$91..easily the cost of a sweater, a pair of designer jeans, an Athleta jacket or a pair of shoes bought new at a women’s clothing store. At Goodwill $91 bought me 3 jackets, 2 sweaters, 2 scarves, 1 pair of jeans and a black knit stocking cap. It also purchased 4 Christmas presents, a stylish gift bag and 3 brand new rolls of holiday gift wrap. The icing on the cake was the $6 gala dress that needs just a few minor alterations. It is a secret pleasure of mine to roam the aisles of a thrift store to see what grabs my attention without draining my bank account. I have a quiet passion for re-purposing most anything to extend its life and the longevity of our landfills. This love took root in me early on in life sifting and sorting through the many stored goods in my grandma’s musty basement. Pantry shelves were an eye sore or a treasure trove whichever way you chose to see it. It grew during frequent stops to neighborhood yard sales with my parents and the occasional weekend trips to flea markets with my dad where I watched him scurry about with contained delight. When we moved to Europe the open air markets were some of my most remembered outings watching him speak English slower and louder to overcome any language barrier while haggling for a better deal. During high school, thrift stores were the place to go for men’s boxers and pajamas...not sure how those became popular but pretty much grosses me out now to think about it! In college, thrift stores were the cool place to shop thanks to the hipness of ‘grunge’. Mainstream clothing manufacturers hadn’t caught on yet to the fact that they could make bank off of faded, distressed and torn clothing products. As a new mom, thrift or consignment was the only way to go. How satisfying to walk out of a store with a bag full of clothing for the next growth cycle that I paid for with store credit. My husband tried to convince me that using up the credit didn’t mean free but I wouldn't buy it. In Bellingham, WA, thrift store shopping was cool and conscious. Most kids wouldn’t bat an eye if you revealed where you got your new digs. The first fall in our Shorewood school, my third grade daughter’s brand new Star Wars back pack (with original tags to boot) was something to drool over until she naively announced to her new-found friends that she scored it at Goodwill. Their snubbed noses was her turning point. Thrift was no longer cool or acceptable; in fact, it pretty much grossed her out. Our limited clothes shopping budget and her disdain for most secondhand goods, has left her with a minimalist wardrobe by default. Tonight wise thrifty mama made an appearance. A swift Google search put us in touch with scores of her favorite female celebrities who are intentional about thrifting. While I normally frown at our collective tendency to put the "stars" on a pedestal and then gawk at them, I was grateful for a little reinforcement from the celestial realm. It was good medicine for me too as I found myself shamefully confessing where I bought this or that as if I somehow needed to make excuses for how I satisfy some of our family’s needs and wants. When I was younger it was cool...then it became practical and at times a downright blessing. Most importantly, it has always been difficult for me to reconcile buying new when gently used means one less material item to burden our already overly stressed environment and gluttonous landfills. As my oldest nodded off to sleep she asked if she could at least "occasionally" buy something new. Her request affirmed that the stars aligned and wise thrifty mama got through...and now my not-so-little one is a little wiser too. *If you have thrifty stories you would like to share, please do!
I'm Kelly Isabelle.
Full-time workin' mama & spouse aspiring to live a slowly paced, sustainably minded, creatively expressed, clutter-free life shared with kindred folk.