Saturday, February 2, 2008

Thrift Chic

I spent an hour and $23 in a thrift shop today, and came away with two almost-new pairs of name brand, work-quality wool trousers, a like-new turtleneck, a really cute pair of brown suede ankle boots, and a pair of workout shorts for my son. It was a successful visit, all in all.

I love thrift shopping for lots of reasons. First (and obviously), it's cheap. It would have cost me $80 to buy just one of those pairs of pants today if I'd paid full-boogie-retail for them when they were new. Even marked down 50%, one pair alone would have been twice as much as I paid for everything I got today.

But apart from being cheap, shopping at thrift stores makes me feel good. Generally the money I spend supports a good cause. My favorite shops are Goodwill, the St. Vincent de Paul store, and the Junior League store. These all put money back into the community with their works, and also provide vouchers to the poor to help them buy clothing, housewares, and furnishings. So my purchase benefits many, not just my family's budget.

Thrift shopping is green too. The items are donated locally and travel many fewer miles from donor to store than new clothing does when it comes from China or Bangladesh or wherever it is labor is cheapest these days. And by recycling clothes instead of buying new, I'm helping conserve resources.

Finally, when I shop in thrift stores, I don't worry quite as much about where in the world an item was made or whether the person who assembled it was being exploited. I can't say I never think about this, because wearing prominent swooshes or polo ponies does help promote those brands, which could result in increased demand for them in the new-clothes market (though any increased demand that results from a woman in her mid-40's wearing a particular brand is probably offset by the "eww" it evokes in my kids and their friends). But at least the direct connection of consumer dollar to store bottom-lines is broken this way, and I don't feel quite so much like my own clothing choices are responsible for the off-shoring of almost every textile manufacturing business these days.

So enough of my musings about *why* shopping thrift is a good thing to do. Tomorrow I'll post my suggestions for making the most of a thrift shop visit.

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