I think I am addicted to thrift stores. It has been about two weeks since my last purchase of something I did not intend to buy when walking into the store. I know this is what merchants want us to do, but I thought I was stronger than what has become a fun but pricey habit. The interesting thing is I was not always a fan of these carriers of recycled treasures.
The deals are just too hard to pass up, especially when I know what some items would cost if they were full price. All I have to do is think of that, and it fuels my reasoning for purchasing items I like but might not need.
It took me awhile to find the value within a thrift store. When I was growing up in Ohio, my grandmother used to love going to thrift stores and garage sales. She would call the activity, “Going bummin.'” We – my mother, grandmother, younger sister and me – would pile into our 1998 gray station wagon and make the weekend rounds. Looking back, I remember I didn’t always want to go along. I was embarrassed about being seen in a thrift store by my classmates. I thought it would convey we didn’t have money for new clothes. So not true. My granny was just all about the hunt and a good bargain.
As I got older, I began to care less about being seen in a thrift store. I also found once I stopped worrying about what other people might think, I could focus on shopping. And when I did, that’s when the fun began. While others were spending hundreds of dollars on a few pieces of clothing, I smiled, knowing I brought home a bag full of great buys (often complete outfits) for half the price or less. Ah, victory.
As an adult, I find myself going to thrift stores first before heading to the mall if I need something. I used to go to at least two stores a week but have been a little busy. You never know what you will find with selections growing in variety. I almost always leave with more than I was looking for in the first place.
Here’s an example: I recently visited the local thrift store in St. Joseph. It has become one of my favorites to visit. I sometimes pop in just to say hello to the friendly people who work there. This time I was looking for black dress pants. Seems simple, right? Wrong.
I usually like to walk through the store one good time before picking up something. I feel I can absorb the sales this way. Truthfully, if something is less than $1, I’m so happy about the price, I buy it just because. I know, it’s sad. Well, during that visit, my strategy didn’t work. One of the staff members was hanging up new arrivals and telling me what they were. Smart move. I told her what I was looking for, and she said, “Oh, I just hung up a brand new pair over here.” I bought them.
By the time I left the store I had the black pants I came for, a second pair of pants ($5), a dress suit ($10), a blouse ($3) and a sweater ($3). I love the savings, but sometimes my wallet pays and sometimes other things suffer.
“That $20 could have gone in my gas tank.”
That is what I think when I have to fill up my car the next day. It’s still just a thought at that point.
I need more self control. The next time I stop in to say hello, I am going to try hard not to let the prices lure me in. Sike! Maybe I’ll just work to spend less during each visit. We’ll just have to see.
I like to think my grandmother would be proud of the thrifty eye I’ve developed over time – even if it means buying more than I need.