Books…at the thrift store?

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Yes, and plenty of them!

Are you an avid reader who enjoys finding and reading obscure books? Books that were written years ago and quickly forgotten?

If so, then thrift stores are for you!

old books

Nearly every thrift store I’ve visited across the country has a book section. Some are large, others small, but all are crammed with tons of titles. There are paperback novels, huge hardcover textbooks and everything in between.

Next time you’re thinking about book shopping, why not locate and visit your local thrifts? You might be surprised at what you find.

I personally collect Signet Classics paperbacks. Nearly every time I’ve had the itch to read a classic novel, I have gone to the thrift store first and found a perfect copy of the title I wanted to read. Instead of shelling out $10 or more at a big box bookstore, I have spent anywhere from $0.25 to $2.00 for the book.

So, go visit your thrift stores. And while you’re at it, take a look around at all the other treasures waiting to be discovered. Who knows what you might find?

A new jacket? New dishes for your kitchen? A funky vintage lamp? A nearly-new pair of shoes?

You never know, so keep your eyes open and make a treasure hunt out of your visit.

Happy reading and happy hunting!

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A Plus Size Revelation…at the Thrift Store

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I haven’t talked about a certain personal topic on this blog, and for good reason. One, I’m not a dietician nor am I a nutritionist. Two, weight is a very personal thing and I choose not to speak about my past issues with food and obesity. I will share that in 2015, due to oncoming health issues, I dropped over 50 pounds and 5 clothing sizes. I’ve maintained that loss to this day, and – even though I’m smaller than I used to be – I’m still very much a plus size babe.

That said, I feel like sharing something that happened to me, something eye-opening and humbling.

And it happened at a thrift store.

On a trip to one of our newer and local thrifts, a thrift I’d yet to visit (even though it’s very close to my house), I was browsing racks of luscious, beautiful, barely-worn clothing. Nothing brings a smile to my face more than flipping through the hangers, looking for new-to-me clothing in my new size.

This particular day, I kept running across gorgeous pieces that made my heart leap. I pulled the first item off the rack and fumbled for the size label, not noticing the actual size of the garment.

The sweater was in my old size, a size 28/30.

I stopped in my tracks, put the garment up against the rack and looked at it. I pulled it across, holding onto the sides, and stared at it for a moment before placing it back on the rack.

It seemed that nearly everything I found that day was in my old size.

Where, oh where, were these clothes years ago when I was searching my size at the thrift stores? I’d almost given up on thrifting back then, having come away nearly each shopping trip with nothing to show for the effort.

When I started dropping the weight, I would pull clothes out of my closet – clothes that had grown too big – and donate them to my favorite thrift. I’d donated, hoping to give someone a happy surprise when they dropped in to shop.

I still wonder who may have found the killer pink and black leopard top I’d given away, the awesome purple and black tie-dye pants…the faux-fur collared coat.

What I found to be true as a bigger person – that the thrift stores just don’t seem to like plus size folks – seems to have changed dramatically in the past couple of years. Today, there is a much better selection of plus size clothing in the thrift stores. In my city, every single thrift store I frequent is filled with wonderful plus size treasures. I’ve seen quite a lot of great pieces of clothing in ranges from tiny up to a size 28/30.

You have to look, just like you have to look when you’re searching any size…but they’re there. Trust me on this.

If you’re plus size and are afraid of trying to thrift for clothes, give it a try. I’m sure there are many garments in your size waiting to be found in shops where you live. Just take your time and look at everything. You may be pleasantly surprised.

Make it a point to give it a go. Your closet and your wallet will thank you!

Photo credit: mindful style

I Admit It…I Didn’t Practice What I Preach About Thrifting.

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Last weekend I was at Goodwill where I found a gorgeous cobalt blue tunic, originally sold at Neiman Marcus. It was only $4.69 plus tax. Score!

There was an identical tunic in the same size on the rack beside the blue one. This one was a chartreuse green. I grabbed it and carried both shirts around the store before settling on the blue one.

I put the green one back on the rack.

Ever since last Saturday, I’ve been kicking myself. Why didn’t I just buy it?

So, last night I went back to Goodwill. And, of course, it was gone.

I didn’t practice what I preach.

Disheartened, I decided to paw through the shirts for the heck of it. I mean, I was there. Why not?

Suddenly, my eye spotted this amazingly supple, rich red top by Ann Taylor.

It had ruching on one size, pleats on the opposite shoulder, and the material felt like heaven.

Best of all, it was my size.

I grabbed it, measured it to make sure, bought it, took it home.

It wasn’t the chartreuse tunic, but it made my night.

red

If you are at a thrift store and see something that you think you want, hold onto that puppy until you get to the register. If you’re standing in line and decide that you don’t want it, then leave it with the cashier. Don’t put it down, especially if you are still quibbling inside over whether or not to get it.

I’ve learned my lesson the hard way. Thankfully, my return trip didn’t disappoint.

The Skinny White Tie

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Dean has been looking for a vintage 80’s skinny white tie. Every time we go into a thrift store, he runs to the tie rack hoping to find this elusive thing. He has scoured places like Poshmark and eBay yet struck out each time he looked.

Today, by a stroke of luck, he found one.

We had just dropped off a carload of miscellaneous items at our local Goodwill and then decided to go in and see what we could find. I went to shoes and purses, as usual, and he went to the tie rack.

I was sidetracked by women’s shirts and was browsing the many racks of tops and blouses when he approached me with a shocked look on his face…a skinny white tie in his hand.

The tie was perfect. No marks, no dirt. Just as white as snow and perfect as could be. It looked like it had never been worn.

There is nothing nicer than seeing someone you love with a heart full of happiness at finding something so truly desired.

What is the takeaway message in this short post? Never give up if you are searching for a particular item. If an Internet search doesn’t produce it, look in your local thrift stores…and shop often. 

Like the moment I found that Betsey Johnson watch, you never know what you’re going to stumble upon.

And when you do happen to find the item of your dreams, thank the thrift gods and donate something back to the thrift store for someone else to find and enjoy. 

Let’s keep the cycle going, giving and receiving, for it benefits us all!

Thrifting with Debra Rapoport

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Oh man, this video is everything. I can’t even begin to imagine the treasures that can be found among the thrift stores in New York City. Even if I spent a month up there, I probably wouldn’t have enough time to do my treasure hunting.

One day I will get there. Oh, to thrift with Debra Rapoport. That would be a dream come true for me. She’s one of my style icons and I absolutely adore her.

For now, please enjoy this short video from Ari Seth Cohen and Advanced Style!

Treasure Hunts, or, Why I Thrift

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It’s a bit complicated to explain, this craving I have for “The Hunt.” I call it “The Hunt” because for me, it is just that. The hunt.

It is the hunt for a hidden treasure.

hang-second-hand-la-gi-3

My parents introduced my family to thrifting way back when I was a teenager. I grew up in East Atlanta and frequented the Value Village down at the Moreland Avenue Shopping Center. It became a family event. We all got excited to pile into the car and go to the thrift store.

At Value Village, my sister and I would head over to the women’s accessories department to grab up as many white dress gloves as we could find. And we found a lot. Since this was the 80s, there was a lot of groovy vintage 50s and 60s merchandise on hand. No matter when we visited, I never failed to find cool stuff.

I even scored a 1950 Webster Chicago record player that still worked at the time. I could play my grandmother’s 78rpm records on that thing. Even though I still own it, it quit working ages ago.

One particular day, at this same particular thrift store, I found a very old snakeskin cross-body bag. It was labeled Davison’s, which back in the day was one of Atlanta’s largest and most important department stores, second only to Rich’s. Burgundy in color and beat-the-heck-up, err, broken in, this bag was a true find.

For a long time I believed it was alligator. Funny how your mind can take you places until you figure out what’s what.

I have held onto that thing after 8 changes of address over the years and plan to use it this fall.

Anyway, back to the topic of this post, I have a very long history when it comes to thrift shopping. There is a part of me that gravitates toward the used and previously-owned.

That part of me is one part economical and another part environmental.

I’ll start with the economical piece first.

Shopping second hand is a very healthy way to add to your belongings without spending a fortune at a regular retailer. Thrift stores carry a wide selection of items from furniture to clothing to books and music. It’s like a world of discarded things waiting to be picked through. In every pile there is a gem to be found. It just takes a bit of time to find it. I will share my tips and tricks to thrifting in a later post.

It would be a lie if I told you that it’s easy to find those diamonds-in-the-rough. You have to work for it, but it’s work that can be fun at the same time. Hence the idea of making thrift store shopping something of a treasure hunt.

The environmental piece is this…each time you buy a used item, you are not only keeping that item from ending up in a landfill but you are giving an item a second chance at life.

Most things people discard are still quite usable. This is most especially true when it comes to clothing.

Purchasing used clothes keeps your dollars out of the fast fashion industry and supplies your closet at a fraction of the cost you would pay at a mainline retail store. Not only that, but if you find a well-cared-for vintage item, you will more than likely discover that it is of better quality than anything you can find at a department store.

I’m serious.

Depending on the thrift store you visit, the dollars you spend go to job creation, charity, or simply back into the local economy.

Needless to say, thrifting is a win-win for everyone.

For you, it means stumbling across something that might become an heirloom, or at the least, a really awesome piece of furniture for your living room.

Treasure hunting is a pleasant hobby as well. Just getting out and visiting a thrift store or two at leisure is calming, especially to me. I have a method to my madness when thrifting and will write a blog about, too, that later on. For now, it’s an exciting notion,  knowing that whenever I step foot into a thrift there is a world of possibility laid out before me in racks, on shelves and in cases by the register.

And the coolest thing of all?  Most of what one can find in a thrift store is one of a kind.

One of my most exciting finds this summer was a sparkly (yes, sparkly!) cobalt blue sweater dress. It was labeled with the wrong size, stuffed into a rack of women’s shirts, and yelled at me when I walked by.

I turned around, picked it up, looked it over, and now it resides in my closet anxiously awaiting cooler weather when it can drape itself over my body.

Did I mention it was COBALT BLUE???

I’m about to hyperventilate.

Do you enjoy thrifting? Are there any good stores near where you live? What are some of your most favorite thrift store treasures?

Please check back often for more posts about thrifting. Trust me, I have plenty to share.

~Francie