Things I Do to Stay Sane: Go Thrift Shopping

Something that I’ve gotten slightly addicted to in the past couple of years is thrift shopping. No, it did not start with Macklemore (thank goodness). I had actually really disliked thrifting when I was younger- my mother would always ask if I would want to come along, and I would always say no (she now makes fun of me for this). I thought that thrift stores had nothing that I wanted, that they were for old people, that the clothes would all be out of style and the other items just plain outdated.

In college, I went thrifting to help my friends build up pieces for their costumes in the school musical (which at the time was Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat). While they were off looking for their go-go outfits and sparkly headbands, I wandered off and used my time actually looking around. I ended up finding three dresses, several cowgirl-esque button ups for my weekly dance nights at the Grizzly Rose, and a couple of sweaters. Most of the items were also half off the already ridiculously low ticket prices, which means I bought all of those items for less than one blouse at a department store. As a poor college kid, you can imagine how much this appealed to me. I was already a huge fan of shopping at places like TJMaxx and Kohls, but this whole ‘thrifting’ thing let me go one step further with saving money.


Thrifting soon became my go-to shopping experience. Instead of hanging out at malls, like I had done in high school, I started finding all of the thrift stores that I could- comparing their inventories, seeing what new things were in that week. Soon enough I was dragging my boyfriend with me, where he too picked up an appreciation for thrifting (he likes the cheap electronics and the fact that he can get outfits I like without spending too much money on them!)

It’s only recently that I recognized the potential for my thrifting outside of getting cheap clothing. On a thrifting outing that was more focused on finding my boyfriend a DVD recorder, I decided for once not to look at the clothing, and instead look through the DVD and book sections that I so often skipped over. Turns out, the Arc stores that I so dearly love (and favor very highly over other thrift stores) have expansive book sections- even having a neat little section for poetry and classics. Since this was a 50% off Saturday, most of these books were even cheaper than normal- though they were in perfectly good condition. I ended up with a collection of Pablo Neruda’s love poems, which I have always been meaning to reading, three or four poetry anthologies (one 365-poem collection, one around-the-world collection, one with love poems by women, another with love poems to God from different traditions), a large, beautiful copy of Robert Frost’s complete poems, and a small collection written by a woman who lives here locally (I ended up liking her poetry so much that I sat down on my kitchen floor with that collection and read it straight through without stopping). I also picked up a couple of novels that I’ve been meaning to read, such as The Jane Austen Book Club and The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time, and religious items like a collection of thoughts and prayers by Mother Theresa and Between Heaven and Mirth. All of these books for the price of one!

Now I really believe in supporting authors and artists through purchasing full-priced copies, preferably from independent bookstores when I can. However, as a fledgling writer currently working two jobs as a nanny just to pay rent and help buy a car for my little brother, I don’t often have much ‘book money’ to spare anymore. Thrifting for books is a great way to keep up your book collection and your love of reading when times are tougher (and they are books that you know you’d want to keep- otherwise, local libraries are the best resource for ‘trying out’ books before you buy them).

It’s also, surprisingly enough, a good way to get cheap local lit (if you look for it hard enough, and come on a lucky day- as it is with most thrifting). I know that might seem a bit like a cop-out with supporting local authors- but I know that at least in my own experience I’m much more likely to try something if it’s got less risks, aka less costs. One way that I’ve done this in the past is enter copious amounts of Goodreads giveaways, looking for independent artists to win review copies from. Now I can go thrifting and look for local artist’s work, try it out, leave a review on Amazon and Goodreads, and then see if there’s anything else they have out for sale! It makes supporting local authors a little more risk-free, and works for everyone all around.