Friday, March 20, 2009

Rebuilding a Life with Thrift Store Shopping

The Thrifty Chicks ( is a blog "dedicated to a more robust global repurposing market"--repurposing being another word for second-hand. They're promoting the idea of a National Thrift Store Month and are asking bloggers to spread the word and share their experiences.

Long before I cared about being green, I cared about being frugal. (Since I've always worked for community-based nonprofits, I've never had a lot of money, LOL!). A great way to be frugal is thrift store shopping.

I tried to thrift-shop back in Boston, mostly buying clothes and toys for my daughter. However, to put it bluntly--the thrift stores I knew of in Boston sucked. When I started caring more about the environment after my daughter was born, I decided that do more second-hand shopping as a matter of principle.

I had the toughest time sticking to that resolution in Boston. Many of the items sold in thrift shops were in poor condition, and it was hard to find what I was looking for. I wear a size 10--that's a pretty common size for a woman. And yet, I often searched for months to find clothing at thrift shops that fit me, with no success. I remember finally buying a too-big pair of jeans at Goodwill out of desperation, because my old jeans were almost in tatters and that was all I could find. On a visit with my sister, she looked at me and said, "Those are 'mom' jeans. I cannot have you walking around looking like that!" She took me shopping that same day to buy a new pair that fit!

When we moved cross-country last May, we drove for two weeks, stopping to see friends and relatives along the way. Hubby, daughter and I packed one suitcase each of travel-friendly clothing, and shipped one box each of the really expensive items that would be hardest to replace, such as winter coats, suits, and formalwear. We also shipped some books and personal items, and took in the car with us a few toys, some smaller electronics (e.g., hubby's laptop, the portable DVD player), and the items we'd need on the road. But the vast majority of what we owned in Boston, we sold, gave away or donated before we left.

That means we had to purchase almost everything after we arrived here in Tacoma, except for furniture, as we moved into the furnished home of military relatives who are now overseas. Tacoma is a military town (a large Army Base and Air Force base are just south of the city), which is why, according to a friend, thrift shopping is so good here--people frequently move in and out of town.

Virtually everything we've purchased since we moved here has been second-hand. This has included a microwave, computer desk, chairs, a lawnmower, a bike and scooter for my daughter, pots and pans, utensils, an extra dresser and nightstand, linens, clothing, shoes, books, movies and toys. I have been utterly amazed at the fact that we could rebuild our life without buying anything new. And I have no trouble finding used clothing that's in great condition and that fits me!

I've shopped at several local thrift stores, but Value Village on 19th Street is by far my favorite, as well as my daughter's--she loves playing in their toy section. So sign me up for National Thrift Store Month!

1 comment:

  1. Hi Amy, found your blog through your comment on Black and Into Green. You should be able to highlight the words you're trying to link and then there's a link button that will pop up a box for the URL. If that's not working, let me know, I'll help you figure it out. Might be a browser issue.

    But even aside from that, would you drop me a line when you get a chance? I have a question for you.

    skye at blogher dot com