Saturday, October 25, 2008

How I Became a Thrift Store Maven

I didn't start out wanting to be known as a thrift store maven by my friends. It just kind of happened.

I use to visit thrift stores regularly in and around Music City when I was single and in my twenties. The thrift store is where I went to find cool, one-of-a-kind clothes, usually vintage. I was in the music industry and I was on a budget.

Truth is, most young 20-somethings working in the music industry are on a budget. Working in the music industry doesn't really pay well. To be fair, in some ways it's like any other industry, the lower on the food chain you are, the less money you make.

The difference is that there is a certain allure to working in the entertainment industry that makes free music, free concerts and industry parties a reasonable alternative to great pay - at least it is in the mind of a 20-something-year-old. And if you're going to be at a cool industry event, you want cool clothes that no one else has.

Of course that all changes as you get older and realize that free music and free concerts don't pay the rent, pay the bills or put food on the table (even though some of the parties did help in the free food department).

I got out of the music industry, did some time in the restaurant industry while breaking into voice over work (picked up a husband while I was there), went back into the entertainment industry again, had two kids and slowly phased out of the industry.

During that time the thrift store was an on-again-off-again relationship mainly because what I wanted out of that relationship had changed. Cool one-of-a-kind vintage clothes made way for maternity-transition clothes (you know, "if I just buy a size bigger maybe I can hold out on wearing maternity clothes for another month AND I could wear them after the baby is born"). Thrift stores were a place where I knew I could save money but given that the nearest location was about 15 miles away and I had two kids, it just didn't seem practical.

As any mother will tell you, toting children to any store, let alone a thrift store, is one way to test a mom's mettle....or prove her mental instability. Understandably, my new shopping haven was the mall (only 5 miles away) where they had an indoor playground, $5 teriyaki chicken plates AND espressos!

True to my thrifty tendencies I still bought things when they were on sale (I clothed my children for two years on my purchases from the end of the season "take an additional 30%" sale at The Children's Place). At that time I was more apt to buy my children clothing while ignoring my own ratty clothes. I was a mother of two under 3 and spit up and exploding bowel movements were the bullets and bombs I spent most the day (and night) trying to dodge, and not always successfully I might add. Since I was not about to spend our hard earned money on clothing just for my children's target practice, I used the
Whatever is Clean and Fits method of clothing.

But all that was about to change when one day while small-talking with the cashier at our grocery Kroger, I found out the empty store front two doors down was going to be filled by a Goodwill store. Remembering with fondness my days of thrift store hunting in my twenties I went home and marked OPENING DAY on my calendar.

I was there when the doors opened.

I pawned the girls off on Daddy and I stood in line at a THRIFT STORE GRAND OPENING which I am sure has some of you thinking that I'm nuts. Rest assured, I am, but for a host of other things, thrift store line-standing NOT being one of them.

My dear friends, do you know what I got that morning? A Kitchenaid Pro-line Mixer in enamel gray, two bowls and three attachments. Do you know what it cost me? A whopping $9.81. That my friends, was including tax.

I can't remember what other treasures I found that day, but one thing is certain, my torrid love affair with thrift stores began again.

That morning it was a Kitchenaid, but in the following days, weeks, months and years I learned that there wasn't much I couldn't find at a thrift store: Gucci, Prada, Coach, Dooney & Bourke, Armani, Kate Spade, Versace, gold & silver jewelry, and so much more. I learned quickly that with a little patience and perseverance, I could find pretty much anything I wanted or needed.

What I needed (as my Beloved would gently share with me one day) was new clothes that fit me better. But THAT is a story for another time. Suffice to say, with the help of Stacie & Clinton from What Not To Wear and a season of thrift store shopping I was able to rebuild my wardrobe in a stylish, mom-conscious way without breaking the bank. So there you have it - the birth of a thrift store maven.

But alas, a thrift store maven does not a Savvy Suburban Supermom make. I still have to tell you about homegood shopping, purse and shoe shopping, my eBay and Craigslist adventures and so many more savvy saving places to look for great deals.

Y'all come back and see me soon, ya' hear?

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