and have a thrifter in my life again. Unfortunately, it's not my husband; he does not share my decorating, sewing, crafting, upcycling genes. My friend T, though, is a great thrifter :) Actually I have three friends T, and they all thrift to some degree. I'll label them in order of how I met them. T-1 has two kids and shops at "Once Upon a Child," a higher priced second-hand store that isn't really a thrift store. They buy stuff from people to resell but are very picky about what they buy, so they only have top notch stuff. T-2 will go thrifting for things like artwork and furniture, but she will not buy clothes. She's also very against clutter so she won't buy chotchkies. Finally though, with T-3, anything is fair game. She's my favorite thrifting buddy but she's moving across the country in a few short months!

Also, during this time period, enters reading blogs about thrifting. So apparently, there's this world of people out there who are just like me! People who enjoy the thrill of the hunt. People who hate to pay full price for anything. People who don't want to see things end up in a landfill. People who can see beauty in something if only it were altered somehow, and then they possess the skills to make it happen! Maybe it's an animal print skirt that would make such a sassy, college-dorm-appropriate pillow. Or maybe it's a wool sweater that could be sliced and diced into little appliques. It's called upcycling, and I have to admit, I am addicted. Sorry hubby. There's no stopping me now.

One more thing gave me thrifting strength during this period in my life. It may seem like a tiny, insignificant thing, however it has stuck with me. My husband's grandmother and I were talking awhile back, and she mentioned shopping at a thrift store. She was saying that one of her children flat out refused to shop at the thrift store and thought it was so humiliating. I do think that the majority of my husband's family probably feels that same way, however it stuck with me that his grandma shares my sentiment. That's important to me.

For the first time in my life, I feel liberated from the feelings I felt in my younger thrifting years. I don't feel ashamed. I don't look at it like it's something poor people do. And I don't care who finds out about it (with the exception of my students... I really don't like to run into them at thrift stores. I guess I have one more hurdle to overcome....)

Thrifting is hip. It's trendy. Everyone's doing it! So that, my friends, is how I came to be a thrifter. There, I said it. I'm officially an out-of-the-closet thrifter now!

No comments:

Post a Comment