Wednesday, December 2, 2009

A Love of Thrifting

My mother was always looking for a deal and she usually found one.

She could spot a sale rack from fifty feet away. She would scour the sale fliers that came in the Sunday paper in thirty seconds flat and ascertain EXACTLY what we needed and make a list. She had a gift that, as a child, I admired more than anything.

My mother taught me the importance of patience, through bargain hunting. If there was something that you really wanted or needed, you could wait till it was on sale. If you absolutely had to have an item right at that moment, it was usually a fleeting fancy and if allowed to buy it, wouldn’t be appreciated as much as something you had waited for. She would watch the price steadily drop on dish sets, comforters, Leggos and DVDs until they were at a price she felt comfortable paying.

She knew every thrift store in our postal district, including thrift stores in the neighboring towns. Thursdays were for Dime Days, Saturdays and Sundays for the local stores in Craig and Steamboat. We didn’t go every week, but if she had a little extra money left over from her paycheck or if I had some spending money we would make a trip and see what we could dig up. Sometimes we would find one pair of jeans or a bracelet. Maybe a few old comics for my brother or a box of fishing flies for my dad. Occasionally we would strike gold and find a mint condition Burberry trench coat or an antique cookie jar shaped like a cowboy boot. And sometimes we’d come away with nothing except a day spent together, talking and laughing.

Now that I’m on my own, I miss shopping with my mom. I miss her sage wisdom about antiques and clothing. I long to show her something I’ve found and ask her,

“Mama, is it special?” and hear her say,

“Do you think it is? That’s all that matters”.

Now, I go with my friends and on occasion, I’m asked for my opinion about treasures. People ask me to keep an eye out for pants for them or a winter coat for their baby or a pair of size 7 hiking boots in good condition. I’ve looked for Calvin Klein button ups for job interviews and sweaters for first dates. I’ve found birthday and Christmas presents that people have truly loved.

My mother has given me so much over the last twenty-four years but one gift that consistently let’s me give back to my family and friends is thrifting. I’ve learned that it’s not about the money you spend, but the time and who you spend it with. I could tell you about the perks of thrifting. I could tell you about how ‘green’ it is and have you wearing a ‘Reduce, Recycle and Reuse’ button in a split second. I could tell you about mass consumerism and heartless clothing and gifts and all of it would be true. I could tell you that’s why I thrift but it’s not.

I thrift for one reason: because it reminds me of my mom. And every time I find a deal or make someone happy with something I’ve found at the thrift store, I smile because I know I’m making her proud.


  1. this is so sweet- it made me tear up!
    i love thrifing too but i've heard from several people about your thrifting powers-maybe i can go w/ ya sometime and it'll rub off. :) thanks for sharing.

  2. I used to hate driving all the way to Phipsburg for Dime Days, I would get soooo car sick every time! lol oh the memories :)

  3. Oh, Dime Days!!!!! I LOVE that place! I still go every Thursday when I go home to Hayden! And I, too had my share of car sickness on that road! Uggg.....


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