The Thrift Store Challenge

Today is National Thrift Store Day.  Are you up for a little challenge?

Just for this week… when you think of something you want to buy – don’t buy it brand new.  Go check out your local Goodwill, Salvation Army, or thrift store or consignment shop and see what you find.
Sure, you may not be able to go right to Aisle 9 and find exactly what you want, but that’s what makes thrift store shopping an adventure.
3250013147 3370bccaa3 z 300x225 The Thrift Store Challenge
You just might realize if you can live a week without it, you didn’t need it so badly after all.
Don’t be surprised if you feel a sense of purpose giving an old item a second life.  It’s hard to name the feeling — more than just the buzzwords of “reusing” and “recycling.”   And it’s not like you expect a super hero medal for saving an old clay pot from certain death in the landfill.  There’s just a little moment when you stop and think, “Wow, you never see this in Wal-Mart.”
To be honest, we used to rarely make it past the drop-off window at Goodwill.  Something about the chaos and smell of old stuff really turned me off.  But as soon as I discovered antique stores and second-hand furniture shops, we started to crave the challenge of finding a “diamond in the rough.”
Now Goodwill has an exciting new campaign to help increase donations.  Plus their newer stores are clean, bright, and much better organized, so it’s less intimidating to shop there.
Just like you sometimes have to go to the grocery after your trip to the Farmer’s Market, second-hand shopping doesn’t mean you’ll never go to Target again.  It’s just that, whenever you can, you’re considering the impact of what you buy.
Nearly every piece of wooden furniture in our house is second (or third) hand.  A hand-carved table that belonged to my dad’s mother in our entry hall.   A kitchen table we’ve painted and covered the chairs of so many times we’ve lost count.  A dining room set and antique Italian chairs we were lucky enough to find in the classifieds as a horse farm broker was about to retire out west with her grandchildren.
These are the pieces people always notice, and we love telling the stories that go along with them.  So much more interesting than, “Yeah, it was a great deal at Furniture Liquidators.”  Not to mention the quality – many of the high-end stores get their furniture from China now.
A few years ago, when our son asked for the “big AT-AT” from Star Wars for Christmas, the elves found nothing but bad reviews online.  Luckily Santa was crafty enough to track down one made in the mid-90’s in excellent condition with its original box.
Yes, Santa brought our child a second hand toy!
If that made a couple of brain cells spin around for you, you should totally take the thrift store challenge.  Or go a step further, and the next special friend or family member’s birthday or holiday, try giving them something you didn’t buy brand new from a store.
Go through that box of your grandmother’s things in the attic and share something special of hers with your cousin.   Search eBay for the year your friend was born, and give him something you’d never find in the mall.
Those are the kinds of gifts we remember.
Photo:  Flickr
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