Monday, January 15, 2007

Ode to Thrift Shopping

I was introduced to the joys of thrift shopping in college. A very good friend of mine boasted that a good chunk of his wardrobe was from the local Goodwill. The variety of pastel shirts that he'd collected suited him, but they certainly weren't going to find their way to my closet. However, one can't judge thrift shopping on one person's choices alone. That was his style (he's since moved on...sort of), but perhaps there'd be something more suitable for me.

One needs to understand this about thrift have to spend time with what's there to find something good. Sure, there are a lot of plaid 70s pants and weird sequined sweaters and 80s prom dresses...but there are some diamonds in the rough in these places. Maybe you're one of those who likes to wear the garage work know, the ones with someone else's name stitched into them. Or maybe you like novelty t-shirts that are really novelties and not mass-produced by The Gap. Or maybe you like pants with a little wear on the fringes but have gotten that way from people actually wearing them beforehand. Thrift stores have all that and more: quality dress clothes barely worn in some cases, warm winter coats, vintage apparel you'll actually be proud to wear in public and not just for Halloween, all at a fraction of their original prices. You just have to be willing to look.

My greatest find from a thrift store is a leather dress jacket circa 1970s that I wear in cool weather. I once had an Insyderz t-shirt made up to look like a union shirt. I was with a big group in Philadelphia that discovered a whole pile of old Phillies security shirts. I'm telling you, thrift shopping produces the best treasures.

Since moving back to Ohio, I'd passed by a thrift store for two years before finally stopping in. This store is connected with a local ministry, so one has to put up with southern gospel quartet music while one peruses the racks. It's a small price to pay, I've found. Anyway, I figured that this trip would focus on their books. Maybe a church-related thrift store would have some good discount theology books that I could use (read: pad my shelves with). I was quite surprised at how right I was: Yoder, Hauerwas, and Wesley (detecting a pattern...), all on my first visit. There was also an incredible amount of A.W. Pink, John Rice, and other more evangelical/fundamentalist flavored titles, but I expected that. But seriously...Yoder. Sweet.

You never know what you'll find. Give it a chance, if you never have. I think you'll be pleasantly surprised.