Money’s getting tighter all around, and for a lot of people, they’re tightening their belts and trying to find alternatives so they can save money and reduce their overall debt. Some are cutting cable in exchange for HuluPlus or Netflix, others are learning to cook so they can eat their favorite meals without going out to eat.
But the biggest movement I’ve seen overall is a return to the humble thrift store. Once the hangout of hipsters and broke college students, it’s now become a hub of finding the things you need as well as some things you didn’t know you needed.
So, here are five reasons to embrace the thrift store.
I know, it’s the most obvious, but there’s some truth to it. I love wearing vests, and I love having that t-shirt design that no one else has, and that’s the classic appeal to the thrift store. Where else would you find a shirt that says “I may be left-handed, but I’m always right”? I’ve also been able to find shirts from independent artists and sites like Teefury and Woot.com.
Also, thrift stores are a haven for people with odd body shapes or unusual sizes. There’s always something there to give a distinctive look.
2. Paper and Pens
It’s a little bit sketchier to find notebooks and pens, but be judicious and your patience will be rewarded. I’ve found bags of pens for a dollar or two, as well as paper pads that I didn’t know existed, like cartoon drafting paper. Even if there’s a few pages covered with some kid named Kevin’s drawings on it, it can mean a professional quality sketch pad for a mere pittance.
This one surprised Megan and I. It requires much more discretion since even a favorite book poorly read isn’t worth the disc it’s printed on. That having been said, Megan and I have found two Harry Potter books on CD. Usually they run forty to fifty bucks a piece, and we paid 5 and 7 for the two. We’ve also found library send-offs. These books have had their run through the library, and are just old enough that they aren’t as popular. Even if there’s a title you think you might be interested in, give it a try. If you don’t like it, just donate it back for the next person.
4. Antique Glassware
I regularly talk about Megan and my collection of carnival glass and uranium glass. Many of our coolest pieces have come from our local Goodwill or ARC thrift store. It did mean we had to bring a blacklight to the thrift stores, which can weird people out, but it’s worth it to find that 10 dollar plate for fifty nine cents.
(Yes, that is a Geiger counter in there. My astronomy teacher let me borrow it. Uranium glass is safe to eat off of.)
Here’s a bag of silver that I found last week at the local ARC. Right off the bat, it’s easy to see what I got it all for 6 bucks. It looks like something resigned to Pinterest crafts and metal recyclers. But that’s the easiest way to identify silver utensils versus stainless steel.
Now, the easy way to clean silver is to take your biggest pot and fill it with water. Get it on high heat so that it will boil. While it gets up to temperature, drop in a piece of tin foil, about enough to cover the bottom. All that tarnish is going to end up on the foil, so the worse the silver looks to begin with, the more foil you will need. Once the water reaches a boil, drop in your silverware CAREFULLY. Don’t burn yourself for the sake of your antiques.
The cool thing is that you will see the tarnish melting off of your silverware.
From here, you could boil it again, or go polish it by hand. That’s what I did. I prefer hand polishing, if I have time, because with hand polishing you really get to see something beautiful emerge from something no one would invest in, much less eat off of.
For the literary folks, think of all the metaphors you could do with that. It’s like The Touch of the Master’s Hand, but you can eat cake with it.
So, there you have it. I hope you feel inspired to stop by a thrift store. Whether it’s a chain store like Goodwill, ARC, or the Salvation Army or a smaller shop just off the road. If I see you there, I’ll let you borrow my black light so you can find your own uranium treasures.